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KICKR CORE Smart Power Trainer
It won't be long before we're faced with the reality of doing some of our cycling workouts indoors. Whether that's due to less daylight or crummy weather, staying committed and riding bikes year round, even if that’s in our pain cave, is what separates the enthusiast from a dedicated cyclist. Thankfully, with the new crop of smart trainers, riding indoors isn't as monotonous and boring as it once was and is actually quite fun. While we wouldn't pass up a ride outside if given the chance, the KICKR CORE Smart Power Trainer from Wahoo Fitness offers a very viable alternative and its one that will certainly keep us motivated to ride during the cold, dreary, winter months.
The KICKR CORE is the latest smart trainer from Wahoo and just like its other trainers, it delivers a realistic ride with +/- 2% power accuracy and a quiet indoor riding experience by using its refined flywheel technology and advanced algorithms of its other trainers along with feedback from its sponsored teams and athletes. Its constructed with impressive durability in mind thanks to its robust steel frame which ensures the KICKR CORE stays in place while dishing out the watts and stands up to years of heavy use and travel. Furthermore, it works with a multitude of apps including Zwift and Trainer Road which can automatically adjust the resistance while simulating a ride.
Compared to the standard KICKR, the CORE is a little more compact and it doesn't come with a cassette as standard. That’s fine with us as our bike already has a cassette we can pull off and save some money and its smaller stature and lighter weight makes it easier to travel with or set up at races. The only other point worth mentioning is the flywheel is 4 pounds lighter on the CORE so its maximum simulated grade is 16% versus 20% and maximum power output is rated at 1800 watts instead of 2200 watts. Nevertheless, it's electromagnetic resistance still very much emulates the power and inertia experienced during outdoor riding for a more realistic feel.
Otherwise, the CORE is very much the same as its brethren including its KICKER CLIMB compatibility. CLIMB is an indoor grade simulator that, once your fork is attached, is raised and lowered in conjunction with the route on the app and increased or decrease resistance, to better simulate a climb or descent. It also works with the KICKR HEADWIND, a sensor-controlled fan that increases fan speed as your speed or heart rate increases. There are also 4 manual speed settings should you want to set your own ideal cooling airflow.
The unit is thru-axle compatible so your quick-release road bike, disc cross bike, and Boost spaced mountain bike are all compatible. Once you get up and running, LED lights provide visual confirmation that the KICKR CORE is powered, connected, and transmitting via Bluetooth or ANT+. Its ANT+ and Bluetooth capabilities allow for wireless updates and the ability to connect to smartphones, bike computers, and powermeter simultaneously or separately while an ANT+ FE-C connection allows the KICKR CORE to be controlled from any FE-C enabled device or application. This allows you to keep track of speed, distance, and power for a more structured and effective indoor training experience.
- A compact smart trainer for efficient indoor training
- LED lights indicate power, connection, and transmission
- The beltless flywheel design is super quiet
- Firmware updates for future-proof functionality
- The direct-drive design saves your tires for the road
- Features a stable base and new, heavier flywheel
- Works with QR, 12x142, and 12x148mm dropout spacing
- Compatible with KICKR CLIMB and HEADWIND so you can experience virtual ascents, descents, and wind
- Item #WHA0011
- Q & A
Nothing but problems
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
I have had very limited use of this trainer mostly from the Rouvy app with an Android phone. I often have sudden extreme fluctuations in resistance that Wahoo seems to think is caused by 2.4 GHz interference. I cannot get it to connect to the Kinomap app and the Bkool app won't even run on my phone. I am not interested in Zwift or "virtual worlds" only real video rides. If I had known I only had the option of Rouvy I would not have bought it. The connection and interference issues are not acceptable for this price. I would like to sell it and buy something else.
Best Bang For Your Buck Smart Trainer
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Purchased this trainer specifically to train indoors this winter in Utah. Out of the box it is easy to setup and syncs up with Zwift very simply. Built with quality and can handle enough watts for 99% of cyclists out there. Don't forget your cassette!
