• Competitive Cyclist

Wahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFT: Hands-On and Initial Thoughts


Today Wahoo announced a more affordable version of their high-end KICKR BIKE, the new KICKR BIKE SHIFT. This slices $1,000 off the price in exchange for a few trade-offs, notably removing the built-in CLIMB-like up and down incline simulation, as well as a more traditional smart trainer drive train system and a few other minor removals. However, it’s not all cuts here either – there are also some moderate improvements over the high-end KICKR Bike, aimed at addressing common requests/issues. In fact, as you’ll see, I’d argue that for most people, the KICKR Bike SHIFT makes more sense – but more on that later.

The new KICKR BIKE SHIFT will retail for $2,999 (compared to the $3,999 of the full KICKR BIKE). Obviously, we’re not talking cheap things here. Virtually none of the smart bikes are, especially not Wahoo’s premium brand. But the new price brings it more in line with some of the other mid-range smart bike competitors like the Stages SB20 and Wattbike ATOM 2020.

In any case, I’ve been riding the KICKR SHIFT for the past few weeks or so, putting it through its paces. This isn’t a full review, largely because I’m just inundated with products right now and only so many hours in the day. And partly to work out some technical challenges (more on that down below). So consider this a first look until I can come up for air, ideally soonish.

With that, let’s dig into it.

How it Differs & Initial Thoughts:


While the Wahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFT shares the name with the existing KICKR BIKE, technologically, they’re almost entirely different. In fact, even structurally they’re almost entirely different. Everything from the frame design/size/materials is changed, to the entire flywheel/drivetrain system, to how the electronics in the shifters attach. About the only thing that’s the same is the saddle itself (even how it attaches is different), as well as the handlebars (and how those attach/connect is different).

Let’s start out structurally first. You’ll immediately notice the KICKR BIKE SHIFT (aka KICKR Bike Jr) has much thinner components. While a chunk of this is weight savings (and those costs for shipping and material savings), another very real component is that it increases rider compatibility. A very common complaint about the existing KICKR BIKE V1/V2 is that the top-tube is really wide, and would often rub on thighs (mine included), depending on your exact fit. This new frame is much thinner, and I experienced no thigh-rub:


You’ll also notice new styled handles everywhere for this thinner design. On the whole, I don’t think the new handles are better or worse, just…different. Perfectly fine either way.


An example of that is the new seatpost clamp. At first, I was moderately annoyed with it, as I kept getting slippage. Way more slippage than the already slippage-prone KICKR Bike V1/V2. Then I realized this new seatpost clamp has a hex-compatible nut in it, so you can actually crank it down with a hex wrench. Once I did that, then it was rock-solid staying put. I could have had a goat atop a cow style circus act up there, and it’d have stayed exactly in place.


I asked whether or not the various markings on the KICKR Bike V1/V2 were identical to the BIKE SHIFT markings (from a fit/sizing standpoint), and said while they are very similar, things are slightly different by a few millimeters. However, if you use the Wahoo app to input your fit coordinates (such as from a bike fitting system), it’ll spit out the correct markings for whichever version of the bike you’re using.

Meanwhile, transitioning towards some of the electronics pieces, towards the front you’ll notice a lack of messy wiring. Gone are all the silly cables running everywhere, replaced instead by a kinda-sorta-Di2/AXS junction box style situation. This is where the shifter cables come into, but also where the power runs through, as well as status lights for wireless communications. This is actually magnetically attached:

DSC_7847 DSC_7849


Now, these magnets are not-so-awesome/strong. I haven’t had any issues yet with them falling off or anything, as rather it’s more about being bonked by towels over the handlebars. If you do bonk it and it disconnects, you’re mostly hosed – all communications drop. Wahoo says they’re already looking at stronger magnets to ensure it doesn’t go anywhere. And I suppose in the meantime you could just put a rubber band or ZipTie around it. Like I said, I haven’t had any problems in the 8 or so rides yet.

