Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Review
The Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike is not one of the prettiest looking bikes on the market. It looks minimalist, but almost in an industrial and dystopian sort of manner. This might turn many people away in the same sort of way a bad set of pictures might make one swipe left on a dating app.
However, similar to dating apps, one should not always judge the entire package based on the looks. The KICKR Smart Bike has more to offer than initially meets the eye. We’re going to look at some of these features in our Wahoo KICKR Review.
It is an expensive bike, which is a consequence of it falling into the “smart bike” category that so many companies seem interested in exploring these days. It is up to the potential customer to decide whether or not the $3,500 price is worth the sort of service the bike offers.
The ability of the Wahoo KICKR indoor cycling bike to provide a fun and responsive ride is definitely one of the highlights that are on offer here. That combination with the technology integrated in the bike can result in some of the smoothest and most engaging rides you can find on this type of spin bike.
Wahoo KICKR Comparison!
This is where I regularly update the Wahoo KICKR bike review to let you know if there are better options for the price on the market. Currently, in 2020 this indoor bike is very unique and worth the money.
But I personally wouldn’t buy it until the company address a design (thick frame top tube that causes leg rubbing) and some quality issues. (Hopefully, they will either improve this model or release a new model in the near future)
If these are not important factors for you, you can rest assured the KICKR indoor cycling bike will offer you some fun indoor rides. However, if you don’t want to take chance to buy the bike and send it back because of leg-rub, I suggest you to take a look at the Stages SB20. It’s much cheaper and comes with many similar features.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Technical Information:
- Wahoo KICKR Technology
- Pedals and Q-factor
- KICKR bike flywheel
- KICKR bike resistance
- Drive system & gear ratio
- Handlebars and seat
- Wahoo price and warranty
- Shipping and assembly
- Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike pros
- Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike cons
- Weight: 93 lbs (42 kg)
- Max User Weight: 250 lbs (114 kg)
- Length: 48 inches (121 cm)
- Width: 14 inches (35.6 cm)
- Height: 30 inches (76 cm)
- User Height Range: 5 feet (152 cm) to 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm)
As mentioned before, the Wahoo KICKR Bike does not look like most other indoor cycling bikes. It has a very plain and industrial look that mimics the design of outdoor bikes in terms of the placement of its handlebars and seats. The underlying philosophy of this bike is that it seeks to replicate outdoor rides as accurately and as seamlessly as possible. Fortunately, this tends to work more often than not. Because the bike has no actual gears to shift, you can program the settings to make it feel like one of the various types available; Shimano, SRAM, or Campagnolo drivetrains are all available. The actual ride on the KICKR is quite stable thanks to the platform feet and the solid flywheel. Overall the goal that they sent off to accomplish with their natural feeling ended up being fulfilled.
The actual build of the smart bike is fairly large, though it isn’t overtly heavy. Considering it isn’t foldable or all that portable, this means that the KICKR isn’t great for those who want to frequently move it around or live in smaller apartments. After all, nobody really wants a single piece of exercise equipment taking up 30% of their entire living space.
It does come with less features and overall toys than some of the other smart bikes like the Tacx NEO Smart Bike, though it still serves as a pretty good ride for those who want to simulate the outdoor rides from the comfort of their own home. One of the nice little features that it does come with is the ability to track the incline grade and gear ratio on an LED screen in the event that you aren’t already using an app to track such a thing. The only question is (which we will cover further down) whether or not that experience is worth the cost.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Technology:
- The KICKR Smart Bike has a small LED display that shows Speed, Distance, Power, Cadence and Grade
- The integrated sensors measures cadence and power output with +/-1% accuracy
- The Wahoo app allows for more customization to the bike settings
Since Wahoo have deemed this cycle a smart bike, it is important to see what sort of technological aspects that they have added and make sure that it deserves the name. In purely technical terms, they are correct in that it is a “smart bike” since the resistance levels of the bike can be changed automatically and without a manual turn of a knob. But what other features of technology does the KICKR smart bike offer its riders?
