Turbo trainers

Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer

The blueprint for smart turbo trainers gets an update for 2017

Wahoo revolutionised the turbo market with the launch of the Kickr smart trainer in 2013 and now it’s received an update, aiming to improve the old version by reducing noise, upping accuracy and reliability, and making it easier to use. Those improvements have cemented its place near the top of turbo trainer shortlists for consumers – and earned its spot in the 2017 RCUK 100.

When it comes to a top-end smart trainer, we’re after a unit that can, above all, give us reliability and accuracy when it comes to our workouts. After all, what’s the point in a four-figure smart trainer that can’t help you get the maximum out of yourself?

Thankfully, that’s one of the key tenets of the Kickr, with the accuracy of its power readings now nailed down to +/- two per cent. Those readings are taken at the direct-drive interface, which features an electro-magnetic flywheel for variable resistance control.

Naturally, the Kickr is a smart turbo, so not only can it feed data to head units via ANT+ and Bluetooth, but it can also receive data from its own software package or third party interactive software like Zwift, automatically adjusting resistance accordingly – a real boon if you want to increase the realism of your rides, or follow a specific training plan with power-based workouts.

The control of the unit comes via smartphone and tablet apps, or indeed a computer, and means it’ll respond to changes in gradient to give that realistic sense of climbing, and can keep you at a pre-set target power output regardless of your shifts on the bike.

It’s also very effective at smoothing out power fluctuations too, resulting in a much easier job of analysing your power lines. No longer are you trying to see averages through spiky traces – if you switch it over to erg mode for a specific interval session, it’ll smooth out your power as you switch between wattages so you get a much more accessible view of your general output. Ideally, this makes it easy to ride at a given target power too, instead of seeing numbers moving all over the place throughout your session.

It’s not likely to be overwhelmed by your power either – the Kickr is capable of simulating 2000w, with a maximum incline of 20 per cent. That’s not just good for the everyday rider, but just about caters for any need of any professional road cyclist too.

The professional-grade machine is used by both the Team Sky and Canyon//SRAM pro teams, in case you needed any further expansion on the Kickr’s credentials, and while you’ll see these units spinning away outside team buses at races, it’s also ideal for enclosed spaces due to its quiet 61-decibel running volume and stabilising arms that retract into a narrow profile for easy storage. You need to be prepared for the 20kg bulk, which helps provide the realistic ride quality, but that only adds to the sturdiness of the unit underneath you as you try in vain to actually put out 2000w.

RCUK 100 2017 - Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer
RCUK 100 2017 - Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer
RCUK 100 2017 - Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer

Wahoo Kickr

Compatibility is also wide ranging, with support for 130/135mm quick release axles, and 142mm thru-axles through the use of an adaptor. The freehub will also support 11, ten, nine and even eight-speed drivetrains, so even if you own this high-end trainer, there’s no need to own a bang-up-to-date bike to use it effectively.

You don’t even need to use a bike with 700c wheels either – it’ll support that standard size, plus 650c, 24”, 26”, 27.5” and 29” hoops through preset positions setup on the unit.

This leaves us to conclude that if you’ve got a grand set aside for a high-end smart indoor trainer, the new updated Wahoo Kickr is a fine choice.

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Selected for The RCUK 100 2017

View the full 100
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