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Friday Sports Tech Thoughts: Wahoo’s Financial Viability & Tonal Price Changes

This week’s sports tech news hasn’t entirely been positive. Even just ‘tech news’ in general, this hasn’t been a strong week. For the most part, stories are either about price increases, or layoffs – with very little actual new tech. On the bright side, news should shift in the coming days and weeks, with the pipeline starting to fill up a bit with new products in the queue. Till then however, it’s worthwhile diving into two items that have floated by in the past two days.

First up is a debt rating memo regarding Wahoo Fitness, that paints a bleak picture. Down below though I’ll outline the likely next steps, as well as some thoughts on what I think Wahoo needs to focus on.

Next up after that, Tonal increased prices, but this seems to be an example of how to do it. Even if you’re unhappy about paying more, at least the company communicated it correctly and transparently. It’s a worthwhile example for other companies to look at and follow.

Let’s dive into it.

Wahoo’s Financial Viability:

WahooFeatures

Another debt rating memo has been released on Wahoo Fitness, following similar memos last fall. This memo increases the dire situation that Wahoo is in, regarding their ability to pay upcoming debt payment obligations. Last fall those memos outlined scenarios including massive restructuring or worse.

It’s not a long memo, and you should go read it. Picking out a quote or two is kinda silly, because literally every line is quote-worthy in the conventional way you think of news quotes. Except, none of the quotes are pretty. I suppose the most well-rounded one is:

“The negative outlook reflects our expectation that the tough operating conditions will persist over the near term, causing the company to face a liquidity shortfall over the next six months absent a liquidity enhancing transaction.”

The memo basically says covers what everyone in the industry knows: Smart trainer sales have plummeted post-COVID, Wahoo has far too much inventory on-hand they can’t sell, and doesn’t have other products people are interested in buying. Keep in mind that competitor Saris already went through a bankruptcy-like transaction, selling themselves off. Meanwhile, neither Tacx nor Elite are in any trouble. In fact, Tacx is not only expanding physically, but hiring as well.

Now that said, I wouldn’t be worried about purchasing Wahoo products in terms of support/etc. I (well, we, my wife as part of this purchase) did so last month buying a Wahoo KICKR Bike V1 Refurb during their holiday sales. I basically see a few core scenarios:

1) Wahoo gets a cash injection from outside investors (likely contingent on heavy restructuring)
2) Wahoo finds an unlikely way to sell enough stuff to cover their debt obligations themselves
3) Wahoo goes into Chapter 11, and finds its way out the other side slimmer
4) Wahoo sells itself off (willingly or otherwise) to another company/brand

One of the things people outside the US forget is how forgiving the US Chapter 11 bankruptcy system is. Plenty of companies have gone through this and emerged out the other end with no meaningful impact to consumers/customers. Certainly, it’s not a fun experience – but for a company like Wahoo, it’s a viable process. The primary impact here would be on those that Wahoo owes money/products to (which could include local bike shops).

Like many indoor-focused companies, Wahoo essentially has to get to next winter. That’s the timeline when most indoor-focused companies will see more recovery revenue options, since they’ll be 4 years from the initial COVID-driven purchasing product peak, and when consumers would be more willing to buy new/refreshed products.

During this time though, Wahoo needs to really focus on making products people [really] want to buy. That likely includes killing off the RIVAL watch (even if that has no meaningful strain on resources at this point). It includes refreshing the KICKR vNext to be compelling enough feature-wise to drive all those 2017-2021 KICKR buyers to say “Take my money!”, and it includes finding a new pricing strategy for the KICKR CORE to be competitive with the Zwift HUB. Whether or not Wahoo wins their lawsuit against Zwift is irrelevant now. By Wahoo’s own court admissions, it’s no longer price competitive. So…do something about it. That pricing floor has now been set, and either other trainer companies or OEMs will arrive at that price point (or below it, as is the case in Europe already). So, make/sell a V2 KICKR CORE with WiFi at perhaps $599 to $649, cassette included, and be the Wahoo premium that the CORE is in terms of accuracy/connectivity/CLIMB compatibility/etc over the $499 Zwift Hub.

I don’t have an easy-button solution for the ELEMNT line-up of GPS bike computers. Undoubtedly we’ll see overdue refreshes from Garmin & Hammerhead at some point in 2023 for their product lines that compete with Wahoo. Wahoo’s got two challenges there. First, their hardware just isn’t competitive anymore from a display standpoint. But second, the feature upgrades are far too slow to compete with Garmin or Hammerhead anymore. Sure, simple usability is Wahoo’s thing in life, but overwhelmingly, sales numbers don’t lie – people aren’t seeing enough of a difference there anymore to justify the loss of features. It is what it is. Wahoo could flip that story by re-pricing their units to be sub-$200 somewhat like Lezyne, but better. Of course this loses the Wahoo premium appeal.