KAPUT!! After one ride!
Couldn't wait to get home tonight to do my second ride. For some reason speed and power were no longer transmitted. I was using Zwift. Did my troubleshooting as recommended. No Joy. Found a thread on Zwifts Forum talking about this very problem. Dozens of people complaining of the same problem. Wahoo was providing support to these people but they seem to have some serious problems with their electronics. There were people on their second or third unit and still having issues. I will see what Wahoo says first but think I will just return it and get my money back. My recommendation is stay away from it until they get the bugs out.
Update: Rather than returning the unit for a refund I contacted Wahoo and they got back to me immediately. They will be sending me another unit. I will keep my fingers crossed that the replacement won't fail.
Update Jan 16. Backcountry very helpful. Ordered Tacx Neo and returned Kicker. Neo works great.
After 1 month I have around 400 zwift miles and 35k ft climbing so far. The trainer started making a rubbing noise but that went away. A few of the decals came off. Overall I am happy with it. Way smoother and quieter than my previous "wheel on" trainer.
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Two words. Game. Changer. Coming from a fluid trainer, my PR for longest time riding inside was maybe 45 minutes. Paired with Zwift, I can ride on the Kickr Core for an hour no problem! I even want to keep riding!! This thing is so smooth and road like. No wear on tires, no slipping when sprinting, just smooth, quiet, realistic. The "smart" feature is also incredible in the way it changes resistance with zwift courses and the draft you get behind other riders. I feel like I have just scratched the tip of the iceberg for what this trainer can do. One thing is for certain, I will come into the spring racing season with way more hours of training in than I normally have because of how fun and easy riding indoors is now.
Was great when it worked...
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Disappointing to spend 900$ on a trainer only for it to stop working the 2nd day. The trainer sounds fine but stopped recording power output no matter what app or device I use. It connected just fine via Bluetooth and I even tried only having one app synced to it with no luck. I contacted support and they quickly responded, looks like a possible issue with the optical sensor and they are calling for a replacement. They stated they will ship my replacement in the order that my support ticket was received. Hopefully it doesn’t take long considering the price of this but so far I’m not a fan of this product.
I received the second unit without any issues and returned the original item and didn’t have to pay return shipping. However, the second unit worked for exactly 2 times before having the same issue again. I dropped the review to 1 star considering my experience and price of a faulty product. I’m contacting backcountry directly to get a refund in order to get another brand that works. Hopefully this won’t be much of a hassle.
Broken out of box, but quick replacement
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Bottom line: Wahoo delivers a good product, and if not, they take care of you.
I used the Core for about a month and had numerous problems immediately out of the box. First there were loud knocking sounds. Also, when using Zwift I had a hard time drafting other riders and the fine control of resistance seemed to be lacking.
I opened up the belt cover and discovered that the main pulley that attaches the belt to the lower drive shaft was loose. I tightened the set screw and things improved for a while.
Then, the resistance unit and its axle literally slid laterally off the frame making the trainer inoperable. I tried fixing but I was worried it would slide all the way off and careen through my house like a wrecking ball of pure kinetic energy.
As you can understand, it's disappointing to buy a 900-dollar trainer and have it fall apart on you after a dozen rides...
Fortunately, I contacted Wahoo and they quickly responded. I determined that the unit I received was not assembled properly at the factory. The main bolt that keeps the axle attached to the frame was not installed. All that was holding the ~200rpm resistance unit on the frame was the friction of a 2mm set screw. Yeesh.
Wahoo offered to send me a replacement via 2nd day air, free of charge.
The new unit is very quiet--the drivetrain noise is more than the trainer itself---and the resistance control is greatly enhanced on Zwift--drafting works now and those 15% hills feel like they're supposed to... ouch. It's a great trainer that will make riding fun all Winter.
What cassette do you recommend with this trainer? I have an 11 speed.