Wahoo Segments app is very unique, and works with many of Wahoo’s other products. The Wahoo KICKR is an amazing piece of kit, and engineered to an industrial standard. But it’s true power as a training tool becomes apparent only apparent when paired to some of the great turbo trainer apps out there – see Zwift.
Wahoo have created the Segments app to utilise the variable resistance of the Wahoo KICKR to allow you to cycle Strava segments, and cycle against other riders pre-existing times in the comfort of your own Pain Cave/home.
Currently the app is available on the App Store as one of the higher priced apps at £22.99. So like the KICKR it works with, it’s an expensive proposition, so is it worth it?
Wahoo Segments App
The Wahoo KICKR uses both ANT+ and Bluetooth communication protocols, but as Wahoo Segments is only available on the iPad, all communications is done via Bluetooth, which might not be quite as robust as ANT+, as I’ll go into shortly. Wahoo Segments transmits information on the gradient profile of a segment to the KICKR, which will then automatically adjust the resistance to mimic the real world segment – although without wind and the rain ?
Bringing virtual and real together
Now you don’t hear proud tales of men and their turbo trainers, its thel world exploits that matter (Just tell that to someone holding all 6 jerseys on Zwift!), but the Wahoo Segments app does give an effective, variable controlled, way to practice routes and segments from the real world. Great, you improved your leader board position on a segment, but ask yourself, was that because you improved, or that you had a good road, and a tail wind? The presence of the KICKR’s in built power meter, allows you to produce data to see if you really have improved across your favourite Strava Segements, rather than just looking at times.
When using Wahoo Segments, you can cycle against you own previous times, a time set by someone else on the leader board, or potentially, very good for winter training, one of your friends else using the same setup. Something that sounds excellent in theory, but does have a VERY substantial setup cost, for two people!! Good move Wahoo, good move, as this means you might be more likely to buy a KICKR rather than another powered trainer
In many ways I think that it would have been more effective if Wahoo Segments could be used with non-power turbo trainers as well, which could be done using Wahoo’s own Blue SC speed sensor, or any bluetooth speed/cadence sensor for that matter. Additionally I think as an app Wahoo would get much more traction is it was given away, or had a free year access code included with each KICKR sale. It would certainly make the KICKR slightly better value for money, and also would allow for a market outside KICKR owners
Using the App
In terms of the Wahoo Segments app itself, you have to authorise access to your Strava account, allowing the app to pull down and populate and segments you have starred. It is not possible to star segments within the app itself.
Once in, the layout is similar to Strava’s “Explore” feature, where you can enter Segment specific codes – you have to take the numbers from the Strava segment specific leaderboard URL – so here I’d want to search for 4553907 to get the app to find that specific segment
Or just search for segments in an area via the map – this can be a good way to discover new local routes actually. Conversely its also an easier way of doing hill repeats!
With the routes displayed on the map. However one problem I had here is the app seems selective about how it displays segments. For a several segments I know well, I have tried to find them on the map, but they don’t appear, even after refreshing and so have had to use the Strava segment number from the website to actually locate the stretch in the app. This seems to affect both large and small segments.
You can over come this by starring your favourite routes on the website site, which then populates the Starred tab in the bottom left
Once your segment is selected, and your sensors and KICKR connected, hit the “CRANK IT UP” button and spin the pedals to get going
On the Turbo
Wahoo Segments lets you race against your previous times, and you get data read outs from any other Bluetooth sensors. I also run my Garmin Edge so I can see cadence, and heart rate through my ANT+ sensors, but can’t see that data on the iPad without buying bluetooth compatible sensors – remember the KICKR doesnt have a cadence sensor
During the ride there is the graph at the bottom of the screen giving an indication of the simulated elevation, and position. Your position is also shown large on the map above. As the elevation is more of an indicator, than an accurate representation, I like that Wahoo Segments also gives you a numerical read out for the gradient.
In terms of racing against others times from Strava, this is done with a simple ghost bot, that you can see both on the elevation graph, or more likely pulling away from you on the map above!
Sessions on Strava
At the moment when you complete your segment, and share it on Strava, it merely uploads the session as a static trainer ride, and does not have any actual connection to the segment in question. Which is eminently understandible – you’d not be very happy if you lost you KOM to so chap in a garage. That said it would be good if there was some way of reviewing it, and other static trainer rides. So as it stands no one can see if you’ve just smashed out a stunning virtual KOM, but that might also connect to the size of the market that Strava feels there is for this sort of leaderboard
Overall, in my opinion Wahoo Segments is a great app, and when you look at some of the subscription cycling packages – Kinomap, or TrainerRoad, you can argue it’s good value for money. Especially as it allows you to train, with reasonable accuracy on the geography on routes you know.
That however is not where I feel the major strength of this app is, the main strength comes from the fact you can practice training on a route you’ve never been on before, but might be shortly to race upon – such as the Velothon Wales – which was frankly far too far to drive just for a training session!
The app was able to give an idea as to what the route was going to be like, and which bits to hold and which bits to attack on. But as with many things like in the app, there are a few rough points – as you can only only run one segment at a time, and not select several segments to ride in a row/session it can make doing a longer session some what challenging, and certainly disjointed. Hopefully this is something that could be fixed very easily.
The only other gripe I have had is once the app lost the feed from the KICKR half way round a 27km course, which was annoying, as it really hit the time. Whilst that isn’t a common event, its also note rare either – I couldnt easily determine if it was the iPad, App, or KICKR, but I get the feeling it may be due to the bluetooth, as the set up is happiest when the iPad is nearest to the KICKR
Also by just having everything visible on the TV, by using AppleTV and AirPlay form the iPad, Wahoo Segments is going to make Segments a very interesting cycling program. Its just a shame that as there is no Lightning ANT+ adapter, as I think that would get a lot more people using this app, which clearly has a lot of effort poured into it.