Fitness is frequently a fickle concept. Wahoo has tried to blur the lines between work and sport with the new Wahoo KICKR Desk. So is this a just a standing desk targeted at cyclists, or perhaps something more useful?
Wahoo KICKR Desk Review
Often people feel that doing a 30min work out four times a week will mean that they are “safe” to spend the rest of their week chained to the desk at work, sat down. However, it is now recognised that there is still a long-term health risk from sedentary jobs even if you can get your recommended dose of “150 mins moderate-to-vigorous activity” in the week.
One of the best ways I have seen this portrayed is in the “Sitting is Killing You” comic – there are eight panels in total if you click the below graphic.
As such, there has been a lot of research focused on trying to make the work place less sedentary, even with concepts such as “chair based fidgeting” being investigated by the BMJ. While the theory might be sound, do think it may look slightly…odd.
One approach which has gained some traction in the work place is the standing desk. There is a range of such standing desks available with a large price variation, stretching from about £250 for simple riser systems which go on your existing desk, all the way up to £1000 for fancy all-singing, all-dancing desk with gas or electric lifts.
But what about movement in the other direction? Rather than trying to make work more active, what about trying to make exercise more productive?
There are plenty of devices currently on the market which allow you to secure your iPad to your bike. With attachments like the Sea Sucker Trainer Flex or the Tacx tablet mount, However, these products tend to be heavily weighted towards the product consumption. They are great for running Zwift in a compact setting, or perhaps working as a second screen to display your Netflix shows which Zwifting, but you are not really going to be able to be very productive with these mounting solutions while on the bike
Wahoo has attempted to straddle both worlds with the Wahoo Fitness Desk. Making a standing desk which you can use as simply as that, while also creating a desk which is easily adapted to use on your bike, but crucially is sufficiently durable that it is also going to survive frequent, heavy, Zwift sessions
Device Design and Assembly
The Wahoo KICKR desk, arrives in a relatively standard brown box. But like a good piece of Lego, the illustration gives you an idea of what you are going to make with the bits inside the box
Inside the Lego, theme continues. Long tubes and interlocking pieces. For such a large box, there are actually very few pieces. One table top, two legs and the base
All of the screws and washers you need to assemble the Wahoo Desk come already in place so you can see where they go. You just need to unscrew them
To install the legs, you remove the screws, slot the legs over the guide poles and replace the screws. Simples
There really is very little to the construction for the whole desk. Just slot and screw. As a result, you take up very little space while doing so
Just like the KICKR trainer with which the desk shares a name, the construction heavily features the use of metal. Serious attention has been given to ensure that the table stop is structurally sound if you happen to slam down on it after doing a race.
As well as the finned plastic, the tablet top also has three bars of metal underneath for stiffness, which is in turn welded into the leg sleeves
Simply loosen the leg sleeve screws, and drop the top, well slide anyway, the top onto the legs supports and retighten the screws
Then Tadah! Finished one Wahoo KICKR Desk
The blue lozenges which poke through the sides of the table are actually buttons which you press to retract the pins on the legs which allow you to adjust the table height
The desk adjusts from a nice sitting height at 84cm
Up to a very pleasant 122cm for working at whilst standing.
Whilst it may be reasonable to say there are limited opportunities for design flourish when it comes to a table, there are still a few points of note about the Wahoo KICKR Desk. Mainly from a materials point of view, Wahoo has made some interesting choices. The surface of the Wahoo Desk has a gorgeous springy rubber coating. There is stop your devices slipping around.
On the two long edges of the desk, channels have been cut, with the bottom punched out in five sections. These sections allow for cables to be routed through for easy and tidy charging of your devices
The slots are also sized that you can have a tablet or phone stood up, and charging, without actually taking up any surface space on the desk
Both corners also have loops to allow you to slot other items, though, such as a towel. Although I’ll be honest this isn’t something I have used too much, I’m far too untidy, and tend just to dump the towel on top when I’m riding, and then in the washer!
