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Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer Review: How To Improve Your Indoor Cycling Experience

This Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer review is on version five, the most recent, KICKR Smart Trainer released from Wahoo Fitness. We are going to dive into all the features that make this smart trainer a must have item in your bike-cave.

We will also tackle some of the common problems users have experienced. Because of Wahoo’s explosion in popularity there are many first time trainer owners starting with the KICKR Smart Trainer. If that is you, knowing some of those common user errors will ensure smooth cycling after setup.

KICKR Smart Trainer vs Tacx NEO 2T

I had the luxury of doing a side-by-side comparison of these two trainers at my local bike shop. I loved them both, but when with the Wahoo because of their explosive growth in market share. It was one of those moments I remember vividly because I would rarely rationalize a $1,000+ purchase by saying, “Well, everyone else must be buying Wahoo for a reason” but that is exactly what I did.

I can’t say I am disappointed in my decision either. Both smart trainers have power numbers accurate to within a one percent margin. They are both capable of handling 2,000+ watts, which I am not capable of generating for longer than a half second.

Both trainers have their unique feature. With Wahoo’s KICKR it is the AXIS feet that allow five degrees of lateral movement. For the Tacx NEO 2t its the vibrating feature when riding over cobblestone on Zwift.

Ultimately, the deciding factor other than Wahoo’s explosive growth came down to noise. I felt like the KICKR Smart Trainer was quite a bit quieter in the shop, and sneaking in rides before the rest of the house wakes up sounded nice.

KICKR Smart Trainer Problems

While I’ve never personally experienced problems with my KICKR Smart Trainer, common problems pop up in reviews and through feedback from other KICKR owners. Many negative reviews involve third party app problems, not problems I found in this Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer review. I also know many new owners don’t read the maintenance instructions. Totally understandable given the excitement of getting one of these new trainers.

Make sure you still properly lubricate your chain and trainer. Skipping gears and weird noises are common problems mentioned in negative reviews, both of which improved by using chain lube. For more info on bike chain lubricants read: Ultimate Guide To Picking The Best Bike Chain Lube.

One of the common problems I found is controlling resistance on the trainer. Users claim the trainer won’t go over 2 mph and it doesn’t transmit speed and power. I’ve seen this happen and after completing a firmware update the issue seemed to resolve itself. That firmware update takes place through the Wahoo App.

ERG Mode on Zwift

Another problem new users come across is understanding how ERG mode works on apps like Zwift. When doing a workout you leave ERG mode on. When this mode is on you DO NOT shift your bike on the trainer. If you shift the bike it will reduce your wattage and slow you down but your resistance will spike back up because the trainer is set to make you pedal at that wattage. Rather than shifting, you need to navigate to the in-game action bar and reduce your FTP. Reducing FTP is also an option in the Zwift Companion App.

When you are not in ERG mode feel free to shift as needed. Your speed will calculate based on your watts. Making sure your weight is accurate within your profile will ensure accurate power readings for watts/kg. It will also make it easier for the controllable resistance to automatically calibrate.

Is the Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer Worth It?

I think all three of the leading smart trainers at this price point are worth the money. You can’t go wrong no matter which you choose. If given the opportunity to buy my smart trainer again I can’t say I would buy the Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer.

Its not because I have any problems. I just wonder if the Tacx NEO 2T would be a better fit for me with it’s vibrating feature considering I primarily ride gravel. If you want to give the Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer a try you can buy directly from the Wahoo Fitness Website Here.

I do love the minimal amount of lateral movement I get with the KICKR AXIS Feet. I also appreciate how incredibly quiet this smart trainer is. If you have one takeaway from this Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer review make sure it is the level of quiet you can ride at.

My review on the full Wahoo Ecosystem can be found here, along with in-depth reviews of the additional Ecosystem components:

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