It all started with the regular posts that occur on the Facebook page UK Zwifters. It seemed that every time that someone posted the question ‘Hi, I’m upgrading from a wheel-on turbo trainer and want the best smart trainer….’
The responses were and usually are ‘Get a KICKR Core!’
This started to aggravate me as we regularly test smart trainers and bikes, the KICKR Core wasn’t something that we’d tested. Then, in December, a knock came on the door and there was the DPD chap with his usual cheerful smile and on this occasion strained by the bulk that he has carrying.
The unboxing commenced and even this was fun. The Wahoo Fitness KICKR Core is exceptionally well packaged.
Building the KICR Core is a doddle. There is everything needed in the box and that includes a spacer for the 10-speed bike owners.
Whilst other reviewers may get wound up and excited about how the watts compare to another power meter, or even a lot of power meters – we are going to focus on the really important stuff. What does this feel like to use indoors on Zwift, RGT, VirtuPro, SYSTM and MyWhoosh – for example?
The answer is that with it’s real and large flywheel arrangement, it is really smooth to ride. And quiet! Using a calibrated decibel meter (not an iPhone app), at a range of watts, the KICKR Core was never any louder that 75 decibels and this was with not the best of lubricated drive chains. How does that compare to other smart trainers? Favourable, some hit 85 decibels. As I’ve written previously, decibels are one thing and how we perceive the sound is another. That being said, it’s quiet and using Shokz Openrun bone conduction headphones and I can hear podcasts and audiobooks with a sensible volume.
The Important stuff – how is rides on platforms like Zwift
As I mentioned above, the ride is smooth and the the large fly wheel is just the job. The weight of the KICKR Core means that it’s well planted when doing sprint sessions.
It’s amazing how far smart-trainers have come over the life of Zwift (8 years old almost to the day of typing this). The price point of the KICKR Core means that 8 years ago it would probably have been wheel-on, 5% accurate, moved when you sprinted and the reaction time to the slope of the course (on Zwift) would have meant a slight delay.
Now, the KICKR Core is direct drive (no rear wheel needed) and it reacts to the slopes in the course so fast that I did not notice any delay.
For the real boffins (which is good, we love you), here are the specs:
KICKR CORE DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS:
- Part Number: WFBKTR4
- Dimensions (legs open): 20″L x 23″W x 19″H (51 cm x 59 cm x 49 cm)
- Dimensions (legs closed): 9″L x 23″W x 21″H (22 cm x 59 cm x 54 cm)
- Weight (Unboxed): 40 lbs (18.1 kg)
- Rear Wheel Size: 24″ RD / 24″ MTB / 650c RD / 26″ MTB / 700c RD / 650b MTB / 29″ MTB
- Hub Types: 130/135mm QR, 12×142, and 12×148 Thru Axle – Adapters Included
- Drivetrain: Cassette not included. Requires Purchase and Installation of New 8/9/10/11 Speed SRAM/Shimano Cassette
- KICKR CLIMB Compatible: Yes
- KICKR HEADWIND Compatible: Yes
- Cadence Sensor: Sold Separately
- Front Wheel Block: Sold Separately
- Resistance Type: Electromagnetic
- Accuracy: + / – 2%
- Connectivity: Bluetooth®, ANT+, ANT+ FEC
- Wireless Software Updates: Yes
- 3rd Party Power Meter Support: Yes
- Devices: iOS, Android, PC (Mac and Windows)
- Max User Weight: 250 lbs (113 kg)
- Power Requirements: 100-240V~1.5A 50-60 Hz
- Flywheel Weight: 12 lbs (5.5kg)
- Maximum Simulated Grade: 16%
- Maximum Power Output: 1800 Watts
Using the Wahoo TICKR X heart rate monitor, and using an additional power meter (the sign of a dedicated indoor and outdoor cyclist), cadence was reported.
As mentioned previously, I have tested the unit for a month, almost daily, and on not only Zwift, but Wahoo’s own SYSTM training platform. RGT Cycling, VirtuPro, was also ridden on and MyWhoosh. I had an Elite Rizer on the front and both units worked well together.
Obviously, the crank is getting the data from one side only (I am evenly balanced as a rider) and the crank is measuring the power earlier in the drive train, before any losses.
Also, bear-in-mind that currently there is no source of absolute confirmation of power measurement. We rely on the machine that a manufacture uses to define their internal standards to be as accurate as possible and that each unit is made to exactly the same standard and tested by a machine that can ensure replication.
As you can see above, from 1 minutes onwards, the two calibrated power meters, we pretty close.
I have re-run the tests and achieved similar results.
Wahoo Fitness have arguably an unrivalled brand. They are cool, especially in the English speaking world, where they have the kind of influencers that have immense kudos. They know how to brand and their fans even call themselves ‘Wahooligans.’ Their heritage in indoor training is very strong and their after-sales service has a very good reputation.
What’s wrong with this product? Not a lot at all. It’s hard to pick fault and I even wonder if I’d buy a queen of the range, the KICKR itself. The Core is that good!
It doesn’t have elastomer feet and for that, you will either need to buy a rocker plate – or carry the shopping home (you get the same core strength for a lot less and better overall fitness!).
It doesn’t fold-up – but then again, who does really pack their bike away after each indoor cycling session?
It doesn’t have a cassette and that’s an extra spend – and – the Jetblack Cycling Volt has a cassette and is a very similar machine.
For me, the KICKR Core is for those who:
Want the brand
Want this specific machine, on recommendation
Want the security of their after-sales service
It’s a good machine and you I doubt that anyone will regret buying one.