Wahoo introduce £499.99 Kickr Climb gradient simulator - first ride review
Standalone accessory pairs with Kickr and Kickr Snap smart trainers to offer real-time gradient changes
Wahoo revolutionised not only the turbo market but the way we train with the introduction of Kickr. The design of the direct drive, smartphone-operated smart trainer has been refined since, along with the introduction of the more affordable, wheel-on Kickr Snap, but now it’s time for something very different. Wahoo have launched the Kickr Climb grade simulator - an accessory to the latest generation Kickr trainer that adds physical gradient changes to indoor rides.
The Kickr Climb will be available alongside Wahoo’s new Kickr and Kickr Snap smart trainers (it’s not compatible with existing models) and responds to workout and virtual course data in real-time to offer an ascent up to 20 per cent and a descent of up to 10 per cent. Having pioneered the smart trainer and seen a host of competitor models launched as a result, Wahoo intend “retake the higher ground" with the Climb, according to UK country manager, Colin Eustace.
But what’s the point? If the Kickr and Kickr Snap are able to offer real-time resistance changes, whether following an interval workout or riding on Zwift, aren’t you getting the diet of watt-based training you require? Well, that won’t change, but Wahoo say the Climb engages climbing muscles and improves pedaling technique to ‘enable the rider to become a more efficient and powerful climber’. The Kickr kick-started the virtual training revolution now jointly fueled by Zwift and Wahoo say the Climb will offer a more immersive riding experience.
“The world we ride in isn’t flat, which is why we believed the indoor riding experience on the Kickr should follow suit," said Wahoo Fitness CEO, Chip Hawkins. “And as we continue to keep Wahoo at the leading edge of innovation in this category, we’re proud to quite literally take structured climbing workouts and virtual course rides to the next level."
The Climb is a free-standing unit onto which your front dropouts or thru-axles clamp (it is compatible with quick release, 12x100, 15x100 and 15x110 hubs). The unit is powered by an electronic motor which raises or lowers the front of the bike on a vertical plane, while the Climb is also designed to gently rock towards you on an ascent, and away from you on a descent. The motor offers a “smooth transition between gradients, not jerky," according to Eustace.
Gradient data is sent via Bluetooth, enabling the Kickr Climb to pair with third party software such as Zwift and Trainer Road, and react to pre-loaded routes on Wahoo’s ELEMNT and ELEMNT Bolt computers, while the unit can also be controlled manually via the app and a supplied handlebar-mounted remote control.
Wahoo Kickr Climb - first ride impressions
So that's the tech looked after, but how does it all translate when put to use? We’ve been hands-on with the Kickr Climb at its official unveiling at Eurobike over in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and what first strikes us is just how responsive the system is.
When the road pitches up on the Zwift test platform, so does the Climb, while the newly redesigned Kickr, with its rotating axle system, allows free movement at the rear without adding extra stress to the frame. Set up on a particular rolling section of Zwift Island, the system responds with impressive sharpness, both when pitching you to a sudden 20 per cent gradient, or simulating a 10 per cent downhill.
There are limitations, of course – the bike still won’t rock side to side with the redesigned axles (perhaps that’s an update for the future), and the trainer is of course a slave to the limitations of the Zwift system, which itself can only update gradient input once every second.
As a result, the Climb can adjust itself in a slightly jerky manner, despite Wahoo's launch claims, as it responds to input commands, but if there’s a device that can stick you in a position dynamically that closely mimics real world gradient changes, then this is it.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Climb is only compatible with the next generation of Kickr smart trainers, which have been updated to allow for dynamic movement. The Kickr is also now thru-axle compatible, while the more affordable Kickr Snap’s accuracy has been improved from five per cent to a claimed three per cent.
Both trainers still cost £999 and £499 respectively, and will be available immediately. The Kickr Climb, meanwhile, will cost an additional £499.99 as an accessory and will be available from November.
Website: Wahoo Fitness