Next, it includes refreshing things like the KICKR Desk for easy money. Adding power ports, water bottle holders, and wheel locks, and charging a premium-but-reasonable price. Wahoo has demonstrated people will pay silly money for Wahoo-branded accessories (me included). But they stop paying that money when it’s 3-4x the price but half the features (also me included).

Finally, it can also include new products that are exciting enough to drive consumers to spend money. Ideally, high-profit type products that have low costs.

Oh, as for RGT/SYSTM? My guess is that their current subscriptions probably cover the costs of that division. And realistically, those software devs aren’t going to easily transition to making device firmware (as that’s platform devs vs embedded devs – two totally different things). So it’s not like you can say “the ROI is better if they developed ELEMNT features”. Thus, assuming everything is equal financially, just keep it around. But really, make an Apple TV version of SYSTM. It’s the single reason I don’t use it, as I think overall SYSTM is quite good.

Wahoo’s a solid company making solid products, and one that’s had an outsized impact on the sports tech landscape. Without Wahoo, we might still be dealing with trainers still all operating in their own little proprietary protocol fiefdoms. The meteoric rise of Zwift and others wouldn’t have happened without the open app integration that Wahoo pushed for, because there was no controllable app integration before then. We might have never had the competition in the cycling GPS space that we see today, and we might have never gotten trainer desks. Wahoo just needs to find a way to create the next generation of products that change the landscape. Do that, and they’ll be alright.

Tonal Shows How to Do Pricing Changes Right:

Tonal_Paris_Shoulder Press

I don’t have a Tonal thingamajig. It looks cool, but I live in Europe, and they don’t deliver it here (and while I’ve taken apart entire Peloton Bikes and carried them on airplanes before, this mirror looks a bit trickier to check at the United desk as baggage). However, what is clear is that they know how to properly communicate a price change. You can read the whole thing here.

They sent out an e-mail to users that includes:

1) The exact date the new pricing takes effect
2) The exact new price (yes, I know, crazy to write the price in the e-mail)
3) Even a comparison chart showing all the new features since the original price in 2018
4) Not a giant fluff/puff corporate PR speak e-mail

They did also concurrently announce taxes would be collected extra, like TrainerRoad did, which does muddy the water slightly here. But again, they were clear about that fact, and that it would vary by zip code.

I think most consumers are understanding of the world reality that pricing is going up for things. This is a 20% price increase (albeit more for states that collect sales tax), which is a bit on the higher end of things. But it’s also the first one since 2018, so there’s that reality. What consumers are NOT OK with, is companies trying to hide it.

Meanwhile, a week after Strava’s non-communicated price change they’ve still been silent. Still no clarity on pricing, still no communications to users, still tons and tons of confusion from consumers. For funsies, the video alone has ~300K views and about 2,000 comments. The post? A few hundred thousand views. My original tweet about it? Viewed over 350,000 times. Follow-on media stories referencing the confusion and outrage? Countless. What is Strava waiting for?

With that, thanks for reading!

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75 Comments

  1. Robert

    Typo on the bold text on the Tonal picture. It says TOTAL

  2. Dave Lusty

    I think Wahoo will struggle. There’s not a lot they can do to make a more compelling trainer at this point, and their existing units aren’t dying. Second hand they are still too high end for casual users, and all of the wealthy people already have one. Not only this, but a bunch of people bought one that didn’t really need one so not only is the market saturated, it’s oversaturated and the second hand market is also oversaturated.
    What could they possibly add? Better networking won’t make many people upgrade. More power is of no use to most people. Road feel is a nice gimmick but not worth an upgrade. As trainers go, the Kickr is as good as it needs to get, probably better than it needed to get.

    They’re a really great company and I hope they get through this somehow. With any luck they’re making a treadmill with a control protocol as we speak. I refuse to accept this is any more dangerous than automated programs that are built in, and I want this functionality so I can have my watch run a set of intervals. Looking at all my sports gear this is what I desire the most, treadmill buttons are generally terrible and built in intervals aren’t flexible.

    • Darrell

      I definitely wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a Wahoo treadmill to come out.

    • AC

      I disagree re better networking. Connection drops are the bane of online racing (and something that never happened with wired computrainers). That would be a compelling reason for me to upgrade. Although what I really want is a direct drive trainer, wired, with the quality of a computrainer.

    • StephenB

      They need to bring out a new rear wheel trainer with the same electromagnetic resistance unit as the Kickr bike.

      Keep the Kickr at a slightly lower price point. Lower the Kickr core to hub price range and bring out a v2 with autocalibrate / port.

