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Last Updated: January 3, 2023
The Wahoo KICKR will make you forget everything you know about indoor cycling. In this review, we’ll take a look at the new Wahoo KICKR bike and what makes it unique. This new interactive bike could completely disrupt the indoor cycling industry and is a game-changer for outdoor road cyclists.
In a saturated market in indoor exercise bikes, the Wahoo KICKR stands out due to its unique design, innovative tech, and ultra adjustability. Add to that a 20% incline and -10% decline feature that will tilt the bike to match your displayed terrain. The KICKR is an upgrade to Wahoo’s popular indoor trainer but the new iteration makes it so you no longer have to bring your road bike inside and load it onto a trainer every time you want to ride. You can checkout how the Wahoo compares to some of the other best exercise bikes out there.
Who The Wahoo KICKR Is For:
- Serious cyclists who want to ride indoors
- Those who want specific bike-fit adjustments
- Riders who like to use different 3rd party apps like Zwift and Wahoo’s new SYSTM interface (formerly Sufferfest)
- Those who want to match gearing, braking, and drivetrain specs similar to their outdoor bike
Our Video Review of the Wahoo KICKR
- Bike Name: WFBIKE 4055
- Shipping Dimensions: 54″ x 14″ x 35″ (135 x 34 x 88 cm)
- Weight: 93 lbs (42 kg)
- Drivetrain: Belt Drive
- KICKR HEADWIND Yes, Compatible
- Resistance Type: Electromagnetic and Enhanced Motor
- Connectivity: Bluetooth®, ANT+, ANT+ FEC
- Compatible Devices: iOS, Android, PC (Mac and Windows)
- User Height Range: 5 feet (152 cm) to 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm)
- Max User Weight: 250 lbs (113 kg)
- Power Requirements: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz, 2.5A Max
- Flywheel Weight: 13 lbs plus enhanced motor
- Crank Arm Lengths: 165, 167.5, 170, 172.5,175
- Maximum Grade: 20%
- Minimum Grade: -15%
- Max Power Output: 2200 Watts
- Frame & Parts: 2 Year Warranty
- Labor: 1 Year Warranty
In-Depth Review: Wahoo KICKR Bike
Wahoo Bike Fit
Using the Wahoo app, you can customize the KICKR bike to match the geometry of your outdoor road bike. “Bike Fit” refers to the various measurements that will enable you to ride comfortably on the Wahoo KICKR. The Wahoo app offers several different methods to ensure you have the right fit on the bike. Those who have had a professional bike fit can input their metrics and the app will display where to set the Wahoo KICKR frame to match the same parameters. You can also take a picture of your outdoor bike and the app will approximate the same fit metrics. The least accurate but easiest method is to input your height, certain body measurements, and ride preferences into the app.
Here’s a quick overview of what each of these metrics is measuring:
- Standover height is the height of the top tube from the floor. It can be adjusted from position A (lowest) all the way to up F (highest).
- Stack is the rise of the handlebars above the top tube. The higher the stack, the more upright your torso will be when riding.
- Reach is the distance from the handlebars to the nose of the saddle. You adjust this by increasing or decreasing the distance between the handlebar stem and seat tube.
- Setback is the distance of the seat in relation to the pedals. Increasing setback distance also increases the reach, but the setback metric adjusts how your legs are positioned over the pedals. If the setback is too short, you’ll feel like you are riding a unicycle with the pedals directly under the seat. If the setback is too far, you’ll feel like you are back behind the pedals. Aim for a 25-35 degree bend in the knee at full leg extension.
- Crank length is also adjustable, meaning you can attach the pedals in any of five different holes ranging from 165mm to 175mm. A standard road bike is typically 170mm, so that’s a good option to start with if you aren’t sure.
Other adjustments with quick-release levers:
- Handlebar height
- Handlebar position
- Seat height
- Seat position
The Wahoo KICKR has abundant adjustment features which road cyclists will love but may seem overwhelming to someone who just wants to jump on and ride. Regardless of your cycling experience, the Wahoo KICKR offers some of the most customizable ride options, so use them all!
