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Using the Wahoo KICKR reminded me of Beyond 2000 and made me realize just how far technology has come to be able to ride on an indoor trainer, controlled by my cellphone using an online training program loaded with algorithms that not so long ago were spared for the very clever.

Specifications


Wireless Technology: ANT+ & Bluetooth 4.0
Devices: iOS / Android / PC (Mac and Windows)
Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
Accuracy: + / - 3%
Wireless Software Updates: Yes
3rd Party Power Meter Support: Yes
Metrics: Speed / Distance / Power / Cadence
Flywheel Weight: 12.5 lbs
Inertia (indexed to 100): 175
Max Wattage (@ 20 mph): 1550 W
Max Incline (75 kg rider @10 mph): 15.0"

Initial Impressions


"It's not light." Weighing in at just under 21kg, it sure is a solid piece of tech. This will only be an issue issue if you travel with your IDT or move it around quite a bit. For most, it won't be an issue as it will most likely have a permanent spot somewhere in your house where you train. The plus side of the extra weight is it feels very solid. At no time did I feel like it wouldn't hold up to years and years of abuse.

Design and fit is well thought out adding to it's ease of use. Swapping out bikes takes a minute or two, provided you can use the same cassette on both.

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Mounting a bike


The Wahoo KICKR can accommodate just about any bike with 24", 650c, 700c, 26", 27.5", 29" wheel sizes are all catered for. 130mm, 135mm, 142 (with adapter) axle widths and 8,9,10 and 11 speed road ensures your investment in bike and trainer will not cause headaches down the line.

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Making the required adjustments is a quick and easy task and will you see you up and running in no time. The trainer needs an external device to control it and an electrical power source, although it can be pedaled if you'd really like or need to when power isn't an option.

When you mount a bike for the first time, and every so often, you need to perform a spin-down test to recalibrate.

Accessories


Wahoo has a full range of accessories available to use with the KICKR or any other compatible devices. For the review, I chose to keep things simple and only used their RFLKT+ bike computer and TICKR X workout tracker / heart rate monitor.

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Wahoo TICKR X


The TICKR X offers advanced motion analytics like cycling cadence and also includes memory for all the workouts that don’t allow you to keep a smartphone on hand. It works seamlessly with over 50 iPhone and Android Apps including Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyfitness, and Runmeter. Sharing and uploading your data is easy. Either email it to yourself or upload it to any of your favourite training platforms.

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I will be doing a separate review on the TICKR X, as it justifies it's own time in the spotlight.

Wahoo RFLKT+


The app powered Wahoo RFLKT bike computer lets you control cycling app data from your handlebars and display in real-time. With the customizable screen, you can view speed, distance, time, heart rate, and more. After your ride, you are able to save and share your results with friends or a coach. I used it with both Wahoo's and Today's Plan's APPS and didn't experience any issues. Make a setup change on your phone or edit the page view and it immediately updates the display on the RFLKT+.


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The biggest advantage here is that you don't have to mount your phone on the bike and, should you use a tablet or laptop for your training, there's no need to have it around or even within sight. It also works for rides where you'd like to keep your phone out of site or harm's way, but still need to see the vitals of your ride. I used two different screens when on the trainer and when out on the tar.

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Just some of the apps that are Wahoo Kickr compatible.

On the Trainer


The KICKR can be controlled by a variety of external sources - iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC and most Android devices (running 4.3 or newer).

We tested the KICKR with Bluetooth on a range of Apple as well as Android devices and with ANT+ on laptops with an ANT+ USB stick. On all of them connecting the device to the trainer was easy and took very little time. The connection was never dropped, readouts and any changes made were almost immediate with the only exception being when making a drastic change in resistance. Even then it only took a couple seconds for the KICKR to up the ante. I see that as a good thing though as it gives you some time to up your effort

The Wahoo KICKR has a built-in power meter that allows you to accurately measure your effort. We tested the KICKR's wattage readings against power meters from other manufacturers and found the data to be accurate and (arguably) more important consistent.

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Most of my training on it I used it with Today's Plan which saved me the time to have to select a specific mode or set up a training plan. If you're not planning to use one of those you can opt for one of 4 settings: level (10 power curves), resistance (set in percentage), erg (specific wattage) and sim (a calculation of outdoor riding based on programmable slope, wind speed and your physical measurements taken from your profile). All of these work as advertised, but I found it easiest to follow my training plan.

Doing that allows you full access to all of it's settings and measurements without the need to fiddle around. The Today's Plan APP connects to the KICKR in seconds and adding Wahoo's other devices was just as simple. What you have now is a trainer that will take you through your training leaving you to focus on cranking the pedals. Warm-up, cool down, resistance, wattage, specific zones are all included. In Today's Plan, you can select a training program for a specific race which will then (based on the amount of weeks you selected) work out a training program for you. All you have to do is get on your bike on the pre-selected days (these can be moved if you missed a training session) and the KICKR will do the rest.

For the Strava fans among us there is another option: Segments by Wahoo Fitness. Downloading this app to a compatible device will allow you to link it to your Strava profile enabling you to ride and train certain segments. It adds a level of fun to your training and helps you quickly forget that you are working up a sweat.

Verdict


Think of Blu-Ray vs VHS when comparing the Wahoo KICKR to a standard trainer. Yes, there are mechanics involved, but the experience is more digital and online than anything else I've tried. I've never been able to survive longer than 30 minutes on a trainer mainly because I get bored unless I'm engaged. With the amount of info available while training with the KICKR it is impossible to get bored.

An even bigger positive is the fact that there's very little you need to do to stay engaged - or entertained in my case. Wahoo have embraced APPS and open source fully with the KICKR and have managed to do it in such a way to make it easy for the electronically-illiterate to get up and running.

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The Kickr provides a very realistic feel, the transition through the power levels is very smooth and it's fairly quiet - certainly a lot quieter than anything else I've experienced. I would so far as to say that a KICKR and a subscription online training program like Today's Plan needs to form part of every serious cyclists training arsenal.

Pricing


Wahoo Fitness KICKR - RRP R16,999.00

Wahoo Fitness RFLKT+ - RRP R1,999.00

Wahoo Fitness TICKR X - RRP R1,499.00

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Ability to mount just about any bicycle
  • Integration with APPS
  • APP tray is big and growing
  • set up is quick, easy and painless
  • In my mind represents good value for money for the semi to serious rider
  • Sturdy and well-made
  • No need for external blocks or levellers to get the perfect riding position
  • Connection to devices are rock-solid
  • Realistic feel
  • Quiet
  • Build in power meter, cadence and speed increase it's value for money


Cons

  • Price?
  • On the heavy side (See Pros).