Wahoo's Kickr power trainer offers a very smooth and realistic road feel, is simple to use and is compatible with an increasing number of apps that give you access to a huge virtual training world. But at £999 it's scarily expensive, an investment of serious proportions.
Pros & cons
Easy to set up and use
Very smooth and realistic road feel
Large number of compatible third-party apps
Accurate power training
Direct-drive saves tyre wear
Solid and stable
Requires mains power connection
The Kickr is a direct-drive style trainer, which means you remove the wheel from the bicycle and mount the frame directly onto the trainer. The trainer comes fitted with a 10-speed Shimano cassette, and it's compatible with 10 and 11-speed cassettes and a Campagnolo freehub is available. That makes getting going a cinch.
An obvious benefit of the direct-drive approach is that there is no wear to the rear tyre. There's no more delay setting the bike up for a session than a regular turbo trainer.
The Kickr is a hefty lump, 21kg, which ensures that it is impressively stable. You can lunge and flail about as much as you like, the Kickr ain't budging. There's a useful handle to facilitate moving the trainer, and two legs fold away for storage.
It's easily adjustable to accommodate different wheel sizes. The feet are height adjustable too.
At its heart, the Kickr utilises an electromagnetic resistance unit with a built-in power meter, and Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ connectivity. It needs power, so you need to set up the Kickr near a power source. That provides some limitations; I couldn't set it up in my garage for lack of power so had to commandeer the spare room. Another is the inability to use it for warming up before races and time trials, unless you could bodge together a portable battery supply - rumour has it Team Sky use such a custom battery device for warming up and cooling down after races.
A big appeal of the Kickr is its ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and the fact Wahoo have allowed third-party developers to produce compatible apps. There is a growing list of compatible apps such as Zwift and TrainerRoad, a feature which no other trainer can rival.
Wahoo's free Fitness app provides quite advanced control over the Kickr. You do need a compatible Bluetooth device (you can't control it from a Garmin at present) and my Samsung Note worked just fine. The app will pair any other devices, like a cadence or heart rate sensor, and track all your data on various screens.
The adjustable resistance is a big appeal of the Kickr. The Wahoo Fitness app gives you a choice of four modes for controlling the resistance - level, resistance, erg and sim - depending on the sort of training you want to do.
By far and away the most useful, and it's really the jewel in the gem of the Kickr, is the erg setting. Quite simply, you enter a power number, and all you have to do is pedal, the trainer provides the required resistance. Whack it up to 500 watts and see how long you can maintain the effort until you collapse.
This erg setting transformed my training sessions, providing a level of accuracy and consistency I had never achieved before. It's a mode that will appeal to anyone wanting to really maximise power training and ensures you can hit the desired power figures, providing you have the legs, every time you get on the thing.
The transition through the resistance levels is smooth and progressive giving you enough time to adapt to the change in tempo, and takes a couple of seconds to adjust after you change the power setting. One small blip I found is if you stop pedalling for whatever reason, that it then takes a huge effort to get going again, and the only solution is to reduce the resistance level right down.
Once a session is completed you can share it to a number of training websites to track and monitor your progress, including of course Strava. There's nothing to stop you using a Garmin or similar computer on your bike, using ANT+, to record all the data if you want from the Kickr and other sensors, but the app does it all anyway.
Wahoo have smartly made the Kickr open to third-party developers, and there's a growing number of compatible apps if the Wahoo Fitness app doesn't do enough. I personally found Fitness more than adequate for the largely interval based training I undertake on an indoor trainer, with more than enough control over resistance.
There's Wahoo's own Segments app (£22.99), allowing a simulated Strava segment to be ridden which, does sound interesting. After that, the list is pretty extensive, with the likes of TrainerRoad, Zwift, Kinomap, VeloTrainer, iMobile Intervals and more.
The Kickr provides a very realistic road feel, and the transition through the power levels is very smooth. It's also acceptably quiet, certainly enough that I could use it in the spare room and other people downstairs or in the next room weren't disturbed excessively by the racket. With a decibel meter on my smartphone and used during a regular training session, the highest recording was 78 dB with the phone on the desk a couple of feet away from the Kickr. Wahoo claim 70 dB, measured at 3ft and riding 250 watts at 10mph.
The Wahoo Fitness Kickr is a seriously impressive power trainer that is easy to use and offers exciting compatibility with a growing number of third-party apps like TrainerRoad and Zwift, and opens up the potential of the Kickr enormously.
If you want to train with power and think you do enough indoor training to justify the high outlay of the Kickr, you won't be disappointed with the level of performance it provides. While it's one of the most expensive trainers on the market, it is at least half the price of the Wattbike, and the Kickr is vastly more flexible.
If you can get past the price, you'll find a seriously feature-packed power trainer that has the potential to transform your training, and fitness.
Impressive power trainer with exciting app connectivity, but it comes at a high price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Wahoo Kickr trainer
Size tested: 700c
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Wahoo KICKR Power Trainer connects to Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT devices for unmatched indoor training.
Whether you are riding a virtual course or performing a structured wattage workout, the KICKR will deliver a unique training experience unmatched by any trainer on the market. The KICKR Power Trainer is can be controlled via an iOS or Android device with Bluetooth 4.0 enabled, Bluetooth 4.0 Mac Book, or a Windows PC with ANT dongle. Whether you are coasting down a hill or hammering up a steep col, the KICKR will make you feel like you are outside on the road.
Team Sky, winner of the 2012 and 2013 Tour de France, has chosen the Wahoo KICKR as its official indoor bike trainer for the 2014 season. After many years of development, Wahoo is excited to have pro caliber riders depending on the KICKR for their training needs.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Accurate power measurement - Wheel off design for direct, lab accurate power measurement at the hub- consistent and calibrated throughout every grueling mile
Phone/iPad/MacBook controlled resistance - Connected to your device, the KICKR sets your resistance via your favorite app
Ultra-realistic road feel - Super flywheel engineered to replicate the inertia of an actual rider on the road
Wireless control and data transfer - Bluetooth 4.0 (aka Bluetooth Smart) and ANT enabled
Quiet As Can Be - Quiet as your favorite fluid trainer; no shouting required!
iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac and Android Controlled Resistance - control the KICKRs resistance wirelessly via Bluetooth Smart (4.0) or ANT and a variety of Apps and computer-based software programs
Virtual Training - Works with popular training software such as the Wahoo Fitness App for iPhone and Android, TrainerRoad for PC or Mac, Virtual Training, Kinomap, and several more
Android phones and tablets with Bluetooth 4.0 and the Android 4.3 operating system or newer
iPhone 4S and newer
iPad (3rd gen)
iPad (4th gen)
MAC BOOK with Bluetooth 4.0
iPod Touch (5th gen and newer)
WINDOWS PC - When paired with ANT dongle
This trainer comes with an UK Plug only
Yes it's hugely expensive, but if you want one of the best trainers, and the only one with Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, the Kickr is pretty much without rival. Yes you could buy a bike for the same money, or a new set of wheels, but power training is the best way to improving your fitness and performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Impressive performance. There's no getting away from the price, but ignoring that for a moment, the Kickr packs a punch and offers a great realistic feel and fantastic power resistance control, making it as easy to train consistently and precisely, avoiding wasted sessions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to setup, loads of apps that are compatible with it, very solid and stable, feels very realistic.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price tag. Needs a power source.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
If you can get past the price, you'll find a seriously feature-packed power trainer that has the potential to transform your training and fitness. If it was the choice of a pair of wheels or the Kickr, I know which one would make me faster
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.