BIG WARNING – If you’re not into bikes then this post may feel like a total struggle, its a gear rant thats about something even less interesting to you than a bike… An Indoor Trainer.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother with such a task, especially when you consider how non-technical my ‘reviews’ are. However, this piece of equipment has been generating a strange amount of interest from people, so in a public service type of way, I decided to pass on my dubious wisdom as to what its actually like.
To set the scene, I’ve had about 4 different types of indoor trainers in the past, including the Kurt Kinetic. I hated them all. Not just for the boredom factor, but also for the fact that using one is NOT cycling. Add to that the fact that they never really provide a genuine road feeling and they are the very definition of necessary evil.
However, as I lay in a hospital bed with nothing but doom controlling my thoughts and in an extremely vulnerable state at the thought of not turning pedals for 2 months or more, I was open to the suggestion of re-entering the world of static in-door faux cycling. Turns out that the world has changed considerably as well, with one of the kings of modern trainers quickly ordered and on its way to me well before I was capable of using it:
The Wahoo Kickr
Exceedingly odd name for an indoor trainer? Yes… Extremely rammed with all sorts of technology that makes older trainers look like metal turds that were a giant waste of money? Absolutely. With the backstory vaguely glossed over, lets get busy with the low down on this weapon of mass indoor sweating.
First of all, its fucking big. Like, not only a massive BOX, but rather heavy, so worth considering if you think you’ll just pick one up on a trip and bring it back with you. Sure, its an option, just tick the box for an airline fisting to go with it.
Its so heavy in fact that if you’re purchasing this because you’re injured, then you’re going to need a small army of skinny cyclists to help unpack and assemble it, I found that the bare minimum required was 2, and only got away with that as one of them is a fucking TT beast/classics champione. If your road friends are climbers, may be best to get three of them.
At about this point some of you may be thinking that this is #notenduro. Ah, an easy trap to fall into my friends, but a deadly one nonetheless. Yes, the Kickr is already pre-built to deal with any Marketing driven cuntery you can think of, your Gravel Road Bike will also fit in here, plug and play that shit:
Oddly, in-spite of its weight, its actually a relatively compact unit. My advice is to find the most fragile and expensive carbon road bike you can get your hands on and strap that fucker in tight before an 800w interval session. Luckily I had just the weapon for the job. For extra status points, use a Monocle magazine for the front wheel block, this shows everyone how luxurious yet practical you are. Voila:
Its probably an important time to mention that when you purchase the Wahoo, you’ll need to specify if you want a Shimano or Campy free hub body, as your cassette goes on the device, which is great for not fucking your back tire as per traditional trainers.
Once you’re all set on the technical front and have made sure everything is screwed in tighter than a frogs pussy, this is the most essential item you’ll need before commencing any actual riding on the Wahoo. And believe me, its pretty critical:
Some other quick set up tips:
- Best to put a mat under it to both dampen any noise and pick up the sweat, which there will be a lot of
- You need to be near a power outlet as the Kickr needs to be plugged in obviously so it can unleash all its technical goodness on your chassis
- Think about a view, near a window not a bad call
- You’ll need either a fan or some A/C, as man, shit gets REALLY hot when you get into it… Don’t think you’ll be sweet
- You will definitely need a towel and if you want to really spend up, get one of those covers that stretch over the top of the bike to stop you sweating all over it and melting your components Diesel style. Gloves also not a bad call
- You can Skype people whilst on the trainer, just bear in mind though that they can take screen shots of you that make you look like a total cunt (see header pic), especially when you’re dressed like a wrestler, then send them back to you…
Right, so you’re all set up to go… Got your favorite movies or pirated TV shows all set and its time to spin yourself into a sweaty frenzy that you haven’t experienced since that failed attempt to hook up a threesome where you were SO sure you’d read the signals right. Now its time for the iPhone interface!
This is perhaps the coolest part of the whole thing, well, as cool as indoor trainers can get. Yes, this bad boy interfaces the fuck out of things with your iPhone of course! It probably does the same with Android I guess, but I’m brainwashed by Apple products, so have a care factor of zero for that shit. Just head to the App Store and get the ‘Wahoo Fitness App’ and its ON! As you can see from these gigantic iPhone screen shots, you then have access to pretty much everything you’ll ever need while you pedaling yourself into a stupor.
There is so much functionality in the app, which obviously talks to the Kickr via bluetooth that I won’t bore you with all of it. Just the good bits. First up, the standard screen that tells you what’s up as you’re riding. To be noted this can be easily toggled from current to average if you so desire… and yes, much to the excitement of PC’s everywhere, it has a built in power meter! Rejoice:
Not enough PAIN and SUFFERING for you? Or perhaps you have a date in the Alps with the Welsh Assassin, the Maniacal Hawk or Clarso and need to feel that sweet burn of a sustained 9.5% gradient? Well, the Kickr has you covered, and by that I mean its going to kick your motherfucking ass YO. Here you can control the gradient you want to simulate and if you really hate yourself, even dial in some head wind. And yes, believe me, 10% climbing really feels like it… The potential for self flagellation here is unparalleled and unlimited:
I’m going to gloss over a whole lot of boring tech nerd stuff now and go to the point that secretly everyone cares about: Telling other people about your hard out session. Yeah, check out my epic training balls mofos as I totally finished that interval set! Well, the kickr has your narcissistic sharing fetish totally covered, so never fear! In fact, its so easy its going to make you get a little excited in your pants the first time you use it.