On the bottom of the Wahoo KICKR desk are three wheels, one at the end of each arm, and one in the middle of the cross bar
The wheels are covered in a delightful, low resistance blue rubber, and glide beautifully along the floor, making the unit very easy to move forwards and back. Although oddly enough, for a three wheel setup, the Wahoo KICKR desk doesn’t like turning corners
Using the Wahoo KICKR desk
At the start of this review, I mentioned about Wahoo trying to make your activities, especially whilst cycling, more productive.
Using the Wahoo KICKR Desk is very simple. It is a desk after all, not known to be complex pieces of furniture. Press the side buttons, set the desire height of the table, jump on the bike. Use desk.
With that I have easily accessible table to watch a film on whilst also Zwifting. Which is mainly (we’ll come to that caveat shortly) a stable location for my laptop or Zwifting gubbins
If I am doing a steady state work out, something where I’m aiming just to keep 125-135 BPM, I can grab the corners of the desk, and easily roll things closer to me if I’m wanting to actually be productive and type whilst riding. It helps obviously if the desk height is set over your handlebars. Although the blue height adjuster buttons either side of the table are easy to use for raising or decreasing the height when you are in the saddle.
However, whilst the desk rolls towards me easily. The same is also true to push it away, meaning that it takes very little effort for the desk to roll away when you actually trying to type on it, as the video below demonstrates
As such, I tend to get the desk in place now before riding
The same is true when I’m using the Wahoo KICKR desk as a standing desk when I’m doing a review. The Wahoo KICKR desk DESPERATELY needs a wheel lock.
As such, whenever I’m using the Wahoo KICKR desk as a standing desk, I always have the rear wheel against the wall, so it is not likely to roll off.
In spite of these two limitations, I am using the Wahoo KICKR desk to write most of my reviews on now (which is a shame as I only recently purchased a new IKEA desk!). I have swapped to using it though as the sedentary job in GP land, means I’m also not able to use a standing desk at work.
Actually that isn’t completely correct, I haven’t tried it with patients, but I think most are really going to need a chair to sit on during to consultation, so I’m going to sit too. As such I try and minimise the time I’m actually sat down otherwise, and thus use the Wahoo KICKR desk as a standing desk in most situations. Conversely, when having to do reading for lectures etc, I tend to use the desk whilst sat on the bike to read my books during low intensity work outs.
That does bring up the question, can the unit handle a hard work out though, as well as the low intensity stuff? Putting it simply yes – assuming you have secured the wheels!
I have been using the desk during my Elite Rampa and Wahoo KICKR Gen 2 review, and I’ve found I’m able to happily hold onto my bars, without the table getting in the way when pushing down hard out of the saddle
Thankfully the desk just shrugs off the sweat as well during the larger work outs
The ease of the height adjustability and range of movement does have to be one of the Wahoo KICKR desks best aspects, though. As well as being perfectly happy for me to use as a standing desk, I can also drop it all the way to the bottom setting, and use it as a table for my Rowing machine
But I did mention an Achilles heel about stability earlier…
How stable is the Wahoo KICKR desk?
That depends on what you mean by stable. As mentioned, it really does need something to stop it rolling away, but the three wheel approach also creates another instability issue if you come to stand on the base of the trainer. Something I did accidentally, and nearly sent the contents of the table flying as you can see in the video below
I like the Wahoo KICKR desk. I’m going to get myself one to carry on writing reviews and things on. At a penny under £200, many people will say that is a lot to pay for a desk. However, if you look at other STANDING desks on the market, it is the quite good value I feel.
Again lots of people will state they are able to make a much cheaper way of supporting computers and Zwift kit. However I find that the system Wahoo KICKR desk have created is robust, elegant, easily movable, (which in the TitaniumGeek office is CRUCIAL) and for me anyway, has triple purpose; as the standing desk, riding the desk, and also a rowing desk.
One of the two limitations of the Wahoo KICKR desk is relatively simple to address though. Wahoo could have done with adding a brake, but just putting a small weight behind the wheel does the same job
That which I think is a more glaring error, is the instability that three wheels produce if you stand on the edge of the unit base. That could prove to be a costly mistake for some people! You could put little wedges under the base, or just not stand on it, but I do think this is quite an oversight from Wahoo
However, even with those limitations, given how much I’m using the Wahoo KICKR desk, I’ll award 3.5 stars, ok four because it is a device I will buy myself!