Meanwhile, on the backside of the KICKR JR we’ve got the entirely new drivetrain/flywheel system. This is not the same motor-driven electromagnetic drivetrain that you have on the KICKR BIKE V1/V2, thus it can’t simulate downhill/forward speeds (e.g., coasting down a hill). It’s more in line with the Wahoo KICKR trainers in terms of how it works. Visually (externally), I kinda like it actually. In any shots where you see ‘white’ or reflecting looks to it, that’s just a crapton of studio lights reflecting off-angle. In person, it’s just black. Albeit, very shiny black.


This new drivetrain system is dead-silent. It makes zero sound whatsoever. Not pedaling, not coasting, nothing.

In fact, that’s not the only quiet thing here – also, the lack of built-in KICKR CLIMB gradient simulation means that it’s mechanically much simpler. No crazy up/down systems, or pivot points. It’s…well…simple. And as such, everything about it is quiet. That’s notable when compared to the KICKR Bike V1 and V2, which have a long history of slowly getting louder over their individual lifespans. My KICKR Bike V1 seems to groan and make noises even when I look at it And when I get on and start pedaling? It’s debatably akin to an adult film production set happening down below.

Whereas the KICKR Bike SHIFT is just so effin quiet. It’s insane how quiet by comparison – akin to a silent Peloton Bike. Here’s a tiny little snippet from a video I haven’t got around to making yet, showing some sprints and how quiet it is:

In terms of ride feel, it feels good. It feels like a KICKR does. I haven’t had any road-feel type concerns here, all of my rides in that realm are good. Likewise, from a structure/feel/movement standpoint, that’s all good too. Obviously, it doesn’t go up/down physically like the KICKR BIKE V1/V2 does, but here’s the dirty little secret: I almost never use that feature of our BIKE V1 (or the BIKE V2 I have). The reason? It seems like every time I get on, it has defaulted back to the electronic locking position, and then I forget to re-enable. My brain simply doesn’t realize the lack of ups/downs.


However, the one thing that I did immediately notice is the lack of a physical gearing display. On the KICKR BIKE SHIFT there is no gear indicator/display like there is on the KICKR BIKE V1/V2. That’s particularly challenging in Zwift, since Zwift doesn’t display which gear you’re in for the KICKR Bike (it does for the Tacx NEO BIke, Wattbike, and probably some others) – but not Wahoo.

I asked about this to both Zwift/Wahoo last week upon announcement they’ve started seeing each other on Tinder again, and it sounds like this particular item is top of mind for both of them. I can’t imagine this is a hard software thing to add – so hopefully it gets added quickly, not just on Zwift, but other platforms as well.

Finally, here’s some tech spec stuffs, because, everyone likes tech specs:

– Power Accuracy claim of +/- 1%
– Max 20% simulated incline (of resistance unit)
– Max 2,200w supported resistance
– Zero-calibration software algorithm
– Dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart support, including ANT+ FE-C, plus power/speed/cadence broadcasting
– Built-in always-on WiFi (2.4 GHz)
– Retains existing KICKR Direct Connect wired port option for connectivity (requires adapter)
– Bike weight: 100lbs/40kgs, max rider weight 250lbs/113.4kgs
– Requires power cable/be plugged in

Now, the singular area I’m having some initial problems with is accuracy. Except, I can’t figure out yet (despite 8 rides later), if this is a me problem, a Wahoo problem, or just some combination thereof. I’ve gone through three sets of power meter pedals from different brands and can’t get any of them to agree with the unit, despite those same pedals agreeing with other bikes/trainers immediately before/after. The quirky thing is everything is super variable. I’m working together with Wahoo to try and narrow down what’s going on. I do know that both GPLAMA (Shane Miller) and DesFit have been getting spot-on accuracy results with their units, and Wahoo even sent me a test data set from the factory showing the pre-ship accuracy test of this exact unit, with it being spot on. They said they haven’t seen anything like what I’m seeing, and thus once I return back home on Friday, we’ll keep troubleshooting what’s going on, and what the source is. Power meter pedals can sometimes be finicky with smart bikes, though usually not three-sets and 8 rides finicky.

