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Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 Review – Zwift Gear Test

At the end of July Wahoo pushed out an update to the Wahoo KICKR SNAP. Certainly not enough to trigger a debate as to whether this should be a version 2.0 update, but something to keep in mind if you are looking to upgrade to a smart trainer in 2017

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 Review – Zwift Gear Test

When Wahoo released the KICKR 2.0, or the KICKR “Handle edition” there was enough of a change to the hardware to make moving to the new unit a reasonable proposal, particularly if you were a committed Zwift Racer. But what has Wahoo polished and improved on the new Wahoo Snap? It has to be more than just the headline features they put on the box!?

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

In a word yes – but that reason is something that oddly Wahoo are not displaying currently. ONLY the new Wahoo KICKR 2017 and the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 will be compatible with the, yet to be released, Wahoo KICKR CLIMB. The reason being that both of these 2017 model units have been reinforced at the point of contact with the skewer/frame. Strengthening was needed to allow for the functioning of the Wahoo KICKR CLIMB, as none of the pre-2017 models were conceived to have any significant pivot with the frame, and were expected to remain static during your training sessions.

BUT, as you can see, the box doesn’t shout about compatibility, nor for that matter that it is the WAHOO KICKR SNAP 2017. There are a few slight visual tells you can use to identify the 2017 model though if looking closely

  • Matt, rather than shiny, almost Champagne coloured, locking bolts – I kid you not! 🙂

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Genuinely, it was the first thing that struck me as I started to unbox the unit!

  • A matt coloured roller, although I’m sure your turbo tire will be able to polish some of that up over the next Zwift seasonWahoo KICKR SNAP 2017
  • LED indicators which have been stolen from the bigger Wahoo KICKR – this is a big improvement from the original, where the lights were previously quite subtly hidden INSIDE the frame of the of the flywheel.

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The lights, and by extension dual channel communication is important for Zwift. Not only  as BLE also allows you access to Zwift iOS, which can only work natively with Bluetooth sensors, but the lights allow for troubleshooting if needed 

Wahoo KICKR SNAP

The only other change of note – although this time it is not visible, is the tightening of the accuracy on the Wahoo KICKR Snap. Dropping from 5% to a sharp 3%, and a hair’s breadth from the bigger Wahoo KICKR at 2%.

If anything the headline change with the Wahoo KICKR 2017 really is the accuracy, as at the more “budget” end of the market, with things like the Elite Rampa, and the Cycleops Magnus are still in the 5% bracket

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Whilst this improvement in accuracy will be of interest to the basic cyclist using the Wahoo KICKR Snap for training, it will be more important for someone riding competitively on Zwift. Although that is a statement which doesn’t actually take into account the wattage level at which the Wahoo KICKR SNAP will actually hit it’s 3% limit – as these boundaries are normally reached at the outer reaches of a trainers power limit as demonstrated during the my Tacx visit

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 Device Design

So the first part of any product review, RIP IT OUT OF THE BOX!

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Which in the case of the Wahoo KICKR SNAP is easier said than done, as the protective foam inside the box is very grippy. I found it easier to hold the box between my legs, grab the clamps and HAUL!

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Once you’ve done the upper body workout, what is actually in the box? The Wahoo KICKR SNAP, obviously. You’d be a little grumpy without it! Power adapter (110-220V), Euro and UK plugs, training skewer, front riser block and the manual

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The overall look of the KICKR hasn’t changed… at all

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

We have nice and grippy, but not adjustable, feet. I do like the Wahoo blue; it perhaps would have been a nice flourish to make the feet rubbers blue for the 2017 model?

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

When you set the unit up, the frame feels exceptionally rigid, as we’ve come to expect from Wahoo industrial design here. There is a deliciously reassuring clunk from the hinges when you open out the legs of the Wahoo KICKR SNAP

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The A-frame design does mandate that the flywheel is then placed slightly off centre, which is noticeable when carrying the unit 

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

That offset also means if you rock your bike to the RIGHT, the Wahoo KICKR SNAP stays firm, but if you rock HARD to the LEFT, you can make a very slight wobble. Something to keep in mind depending on your Zwift racing habits

Further improving stability is a long rubber foot on the bottom of the unit, which acts to stop the back of the Wahoo KICKR SNAP sliding around while you are riding.

