It was inevitable. Having multiple trainers, a desk, a hill simulator and a fan, Wahoo at some point was going to have to connect their
Wahoo KICKR Bike Preview – Wahoo Joins the Smart Bike Fight
The Wahoo KICKR Bike was revealed at Eurobike, following a very impressive media lockdown. Nothing had leaked. Sure we all knew that Wahoo had to release a smart bike. All anyone could say with certainty
Large Wahoo boxes had been deployed for a couple of hours at their Eurobike stand before the reveal, which had a lot of people talking – given the size Wahoo was clearly covering something very big. Two hours later, the Wahoo KICKR Bike Smart Bike was introduced by CEO Chip Hawkins.
Who then personally carried over and installed it at the centre at the Zwift stand. Given that Saris had their new MP1 rocker plate on show, Tacx had the Neo 2T which if that wasn’t enough on it’s own was attached to Zwift’s steering demo and finally Stages had their new smart bike on display. All on the same Zwift stand.
In spite of all the other brand new products on the Zwift stand, I think it says an
Many products are simply made and pushed out of the door. Some are distinctly more of a passion project. I’d say from the look on his face as Chip setup the bike at the Zwift stand that, the KICKR bike may be more of the latter!
Normally when a new device comes to Eurobike you get one or two versions on display if you are really lucky. For example, Wahoo only brought
One thing is for certain, looking at the reaction, and all of the conversations and the Wahoo KICKR Bike, Wahoo ‘won’ this years Eurobike
So what IS the Wahoo KICKR bike? Probably one of the most fully-featured smart bikes to date! I think it is a
However that toss-up does become slightly skewed when the prices are put into play, Tacx at $2800, and Wahoo at $3499
Wahoo KICKR Bike Smart Bike – Specifications
- Bluetooth, and ANT+
- Bluetooth FTMS and ANT+ FEC
- Built-in sensors:
- Power, Speed/Cadence
- Max Slope Simulation
- + 20%
- – 15%
- Max wattage:
- 2200w – however speed of resistance is not known yet
- 6 kg
- Power Accuracy:
- +/- 1%
- Max Rider Weight
Others bits that we know about the Wahoo KICKR Bike:
Customisable chain rings – Using the Wahoo App you will be able to simulate any chain set in terms of chainring, and cassette size.
Given the variety of setups for the shifting when it comes to the gear selectors on the handlebars – Wahoo allows their gear buttons to be mapped to the SRAM/Campagnolo/Shimano setups. With two outside leaver based buttons
Plus one on the inside of the shifter
Finally, the two bottoms on the shifters can be mapped to personal preferences, again with the app. Given Wahoo’s recent purchase of The SufferFest, it made sense that Wahoo was very happy to demonstrate those buttons being mapped to the grade on one shift and the work out intensity on the other.
Given the obvious close development with Zwift, I was surprised to see that the handlebars are fixed in place, without the ability to turn. On the one hand, it feels as though that shouldn’t matter on a stationary bike. But the current implementation of Zwift steering does require a turning handlebar. I was reassured that the top shifter buttons will be configurable to allow for turning, but I do wonder how something which was design as an analogue input – Elite has a turntable for Zwift steering for example – will fair from a button input press instead?
There is a lot going on with the handlebars – the brake levers are not for show, but actually, work. Might sound like a strange thing, but here is a small element of future-proofing. The brakes can be used either within an app, if Zwift decides to support it, but also simply to stop the flywheel spinning after a ride.
At first glance, the flywheel looks different
The classic versions of the KICKR that we know and love have a well known electromagnetic flywheel. The Wahoo KICKR Bike can be much better described as a hybrid device as it has had a motor integrated to drive the flywheel. Earlier when I mentioned the major differences between the KICRK and NEO smart bike, but I didn’t mention the NEO hill descent. This is because, with the new flywheel and motor, the KICKR Bike is now able to compete with the Tacx NEO smart bike with its own version of a
This does bring to mind another comparison with the Tacx Neo – the power lead. Firstly the Wahoo KICKR Bike is only able to run with power. But secondarily, for such an expensive device, I’m surprised to see how the power socket is so… stuck on. I would have thought something lower down would have been easier to hide. Although in the same breath, easier to get
Whilst the Wahoo KICKR bike isn’t able to run without power, it was investigated during design, but was abandoned early on for a simple reason. Riders may be happy to forgo the downhill descent, but it was considered that cutting out the Climb functionality probably wasn’t going to be acceptable.
Speaking of wires, there has been some discussion online about the appearance of the Wahoo KICKR Bike, and the very visible wires.
The Wahoo bike will come almost full assembled, with shifters, bars and tape all applied. The cockpit however will not be attached, and the head tube will need to be inserted on arrival. This is one of the reasons for the exposed wires. It was considered that riders would likely want to change over to their own aero handlebars and stem, which may cause routing problems with the wires.