Ok, let’s get into some initial, umm, final thoughts.



Thus far, from a design and ride feel/usage standpoint, I’m liking it more than I thought I would. In fact, I’d argue I like it more than the KICKR BIKE V1 I have (which can go up/down). I’d say the two reasons for this are that the V1 doesn’t have WiFi, which this KICKR BIKE SHIFT has, and secondarily, this thing is just so silent, whereas I need to acquire a noise permit for each ride on my KICKR BIKE V1 from the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the KICKR Bike V2 I have does behave and is quiet.

Still, if I had to go out today and buy another bike, I’d almost certainly buy the KICKR BIKE SHIFT over the KICKR BIKE V2, and save the $1,500. First off, that $1,500 buys a lot of ice cream, and secondarily, it reduces a lot of potential breakage points. Further, it increases the fit compatibility for those who have thigh rubbing issues (mainly, those of us with huge wattage bazooka legs). I do wish they had kept the small gearing indicator display, and of course I’d like to see some stronger magnets in that junction box – but neither are deal-breakers at this point.

Additionally, since I tend to do more structured (ERG) workouts than straight world-simulation style workouts, I don’t tend to miss the downhill/forward-drive-simulation aspects as much, since I don’t tend to go down a lot of big hills. But again, to each their own.

In any event – stay tuned for a full in-depth review, which will basically be these same opinions with fully accuracy testing results alongside probably a few thoughts from my wife riding it, as she’s mostly been riding the new KICKR MOVE smart trainer lately instead.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Wahoo KICKR BIKE SHIFT or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of smart bike accessories that most folks getting a smart bike for the first time might not have already:

There's no better bang for your buck in getting Zwift (or FulGaz/etc) on your big screen TV than Apple TV - it's the primary way I Zwift. Even if you don't have a 4K TV, the 4K version has more powerful graphics than the base, worth the extra $30.

Basic Trainer Mat

This is a super basic trainer mat, which is exactly what you'll see me use. All it does is stop sweat for getting places it shouldn't (it also helps with vibrations too).

I use Apple TV for Zwift the vast majority of the time, but also just for watching YouTube/Netflix/etc on the trainer. The Apple TV remote sucks though. This $8 case fixes that, it's a silicone strap that makes it easy to grab, but also has a strap to easily place on the edge of your handlebars. Boom! Note: Not compatible with 2021 Apple TV Edition.

Honeywell HT-900 Fan

I've got three of these $12 fans floating around the DCR Cave, and I frequently use them on rides. They work just fine. Sure, they're not as powerful as a Wahoo Headwind, but I could literally buy 20 of them for the same price.

Lasko High Velocity Pro-Performance Fan (U15617)

One of the most popular trainer fans out there, rivaling the Wahoo Headwind fan in strength but at a fraction of the price. It doesn't have smartphone/ANT+/Bluetooth integration, but it does have secondary outlets. I've been using it, and a similiar European version lately with great success (exact EU variant I use is automatically linked at left).

This desk is both a knock-off of the original KICKR Desk, but yet also better than it. First, it's got wheel locks (so the darn thing stays put), and second, it has two water bottle holders (also useful for putting other things like remotes). I've been using it as my main trainer desk for a long time now and love it. Cheaper is better apparently. Note: Branding varies by country, exact same desk.

This is by far the best value in trainer desks, at only $59, but with most of the features of the higher end features. It's got multi-tier tablet slots, water bottle holders, non-stick surface, adjustable height and more. I'm loving it!

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. Does this include the “race mode” that the v5 and v6 kickrs got?

    • Nick

      Race Mode was supposed to come to Kickr Bike V2 back in Feb – nothing has happened since. Wahoo have been saying ‘coming soon’ for past six months yet no sign of Race Mode. Total silence.