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

It also has a small effect on reducing vibrations… ish

On the other side is the bolt part of the dock, to work as a clamp and to push everything together

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

It must be said this part of the unit has been designed with a most delicious bolt action – so much, so I filmed it!!!

The last thing for the Wahoo KICKR SNAP is power. The power socket has a little extension to it, meaning it’s much easier to get to, and hopefully will last longer over time with use.

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The transformer in the box is dual voltage, so if you moving across The Pond, one way or another, there should be no issues using the Wahoo KICKR SNAP in Europe or the USA

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 Specification

  • Communications: ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, & Bluetooth Smart (4.0)
  • Resistance type: Electromagnetic
  • Metrics: Speed / Distance / Power – NOTE THAT CADENCE IS NOT MEASURED
  • Accuracy: +/- 3%
  • Wheel size compatibility: 24″, 650c, 700c, 26″, 27.5″, 29″
  • Hub compatibility types130/135mm QR and 12x142mm (with adapter)
  • Total weight: 17.2kg
  • Footprint (legs open): 74cm x 66cm
  • Flywheel weight: 4.7kg
  • Inertia: 140 (175 KICKR)
  • Max wattage (at 20mph): 1500W
  • Max incline (75kg rider at 10mph): 12%

The Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 manual can be found here

Using Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The first step in using the Snap, is very simple, attaching your bike to the unit! Once your bike is loaded onto the Wahoo KICKR Snap, it is quite likely the rear wheel will be floating over the roller

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

One thing you don’t want in Zwift is wheel slippage, and to potentially have your power capped briefly! Some trainers have a slightly uncomfortable, or awkward to manipulate hand for controlling the roller height in order to get your wheel to contact  – I’m looking at you Elite Rampa!

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Wahoo has made it quite easy to ensure you are all snug – start winding the roller up until your tyre touches the metal, then a further two full turns will have you at the correct contact pressure – simples!

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Once all plugged in, tyre correctly located, you need to download the Wahoo Fitness app in order to check the firmware status and perform the spin down calibration. The app is available for iOS from here and Google Play here

Wahoo KICKR Gen 2

Crucially it is in the app where you find out if there are any firmware updates pending. It is ALWAYS important to make sure that your system is running the latest available firmware. Firmware updates are crucial as you don’t know what bugs may have been resolved between yours and the current firmware. Wahoo is very good at bug squashing normally, so it pays to check periodically for new firmware anyway

You can select your trainer by hitting  the sensor icon in the bottom left which will allow you to search for your trainer

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Selecting the trainer brings up the settings associated with that trainer, it is also from here that you would perform the calibration spin down

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

A spin down requires ten mins of warm up – crucial point – below doing to calibration which requires you to quickly spin up to  36km/hr, before coasting down

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Midway through August 2017, Zwift added the ability for certain units to have spin downs performed in-game, meaning that the Wahoo App can now be left for just firmware updates if you wanted

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

If you select the Wahoo KICKR SNAP as the power source as well as the trainer, you’ll see a little wrench icon.

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Clicking on the wrench brings you to the Zwift spin down screen

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The actual spin down is the same in all situations whether done from the app, Zwift or from the Wahoo Elemnt or Wahoo Bolt. All involve cycling up to 37kph and then coasting down

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The spin down is vital every time you take the bike off the SNAP, much more so than with the bigger KICKR, due to tyre/air pressure variables and their effect on power measurement accuracy. Hence one of the reasons this has been integrated into Zwift. Speaking of which, how well does the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 fair on Zwift with the new updates wahoo have put in?

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 – Zwift Gear Test

When it comes to logging onto Zwift, you can use the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 as a straight forward powermeter, or select it as an FEC trainer. Currently, things work a little better on Zwift if you avoid the FEC option with the Snap.

