The second-generation Wahoo Kickr Bike has added WiFi connectivity designed to provide greater data transfer speed and stability.
This might not sound that enticing, but you’ll think differently when you avoid annoying drop-outs and connection issues.
Meanwhile, it also packs in +/-1 per cent claimed power accuracy, broad fit customisation, fun gradient simulation and discreet noise.
All in, it could fool you into thinking you’re riding outdoors rather than on one of the best indoor bikes.
Wahoo Kickr Bike highlights
- WiFi, Bluetooth, ANT+, ANT+ FE-C and direct connectivity
- Customisable fit, shifting and gearing
- Real-time physical gradient changes
- 20% simulated incline; -15% decline
- Maximum power output 2,500W
- Resistance provided by 6kg flywheel and motor
- Digital LED display indicates gear selection and gradient
- Works with Wahoo SYSTM, RGT, Zwift and TrainerRoad
- Aluminium and steel construction
Wahoo Kickr Bike setup
The Kickr Bike’s claimed weight of 42kg is hefty, with a 121x76cm footprint. I managed to assemble it solo, but that weight combined with the size meant it was a challenge to manoeuvre it into position.
In the box, you get the bike itself, plus rear stabilising legs that feature wheels to assist mobility.
You’re given the necessary Allen keys and bolts for the stabilising legs, plus pedal washers. The saddle and seatpost are separate, as are the handlebar and shifters. The power cord and adaptor block completes the package.
Despite the weight and size of the Kickr Bike, setup is swift enough – it took no more than 20 minutes – and intuitive.
You can choose your crank length in 2.5mm increments (165mm to 175mm) thanks to the ingenious cranks, which each have five places to slot in your pedal.
With the Wahoo Fitness app, you can then select pre-programmed setups, depending on whether you’re a Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo user, and your gear ratios.
There’s also plenty of scope to dial in your fit. Wahoo says measurements aren’t directly comparable to an outside bike’s geometry, but stack, reach, saddle setback, saddle height and standover height are all adjustable via quick-release levers.
Wahoo claims the maximum user height is 6ft 4in (193cm) and the minimum 5ft (152cm).
There are three ways of nailing your fit. If you’ve had a professional bike fit done, you simply input your figures into the app, which feeds back the comparable values for the Kickr Bike. My own measurements transferred seamlessly.
Another app option is viewing your outdoor bike through your phone’s camera, pulling key geometric areas into focus to produce measurements.
The final (arguably less specific) option is to input your height and inseam measurements, then choose your preferred style of riding (‘race’, ‘endurance’ or ‘relax’) to arrive at a set of measurements.
In practice, the adjustability of the frame ensured real-life fit mimicry that I’ve never experienced on an indoor bike before. It also features a traditional saddle setup, so you can use your own saddle. However, the one supplied proved comfortable enough for me.
Reassuringly, despite the many adjustable parts, the Kickr Bike proved stable when riding.
Once you’re connected to your bike via the app, it’s a simple case of following instructions to connect the device to your home network. You’ll know when the Kickr’s connected because it shows up via an LED indicator beneath the top tube.
You can also connect to your virtual riding software via Bluetooth or ANT+ and, new to the Kickr Bike, via a direct Ethernet connection to your router.
Wahoo Kickr Bike performance
Wahoo’s marketing focuses heavily on the Kickr Bike being the first smart trainer to tap into your WiFi with the aim of bolstering the data reliability between app and trainer.
I tested the Kickr Bike in the garage beneath my home, with plenty of concrete, wooden beams and garage contents between router and Kickr. I experienced no connection dropouts during the test period despite racking up several hundred virtual kilometres using Wahoo X and Zwift.
Wahoo X costs £135 for the year, or $14.99 per month (monthly billing is in US dollars). For comparison, Zwift is £12.99 per month (£155.88 per year).
Both are impressive, but a minor gripe is that you don’t receive a free Wahoo X trial period out of the box – this seems appropriate when you’ve just dished out £3,500 on a Kickr Bike.
Syncing between the bike and whichever indoor cycling app you use is impressively swift and reliable.
Wahoo claims WiFi connectivity results in a 65 per cent quicker signal for greater accuracy. There certainly seemed no perceptible lag between the gradient rising on Zwift and the simulated incline on the Kickr.
One of the key features of the Kickr Bike is real-time gradient change. It was present on V1 of the Kickr Bike and it remains a standout feature, not only because it replicates the feel of ascending or descending outdoors, but because it’s also rather fun.
Whether tilting backwards or forwards, it’s a smooth process and adds to the riding experience. It manages this with real stability, too.