    • Todd Tannenbaum

      According to GPLAMA YouTube review, the SHIFT does not have race mode at this time. (Perhaps adding it is just firmware? No idea ….)

  2. Michael Adler

    Given the divergence in price smart trainers and smart bikes, I would rather buy a trainer, like the zwift hub, and an entry level road or gravel bike instead of any smart bike in the market. I could even buy a second bike for my partner.

  3. Jared Strauss

    This looks way better than the regular Kickr Bike IMO. I have a V1. It’s great, however I never use the incline feature. It was cool when I first got it but it really does not do much to enhance your experience IMO.

    • craigm

      As a KICKR Bike V1 user, I can see the perspective of those who think the incline feature is pointless. I rarely notice the incline mode using Wahoo’s SYSTM/Sufferfest training sessions, and often forget to turn it on. However, for me incline is a must-have feature on a trainer, because I enjoy using FulGaz – for the “rides” around Amsterdam, incline is not a big deal. For “rides” through the rolling hills of Scotland it adds a lot. If nothing else, it requires enough alertness not to get caught off guard reaching for water or snacks when the gradient changes abruptly. I also find myself putting out a non-negligible amount of extra power on average when I am riding with a speed-responsive video with climbs where the bike is correctly positioned, not sure how much of that is due to speed-responsiveness and how much is due to the simulated incline.

      Of course, my opinion is probably a bit fringe, because I’d also pay extra for steering and something that delivered an unpleasant punch to the thigh or gut if you “crash”, to keep the cognitive exercise aspect of actual cycling…

  4. holo

    i wish Wahoo had a trade-in programme. I’d get this bike in a heartbeat if i could trade in my v1 for a discount. it’s just a lot of hassle to find a local buyer for the v1…

    • Chad McNeese

      Considering shipping costs for such a large & heavy device, a trade-in would likely be of so little actual dollar value for the current owner/seller, that I suspect the reality would fall well short of the ideal.

      My suggestion for anyone wanting to upgrade is the same as I mention for bikes and trainers, which is to find a local rider needing a new or improved device and sell it to them. Consider that “trade-in” value you have in mind and apply that.

      Likely ends up helping someone into a device at a discounted price to them and gives you money in hand to offset the price of the new hotness. Sort of a “pay it forward” idea by keeping their costs down but helping you make the change at the same time.

      This may not work for everyone since these devices aren’t universally needed in all areas, but I think there is plenty of potential for lots of riders to do a sale/swap like this.

      Until we get someone to take on a “The Pro’s Closet” approach to trading and selling pre-owned trainers, we have to handle this ourselves. But again, smart bikes in particular will be a challenge with their much larger size and weight compared to bike shipping.

    • Giant

      100% agree with you on this since I also have the v1.

    • James

      I have the V1, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it?
      The new features are trivial.

      This is like people with SL7 Tarmacs dropping everything to get the SL8.

  5. Andrew Newsom

    Would you buy this or the Kickr Bike 2 if they were the same price?

  6. Kemal

    Looks functional, needs a less typo-prone name…

  7. Someone give a Grammarly / LanguageTool subscription to DC Rainmaker 🙂

  8. Old man Nick

    Thank you for writing this

  9. Claus

    Too bad the pricedifference in Denmark is more like 7-800 EUR. It is not even remotely close to the SB20 pricetag.

  10. Dylan

    How responsive is the virtual gear shifting?

  11. Piotr

    Keep us updated about the issues with its accuracy. This is alarming I would say… and I am afraid Wahoo QC still sucks… Had very bad experience with my Kickr V5 and read a lot of complaints about Kick Bike either – noise, some free play, creaking, squeaking etc. Nothing of that should happen at this price tag….

  12. Jon

    I see something like this almost useful in a budget bike-fit studio. On 1st glance however it looks like the cranks are a fixed length so will be restrictive for a bunch of body morphisms and tt-setups.