Personally, on a bike of this cost, I do wonder how many people would be swapping the stock Wahoo gear over for specific aero bars? Yes there will be a minority who will look to copy the touch points over exactly, but I do wonder how many actually will. I would have consider most of those sorts of people would have preferred cleaner lines, but each to their own
Never the less, the wires are external to allow easy swapping of stems if you want to. I do think that wires are a better approach than the coin cell battery operated shifters seen on the Wattbike, as they have proved to be a point of failure in the past. The shifters connect via 3.5mm jacks just under the stem, next to the single USB port.
I’m surprised at the single port, as I personally often need to charge my phone and a cycling head unit, or iPad at the same time. Both Tacx and Stages have chosen the two
Wahoo KICKR Bike – The Fit
When it comes to getting a fit, it will be practically impossible for a cyclist not to be able to recreate their own bike. The Wahoo KICKR Bike is essentially a bike fit frame, with a lot of clever gubbins welded on. The seat post has an impressive 17cm of range, with
All the adjustability is either performed by moving large flat lock plates. Which you’ll see for bike height, fore and after saddle position and stem position
By comparison, the seat and high of the stem, are head in place with more classical quick release clamps
The crank arms are a very interesting feature. Which is being called the Wahoo Hammer. Rather than having a screw thread socket which can be slid to different lengths in the crank arm (165/167.5/170/172.5/175mm) via the five different socket positions, for your pedal at the top of the crank. Simply flat pedals will be included in the box in order to allow you to go riding from day one.
I don’t know if this is a common form of adjusting crank lengths on spin
Note that while you can easily adjust the seat post and saddle for height, fore, and aft. The frame height is also adjustable – but with letters rather than numbers, as Wahoo feels there is too much difference in the bike market on the “size” of a 56cm frame for example. Given this level of adjustment, people could be naturally concerned about getting it right. Wahoo has you covered there in the app, which will
But note I didn’t say a comfortable fit, as the unit is VERY planted on the floor. With the size of the Wahoo KICKR footprint, this thing is not moving when you don’t want it to. (Don’t worry, there are small wheels underneath to help if you did need to change the location). In fact, the whole unit feels very rigid when you ride it. Certainly compared to riding most turbo trainers, where both the compliance of the bike, and often the turbo trainer help to make a more comfortable ride. I do wonder whether the very rigid position may prove to be a source of knee or back pain over time?
Staying at the base of the Wahoo Smart bike is the new actuator for the KICKR Climb. Which is really impressive to see with so little casing around it. I understand that you are essentially looking at a screw and a motor, but still. I was a little surprised to see the tiny unit underneath, and shows how much Wahoo have refined their tech in the Kickr bike
Remember that slightly stuck on box where the shifters plug in?
On the top there is a small screen to tell you the angle of the climb. Just to the side of the screen is a small button to disable the climb functionality if you desire
Wahoo seems to have scoffed at the doubling up of other smart bikes. Whilst Stages and Tacx get two USB ports to charge your gadgets, the Wahoo smart bike gets one. Similarly, on the cheaper Tacx, Stages and Wattbike units, the riders have to put up with two bottle cages or mounts, whilst the Wahoo has a more exclusive, single bottle holder
I was also surprised to see that for the higher price Wahoo still requires you to purchase a separate tablet holder, and has nowhere to place your phone either. It is all well and good for Wahoo to state that their engineering and complexity justify the price, and I have no reason to doubt that. But the price does look rather steep when you are missing simple user experience points… like a phone holder.
Here is my brief hands on video at Eurobike:
Wahoo KICKR Bike Preview – Conclusion
I think that the design aesthetic is going to be slightly polarising. Wahoo does have a very industrial design, which is very much part of their brand. HOWEVER sometimes a little can go a long way and have the feeling that perhaps a little more styling would have helped the Wahoo KICKR Bike.
There is no doubt from an engineering perspective Wahoo have created a master piece, but I do wonder at the price. The world collectively took a sharp intake of breath when the Tacx Neo Smart Bike was pegged at “around $2800 (£2299)” initially (which at time of shipping has become $3000 (£2449), so it’s surprising there has not been the same outcry here.
The ability to adjust your bike in more ways than many people have even considered, and to be able to professional bike fits is great – but this should probably be a one time function.
The ride – crucial kind of thing is ridiculously smooth. Almost to the degree you doubt the power readings, as we haven’t got the associated chain noise most cyclists are used to. Certainly Wahoo has matched the Tacx Neo bike blow for blow on several engineering points – silence and down hill drive being the clearest.
BUT Wahoo failing to include a tablet holder, a phone holder and only one drinks bottle holder is odd. It makes me wonder if more time was spent on other sections of the bike, whilst forgetting that an actual rider is supposed to be involved too. Or perhaps it is just a sales ploy to sell you a Wahoo Desk at the same time? Either way, it’s surprising for the price.
What are your thoughts on the Wahoo KICKR Bike? Are you interested in a smart bike?