One of the key aspects of the KICKR Smart Bike’s technology is the use it makes of the Wahoo app and other, third party apps like Zwift. These apps allow you to change the resistance and simulate the different ascents and descents that one might find on a natural ride. The Wahoo fitness app, unsurprisingly, is specifically designed to allow the user the most fluid and easy instructions to efficiently set up and get started using the bike. It offers different methods of shifting, the number of cogs in the cassette, the bike profiles, the speed, cadence, power, tilt and more. Even those who love the Zwift app might be tempted to switch over to the Wahoo one in order to get the sheer amount of handy features that it provides.
In fact, the focus on trying to make a natural ride feel is one of the key points about the KICKR’s design philosophy. It also checks to make sure that the process is as smooth as possible, with absolutely no calibration needed. It has a +/- 1% power measurement and can generate up to 2,200 watts of resistance. The KICKR can measure your speed, distance, power and cadence without any extra sensors, which is an impressive little addition.
The KICKR Smart Bike is compatible with both ANT+ and Bluetooth devices
The KICKR Smart Bike is compatible with Android, Apple and PC devices
The KICKR Smart Bike can connect to third party apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad
The Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike has a similar level of connectivity that competitors like the Stages SB20 and Tacx NEO Smart Bike have. This might sound like a negative, as they “don’t go above and beyond” and whatnot, but there isn’t actually too much to fault them with. The KICKR does the job of allowing the user to connect to many different third party apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Kinomap, The Sufferfest, FulGaz and others. If you are someone who prefers to use one of these third party apps, then this level of connection will most certainly not let you down.
Another impressive part of the KICKR’s connectivity is how it can attach itself to three different devices during the workout. Want to connect to your TV, phone and laptop all at the same time in order to gain maximum efficiency and entertainment from the workout? Then go right on ahead. Another nice little bonus that Wahoo have decided to toss in is a variety of free trials from a bunch of their app partners. That way, if you have had your eyes on some app or the paid version of a certain app for a while now, you can get a nice little free trial in order to see if you truly enjoy it. These partners include Zwift, TrainerRoad, Strava Summit, The Sufferfest, FulGaz and Rouvy. The deals can be 30 days free trial, a 60 day free trial or even a 10% off of the annual subscription for FulGaz.
Q-Factor and Pedals:
- The KICKR Smart Bike Q-Factor measures at about 140mm
- There are 5 customizable arm cranks measuring from 165mm to 175mm
- The flat 9/16″ pedals do not come pre-installed and are replaceable
The Q-Factor of the KICKR Smart Bike is very well done in comparison to many different spin bikes. It certainly does a good job of making sure that you feel like you are riding a natural bike.
For those who are unaware, the Q-Factor of is the distance between your feet while sitting on the bike. Some other spin bikes have a bit too much room in between your feet, making it feel like a very unnatural and sometimes uncomfortable experience. Similarly, too little and you will find it impossible to pedal. The KICKR is right on the edge of that second area, which is rare. Many find that the narrower the Q-Factor, the better.
In terms of the pedals on the KICKR Smart Bike, there is nothing particularly special to note. They are flat and probably most of you won’t install them. A slight annoyance and disappointment considering the price tag, but nothing to get too upset over. If you find yourself unhappy with the default pedals that the smart bike comes with, you are free to replace them with your own preferred pair.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Flywheel:
- The KICKR Smart Bike flywheel weighs 13 lbs with an enhanced motor
- This motor offers the option for the user to speed up, allowing them to coast
- The flywheel also has a brake that adds resistance
The biggest difference between the KICKR Smart Bike flywheel and those of other indoor cycling bikes is the added motor that comes with it. It allows you to speed up and adds the feeling of coasting to an already pleasant and realistic riding experience.
Thanks to the virtual breaking capabilities of the flywheel, you can really replicate the feeling of going downhill and add another level of resistance.
While it might not be quite as revolutionary as the virtual flywheel of the Tacx NEO Smart Bike, this 13 lb flywheel certainly does the job of simulating a real bike.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Resistance:
- The KICKR Smart Bike has an electromagnetic resistance system
- The KICKR Smart Bike has a max power level of 2200 watts
- The maximum simulated incline is 20%
- The minimum simulated incline is -15%
The resistance on the KICKR Smart Bike is an extremely solid system that can be easily adjusted for any workout. You have the option of manually changing the resistance levels through the gear shifters. However, the main ability of the resistance to shine doesn’t come out until you attach an app to it. Whether that be the Wahoo app or some third party one like Zwift, these apps allow for a much more fluid change in the resistance levels on the smart bike.