      Should be enough imo

    • Coach

      I disagree about their existing units not dying. I have somewhere in the range of 8-12 that I use with the high school cycling team I coach. Most of them were purchased in 2 batches back in 2019 or so and now half of them either have already had issues are or currently having issues. Loud metallic clanging during operation, loud grinding noise during operation, never being able to hold any resistance, etc.. That is to say in my experience their existing units start having issues way too soon and the only reasons I’ve not bought new ones, yet, are (1) fear that they’ll also only last 2-4 years and (2) school team setting means budgets and durable goods purchases need to be planned out carefully.

      Also, increased connectivity capabilities and reliability would be HUGE for us. It’s been tough to try to connect 10 kickrs at once to 10 different devices in the same room.

    • Steve O

      Hello Coach,
      I suggest reaching out to Wahoo’s customer service regarding the noise and lack of holding resistance. I’ve found their customer service to be excellent. I have purchased one Kickr and one Kickr Climb. I have experienced the same clanging/noise issues and drop out of resistance that you have described on the Kickr and the belt has broken on my Kickr Climb. Wahoo has replaced the Kickr twice (repeated noise issue) – once long after the warranty period and the Kickr Climb, also after the warranty period. Good Luck!

  3. Peter Blair

    I also really hope Wahoo survive and find more brand aligned investors. It has been painful to watch the downsizing impacting the original Sufferfest team in the past 6-9 months, with a lot of the original content creators and supports of the Tour of Sufferlandria no longer there. Ironically a standalone company like Sufferfest would be a lot more resilient right now – given its unique IP, captive market share, and ability to create new content with relatively low overhead. Even a moderate investment in new videos, AppleTV support, and more robust ability to export workouts outdoors across all devices (not just Wahoo ones) would feel like enough investment to justify a price increase.

    • Belmont

      I wish they’d get RGT, Sufferfest, and ELEMNT all working together nicely in the same platform, with a UI overhaul for smaller devices. At the moment it’s such a quagmire. And disable those annoyingly smug spash screens as well!

    • Peter Blair

      I just don’t think with the staff headcount cuts they’ll have that sort of developer muscle for full app integration/re-platforming.

    • James Jordan

      Buying RGT was a huge mistake and has done more damage to the Systm platform than good. Let’s face it Zwift has the market for fake/virtual riding and no other platform is going to take it. Like Trainer Road they should have focused on the ‘training’ part of the narrative as this is something that Zwift cant provide.

  4. TedP

    I hope Wahoo stays in the game. Things I love about their computers; buttons on top, simple and easy software, those colors and LEDs lighting up when on a good ride. Things I have a wishlist for are better maps (especially off-road) and more analysis / a platform (make them sticky). SYSTM on Apple TV is a must.

    I’m also probably one of the 20 people who bought a ROLLR and hey, I really, really like it! Wahoo definitely innovates more than others and come up with some cool ideas. They just seem slow to iterate.

  5. MichaelP

    With respect to new features, I would like to see a trainer where the bike can be kept in one gear and all the shifting is electronic via the trainer. Zwift was stated to be working on such a trainer before they disbanded their hardware division. Many people do not want or need a Kickr Bike type of unit. I’m one of those who purchased a Kickr in 2017 (including owning one of the units that were part of the bad initial batch) who would buy a new trainer if it had some compelling new features.

    Wahoo takes some odd positions sometimes. They have been advising people who use their trainers with recumbent bikes and handcycles that the use of such bikes will void their warranty. It’s understandable that Wahoo can’t guarantee compatibility with every type of bike, but there’s nothing about the drivetrain or wheel attachment on most recumbents that would affect the functionality of the trainer. None of the other major trainer manufacturers take this position. So the word is out on recumbent and adaptive cycling forums that riders should steer clear of Wahoo and purchase a trainer from another brand.

    • I love that idea, Michael: a trainer where the bike can be kept in one gear and all the shifting is electronic via the trainer.

      (I just broke a front derailleur & my cassette in the back has big jumps between sprockets.
      What if they could do internal electronic shifting, perhaps even continuous variable transmission so you could set erg at a given rpm?
      What if they could put all of this in the crank set so we no longer need a chain?
      (So this would get close to the Kickr-bike then: only need a seat on top & handlebars.

    • Peter Blair

      You mean ERG mode?

    • MichaelP

      No, that’s not what I meant. Maybe there’s some technological similarity behind the scenes regarding how it might work, but “changing virtual gears” is not similar in execution to making adjustments in ERG mode.

      A sample practical use: The terrain I ride in the real world is different from my virtual riding. So it would be a nice feature to have gear ratios programmed that are suitable for my virtual rides (without having to do things like change the reality settings or switch to ERG mode).

    • Paul S.