Check it, once you authorise the Wahoo app to stick its tip into the myriad of other training sites you’re addicted to, its simply a case of fingering them and bang, your session is automatically uploaded to your favourite “LOOK AT ME!” locations, showing off has never been easier:
Its also then gives you a little summary of whats up, Strava style on how many hateful hours you’ve spent indoors due to either injury or snow. As you can see, this was all sponsored by the #Road2Recovery time I had on my hands as part of the rehab action:
But wait! Theres’a a lot more!! If you thought the iPhone hook up was cool, then its even better with the iPad action. Yes, there is even an app for the iPad to talk to your Wahoo. Why you ask? Well, this is where you can really start to get into the goodness of what’s on offer. You can actually locate real life segments, start them and the Kickr will then adjust the resistance based on the road you have locked in. Naturally its only cool to select famous shit:
Dirty warning – Here is a trap for young players… As I found out, the Wahoo only talks to devices with Bluetooth 4.0. Yeah… A good thing to find out after I had downloaded the $36 app on to my shit old iPad 2. So, before you start frothing into an interfacing frenzy, best to work out if your devices will actually talk to the fucking thing, otherwise you’ll be faced with a frustrating trip to the Apple store, which I am yet to do out of sheer belligerence.
But what’s it like to actually ride?
Ah yes, so far I have been hung up on all the technical stuff, the mere mention of an iPhone app distracting me from the real story, as per usual.
Well, as far as trainers go, this is the most realistic one I have EVER been on… The Kurt Kinetic was pretty good, but this thing is definitely next level. It definitely has a more real road feel, especially when you wind on the tension or climbing elevation. A lot of trainers just feel oddly fucked and retarded when you do this, but the Kickr seems able to maintain its real world road feel whilst doing an outstanding job of ruining your legs.
As for noise, its also pretty quiet and i’ve never really had any issues with the sound, even when cranking through a few watts on it. On the topic of watts, how accurate is the Power Meter? I’ll be honest, I have no idea, much the rage of the power cunts reading this. I am yet to run it in parallel with my Stages power meter, but will soon.
Simply put – this is the best trainer I have ever been on, by a looooong way.
So, in Dirty Summary
Right, first up, the good shit:
- Its well made – Every trainer I’ve ever had either looked like shit out of the box or soon did post riding it, the Wahoo is super well made and real care and time has gone into make it a decent piece of kit. Respect that
- Its potential – Is seemingly limitless. I didn’t cover it here, but you can race your friends, upload video of actual rides and do it as you watch it and pretty much ride any gradient you want. The ability to tailor a training session is mind blowing
- Hit that number – For those with a training plan OCD, this is heaven. You can very easily hit and hold any power number you want. No traffic, no lights, no distractions, just you and the numbers you want to pump out. Under/Over intervals have never been easier, your inner training nerd will thank you
- Shit is REAL – Its not too noisy and it feels real… Also, as your back tire isn’t been reamed out by some metal roller, its a lot better for your bike I suspect. The whole thing looks fucking PRO too, so will appeal to those of you in your 30’s that think maybe you can still make it in the PRO tour.
And of course, the cunty stuff
- It costs how much? – Yeah… Fucker is expensive… No two ways about it, depends on where you’re getting it from, but its not a cheap item. In most currency’s its $1k+, not to mention a freight reaming given how heavy it is. It was an emotional purchase for me, so have a think if you really need one before dropping the coin
- Its still not riding – Not really to do with the Wahoo, more noting the fact that being indoors sucks. Yet, based on circumstance, this is definitely better than nothing
- Could turn you into an anti social fucker – If you have a tendency to froth about training accuracy, then there is a risk factor here that you become addicted to just doing Wahoo sessions. With its functionality and set up I can see it sucking in some victims, thus dragging you away from real riding and your crew.
- Whats it doing to the bike – I have no evidence of this yet, but given I once snapped a Pinarello in a trainer, I am hesitant about what its doing to the Carbon Black Ops bike… Not that its been hammer time on the road to recovery, but if you were to give it full gas, what are the unintended consequences for your frame? TBC…
Conclusion, who needs one?
If you live somewhere that takes an absolute reaming in winter, or is deathly hot in summer (I.e. The UAE) or you’re coming back from a cunty injury, then this is a tool that you won’t regret buying. Instead of taking 4 months off when you’re under snow for example, you can keep shit rolling and not come into Spring a total fuckwit. I wouldn’t recommend it for endurance miles, unless you have a big screen TV mounted in front of it and can movie the hours away, but for structured training its hard to beat.
If you’re not weather fisted, then this thing will also massively appeal to people with Training OCD’s. Yes, if you want to hit THAT number perfectly every time and don’t want to be interrupted, then buy one of these. Your friends won’t miss riding with you, as chances are you only have one or two and they’re happy to join the group ride.
Will I keep mine? Absolutely… Its also extremely useful if you’re time rammed and need to squeeze in something and can’t be bothered with rain or cunty traffic. A useful tool to have in the arsenal, if you can get past the eye watering price…
An important foot note – This is a very basic overview of the Kickr, if you have got this far and feel disappointed that I haven’t nerded you to death, then you can go here and read the most in-depth review of this thing on the PLANET! Its so intense I didn’t even really know how to read it all, but he’s a legend and leaves no stone unturned. My review is for people who tend to not give that much of a fuck.