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

So the first part of my power meter testing, after having performed the spin down is running through the Zwift Workout: Jon’s Mix. With my FTP of 240 watts, Jon’s Mix requires me to try and hold 760 watts for ten secs (which I’m actually getting better at hitting!). I think that the recurrent phases of high power, fast changes, and plenty of warm-up time are a good and fair test for any trainer.

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

In this test, I’m comparing against the outputs from the Favero Assioma pedals and the PowerTap C1 chainring. However, it turns out that there is the issue with the Wahoo KICKR SNAP. I couldn’t really complete the workout, as ergo mode currently doesn’t play nice with the SNAP. If we look at the power meter graph from attempting Jon’s mix, you’ll see a series of dropouts. (Let’s ignore the power differences for a moment)

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Most of these drop outs would occur when the Wahoo KICKR Snap would vastly increase the resistance on the ergo mode, resulting in me only being able to turn the cranks at a low cadence. Unfortunately, the new power match feature allows you to use another power meter as the source of power for ergo mode, which then switches off the units internal PM, so didn’t improve things here for this test. But it is still a useful feature as  would allow you to use the same PM outside as that when you are riding the trainer with something other than Zwift 

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

This massive increase in resistance, would then normally be followed by the Wahoo KICKR SNAP having ergo mode disabled, allowing me to pedal again, but shafting the workout

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

You would then pedal along for a bit, then when you briefly pause, ergo mode would come back online

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Now it is very important to comment that the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 is not the ONLY unit I have encountered this issue on, but it is the only smart trainer that I have not been able to COMPLETE a “Jon’s Mix” with at any point.

So i went back to a manual test spinning around Zwift, it is a much less structured approach than Jon’s Mix, but with ergo mode taken out of the equation, I found a much better ride.

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

Just bombing around Watopia for 15 minutes, doing the occasional “stomp” to push the power up, I came up with the following readings

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The one thing that is noticeable from this graph is that the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 tends to read slightly high. Now thinking that this was an issue with the calibration, I went back and performed three other tests each after doing spin downs, but still saw the same higher readings on the peaks.

The power meter is only part of the picture for a smart trainer on Zwift. It is also important to look at the response the trainer gives as you pass through different terrain. As such the place to test that is on the “esses”, i.e. the series of undulating hills on the later part of Watopia, as you return to the finish line. This is a vital part of the course of Watopia, as races can be won or lost here

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

There was about a 1 second lag with the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017, going through the hills, which I had also seen when using the Ergo mode on Jon’s Mix, but had just attributed that to the above problem. It was just enough to pull you out of the immersion of the game, as your avatar begins to ascend a hill, the resistance has a brief lag before it kicks in. The bigger KICKR doesn’t have a noticeable lag like this, but the response on the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 is no worse than that on the Elite Direto, which costs an extra £200

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 Conclusion

Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017

The 2017 model year version of the Wahoo KICKR Snap, is a more polished version of the original Snap. I think that nowhere else is that better displayed than with the indicator lights. Having a blue LED on the circuit board shining through the vents on the side of the power unit was certainly adequate, but the dedicated status lights round off the package well. This polishing is further highlighted in the compatibility with the Wahoo KICKR CLIMB. Given the doubt that exists as to whether Wahoo will make an aftermarket modification to allow the CLIMB to safely work with older SNAPS, if you are even remotely interested in the CLIMB, this might be enough to sway you to a 2017 Wahoo KICKR SNAP. Realistically I think that is the reason the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017 exists at all. So that the current range of Wahoo trainers on sale are all compatible with Wahoo’s as yet unreleased new toy!

Power support matching is also available on the Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017… and also the original unit with a firmware upgrade, so I don’t think it is fair to identify this as a positive point solely for the new trainer, esp given issues with the ergo mode with this unit.

The original KICKR Snap I liked a LOT, but with the current issue I’ve seen with lockups during workouts, I can only give a 3* TG rating, but I will happily update this review if there is a change in the firmware or change in the build from Zwift.

TitaniumGeek 3*

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Comments

  1. James – I think you made a mistake not using ANT-FEC. Contrary to what you wrote above, Zwift works better in FEC mode (or BT). Doesn’t make Jon’s Mix easier though.

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