First Look: Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE Direct Drive Smart Trainer

DSC_7918

Wahoo was busy today announcing a full slate of three new products, including the new full high-end Wahoo KICKR 2018 edition, Wahoo Headwind, and what this post is about, the Wahoo KICKR Core.  You can click on the Headwind post shortly, and later today you’ll find my complete In-Depth Review of the full KICKR 2018.  Until then though, here’s what’s new on the less expensive KICKR CORE trainer.

This new trainer from Wahoo is designed to sit in the ‘middle-ground’ of trainers from a price and features/functionality standpoint.  Here’s the quick version of the lineup:

Wahoo KICKR 2018: $1,199 direct drive trainer with larger flywheel, includes cassette
Wahoo KICKR CORE: $899 direct drive trainer with medium flywheel, no cassette included
Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017: $599 wheel-on trainer with good but not great road-feel

The new KICKR Core is designed to compete directly with the Tacx Flux and the Elite Direto, both of which have done extremely well in the last two years at the $899 price point, easily undercutting Wahoo’s KICKR lineup (and likely costing them a lot of money).  Of course, in the last few weeks Tacx went ahead and applied the pressure again by cutting the price down of the Flux to $799 (while also announcing the new Tacx Flux 2 today at $899-$949 – exact price TBD).

Either way, this new option will definitely be appealing to those that were looking at the Wahoo KICKR CLIMB, which is finally shipping, but didn’t quite want to fork out as much as Wahoo was charging for their other direct drive trainer, the full KICKR (yes, the Wahoo SNAP 2017 was also compatible…but some folks just want a direct drive unit).

The Tech Specs:

DSC_7927

Unlike the Wahoo KICKR 2018 and Wahoo Headwind, the KICKR CORE is a little bit behind the production curve.  Those two units start shipping this week, and as such, I’ve had them for a while and can have reviews ready to go.  Whereas with the KICKR CORE I just got my first hands-on look at it yesterday, and haven’t had the chance to put any riding time on it yet.  Hopefully at some point over the next few days I will (and then I’ll add a new ‘First Test Ride’ section down below once so).

Still, let’s dive into the core tech specs in a bulleted fashion:

– Direct drive trainer: This means you remove your rear wheel just like a regular KICKR
– Flywheel: It has a 12lb flywheel, which is slightly less than the 12.5lb KICKR 2017 flywheel and the 16lb KICKR 2017 flywheel
– Legs: The unit can’t adjust height like a full KICKR can for different bike sizes, it is what it is
– Cassette: Unlike a regular KICKR, this unit doesn’t include a cassette, which will set you back $50-$60, plus $10-$20 in tools to install
– Sound: This uses the new KICKR 2018’s belt system, so it’s silent as well – a huge difference to competitors
– Handle: This unit lacks a handle compared to newer KICKR units, still, it’s not too bad to move around as I found out for taking photos
– Protocol Compatibility: ANT+ FE-C, ANT+ Power, Bluetooth Smart FTMS, Bluetooth Smart Power
– App Compatibility: Every app out there basically (Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, Road Grand Tours, SufferFest, Kinomap, etc…)
– Compatibility: 130/135 QR, 12×142 & 12×148 Thru-Axle
– Max Incline: 18% simulated grade
– Max Wattage: 1,800 watts resistance
– Stated Accuracy: +/- 2%
– Wahoo CLIMB Compatibility: Yes. Simply yes.

As you can see, this is more or less the KICKR that most people have been asking for at least the last year, if not two years, since the Tacx Flux came out.  In doing so Wahoo will likely end up cannibalizing their higher end KICKR sales, as this model will meet the requirements of the vast majority of people.  From a max incline/wattage/accuracy standpoint that’s more than true.  And then it really comes down to flywheel and trainer legs.  Given most people were quite happy with the ‘older’ KICKR (pre-2018), this has virtually the same flywheel weight.  And the legs? Hmm, shrug, like most other trainers anyway.

DSC_7941

Of course, the legs in many ways look like the Magene Gravat/Gravat II trainer that I tested earlier this year.  And that trainer inversely looked like an exact replica of the upper portion of the KICKR.  So they kinda both probably borrowed from each other here.

DSC_2131 DSC_7943

When it comes to sound, I can’t realistically test that on the show-floor, there’s just too much ambient noise.  But perhaps I can steal the CORE for the evening one night and put together a nice video showing how quiet it is in a room somewhere onsite.  The company went with a new silent belt system just like the higher end KICKR 2018 that was also introduced today.

DSC_7940

And that’s ultimately what this comes down to – testing it. I simply haven’t had the opportunity to put it through its paces yet.  This is merely a quick trade-show first look post.  Once it’s ready, likely in August, I’ll definitely be doing that – no doubt about it!