Once you’ve determined the right bike fit, the KICKR allows you to further customize ride settings by adjusting the gearing range, chainring size, and cassette size. If you don’t know this information, you can also select default settings that will be similar to a standard outdoor bike (Shimano mechanical brakes, 50/34 chainring, 11-28T cassette).
For those unfamiliar with gearing differences, the default setting will provide a standard ride. However, if you really want to get the most out of the KICKR, we recommend playing around a little with the different settings. You can change the gearing ratio to facilitate different ride scenarios. A higher number (of teeth) on the rear cassette allows for a lower bottom gear, which makes riding uphill easier. The front chainring is opposite, with a lower number of teeth enabling a lower gear. If you are doing a challenging hill climb, maybe opt for a smaller chainring and larger front cassette. When racing in Zwift, the opposite setup of a larger front chainring could add speed and power to sprints and breakaways.
Preloaded cassette options range from 9 to 12 cogs with 10-26T to 11-32T, or you can input custom settings. Front chainring configurations include a single, double, or triple chainring setup. Since there’s no weight issue on an indoor bike, you can opt for any configuration. However, if you are training for an outdoor event, we recommend settings closest to your road bike configuration.
Wahoo allows gearing to be adapted for a Shimano, SRAM, or Campagnolo groupset. The left shifter adjusts the position of the chain on the front chainring(s), and the right shifter adjusts the rear gearing through the different cassettes. I use Shimano Di2, so the gearing was very intuitive.
Unlike other indoor cycling bikes, the KICKR doesn’t specifically resemble a bike. It has a light, open feeling with the flywheel placed under the saddle which allows the front of the bike to tilt up and down. You wouldn’t anticipate that this non-bike-looking bike would be the most realistic indoor cycling option. We’ve seen some pretty impressive KICKR setups. Since you don’t have to haul your bike in and back outside, you can tuck the KICKR into a small corner, surround yourself with reachable water bottles and park yourself right in front of a SMART TV or counter. Add a Headwind fan (or two), log in to Zwift, and your family won’t see you for hours!
- Wahoo KICKR Frame: 48” long x 30” wide
- Standover Height: 37” to 47”
- User Heights: Fits individuals from 5’ tall to 6’4” tall
- Bike Weight: 93 lbs
- User Weight: Up to 250 lbs
The Wahoo KICKR inclines to 20% and declines to -15%. While the incline and decline features don’t specifically affect your resistance (gearing), you can adjust the gearing to match how you would normally ride up or downhill. This makes riding the Wahoo KICKR bike feel more like you are actually riding outdoors. The overall experience is enhanced by the adjustable incline and decline.
You have the option on the bike to either “lock” the settings to override the automated feature (where the incline and decline match the displayed terrain) or “unlock” the settings so the bike will automatically incline or decline as you ride.
The KICKR comes with flat plastic pedals that are intended to be replaced with the cycling pedals of your choice. Most high-end road bikes have similar pedals that allow you to test ride the bike, but are not intended to be the permanent pedals used. We recommend replacing the stock pedals with a cycling pedal.
No screen or tablet is attached to the KICKR. Riders will need to set the bike in front of a cabinet or table if they want to use a computer as there’s no attachment or shelf available. Setting the KICKR in front of a smart TV seems the most reasonable option. Wahoo offers a “Headwind” fan that can be placed on the floor in front of you. This innovative fan blows air in response to your speed, hence the “headwind.” The faster you ride, the more headwind is generated. This means, if you want a nice breeze, you’d better pedal hard!
There are compatible lightweight tables to hold a computer while you ride. The bike itself is extremely innovative and features some impressive tech. We were surprised that there isn’t a spot on the bike itself to place your phone. Certainly, you can buy a post-market phone holder that attaches to your handlebars – but it would be useful to have an included option.
Resistance is calibrated based on your weight, 4 Dimension tests (or FTP), and gearing setup. Certain gear configurations (as outlined above) will allow for lower gear options and therefore easier riding while others will be more challenging but offer more power and speed. Resistance is also digitally adjusted based on the gear you choose to ride in, and the nature of the ride. If you are using a compatible app, the KICKR will respond to terrain and incline adjustments by adding more resistance. You can then downshift to adjust your power output. The combination of automated resistance and manual gears makes the KICKR feel like an outdoor bike.