As for the changes in resistance during a workout, there are a few things to note. When one jumps from a low level of resistance to a high one, there is a bit of a spike in power needed. However, on smaller jumps up the resistance ladder, there is no such noticeable jump.
On the higher levels, it can also take a fair amount of force to get the pedals going again if you come to a full stop. You will also find that the general noise of the KICKR Smart Bike is rather low on all settings except for the very highest.
Handlebars and Seat:
- The KICKR Smart Bike comes with a seat and 42 mm handlebar
- Both the seat and handlebar are replaceable
- Both the seat and the handlebars are adjustable
One of the things to note about the positioning of the seat and handlebars of the KICKR Smart Bike is how closely they resemble a regular outdoor bike. Especially compared to some of their spin bike competitors, this smart bike really takes inspiration from the good ol’ bikes that are designed to go through mud, rain and sunshine. You lean a lot more during the rides on this smart bike than you do on others.
Both the seat and handlebars are replaceable and adjustable, allowing for you to basically customize how you fit onto the bike in the most comfortable position. That is part of the reason that the user height range is so large, because you can adjust how you actually fit on. It should be noted that the actual adjustment process can be somewhat annoying due to dealing with all of the various tubes that serve as the system of adjustment. So you might want to pick a comfortable length and stick to it to avoid the hassle.
Drivetrain and Gear Ratio:
- The KICKR Smart Bike drivetrain comes with a belt drive
- The gear ratio is fully customizable according to how it is ordered
- The gears can also be programed to simulate any sort of desired drivetrain
The Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike doesn’t do a whole lot to innovate in the realm of the drivetrain and gear ratio. What it does do is not attempt to fix anything that isn’t broken. The drivetrain is made from a pretty standard belt drive that is a classic among modern indoor cycling bikes. It does the job while remaining firm and strong even on the longer and more intense workout routines. Thanks to the combination of the drivetrain and magnetic resistance system, the workouts remain extremely silent.
The gear ratio, on the other hand, takes a different approach. It allows for a variety of options to come with the KICKR bike in order to make sure the ride feels as natural as possible. As mentioned earlier, the user can pick from a variety of simulated gears ranging from Shimano to Campagnolo and everything in between. This is the sort of method some bikes like the Tacx NEO Smart Bike take, allowing for the user to choose how they want the gear ratio to be. For some other bikes, like the Stages SB20, there is a fixed gear ratio of 5:1.
For those who are unaware what we are talking about when we are referring to the gear ratio, we will go over it. Many indoor cycling bikes (both smart and non-smart) have a small pulley belt and a big belt ring that is attached to the flywheel. For every turn of the big wheel, the small pulley turns however many times the gear ratio is set up for. On fixed systems like the one of the SB20 (5:1), for every turn of the big wheel, the small wheel would turn 5 times. On the KICKR Smart Bike, you can customize this to how you would prefer it.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Price and Warranty:
- The Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike costs $3,500
- There is a 30 day no question return policy
- The Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike comes with a limited 1 year warranty
The real questions about the Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike start when one looks at the cost. It does provide an excellent ride for its users and will provide the features that are required to qualify it as a smart bike. But is it worth the amount of money that it costs? Two of its competitors (the SB20 and NEO Smart Bike) cost at least $500 less and provide similar experiences. Just a thought that one should keep in mind when looking at these bikes.
The real offense comes in the shape of what they call a warranty. A limited 1 year warranty is an absolute shame for what sort of technology and equipment is on offer here. For the price you would be risking, it should absolutely come with some sort of backing from Wahoo. Some might not see the big deal about this, but it simply is outrageous that such an expensive piece of equipment comes with only a guarantee that it will work for 1 year before your money is lost forever. Absolute nonsense.
