Wahoo KICKR Bike Review: The Most Realistic Indoor Ride
If you’re a serious cyclist then the time you spend training indoors will be geared towards helping you achieve more impressive results on the road. So it makes sense that you’d want your indoor setup to replicate riding outdoors as close as possible, and on this front the Wahoo KICKR Bike offers an unparalleled experience.
Everything about the bike can be adjusted to replicate your road bike and I do mean everything. There are levers all over the KICKR Bike which you can loosen to raise the handlebars, adjust the stem length, the crank length and much more. You can also select the gearset you have on your road ride so you have the exact same gearing on the KICKR Bike, and there’s even a satisfying and smooth clunk when you change gears on the bike.
Naturally this involves quite a bit of setting up, which you can be guided through in the partner Wahoo app. As I was testing out a media sample the KICKR Bike came fully assembled so I can’t speak to how hard it is to put together, but setting it up to your specifications is made very easy by the fit wizard.
There are three options in the setup. You can enter your measurements from a bike fitting if you have done one, you can take a photo of your road bike and mark where certain parts are, or you can enter your body measurements. I chose the third option, which Wahoo warns is the least accurate, but it was quick and fitted me well.
Some of the levers I used to adjust the bike were quite stiff and tough to loosen, but since this is a unit that has presumably been used by other reviewers that might not be the same on a new bike.
The bike can be set up to fit riders from 5ft (1.52m) to 6ft4in (1.92m), and has a range of five crank lengths available from 165mm to 175mm.
There are a few other features which add to the realism once you actually start pedalling, the chief one being that the bike can tilt forwards and backwards (from -15% up to 20%) to replicate hills. A button on the handlebars controls this lean (which can make for a shocking experience if you, like me, accidentally hit the button and throw the whole bike forward like you’re flying down a mountain), but it comes into its own if you’ve linked the KICKR Bike up to an app like Zwift that will automatically control the resistance and gradient. Even on a rolling Zwift course with frequent ups and downs the KICKR Bike was able to keep up with the changes in gradient smoothly.
A small display on the right side of the top tube shows the gear you’re in and also the gradient the bike is currently set at. There’s also a button on this display that means you can lock the gradient so only you can adjust it, whereas if you hold the button to unlock it apps like Zwift can tilt the bike forward and back automatically.
The bike uses an electromagnetic flywheel that allows for a maximum power output of 2,200 watts, which is plenty even if you’re an aspiring Tour rider. The power is calibrated automatically by the bike, there’s no need to spin it down and it’s advertised as accurate to within 1% either way. This was bad news for me, because it showed readings a fair bit lower than my turbo trainer, which, it turns out, was in need of a spindown – a 15-minute task I’ve been putting off.
What the KICKR Bike lacks is a mount for your phone or tablet. A huge shame, especially because it’s a bike that’s at its best when linked up to apps like Zwift. Not to mention the fact it costs £3,000, I’d expect a tablet mount on the handlebars for that money.
Aside from that minor complaint, however, there’s really nothing else to fault the KICKR Bike, which offers as realistic a ride feel as I’ve come across on indoor bikes. That ride comes at a premium, especially when there are exceptional turbo trainers available for £1,000 or less, including Wahoo’s own . The appeal of the KICKR Bike is clear, but for all but a small minority of cyclists it’s probably overkill, but you won’t be disappointed if you do stump up the cash.
Buy from Wahoo | £2,999.99