      Until Strava recently made it impossible to mark a ride as a “virtual ride” (now the ride must come from a “virtual ride provider”, or something like that), I’d occasionally use my Edge 830 to virtually ride some of the in real life rides I do. (Now I use Zwift.) I’d never virtually ride the rides I do in the mountains because the gearing on my old road bike attached to my Tacx Neo 2 wasn’t right; no low gears for going up the steepest climbs. It’d be great if you could switch virtual cassettes between road, gravel, and mountain electronically.

    • Francis Paulin

      I would love this. I use my track bike on my Kickr (with a Velobike fixed gear adapter), and I miss being able to go for a quick “road ride” on Zwift. No way I can be bothered to convert back and forth between track bike and geared bike for the odd endurance ride on the trainer. Most of my training on the bike is very sprint specific.

  6. Tom

    The only thing from stopping me trying SYSTM and having that alongside Zwift is Apple TV is my primary device due to simplicity and integration with AirPods. Make an Apple TV app and they would be a whole new world of users!

  7. Hi Ray…solid article
    I am sad about Wahoo. The company has always treated me well with support for products — even shipping me a new Climb a full 10 months after the warranty expired (OK cynics…I know that they have plenty of units around, but they could have said take 25% off). Wahoo support has always been able to solve my pilot error problems, and genuinely seems to care that my issues are resolved. I’ve held on to my Bolt v1 because it simply works, but the Garmin 1040 is beckoning with features I’d like to explore….plus there is Garmin Connect…

    …which bring me to Strava. Anything I’d add is simply piling on, but with alternatives like Garmin Connect, Strava is seemingly cleaning a loaded shotgun looking down the barrel and a finger on the trigger. There aren’t enough hallucinogens in the world to explain their actions regarding price increases. Glad to see a company like Tonal understands communication.

    Keep up the good work. Finally able to start training again after a cardiac ablation…so things are looking up.

    • Paul S.

      Don’t know about that. Garmin Connect has been around longer than Strava. Lots of people, like me, use both. I don’t see GC as a viable replacement for Strava, and I’ve been using GC longer than Strava.

      I checked today and Strava finally has the 79.99 renewal price in my invoice (due in September). I’m not going to cancel Strava over $20.

    • Mike Richie

      But I am. It’s not the $20, it’s that every year I look at it and ask “Do I really need this?” I got it originally so I could get live segments. But after staring at my computer (or watch) while going all out, I realized I can go faster and have more fun by just going all out, and looking at it later. So for me the additional $20 (and their unclassy way of not announcing it) tips the decision to not renew. How many are like me? I guess we’ll see, but I think The Girl is in the same boat.

    • KevinC

      Garmin Connect is a very poor second cousin to Strava. I switched way back when Strava first debuted and have never looked back. That said, Strava has always been an unmitigated disaster when it comes to communication with and responsiveness to their customers.

  8. michelito

    During the pandemic, I wanted to upgrade my old CycleOps fluid trainer, but couldn’t find a trainer in stock anywhere. You had to get on a waiting list, and the trainers were selling for $2000CAD +15% taxes, when they dripped in after 3-4 months.
    Now I see ads for Wahoo trainers with $500 rebates, making them around $1300CAD (+tax), but I’m not interested anymore.
    Every company on the planet took advantage of the pandemic to increase profits like never before, not giving a s#!t about their customers.
    Im not supporting those that took advantage of our misery now that they’re feeling some themselves.
    Trainers at close to the price of what I paid for a Giant TCX carbon cross bike is a ridiculous proposition.

    • Bob

      I agree completely. People feeling sorry for Wahoo and “hoping they survive” when it’s the ripping off of customers that caused this. Ditto other bike related companies.

      A reckoning is coming for sure…

    • Except Wahoo didn’t raise prices on their trainers during COVID. Those stayed the same. So any increased prices you saw were on your local distributors/retalers/local bike shops, not Wahoo.

      This is something I tracked super closely, and the only product that increased pricing during COVID was the KICKR CLIMB, at the end of 2021 (and this was something that Wahoo had discussed well before COVID at needng a higher price due to costs/etc…).

  9. Marc

    Can I admit I’m still mad at Wahoo for acquiring Speedplay and killing frog pedals and their replacement parts?

    • MatthewQC

      Yes, and I am also mad. They didn’t have to keep manufacturing new pedals or even replacement bodies and spindles, but at least make replacement bearings and cleats available. I can only imagine they thought they’d get added sales by forcing Frog users (mostly commuters and audax riders) to switch to Zeros. They’re nuts. Most of us went to Shimano.

  10. BG

    I recently saw the Strava “challenge” where you ride a few miles and get another $50 off the Zwift Hub. Great for the consumer, awful for the trainer companies. The concept of the smart trainer was/is awesome, but there’s been no second leg to the story. Most people don’t care about the climb, some vibrations or the ability to simulate 25% grades. My original Direto is still humming and I see no compelling reason to spend $1k on an upgrade for something I use to stay in mediocre shape through the winter.

