I’m doing a round of trainers and after my Tacx Flux Comparison I’ve come to Wahoo’s KICKRS. So in this article I’ll set out the differences and possibilities of the KICKR and KICKR Core. But I’ll also throw in the the KICKR Snap for some perspective. As it is a different type of trainer. In this article I’ll refer to the KICKR Core as ‘the Core’. I myself find the naming strategy a bit confusing, so hopefully this clarifies.
First off, If you’re not interested in this trainer, you can skip directly to the next section.
As I mentioned, the Snap is a completely different type of trainer. Because the KICKR and Core are ‘direct drive’ trainers. And the Snap is a ‘wheel on’. A wheel on trainer does technically allow you to pop your bike right on, but in terms of longevity of your tire, I would recommend putting a trainer tire on. Because a trainer tire is made of a different type of rubber, Its different compound allows it to stay cooler and have less wear. It will cost you about $30-$50. But it will last a whole lot longer than your previous Continental 5000s. But then you’ll either have to change your tire every time or buy a whole separate rear wheel, cassette and tube. So, in the end, in the low range, you’re looking at about $100 for a rear wheel. In addition to Shimano cassette for $50, a tube for $10 and a tire for $40. All this added up? Easily $200.
Direct drive trainers don’t need all that. So, all they need is a cassette. So take that out of the equation and you’re still spending $150 after your initial $500 purchase, putting you at $650 spent. Looking at the Core, it sells for $800, with a deal of $45 for a cassette. Add it up and the Core is suddenly “only” about $200 more expensive.
I’m a man of data and I like data in tables. I believe this is the easiest way to see what you get for your money.
|KICKR Snap||KICKR Core||KICKR|
|Max Incline/Grade||0-12%||0-16%||-10 – +20|
|Power Accuracy||+/- 3%||+ / – 2%||+/- 1%|
|Fly Wheel||10.5 lbs||12 lb||16 lb|
Zwift, TrainerRoad, SufferFest, Kinomap, Rouvy, etc. etc., pick your poison. Because all three trainers follow the industry standard in terms of communication and it goes without saying they are fully compatible with Wahoo ELEMNT computers too. But you can also use Garmin Edge devices, as long as you connect them via ANT+.
Disc brakes and Mountainbikes
The KICKR and Core are 12×142 and 12×148 thru axle compatible, in addition to standard 130/135mm quick release. Just know that for 12×142 you need to get an adapter.
Not for all bikes
With some difference between bike manufacturers and development in axles and such, not all recent road/mountain/tt bikes are compatible. It would be a shame if you’d damage your bike or a newly bought KICKR. So to make sure, check the Wahoo KICKR Compatibility Page here.
I’d like to make a special section to point out the physical difference between the KICKR and Core. As they are the same in underlaying tech, but have some small technical differences in capabilities (e.g.: max wattage). Then, there are also slight differences in the ‘feel’ as the KICKR can also rock left and right a bit with its new (V5 or 2020 edition) feet. Also, you also can adjust the KICKR in height, which is very nice if you also want to pop on a 29er.
Wattage & Power
The KICKR and Core have quite decent max wattage levels. Just remember that you might hit these only in your peak sprint. If you’re not a strong sprinter, a ceiling of 1500, like the Snap has, should be sufficient. So, the 2200 over 1800 on the Core, I doubt you’ll notice. Then, in terms of power accuracy, the Core comes in at 2%, which is in the real of the Garmin Vector 2 series. And 2% means it might give you 198-202 Watts when you’re pushing 200 watts. Then on the KICKR you’ll get 1%, which is on par with the new Garmin Rally pedals. The difference in accuracy isn’t very big and a 2% accuracy is perfectly acceptable.
There is definitely a difference in noise levels. The SNAP is by far the loudest. This is purely due to how it works. The Core and KICKR are mostly comparable but are at a different level of loudness. Or I should say, quietness, it’s a massive upgrade from a ‘traditional’ trainer like the SNAP to a direct drive trainer like the Core. The KICKR seems to be the quietest due to its larger flywheel. Noise levels are hard to put a number on. Sure you can set a decibel meter next to them. But you’d have to be on the same bike, same gear, same wattage, and same direct environment to measure an acceptable and comparable level. But swapping back and forth between the KICKR and Core, the KICKR has a slight edge over the Core, which is probably due to its heavier fly wheel.
The Snap is a good option if you only use a trainer when you absolutely have no other options, if you plan on doing more winter rides indoors I would seriously consider going for the Core or KICKR. The price difference after the extra accessories is not that big. And throw on top the massive noise reduction plus the easy swap from outside to inside and you’ll enjoy spending those extra bucks every time. In conclusion, whether you should buy the KICKR over the Core, is up to you. Personally, I believe the extra features don’t warrant the extra cost. But if you want the top of the line experience: the KICKR is the trainer for you.
The MRSP is something that is pretty much controlled in the USA, but not elsewhere, so for the US, when there’s a special on, that would be your bet. But it does seem that, probably due to high demand, you won’t find massive discounts.
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If you have any questions, spot a mistake or have experiences you’d like to share, please drop a comment below.
Just a note about the “links to buy” in this article, as they are sponsored. I do look for the lowest price I can find at the time of writing in a handful of stores, but by using the links I earn from qualifying purchases made through these links.