    • Chad McNeese

      Check out the very last pic in the article. It shows the “bear claw” that houses 5 different crank length positions (165mm, 167.5mm, 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm), so that is covered pretty well if you ignore the extra short or long options that are available.

      To that end and in conjunction with the other adjustments, this could make a decent option for a fit bike. It’s plenty adjustable (including the cranks) and on par with “real fit bikes” that cost at least double that in some cases.

    • Jon

      Nice well spotted.
      That should cover a variety of road setups. For TT it would need to go down below 150mm but i don’t think that was their intention. Plus probably 98% of cyclists don’t TT.

    • Andrew

      I wonder if those cranks are the same as on the v1 bike. I have had both left and right cranks crack all the way through all the pedal bolt holes. Seen plenty of others experience the same too. If Wahoo have read across this known issue, I think it speaks volumes about where quality comes in their priority list

    • Also, totally random tidbit on the bear claw design – it’s very slightly changed on the SHIFT. Gone is the requirement for spacers and the slight indent in the crank arm. That’s because the shell is much much much further away now from the crank arm, whereas before you had like 2mm of clearance.

  13. Christopher L Bosch

    It looks to me like it’s $1,000 cheaper, not $1,500. Am I missing something?

  14. Damien

    I’m confused. In on sentence it sliced 1,500 off? In another it’s 2,999 vs 3,999 which is 1,000 off.

  15. James

    The wrap-up really over-eggs the noise of the V1.

    I have one, it’s not loud at all.
    If you’re running a fan that will certainly be multiple times louder than the V1.

    Bluetooth connectivity is absolutely fine too.
    The differences between V1 & V2 were so marginal and definitely no where near enough to justify an ‘upgrade’.

    • I think you’re misunderstanding the noise.

      The issue with V1 noise isn’t usually the sound of it when running cleanly. It’s all the other noises it makes whenever it wants, which, will vary on all sorts of things from how old your unit is, how good the QA folks did the day it was built, whether or not it has other inline changes along the way, etc…

      One only need to see the Facebook KICKR Bike owners group to see just how wide the variety of noises are. Some noises are temporary (such as mine, about 90-seconds worth of groaning when I start it up), some are responsive (right now the main column bolt at the base is slowly getting more and more loose, so if I do a hard sprint, it clunks around a bunch), and some are just bad motor sounds (not mine, but others).

      V2 solved a lot of those issues, but that doesn’t take away from a lot of people that have very real wonky sounds on V1.

    • James

      OK, I’ve done 6,500km on it just this year so far (which is more than most people will do in their lifetime with this product). No issues whatsoever, but maybe I’m lucky.

    • Tyler

      Personally, I’ve grown to love the only at 83rpm cadence resonance hum of my v1 BIKE. It’s basically a part of the family now. 🙂

  16. René Rolighed

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for a great initial insight into the new Kickr SHIFT. Can’t wait to see what the price translates into in danish currency. For the first time I actually consider replacing my trusty Tacx Neo generation 1 with a dedicated smartbike – as the SHIFT seems like it might actually match my price-quality-featureset requirements.

    Quick question… The missing downhill/freewheeling simulation. Could you maybe give a little more insight into why this isn’t (physically?) possible on the SHIFT? I’m a bit worried that this could be the dealbreaker for me as I’m used to it on my Neo and find that this feature plays a significant role on regular rides and races on Zwift (maybe just my imagination as I can’t really remember how it was years ago on my old Bkool).
    And one other thing… In the video it seems the bolts facing town on the botton of the SHIFT (see picture) seems to be VERY close to the floor. And when you spring there seems to be quite a bit of flex happening in the lower beam to the point where it almost seems like the bolt might actually be hitting the floor? 🤔

    • RE: Downhill/freewheeling: The KICKR Bike (non-SHIFT) has a drive/flywheel design mildly similar to that of the Tacx NEO series, which has an actual motor in it to drive things forward. Whereas the KICKR Bike SHIFT has a flywheel/etc design more akin to a Wahoo KICKR, which lacks the motor part to drive downhills. Thus, it doesn’t have the hardware to move it forward. Think of it kinda like a glider versus a plane with an engine. Kinda, roughly.