Assembly and Shipping:
- The KICKR Smart Bike assembly process takes about 20 minutes with the instruction manual
- It does NOT come preassembled
- Shipping usually does not take more than 1-2 weeks
An interesting aspect about the KICKR Smart Bike is that it does not come fully preassembled like so many indoor cycling bikes are finding themselves these days. Fortunately, the set-up process here is not an overly long or intense one, as all that really needs doing is to put on the pedals.
The shipping process should also be pretty prompt so long as nothing arrives or interferes with the process. Thankfully, there is nothing going on in the world today that could possibly affect any sort of shipping, shopping, social interaction or daily life. Nope, nothing at all.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Pros:
The responsiveness of the resistance settings are most definitely a highlight of the KICKR Smart Bike. Either through a connected app or through a manual switch, the changes in gradient and resistance settings are extremely smooth and responsive. This responsiveness allows for different workouts all with no or a minimal amount of downtime.
The Natural Ride Feel:
It seems that every aspect of the KICKR Smart Bike was designed in order to give it an extremely natural feel and similar experience to an outdoor bike. They achieve this through a combination of the extremely nice flywheel and the overall design choice of putting the handlebars so far out in front. The breaks and engine that are part of the flywheel particularly serve this function quite well.
The App Connections:
The connections with different apps are what makes this bike really stand out from others. The Wahoo app is specifically designed in order to allow the user to fully customize the ride, the settings and just about every other aspect of the bike besides the handlebars and seat. The fact that the KICKR can also connect to all sorts of different third party apps that are popular is a definite bonus. It allows people to use the sort of technology that they want or already have, which is always a positive. Throw in the fact that Wahoo offers trials of the apps and you have a nice relationship between bike and apps.
Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike Cons:
The price is by far the biggest negative. It simply seems like there is too little here in terms of features to justify such a large price. Especially in comparison to some of the other smart bikes available.
The Lack of Warranties:
The limited 1 year warranty is an absolute shame. For such an expensive piece of equipment, it should come with a long guarantee of quality. It is absurd that this should even be an issue. One would expect at least a warranty of 5 years to be a decent one for a bike of this price.
The Seat Post/Top Tube:
The seat post might be an issue for some. It might cause some minor thigh rubs for people who sit a certain way or have certain size thighs. Primarily it would be a combination of both, so it is a rare issue.
This bike comes with a pair of cheap flat pedals that you will probably never install. Considering the price, the least they could do was to include a pair of dual-sided SPD pedals with the Wahoo Kickr smart spin bike.
Last Word on the Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike
The biggest point of contention about the Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike comes down to the value for money. Considering the bike is much more expensive than its competitors, one might expect that it has a lot more to offer. Yet, outside of some excellent integration with apps, there just isn’t a lot here to justify that much of a price hike. Of course, it is always down to the customer to decide what sort of bike is worth it, but from our point of view, it seems like the KICKR is lacking the sort of features that would justify the price.
Another big issue that we’ve got with this bike is the pathetic warranty. Perhaps the large price would be closer to being justified if Wahoo were willing to put some money behind their product, but the combination of such a large price with such a small warranty makes it seem like Wahoo are not confident at all that their machine will actually last. There are spin bikes for half the price that have warranties 5 times as good. In case you couldn’t tell, we are rather upset about this combination.
Of course, it isn’t all bad. The Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike does have some nice features. The realistic feel of the ride and the app integration to how it runs is quite well done and impressive. You can get some excellent workouts on this bike and burn some serious calories while on board. The responsive setting changes allow for more customization, which is always a definite bonus. The more people that have comfortable access to these pieces of exercise equipment, the better. Considering how quiet the workouts on the KICKR bike are, you can use this bike in apartment complexes where there are some noise sensitive neighbors. However, the size is most likely not ideal for those who live in those apartment complexes where a couch will take up half the room and the bike takes up the other half.
The Wahoo KICKR Smart Bike is a solid smart bike that will offer a good workout to any user who decides to ride it. It has strong integration with the Wahoo app and the various third-party apps like Zwift, allowing for many more options in terms of the setup and workouts available. The biggest issue that one needs to overcome with the KICKR is the combination of the tall price and terrible warranty. If you are willing to take the risk and drop the large amount of money on this smart bike, then you will get some value out of it. However, it seems like there are other smart bikes available that offer more features for less money.