According to Wahoo, the Kickr’s “large flywheel and internal motor brake use proven algorithms that offer an unrivalled combination of accuracy, responsiveness and realism”.
That claim appears to be on the money – there’s an assured smoothness to the pedal stroke and resistance application.
The sense of the virtual edging ever closer to the reality is heightened by inside-hood buttons that tap into the steering functionality on both Zwift and RGT.
Of course, you don’t steer with buttons in the real world, but it’s a subtle evolution when it comes to immersion.
You can also change the gradient manually via buttons on the hoods, with an LED indicating the steepness of your climb.
Another new feature is ERG mode, which is designed so you can spin up to cadence and ease yourself back in gently if you have to stop unexpectedly.
It’s the virtual equivalent of a soigneur sending you back on your way after a wheel change, and it works well.
The Kickr Bike can produce a maximum resistance of 2,500W, which is enough for practically anyone – even a top-level track sprinter.
As for the precision of its power measurement, Wahoo claims the Kickr is within 1 per cent accuracy. It says this is verified on a purpose-built dynamometer, accounting for speed, cadence, temperature, varying riding scenarios and more besides.
I couldn’t directly compare with a reference power meter, but my heart rate and wattages matched data I’d gleaned from using the Wattbike Atom (itself a decent benchmark). In short, I had no cause for concern.
The updated Kickr also comes with an odometer to measure total mileage. On the face of it, this may seem a superfluous feature, but it makes sense to include one.
With it, you can gauge whether your Kickr Bike is ripe for servicing. Wahoo claims the total distance, combined with your average speed, offers up a riding time on which to judge if a service check is needed.
Wahoo offers an advisory document, detailing when the checks and service procedures should be carried out.
I also think it’s useful if you want to buy a Kickr Bike second-hand. You’d check the odometer when buying a second-hand car, so why not here too?
The flywheel and motor combine for a quiet ride – the sound emanating from the Kickr is little more than a gentle hum.
The only really notable design flaw can be found at the top tube.
Those with larger thighs (like mine) might experience occasional contact against the top tube, which is wider than a typical outdoor bike’s.
I didn’t experience constant scraping, and soon forgot about it when lost in a world of workout pain. However, I hope Wahoo resolves it for future generations of the Kickr Bike.
There’s also no additional mount supplied to enable you to attach your smartphone to the handlebar for training with the likes of the Wahoo app or Zwift.
I find using the Zwift companion app on my iPhone useful, even when following Zwift on my laptop. Like the lack of a complimentary Wahoo X subscription, considering the steep price tag of the Kickr Bike, this seems a little remiss.
Wahoo Kickr Bike competition
Price-wise, the Kickr Bike is in a league of its own at £3,499.99.
The Wattbike Atom currently retails for £2,399.
However, in testing, the high price is reflected in its high-quality real-world mimicry and attention to detail.
The adjustability range is almost unrivalled, too. For example, on the Atom, you’re set with a 170mm crank, while the Tacx Neo Bike Smart Trainer has three crank-length options (170, 172.5 and 175mm).
On the Kickr Bike, you have five lengths between 165mm and 175mm. For a tight-hipped tester like me, that versatility was appreciated.
It’s also the only trainer on the market with WiFi connectivity, which means on paper it has a wireless-connection robustness that others can’t match.
Wahoo Kickr Bike bottom line
Indoor training continues to attract cyclists in their droves, strengthening the case for standalone smart bikes (instead of attaching your outdoor bike to a smart trainer).
They’re arguably more convenient, house-friendly, and could save your outdoor bike from extra wear.
In the Kickr Bike’s case, it’s also incredibly realistic, with lots of adjustability, accuracy and reliability going a long way to justifying its top price tag.
For many keen indoor riders, it could be money very well spent.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $6500.00EUR €4000.00GBP £3500.00USD $4000.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 42kg (121cm x 76cm footprint) – claimed, Array, kg|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Wahoo|
|Features||br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Maximum Simulated Grade: 20%
Minimum Simulated Grade: -15%
Power Accuracy: +/-1%
Rider Height Range: 5 feet (152 cm) to 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm)
|Connectivity||br_connectivity, 11, 0, Connectivity, Ant+, bluetooth and wifi|
|Max power||br_maxPower, 11, 0, Max power, 2,500W, Array, W|
|Max user weight||br_maxUserWeight, 11, 0, Max user weight, 113kg, Array, kg|
|Resistance type||br_resistanceType, 11, 0, Resistance type, Electromagnetic|
|Trainer type||br_trainerType, 11, 0, Trainer type, Smart trainer|