    I’ve seen S&P overreact before, but they’re generally not out to get companies and that report was harsh! Doesn’t look good. I have a soft spot in my heart for the original elemnt that I still use, but the later versions haven’t been that compelling.

    • Steve

      This.

      I still use my Elemnt from when it first came out, no need for me to replace it or buy a Garmin when it does what I want it too and I guess most cyclists are the same.
      Same with my turbo, had it years, still works, so why upgrade? for what? 5% added to the gradient I never used anyway?

  11. Alan

    Sorry to see this issue with Wahoo but it seems the business has been mismanaged. Their need to compete on price point has been glaring even before the Zwift Hub. With increased competition, reduced post-COVID sales, and rising debt costs, they should have seen this coming.

    With cycling season around the corner, they could be slashing prices on on-bike components like Speedplay pedals and ELMNT bike computers. I’ve never been a Speedplay user but if their power pedal isn’t garbage they could gain some market share there.

  12. StephenB

    A couple of things re Wahoo.

    First they’ve made a killing over the last decade with a virtual hegemony in the mid-price range with the core. That’s gone now. Patent battles will just alienate the consumer market which by their nature are pretty savvy. Not a good idea.

    Second, while the Kickr v5 & v6 are evolutionary enough to warrant inspection, many Kickr v4 users, myself included, are pretty happy with what we have. Not revolutionary enough. The Kickr bike however had a revolutionary electromagnetic unit which is a step up.

    Wahoo need to bring out a rear wheel version of this in 2023, not as a replacement to the Kickr which can go about its evolution at a top-mid end price range – lower it by $200, but as a direct competitor to the top end Tacx/Garmin unit. This frees up the core to drop to Hub range. It’s not new tech after all. It’s 4-5yrs ols. A new Core with the Kickr v6 tech – port and autocalibrate is well overdue.

    Wahoo are pretty solid and I can’t see then going the way of Saris, but they’ve overstretched themselves and rested on their laurels somewhat.

    The Wahoo head units are falling behind Garmin Edge now, by a long way. They have a solid support base if an eclectic lot. New cyclists will look at Garmin first especially if they bring out a full x40 range this year.

    S

  13. tfk, the5krunner

    They ‘just’ need cash and can dilute equity, issue bonds or, I suppose, fiddle with their bank loans.

    as you say: 1) Wahoo gets a cash injection from outside investors

    There’s plenty of wealth out there. They’ll get the money soon enough.

  14. Michael Welch

    I was surprised to see Tonal mentioned on this site. I have one and it’s a great strength machine. Maybe the first that has made it easy for “regular” people to quantify their strength training. To paraphrase Deming “What gets measured gets done.”. That said though, the reaction to the price increase has been analogous to an angry mob. The Tonal Facebook community has erupted in angry complaints and threats to cancel subscriptions (not so easy since then you have a several thousand dollar paperweight bolted to your wall…talk about wall warts). The CEO has been criticized for summarily firing coaches and not listening to the user base. I guess all this is to say all of these connected fitness companies are going to have a tough time navigating during the next few years.

  15. Ryan Ghostling

    Why don’t Wahoo and Strava just merge? Let Wahoo do the hardware and Strava do the software.

    • inSyt

      Apart from mapping, Strava’s software is nothing special. People are dying for dark mode for years now, yet it seems too technical for Strava to implement.

    • JE

      Implementing dark mode into software like Strava is a massive undertaking. Especially if the software wasn’t programmed with this in mind. And that’s not even including all the design work to keep contrast and visibility for all functions. Especially considering the main orange of Strava which design-wise does not play well with a dark theme.

  16. Matt

    I would love to see an enterprising journalist do an autopsy on how badly some cycling-related companies managed — or rather mismanaged — the COVID years. What was the evidence/forecast that led them to overproduce during peak COVID, leaving them with excess inventory issues today? How could they think that demand would remain high once the pandemic let up? I realize this isn’t the only reason for Wahoo’s troubles, but still. Management seems to be misreading the market in many ways. I’m not here to dance on Wahoo’s grave. I bought the new KICKR V6 in October and love it. I sincerely hope they can rebound. But maybe it’s time for new management.

    • I guess the challenge is that 3 years ago everyone was screaming at these companies to ramp up as fast as they could.

      I continue to find it very hard to fault companies trying to deal with unpredictable lead times for parts measures in years, manufacturing facilities closing at random, shipping estimates changing in pricing 10x with delays measured in months, and a pandemic that happens once every century.

