Tested: the new smart indoor trainer Wahoo KICKR

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The indoor trainer market is a pretty vibrant place right now. With the boom in indoor workout software over the past few years, there has been a huge increase in the number of people using indoor trainers on a regular basis.

So it’s always interesting to see what Wahoo adds every time a new Kickr model comes out. The V6 (2022) model adds a few useful features and probably does enough to keep the Kickr with the best of all other brands.

First, let’s look at the main specs that remain from V5, and there are a lot of them. The auto-calibration feature is there, which means the slowdowns are essentially useless. It’s a nice touch.

The +-1% power accuracy claim remains (more on that a bit later). Maximum power remains at the almost impossible to reach level of 2200 watts and 20% maximum gradient. The flywheel still weighs around 7.5kg and the ride feel is essentially the same. The Kickr must always be plugged in to use. Ant+ and Bluetooth connectivity are still available.

The sound level remains the same, because there is none! It’s pretty amazing, especially for someone who normally still uses an original Kickr.

The shock absorbing underside and feet of the latest Wahoo KICKR.

The only noise you make here is your bike’s drivetrain, and when you’re riding a freshly waxed chain it’s eerily quiet, until you turn on the big fan to try and stay cool. The 11-speed cassette is always included.

Wahoo seems to have looked at the numbers and determined that more people are riding 11-speed than 12-speed to date. Finally, the toe axis is essentially unchanged from the V5. The ability to allow play/rock/lateral movement was the main area that I thought was the next big change in coaching. We have seen many aftermarket rocker plates and the like, along with supporting data on why they are beneficial.

I was surprised to see no “movement” about it with this latest model, especially since the axle feet do next to nothing. I get more movement from the rubber mat the trainer is sitting on than from the axis feet. Maybe Wahoo is working on something for the V7?

The KICKR sits firmly on the ground and offers near silent operation.

So enough of the old, as good as it all is still. What’s new? The Kickr now has an odometer function integrated into the Wahoo app, which allows you to track the number of virtual kilometers traveled. Wahoo has integrated an easy ERG ramp function. It is basically a 10 second progressive resistance up to the specified value during a workout in ERG mode.

The KICKR takes up a narrow footprint, which is important when storage space is a major consideration.

It’s super helpful, if you’ve ever had to stop or your legs die in the middle of the interval, you’ll know the pain of getting back to the full power of the interval. This soft ramp function makes it much simpler and more efficient.

The most significant change is the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity directly from the trainer. This is configured in the Wahoo app and thereafter the trainer can simply remain ‘on’ and connected. Wi-Fi connectivity has several functions.

Perhaps most helpful is that firmware updates are now direct and automatic which is great as I have trouble remembering and putting in the effort to update these things as I go. as they are available. Now the trainer can take care of it himself.

WiFi added

The other main thing about Wi-Fi connectivity is that the trainer can pair with apps over Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth or ant+. This can be useful for those using devices with a limited number of allowed Bluetooth connections. It is also claimed to be more stable, eliminating connection dropouts during workouts or races.

The new KICKR is version #6 of the popular smart home trainer.

A power test

I did a few rides where I ran my Assioma power meter pedals in parallel and compared the power output between the Kickr and the pedals. Wahoo claims +-1% and how the power curves correspond to a range of ramps, power levels, durations, fluctuations, etc. seems to indicate that their claim is correct.

The numbers were rarely separated by more than 1%, which is impressive given that you also have to take into account the potential error in front of the Assiomas (+-2%). The biggest difference I recorded was my 15 second power which differed by 3% between the two, so still fair with the specified combined error of both devices.
The Wahoo Kickr is a blast to ride, easy to set up, self-calibrating, virtually silent, and has as many or more features and functions than any other trainer on the market.

Luke Meer’s full review of KICKR Version 6 will feature in the January/February issue of Bicycling Australia magazine. You can register here

Wahoo Kickr V6 2022 Specs and Features

+/- 1% power accuracy
Lateral movement (via axle feet)
Automatic calibration and firmware updates
Virtually silent operation
Measures speed, distance, power and cadence data
Wi-Fi connectivity
ERG Easy Ramp
Odometer
Maximum power: 2200 watts
20% maximum simulated incline
ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Direct Connectivity
Bike compatibility with thru-axle and disc brake

RRP $1799.95

More than https://au.wahoofitness.com/

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