Not so long ago I almost gave up the turbo trainer. Mojo waning and an unused Zwift subscription leaving my bank account every month meant indoor rides were sometimes working out at £3 & £4 each! Madness.
Fast forward to October’s miserable, cold, dark nights again and the mojo for the rack was back on the ascendance so a new toy beckoned. To satisfy my impulse for getting something new for the bike and motivation, I’ve bought a new trainer, a Wahoo Kickr Core.
Like I do with most big ticket items for the bike I do a bit of research. I originally looked at the Saris H3 and Elite Direto-XR but in hindsight they were a bit overkill for the power numbers I can put out. I don’t really need to simulate 20%+ inclines and I never see north of 1000 watts anyway so I compromised on the spec and looked at mid-range trainers that were specced around 15% inclines and 1500 watts. They’re quite a bit cheaper too.
I will never own a Tacx trainer again as I’ve seen so many faults and warranties with them in my last job
I narrowed it down to two models. The Elite Direto-X and the Wahoo Kickr Core. Reviews are good for getting anecdotal evidence of how good trainers are from users. They vary a lot but if you get a feel for them and use a respected technical review from say DC Rainmaker and/or Shane Miller (GPLama) too, you can usually work out if the trainer will suit your needs and budget.
I was all over the Elite for quite a while but quite a few reviews found it had difficulty on quick switches between power levels in workouts using ERG mode which eventually put me off. Software updates hadn’t seem to resolve it completely yet either.
ERG mode is where the trainer will maintain a prescribed level of power independent of your cadence or gear. If you pedal harder it will back off, pedal softer it will increase the resistance. Very useful when doing a specific workout
Given how popular Wahoo trainers are and how good the support and service were being reported to be, I opted for the Kickr Core. 1800w and simulates 16% inclines. Spot on.
I scraped around the internet to find one (turbo’s are still pretty much sold out everywhere) and bagged one from a random independent down south on 2 years interest-free credit which was even better.
It arrived earlier this week. Not much to do out of the box, just screw (4 screws & bolts) the legs on, plug it in and connect it. It uses the Wahoo fitness app (+ bluetooth) to connect to the trainer and make sure the firmware is up to date. The trainer connects to my PC and Zwift via ANT+. Zwift found it without a problem and if you have the latest firmware, will show cadence now too.
Calibration was easy too. Warm it up by riding for about 10 minutes then you can either do a spindown calibration in the app or in Zwift if you want to.
The trainer also comes with a comprehensive set of adapters for quick release and thru axles. I needed a 130mm QR setup. So you just push the adapters into the hub loose and the compression of the skewer keeps them in place.
I took my cassette off my rear wheel and fitted it to the trainer without fuss, plonked the bike on it and gave it a go. The first thing I noticed was the 12lb flywheel which offers a kind of ‘road-feel realism’ as you get upto speed. It’s quite quiet too though as the freehub pawls offer a light tinkle rather than a definite click which is a bit weird. Not that I’ll be freewheeling much.
Onto riding and a comparison with my beloved CycleOps PowerSync which has worked faultlessly and tirelessly for years.
I did a couple of rides this week. Nothing scientific just feel vs the numbers culminating in a proper, hard workout yesterday. My gut instinct is that the numbers are very similar. I know how I feel and how long I can hold certain power numbers and it was no different. Yesterday’s workout using the same FTP on Zwift gave me the hard time I expected. The biggest difference is how quick the power shifts when in a workout and you start an interval for example. 1-2 secs rather than 5-6 secs. Thats much better. Cadence didn’t seem to update as instantly as normal so I might try and use my existing Garmin cadence sensor to see if that helps. Cadence from the Wahoo was only implemented in the last firmware update so it may require some refinement in future updates. Overall it seems a solid, quiet, accurate piece of kit. I’m happy.
…and now what happens to the redundant Cycleops PowerSync? Well, I sold it to a good home yesterday.
I’m having a play with The Sufferfest app at the moment. I might post something about that next.
But for now, Adios