While its £3k price will put many off immediately, the Wahoo KICKR Bike is a sensational piece of kit for serious cyclists. It offers the most realistic ride feel of any exercise bike, plus great connectivity to third-party apps.
- Connects easily to Zwift and other apps
- Realistic ride feel
- Can tilt forwards and backwards
- No tablet or phone mount
- Very expensive
You can trust Coach We give honest reviews and recommendations based on in-depth knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more about how we review and recommend products.
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 set-up 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 adjust the handlebars, 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 smooth and satisfying clunk when you change gears on the bike.
Naturally this involves quite a bit of setting up, which the partner Wahoo app guides you through. My test sample of 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 set-up. You can enter your measurements from a bike fitting if you have done one, or 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.
- NEWSFLASH: Wahoo Adds Wi-Fi To New KICKR Bike And Turbo
The bike can be set up to fit riders from 5ft (1.52m) to 6ft 4in (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 forwards 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 at which the bike is set. 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 forwards 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, so 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 spin-down – 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 no other reason to fault the KICKR Bike, which offers as realistic a ride feel as I’ve come across on indoor exercise bikes. That ride comes at a premium, especially when there are exceptional turbo trainers available for £1,000 or less, including Wahoo’s own KICKR V5 Smart trainer. The appeal of the KICKR Bike is clear, although for all but a small minority of cyclists it’s probably overkill. Still, you won’t be disappointed if you do stump up the cash.
Editor’s note: The Wahoo KICKR was reviewed in 2020, then retrospectively awarded an Editor’s Choice badge in 2021 once we had ridden the majority of the competition
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.