      I think it’s easy for a lot of people to look back and say shoulda/coulda, but those people also never would have guessed this would have dragged on for years. One can go back and look at quotes from top-notch scientists saying in March/April 2020, even in a worst case, things would last 6-8 months.

      Wahoo’s problem frankly isn’t that they built too many trainers. It’s really not. It’s that they stopped innovating in the rest of their product areas.

    • jww

      100% agree that Wahoo letting bike computers languish was the biggest hit. To launch an underspecc-ed flop right as the very strong Edge 530 shipped changed Wahoo’s trajectory.

      Wahoo still makes the best trainers, the best heart rate straps, and Suff is still my favorite indoor platform. I’m probably alone there, but love the Coty rides.

      After the core products, seems they got drunk on empire building. Ill-advised GPS watches, rollers, RGT. Speedplay seemed a disaster idea to everyone. The indoor bike at least is logical, just poorly timed.

      And now you have China revere-engineering KICKR CORE with an unexpected assist from Zwift.

      There’s a reason Garmin holds nearly a $3 billion cash buffer, and doesn’t risk its future on iffy acquisitions. Consumer markets are cyclical.

  17. Paavo_Nurmi

    “Wahoo just needs to find a way to create the next generation of products that change the landscape. Do that, and they’ll be alright.”

    I didn’t see anybody mention what I think is really needed and could be the next thing in indoor trainers. Do something to make them more comfortable. Just look at all the rocker plates people made on their own to try and make an indoor trainer less painful. I ended up getting an inside ride E-Flex and while it’s helped a lot I still can’t do much more than an hour on the trainer.

    • Totally agree. That said, it sounds like there’s some patent issues companies are trying to avoid here.

    • Mark

      The squishy feet on the elite juusto have transformed indoor training for me (and my wife), and that’s a minor change elite made. They, all of them, could without doubt go further than squishy feet, and I’m pretty sure sell cheaper than the justo too, which looks overpriced Vs the neo2 and kickr sales prices over the last few months in UK.

      Re: wahoo, I own their HR strap and wahoo bolt v1 — I’ve been waiting for the bolt V2 to reach a sensible price to upgrade but it’s just not happened, the price on it is a farce Vs 530 that you can pick up every sales event for £160 Vs the bolts cheapest ever of £220. There is no excuse for wahoo to price like this, the V2 is not a premium product, if anything it’s stripped back compared to overall 530 features, so it just makes me annoyed with them as a company to do it, and was one of reasons I opted for justo with squishy feet Vs kickr with squishy feet… They only have themselves to blame for a bunch of this.

  18. Bob

    After all the (possibly fake) bad reviews of Tacx trainers I am sure glad I bought a Flux 2. Zero issues with it and knowing the company that made it will be around in two years makes me feel better with my investment.

  19. Endward Stav0s

    kinda irresponsible to suggest people should would be ok with Wahoo products. in the event of a banktuptcy warranty claims are often the lowest claim unless accounted for in the reorg. People are free to make their own risks but its wrong to not give them all the facts.

    • Mike Richie

      I think Ray was trying to say that a complete bankruptcy was unlikely and not handling warranty claims during a Chapter 11 reorg is a sure way to lose the very customers they would need to be successful.

    • I simply outlined the likely scenarios, and what I did personally. Even in Chapter 11, the likely scenario is operations as normal for consumers – just as it has been for the vast majority of companies.

      As Mike noted, ignoring warranty claims is the fastest way to sink a company going through that process, as word quickly spreads and it kills off future customers.

      Finally, I’m not sure what ‘facts’ I didn’t give? I even linked to a site explaining Ch 11.

  20. Rich M

    I know there’s all sorts of issues doing this (it needs a complete review of your codebase in case you have something you shouldn’t), but I wondering if Wahoo could innovate by making (some of) its software open source and allowing outside contributions?

    Perhaps have a beta channel for users? Of course the folks that would target would be limited, but it might excite some and generate a bit of a buzz.

    I think it makes money off hardware only, right?

    • Peter Blair

      Ironically on the software side, there used to be a really robust program from Sufferfest for Knights of Sufferlandria to test beta features. Sadly that has somewhat fallen by the wayside since the acquisition. I’m sure a lot of us would be interested in beta testing new Wahoo hardware too…

  21. Jon Niehof

    Wahoo as Wahoo I’m relatively indifferent on (no horse in the race). But I’m really worried what this might mean for Drops* this year. They already went through losing one title sponsor this season; what if Wahoo suddenly finds they’re not in a place to support?

    * With title sponsors not really sticking around, might as well use the old name.

  22. David

    I like wahoo. They are innovators and their products have changed the market. Having said that, I refuse to give them the crazy amount of money they are asking for speedplay pedals with 2mm wider axles. Somehow it costs almost $100 AUD more on top of a very expensive standard price in the first place. I’ll reluctantly find a way to keep my old worn ones going.