After the show closes I’ll try and put together a bit of an interim roundup of trainers, especially in this mid-range pricing bucket.  Though, I’d caution that some trainers didn’t make the cut for announcement here at Eurobike (including a few that were last minute pulls from the show).  So the story won’t quite be as complete as we typically like it post-Eurobike.

How it compares:

I’ve added the Wahoo KICKR CORE into the product comparison database so you can see how it compares against other units on the market. For the purpose of this particular comparison, I’ve decided to rank it up against the similarly priced Elite Direto and Tacx Flux. However, if you want to see how it ranks against the less expensive $599 trainers or the more expensive $1000+ trainers, you can do so in the full product comparison tool here.

In any event, here’s the details:

Function/Feature Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Copyright DC Rainmaker – Updated October 11th, 2017 @ 6:52 amNew Window Back to less results
Price for trainer $899 USD/€849/£749 $899USD/€799
Attachment Type Direct Drive (No Wheel) Direct Drive (no wheel)
Available today (for sale) Yes YEs
Availability regions Global Global
Connects to computer Yes Yes
Uses mouse/keyboard as control unit Yes (with apps) Yes (with apps)
Uses phone/tablet as control unit (handlebar) Yes (with apps) Yes (with apps)
Wired or Wireless data transmission/control Wireless Wireless
Power cord required Yes (no control w/o) Yes
Flywheel weight 4.2KG/9.2LBS 6.7kg (simulated 25kg)
Resistance Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w) Yes Yes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill) No No
Maximum wattage capability 1,400w @ 40KPH / 2,200w @ 60KPH 1,500w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline 14% 10%
Features Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Ability to update unit firmware Yes Yes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power YEs No
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right) No No
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones) No No
Accuracy Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Includes temperature compensation N/A Yes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based) N/A Yes
Supported accuracy level +/- 2.5% +/-3%
Trainer Control Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Allows 3rd party trainer control Yes Yes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard) Yes Yes
Supports Bluetooth Smart control for 3rd parties Yes Yes
Data Broadcast Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Can re-broadcast power data as open ANT+ Yes Yes
Can re-broadcast data as open Bluetooth Smart Yes Yes
Purchase Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Amazon Link Link Link
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF) Link Link
Clever Training Europe Link Link
DCRainmaker Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Review Link Link Link
Function/Feature Elite Direto Tacx Flux
Copyright DC Rainmaker – Updated October 11th, 2017 @ 6:52 amNew Window Expand table for more results
Price for trainer $899 USD/€849/£749 $899USD/€799
Attachment Type Direct Drive (No Wheel) Direct Drive (no wheel)
Available today (for sale) Yes YEs
Power cord required Yes (no control w/o) Yes
Flywheel weight 4.2KG/9.2LBS 6.7kg (simulated 25kg)
Maximum wattage capability 1,400w @ 40KPH / 2,200w @ 60KPH 1,500w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline 14% 10%
Measures/Estimates Left/Right Power YEs No
Includes temperature compensation N/A Yes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based) N/A Yes

Remember, you can mix and match the products within the product comparison tool here, comparing whichever trainers you want.

Wrap-Up:

DSC_7938

As I noted above, the Wahoo KICKR CORE is essentially what’s been missing from Wahoo’s lineup the last two years.  And to add more essentiality to it, it’s basically just a Wahoo KICKR 2017 without its lower base. Instead, it got gifted inexpensive trainer legs and had its cassette removed.  But in doing so they shaved off $300 on the price. Probably a fair trade-off for the vast majority of people.

Sure, it doesn’t have the bigger flywheel weight of the KICKR 2018, but I’d mostly shrug at that.  After all, it did gain the quiet trainer aspects, which is likely more important to most as it does away with the infamous KICKR whine.

The question is how it’ll compete with the likes of the Elite Direto and the Tacx Flux.  With the original Flux now dropped in price to $799, and the new Flux 2 coming in with at the same price (perhaps $50 more, that’s TBD) but with a dramatically bigger flywheel (32KG simulated), that’s a huge difference in feel. Unfortunately, the Flux 2 wasn’t ridable yet either (soon…soon).  Thus, it’s hard to know for absolute certain.  Other specs on those two trainers are pretty similar, but the Wahoo has the edge on noise, as the Flux/Flux 2 isn’t silent.

In any event, it’s clear that more companies are paying attention to this sweet-spot of trainer pricing.  The $799-$899 price point now represents what the $1,199 trainers had a mere couple years ago (if not last season for that matter).  This year will, without question, be the best year ever in terms of trainer choice and value for your money.  The only real question will be figuring out exactly which one to buy.

With that – thanks for reading!

Source: dcrainmaker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *