WAHOO KICKR CORE 2018 Indoor Bike Trainer Hands-On Review

I had a pretty productive year in cycling. As a runner and swimmer who wanted to get into triathlon, I had to get myself a bike and teach myself within 2 months. It was tricky as heck, settled on a TREK Domane SL 5 and after only 4 rides, was able to finish my first Sprint distance at the Toronto Triathlon Festival in one of the most torrential weather ever for the event. 

Now that winter is coming, I knew it was a great time to practice my long distance endurance and push my watt power. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the brand new 2018 KICKR Core from Wahoo. If you recall, I am a huge Wahooligan and loved the ELEMNT BOLT bike computer.

The new 2018 KICKR CORE ($899 USD) sits nicely between the 2018 KICKR ($1,199 USD) and KICKR SNAP ($599 USD) product lineup. It’s as powerful and utilizes a direct-mount drive like the KICKR, but at a more affordable price point. They are able to do so as the CORE doesn’t come with a cassette, so it’s great for riders who already have their own. It’s a bit more pricey than the SNAP, which is has a wheel-on design, but much more accurate as it your gears directly attach to it. The KICKR CORE has a 12lb flywheel and weighs in at 40lbs total, which will hold you and your bike down just fine. It also allows for a maximum of 1800 watts and a 16% incline. 

Upon unboxing the KICKR CORE, I was impressed to feel how sturdy and well built it is. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less from Wahoo! The set up process was a lot simpler than I thought. Before receiving my unit, I was a little nervous that I’d have a hard time setting it up as a relatively new cyclist. But to my surprise, it was really easy. I got a 11-speed cassette from my local bike shop and they installed it for me. 

Many professional athletes trust in the Wahoo ecosystem, which is highly reassuring. The likes of Team Sky’s Chris Froome, 2-time Ironman World Champion Jan Frodeno, and our Canadian Ironman champ Lionel Sanders just to name a few. So you can be sure that if these units are good enough for the pros to train on, they are definitely good enough for you. 

When I got into my basement to set up my new pain cave, I laid down my Wahoo floor mat, and built up my Wahoo Desk first. Then I brought in my TREK Domane SL5 and removed my back wheel and easier attached it to the KICKR CORE. Right off the bat, I noticed how quiet and responsive it is. The entire Wahoo ecosystem is a thing of beauty. Even their Desk is a lot more than just a table. It has height adjustability and most importantly can be pulled back and forth with its 3-wheel design. This makes it easy to bring a laptop closer if you’re working and riding, and simple to push back when you’re ready to lay down the hammer. 

I’m also using Zwift, which is massive multiplayer riding app that can be installed on an iPad, iPhone, or even your MacBook. When paired with the KICKR CORE via Bluetooth, I had to do a “spin down” to properly calibrate the trainer, which only takes less than a minute to perform. I also synced my Wahoo TICKR, Speed, and Cadence senors. Doing so allows me to view my wattage power output, distance traveled, speed, heart rate, and calories burned. 

The KICKR CORE is compatible with all the popular 3rd party training apps such as Zwift (as I mentioned above), Trainer Road, Strava, Sufferfest, and many more. It works with iOS, MacOS, Android, and Windows. 

In the first weekend, I managed to ride 35KM on Saturday, and then 60KM on Sunday. Bottomline, the KICKR CORE is an absolute joy to ride on. 

But the Wahoo ecosystem doesn’t end here….there is also the KICKR CLIMB ($600 USD) and KICKR HEADWIND ($250 USD). The CLIMB, which is a first in the industry, as it allowed you to rise on inclines when you go up hills in and the HEADWIND adjusts the cool breeze as you steamroll down a valley in Zwift. 

Overall, the KICKR CORE is a sure fire win. It’s brand new and just in time for the Christmas and the holiday season of winter indoor training!

About author

Chief Editor & Founder of Live in Limbo. Host & Producer of the Capsule Podcast. Sean is an award-winning photographer and Nikon Professional Services member. His work has appeared on the CBC, Pitchfork, and MUCH. He is an Academy Delegate at the JUNOs (CARAS) and has been involved in the Toronto music scene since 2005. He is also an endurance and CrossFit athlete. You should follow him on Twitter @SeanChin.