Over the past 7 days, both Elite and Wahoo have reduced prices on a few models of their trainers that directly or indirectly compete with the direct drive based Zwift Hub smart trainer. That trainer was announced one year ago to the day, tomorrow. And during that time period it’s had massive success in terms of both sales but more importantly – driving down the price of smart trainers.
Of course, neither Wahoo nor Elite are strangers to price disruption. If we look back to the CompuTrainer days, it was Wahoo that introduced their first trainer, the original Wahoo KICKR in 2012, undercutting the then gold-standard CompuTrainer by some $400+. Within a few years, CompuTrainer would go out of business.
Meanwhile, Elite has more quietly done much the same. The introduction of their Elite Direto smart trainer line back in 2017 plummeted the price of direct drive smart trainers into the sub-$800 price-point, and since then the series has gotten more and more high-end (from Direto to Direto X, then Direto XR), while largely maintaining the existing price point. And then one can’t forget the Elite Zumo trainer, which is arguably the more foundational basis for doing a sub-$500 direct drive trainer. Elite had been selling that in various markets at those price points pre-COVID.
In any case, these moves appear timed to set a new baseline for the winter trainer season, and basically say “Hey, we’re just as competitive as Zwift”. So, here’s what’s changing.
Wahoo Price Drops:
The Wahoo KICKR CORE goes from $899USD to $599USD – a $300 reduction (and down to 499GBP). This doesn’t come with a cassette, but does have compatibility with Wahoo’s KICKR CLIMB system, if you want to add in gradient simulation. It also has multi-channel Bluetooth (meaning, more than one concurrent Bluetooth connection), which can be useful for some non-Garmin/Wahoo watch compatibility use cases (e.g., watches that don’t support ANT+). The Wahoo KICKR CORE also has a bit higher flywheel weight than the Zwift Hub (12.0LBS/5.44KGS vs 10.3LBS/4.7KG), which generally gives you a bit more inertia and increases road feel.
The Wahoo KICKR CORE has long been the ~$900 price point trainer to beat, albeit Elite has found its groove there in the last year or so. But when the Zwift Hub came out, it was exceptionally hard to justify paying $400 more, merely for Wahoo CLIMB access (especially if you never planned to buy one). Even Wahoo’s own lawsuit against Zwift noted that countless times. Thus, at $599, it’s positioned pretty darn well. Sure, I think if you don’t care about future Wahoo compatibility, then your effective price is closer to $650-$670, since you still need to buy a cassette (whereas the Zwift Hub includes one) – so that will likely remain a factor for some.
Nonetheless, it’s good to see competition here, and price decreases for the consumer are generally a good thing.
Elite Price Drops:
Of course, Elite is also reducing their prices as well. In their cases, their prices were already a fair bit lower – as that was largely Elite’s mantra for many years. Still, just as with Wahoo, the Zwift Hub price undoubtedly hurt sales at a time when trainer companies were trying to recover from the post-COVID indoor training bubble pop.
The Elite Direto XR-T will go from $899USD to $699USD ($200 price drop). Remember, the Elite Direto XR-T has higher specs than both the CORE & Zwift Hub, with upwards of 24% gradient simulation, compared to the 16% of the HUB/CORE. For Euro pricing, it’ll go from 825EUR to 699EUR. And from 829GBP to 599GBP.
Additionally, the Elite Suito-T will also have its price reduced from $699USD to $549USD ($150 price drop). That trainer has more equal specs to the KICKR CORE & Zwift Hub, namely in terms of gradient simulation. The EUR pricing has gone from 660EUR to 549EUR, and GBP from 639GBP to 499GBP.
Note that neither of these trainers include a cassette (which is indicated by the “-T” after the model name, Elite has two versions of each). Thus you’re still looking at adding a cassette to both.
Ultimately, it’s great to see these price drops ahead of the fall season – and I’m certainly looking to doing some comparisons once the dust settles on the typical indoor trainer release period here over the next month or so.
With that – thanks for reading!