  23. Duncan Campbell

    I have a kickr v2 I bought about 10 years ago. Still runs perfectly, haven’t had to change a belt, only issue I’ve ever had was the optical speed sensor didn’t like the light reflections off my swimming pool and that made the power all over the place at particular times of day in some weather which was interesting to troubleshoot.

    I’d buy another immediately if this one dies, but I can’t find a good reason to upgrade.

    My element bolt is fine, but when I replace I’ll see what garmin and hammerhead are doing and see what suits.

    Make their head units as good as their trainers and keep customers returning.

  24. Mike

    I managed to get through 3 x kickr cores in about 6 months years ago, various issues with squeaks and non-connectivity.
    They eventually gave me a standard (refurb) kickr which was fine and they also gave me an elemnt as a good will gesture.
    Their customer support was always excellent but it clearly cost them a lot to deal with all of this.
    I eventually bought a kickr bike about a year ago which has been great.
    I hope they don’t disappear as I’d like to keep the bike going for a long time.
    The elemnt is still going strong too, I like the look of the new Garmins e.g. 1040 and the fact it fits in the Xert eco system but the price is crazy just for this.
    I was also a big sufferfest user years ago prior to wahoo taking this over, the question that was banded around then was ‘when are you going to make an android app?’, now it’s Apple TV gotta feel a bit for these companies, impossible to keep everyone happy, but that Apple TV app would make me subscribe.

  25. John

    None of your points will save Wahoo. And from a business point of view, to put into gear what you suggest takes money, which is exactly what wahoo don’t have.
    Wahoo are finished and so is a large part of the over-inflated turbo market. No turbo should cost over a 1000 anything.
    Secondly, most cyclists don’t buy a new computer or turbo every year. Turbos and computers last years and most people make do. You can only flog upgrades so many times.
    Wahoo should become a coffee company.

  26. GH

    Some good comments here.

    I’ve had plenty of wahoo products: kickrs, elemnt, bolts, roam, tickrs, rival. I loved sufferfest until they raised the price. Hope they make it but even if they dont then a restructuring should be good for consumers.

    Top of the wish list would be to address the bezel on the ROAM. terrible.

  27. BYU’01

    Ray, if I were Wahoo I would go the opposite way. I would not gamble on being able to develop and source a game-changing or evolutionary KICKR every year. Their value is in:

    1) Defining what products you must-have
    2) Building a great platform and portfolio of apps that make endurance sports fun and allow people to get better.

    Only introduce products when you have something that disrupts the market. There is plenty of opportunity for that. They should monetize their hardware mindshare via the platform and apps. It probably means that established products like KICKRs, ELEMNTs, RIVALs adopt much longer refresh cycles. I’d argue building the foundational userbase of your hardware is the hard part. Creating innovative software & content that benefits your user-base seems easier and is certainly more scalable.

    I think wearables like a watch and heart rate monitors are always going to be needed. If I were to eliminate a product it would probably be the original KICKR. The market for that price point has been fulfilled. Their good-better-best should include:

    KICKR Snap
    KICKR Core
    KICKR Bike

    If they are looking for things that could be: 1) outsourced to a contract manufacturer, 2) add value to users & command great margins and 3) avoid knockoffs by integrating into the Wahoo ecosystem I would vote for a Wahoo ALRM. 😊

    Good sleep and morning workouts are among the biggest factors to improving performance. The ALRM could integrate with my SYSTM/X workout schedules or my Microsoft/Google/Apple calendar or react to my sleep readings from a watch or HRM. LEDs could mimic sunrise while a radio or alarm backup only triggers when you fail to wake more peacefully.

    Nobody sells a quality clock radio any more because knockoffs kill the incentive to innovate. The link to the Wahoo ecosystem creates the avenue to build a quality device and get paid for it.

    • StephenB

      Why would you eliminate the flagship product? Better off focussing on direct drive than that. GoPro for example have gone in a different direction.

      Unless you are a Garmin/Tacx spy in disguise…

  28. Ian (also Steve, John, and other names)

    Been saying for years, eventually the fitness bubble will burst. Once you buy a bike, turbo, helmet, shoes…you’re not upgrading every week, fact.

    There’s only so many people buying fitness gear and once that market is saturated its done.

  29. Tizzledk

    HI DC,

    Do you really think they need to kill off the Rival? As I see it, they need a watch in the space to compete with Garmin and other players. I did notice the Rival is on a huge discount, so maybe they are telegraphing their intentions. Interested to hear what you think about that.

    • Definitely. They can’t compete in this space. The product functionally didn’t compete with a TomTom watch from a decade ago at RIVAL launch. And while things have improved, it’s simply not even remotely competitive with any other watch in the market from 5 years ago, let alone today.

