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Anything look familiar? Wahoo sues Zwift and JetBlack claiming new Zwift Hub smart trainer is "copying the Kickr Core"

Wahoo claims the new Zwift Hub trainer infringes three patents relating to its Kickr Core trainer, and accuses Zwift of hurting "the overall health of the cycling industry" with its direct sales model

Wahoo claims that Zwift's new Hub smart trainer infringes three patents related to the brand's Kickr Core static trainer, the cheapest direct drive option in the Wahoo range. The pending court case could result in an injunction on the Zwift Hub, preventing its sale in certain areas.

Zwift Hub PR #3.jpg

Zwift's new £449 Hub smart trainer follows a familiar recipe, with a simple to-put-together wheel-off design featuring a midweight 4.7kg flywheel. Zwift's goal of solving its user's hardware woes is by no means a new one; we reported that it was working on its own trainers quite a while back, but its first foray into the market has been realised by, essentially, rebadging a JetBlack Volt trainer.

> Review: Zwift Hub smart trainer

2022 JetBlack Volt V2 Smart Trainer With Smart Turn Block.jpg

It was in fact on the day that we published our (very positive) review of the Zwift Hub smart trainer (3 October) that Wahoo filed its report, alleging that three patents had been infringed. The document stated that the Zwift Hub is “identical, in all material respects, to the KICKR CORE"

> Review: Wahoo Kickr Core

Wahoo KICKR Core trainer-4

Despite costing £150 more at RRP, the Kickr Core is certainly a similar device. The bike attaches using a very similar method relying on a bike's thru-axle or quick-release skewer with the rear wheel removed.

As you pedal a belt drives the flywheel (5.4kg on Kickr Core vs 4.7kg on Zwift Hub) and resistance, including ERG mode, can be controlled using a smartphone, bike computer or external software such as Zwift.

Wahoo Kickr Core Smart Trainer

The report refers to three patents (shown below) all of which describe a "bicycle trainer with a frame, flywheel, and magnetic brake assembly that is operable for use with a conventional bicycle with its rear wheel removed".

2022 Wahoo patents vs Zwift

Wahoo announced the following statement on the matter:

“By copying the KICKR CORE, Zwift has infringed three of Wahoo’s patents. By marketing a copy of Wahoo’s patent-protected device, Zwift has taken a shortcut that allows it to reap the benefit of Wahoo’s innovations, but without investing the time and money necessary to create Wahoo’s innovations. As a result, Wahoo is forced to file this action to stop Zwift’s infringement and to ensure Wahoo’s ability to continue its strong history of innovation.”

Zwift Hub lifestyle 4.jpg

So what is Wahoo after? Well, the report states that the infringement of the said patents "caused, and will continue to cause, Wahoo to suffer substantial and irreparable harm, entitling Wahoo to a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction"

Wahoo added: "In addition, Wahoo has suffered and continues to suffer damage from Zwift’s infringement of the ‘222 Patent. As such, Wahoo is entitled to compensation and other monetary relief to the extent allowed by law"

Zwift Hub Trainer-4.jpg

In non-lawyer lingo, that means that Wahoo wants Zwift to stop selling the Zwift Hub trainer and pay Wahoo compensation for lost sales. It's also interesting that Wahoo claims Zwift is "harming" the market by only selling directly to the consumer:

“The selling of a copy of Wahoo’s product only direct to consumers, thereby eliminating the retail channels, hurts the overall health of the cycling industry.”

> Best turbo trainers 2022 — get fit indoors

Zwift Hub lifestyle 2.jpg

Zwift has now been summoned to court, and at the time of writing is yet to comment on the allegations. We can expect a trial to decide on a temporary injunction within the next few weeks, but a permanent resolution will be some time off...

Which of the trainers would you choose? Do you think Zwift has been a bit naughty? Let us know in the comments section below...

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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Stephen Palmer | 1 year ago
1 like

Maybe Elite should sue Wahoo as Elite had a very similar looking trainer to the Wahoo Kickr Core around 2017/18. Obviously before the Core came into being. Please see image below.

Velophaart_95 | 1 year ago
1 like

Well I won't be buying that Wahoo trainer I was looking at.....How long has the Jetblack trainer been out? But they're only doing something now......Hmm


Jetmans Dad | 1 year ago
1 like

The direct sales angle to their claim is also interesting. 

Around here, there is nowhere I can buy any Wahoo trainers in a retail store, so would need to order online ... of which one of the options is Wahoo themselves, where the v5 is currently cheaper than in the online retail stores (but not that much). 

Business 101 says that if you can sell enough product without a retailer involved you can sell your product more cheaply. That isn't in any way illegitimate. 

Jerm14 | 1 year ago

I'm sure this'll work itself out and everyone will be friends. An escalation would be bad for all. What if for example Zwift announced that no new Wahoo trainers would be Zwift compatible? 

squired | 1 year ago
1 like

Whether this has any legs or not I really think Zwift has lost its way and got complacent. If they are not careful worrying about issues like this will be irrelevant. Other competitors like MyWhoosh, Virtuopro, Cadesport and RGT are nicely primed to steal market share. Whoosh for example has released both Australia and Colombia maps, is currently free and uses a graphics engine with a lot of scope for enhancement.

sizbut | 1 year ago
1 like

It will certainly be very interesting to follow. Even an idiot like me can spot that patent 290 specifically mentions a trainer with folding legs, which doesn't apply to any of the trainers involved.

The other two patents seem so broad they would cover almost all direct drive smart trainers. So its puzzling to try and work out where all the other brands not being sued fit in, unless they've licensed rights from Wahoo or have come to a mutual agreements (for example they have their own patents that Wahoo may have infringed so a mutual legal ceasefire has been declared).

The damage for Zwift (other than lose of reputation and a potential best seller) will depend on the terms of the deal they made with JetBlack. 

mark1a | 1 year ago
1 like

Seems a little tenuous, a trainer that secures a bike by the rear dropouts and provides resistance via a flywheel... I bet they won't go after Garmin/Tacx, they'd be out-lawyered. Zwift most likely fuelled a number of Kickr sales over the years, I guess now Wahoo have acquired RGT, they're a competitor on the platform level too. 


Toffee | 1 year ago

It does seem a little funny that Wahoo apparently weren't bothered with JetBlack until this team up with Zwift. I guess they weren't worried about a relative unknown stealing their market share until they became the simplest go-to for using Zwift, and would clearly take a massive chunk out of the Kickr Core's business.

I wonder if anything they've stated will hold up. I'm guessing not.

Freddy56 | 1 year ago
1 like

I have a Lemond revolution  trainer that looks like both these and bought it in 2012 when wahoo were not even alive as a company!

Should Lemond not sue Wahoo!

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