Water Bottle Holders
There’s only one water bottle holder on the downtube. It’s fine. Not large, not small, but lightweight and easy to use. Since this is an indoor bike, for longer rides, cyclists can simply have other water bottles on hand if needed.
Wahoo SYSTM App
The SYSTM app is an updated version of the ever-popular Sufferfest app which was purchased by Wahoo in 2019. I completed several rides on SYSTM. The videos are actual riders in outdoor venues with good cues and some intermingled humor. While there are occasional cues to outride a competitor, it doesn’t have the same competitive spirit of Zwift – but it feels less like a video game and more like you are actually outdoors. I particularly like the metric display at the bottom of the screen to indicate upcoming hills, how far you are through the ride, and your current (and average) wattage. SYSTM offers programming that features daily training options and progressive overload. As you get stronger, more programs open up, allowing riders to progress. SYSTM has various training plans appropriate for beginners to advanced riders.
The ‘4 Dimensional Power’ test consists of various tests including a five second, one minute, five minute and 20 minute effort. These determine your Neuromuscular Power, Anaerobic Capacity, Maximal Aerobic Power and Functional Threshold Power all of which allow for specifically targeted training intervals.
FTP or functional threshold power (in watts) reflects the wattage produced at your aerobic threshold – or about 75% of your max power. If you don’t want to complete all four tests before your first ride, you can estimate or determine your FTP using a power meter for simpler but still beneficial training intervals.
For stronger, more experienced riders and a high FTP, the KICKR will generate greater resistance within the lower gears so you still have a full range of gear options. For newer riders with less leg power and a lower FTP, the bike will adjust accordingly. This makes the Wahoo extremely adaptable for different riders. Since the flywheel is not weighted like traditional indoor bikes, the digital resistance accommodates various FTP and wattage output. Make sure to put in your correct body weight as this affects the resistance as well. The total wattage output on the Wahoo KICKR is 2200 watts.
Wahoo KICKR Ride Experience
While all of this may sound unnecessarily technical, the truth is, once you have programmed the Wahoo app, found the right bike fit, and set up your bike where and how you want it – the hard work is done! That is the beauty of the KICKR bike – most of the work is on the front end, and then, once the ride starts, you have all the power at your fingertips. Gearing, resistance, braking, multiple hand positions, and even the app, respond entirely to rider control. The SYSTM app will automatically pause as soon as you stop pedaling, so if you reach to grab a drink or stop to answer a call, you don’t have to lean forward and tap “stop” on your computer. The integration is equally responsive on the bike, with gearing and resistance all responding immediately to any shift or adjustment.
I’ve ridden other bikes that offer a lean feature and incline/decline options. But the Wahoo KICKR combines these factors into a cohesive ride experience. On a standard exercise bike, the brake is only used to stop the inertia in a 50lb flywheel. On the KICKR bike, the brake is a tool used at various points throughout the ride. Similarly, gearing adds a level of control and integration to the ride so you aren’t just mashing on the pedals during a particularly challenging climb. Instead, you can settle in, feel the road, adjust your gearing as needed, and power through, adding quick surges of power as you drop gears.
The only drawback to the KICKR bike is riding out of the saddle is a bit more challenging than on a standard indoor bike simply because you don’t have a 50lb flywheel to counterbalance your weight. You can certainly lift your hips, drop your torso and power through a challenging climb, but don’t expect to stand and bounce on the bike for 5 minutes during a particularly engaging Beyonce song. This bike wasn’t made for dancing or tap backs or upper body weights or any of that nonsense. It’s made for cyclists who enjoy cycling. If you are all about the music, the instructor, and engaging banter, the Wahoo KICKR may be too much bike and not enough play. If you want something that will pull you into a heated race against other live cyclists, all of whom are sweating all over their basement floor in the ultimate digital time trial, then the KICKR is perfect.