      If we look at what Garmin is doing with quarterly releases, the Instinct 2/Forerunner 255 got more new features in this/last quarterly updates than RIVAL has in the last 18 months.

      It’s one thing if they want to be a COROS and just throw tremendous software dev resources at it, but they aren’t. They aren’t making up for the lack of new features (or accuracy) in any way.

    • Tizzledk

      Ok thanks….thats sad cause I had hopes for it. Oh well.

  30. Alex

    They shouldn’t build things so well if they want us to upgrade. My v1 KICKR from 2016 is still going strong. I’d only upgrade if I had to move from the garage and had to worry about the noise. It’s very loud.

  31. david

    Assuming Wahoo survive. They may be best served by re-igniting that perception that they are disruptors, more innovative and faster moving than the competition.
    – The element units used to have glowing reviews of frequent updates and new features – what happened
    – The Kickr was revolutionary when it first came out. There was nothing like it.

    Maybe Wahoo just need to go back to basics. Be disruptive and innovative again. Set up some focus groups and find… again, that hole in the market that competitors have just forgotten about are ignoring.

    They might consider my email to them from years ago asking if their data field for power zones (on the element) had a decimal place (e.g. Zone 3.2) . I was really surprised when they wrote back telling me that not only were the power zones just a single number, I was also advised that it wasn’t important for me to know where in the power band I was. ok. Sure. I’ll just went and bought the edge 530.

  32. Andy

    Is Wahoo’s biggest problem not simply that there’s only so many times someone is going to pay £1000 on a trainer and its not something where “features” really matter.

    I am on a Kickr I bought in 2015, it works just fine, it does zwift, it does erg mode. What am I (a 63kg triathlete who’d need to strap my car to it to get to 2000W) missing out on? I don’t 100% know but I am guessing the list is:

    1. A bit quieter;
    2. Climb (meh);
    3. Rumble/texture (if I were going to jump to Tacx but meh);
    4. +/- 1% accuracy (I actually use my pedals for power so I have the same source inside and outside).

    Fundamentally I get to the point where “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and I assume that most people who are going to spend £1000 on a trainer have reached that point that there really isn’t a reason to upgrade.

    • StephenB

      Essentially true. The v4 Kickr & Core were the jumps forward with the silent drive. That was more than a push for older users to upgrade.

      Since then, the v5 is effectively a fixed v4 with a few extras and v6 has the port. Evolution not revolution.

      Not all bad, but not worthy of £1100 atm.Keeping the Kickr as a top mid-end at ~£899, and bringing out a v2 Core with auto-calibrate and port are essential. No way I’d upgrade my v4 without a big price drop.

      A flagship model to compete? Take the electromagnetic resistance unit from the Kickr bike and turn it into a rear wheel unit.

      Either call it Kickr v7 or give it a unique name. No need to end the standard unit, call it Kickr Classic and drop the price.

      Wahoo have forgotten the art of innovation and customer enticement.

      Oh, and halve the price of the climb and headwind.

    • David

      I think there is a real opening in the turbo trainer market and it’s changing resistance faster and more smoothly. Something that would let you more comfortably do shorter intervals in erg mode, and deal with stuff like rolling terrain in zwift more comfortably. Fixing the lag there would be a real improvement.

  33. KevinC

    The simplicity and it.just.works advantage of the ELEMNT system went by the wayside a couple of years ago when they either hired a bunch of Garmin software engineers or Garmin placed some moles in the Wahoo camp. ;^) Since that time, their firmware updates have, in a very Garmin-like way, routinely broken features which requires several other rapid-fire updates to fix. Syncing post-ride and syncing/loading of routes is still currently hit-or-miss. Wahoo still has an advantage in terms of setting up the unit through a smartphone app vs. the complex and fiddly on-device setup of Garmin & Hammerhead units. HOWEVER, Wahoo MUST get back to just.working.every.time. I believe there’s still a significant number of users out here that don’t want, need, or care about many of the blingy new features on competitors’ units. Heck I’m still trying to figure out how to stop my Bolt from automatically switching to the “climb” screen any time I encounter a significant bump in the road. :^DDD And of course their pricing needs to reflect this feature set as well. And don’t EVEN get me started on the completely bone-headed move of them acquiring RGT and attempting to compete with Zwift, the clear industry leader in that space thereby further depleting and diluting their capital and development resources. If there’s any message that companies across the spectrum should take from the last few years, it’s – focus on what you’re already great at and STOP trying to do EVERYTHING!

  34. Peter Harris

    Don’t forget that Apple … yes, APPLE … nearly went bankrupt back in 1996 or 1997. So, stranger things have happened!