      RE: Bolts close to floor.

      I think that’s more of a camera angle thing. In my case, the camera was on a small flexible tripod, and about 6-8″ or so off the ground, so it was angled downwards a fair bit. On my next ride I’ll try and get some flush shots, but I don’t think it’s a concern at the moment.

  17. Alex

    Is it more or less comfortable than Kickr Move?

  18. Alberto Garcia

    Great review! I have a question for you. I owned V1 for 10 months. I do a lot of riding on it. I love it. I had an issue a few weeks ago with pairing (I think it is due to the gear switchbox). Wahoo wants me to send it back to them and they are sending me a new V2 soon. I don’t use the inclination, or the gear shifting. I always do programmed workouts. I like the new bike, with fewer and simpler features. My question is: if you had the opportunity to have either of them, not considering the price, which one would you choose? I am not sure if Wahoo would be open to send me a new Wahoo Kicker Core Bike though instead of a new V2 Wahoo Kicker bike. Thank you.

  19. Val Alves

    Excellent review DCR! Quick question: If you use a Garmin Edge or watch with this bike, will it show the gear indicator? Thanks!

  20. Scott Boyd

    Will the Shift display gearing on the Wahoo App?

    • Scott Boyd

      I received a response from Wahoo Fitness Support that gearing information will be displayed in the Wahoo Fitness app both during and after the workout has been completed.

  21. Marc L

    I’m very curious about the accuracy issue you’ve found with the Kickr Bike Shift. Over the past 2 years, I’ve owned 5 different Kickr Bikes (2 V1 and 3 V2). Of those 5, the only one that was accurate (vs. 2 different sets of Assioma DUO pedals and more recently a set of Garmin Rally RS200 pedals) was the first Kickr Bike I owned. It was “bang on”, within 1% across all power ranges above 1 minute. Unfortunately, I had to have this first Kickr Bike warranty replaced due to a mechanical failure.

    After that, I have had 4 Kickr Bikes that very clearly and consistently over-report power by 10 – 25W, some worse than others. Again, this is testing against 3 different dual-side power meter pedals that have a reputation for high accuracy. Also in each case, all 3 pedals are reporting the same power differential on the same bike.

    The response from their support each time is very odd. They are adamant that the Kickr Bike is factory calibrated and certified accurate to +/-1%, but then they gladly agree to replace the bike under warranty each time. At the same time, they have acknowledged that their engineering are working on a “firmware fix” to address the issue of power accuracy, but they’ve been saying this for over a year now and won’t provide any concrete details, or even really acknowledge that there’s a problem.

    It’s all very confusing and frustrating, considering the price of these units and their stated +/- 1% accuracy. I’d love to see what kind of intel you get on this.

  22. Markus

    thank you very much for another very good review.. I am in the market to buy one of those type trainers and deciding between the shift, the Kickr V2 and potentially the Neo bike.. I am leaning towards the Kickr shift due to the low noise, my current bike is squeaking and it’s really annoying especially when on zoom calls or when others are sleeping..

    do you have an idea when you will post teh full review? I’d like to get your insight before pulling the trigger on ordering it…

    many thanks again for all your great work

  23. Ellis McCoy

    The question has to be do you buy this or the Wattbike Atom?

  24. Paul

    Hi, I am considering kickr bike shift and tacx neo bike+, but I have really limited space. Kickr looks smaller and less massive (especially on the front). Could you measure the size of kickr bike shift? and what do you think about kickr bike shift (if it’s small) vs setting up every training jutro + rizer + bringing the bike from the garage?