With the KICKR CORE, Wahoo offer a more affordable version of their high-end KICKR bike trainer. It’s still performance-oriented but can’t quite keep up with the maximum simulated powers and gradients of the best smart trainers on the market. How does that affect riding performance and fun on Zwift?

In our overview article “The best bike trainer 2020” you will find everything you need to know about indoor bike trainers for Zwift and Co.

Wahoo KICKR CORE | 18.48 kg | € 799

Just mount the cassette, tighten four bolts and you’re ready to ride a loop on Zwift with the KICKR CORE. We recommend an additional spindown calibration for better data. The sporty, minimal design has an exposed freewheel with no unnecessary frills. The KICKR CORE is solid and with no weaknesses in terms of construction or finishing quality. One consequence of the open design is that inquisitive pets or children, as well as sweaty towels, can easily come into contact with the flywheel. However, this exposed position is necessary in order to achieve the compact dimensions that make the trainer compatible with almost all current road and mountain bikes. Neither a combination of 130 mm quick release with 140 mm discs or 11-speed derailleurs with long cages ever contact the trainer. Here, the KICKR CORE stands above the other smart trainer in the test. The standover height is roughly 4.5 cm lower than the Tacx and Elite, making mounting and dismounting easier, while the front wheel doesn’t have to be put on its own stand.

Die harten Fakten zum smarten Trainer mit Direktantrieb

Price € 799
Weight 18.48 kg
Weight limit 113.4 kg
Maximum power (40 km/h) 1,800 W
Power meter accuracy ± 2 %
Maximum simulated gradient 16 %
Axle compatibility 130/135 mm quick release, 142/148 mm thru-axle
Available freehubs/adapters Campagnolo, SRAM XD- and XD-R freehubs

An easy entry into the indoor scene! Wahoo gets to the core of the matter.

Similar to the Tacx NEO 2T Smart, the noise produced by the KICKR CORE stems mainly from your chain, as the bike trainer itself is hardly audible. The optional KICKR HEADWIND fan makes more noise than the smart trainer even at medium “wind” speeds. The engagement of the freehub is coarser than the Tacx or Elite, meaning pedalling isn’t quite as direct. In general, the trainer feels very secure thanks to the lack of noise and stable stand. When using the KICKR CLIMB gradient simulator, the setup can feel a bit wobbly but as you get used to it, it actually allows you to shift your weight around while riding. Just like any other bike trainer, the KICKR CORE can feel a little unstable when sprinting. While the lack of flex is no problem seated or pedalling hard, when sprinting out of the saddle, this prevents you tipping your bike side to side, robbing you of the natural ride experience.

The KICKR CORE’s design is reduced to exactly what’s required. Practical and robust are the keywords here.
The exposed flywheel…
… should be put in a room where neither dogs, cats nor children spend their time.
Space saver
No other direct drive trainer in our test has such a narrow design around the axle. That makes it compatible with almost any bike regardless of whether it’s a road or mountain bike.
It’s not all about the numbers
During our test we didn’t manage to reach the 1,800 W resistance limit at 40 km/h. The maximum simulated 16% gradient is also more than adequate.
Hill simulator
The KICKR CLIMB simulates climbs and descents and will lull you even deeper into the world of Zwift. If you’re doing numbers based training on Sufferfest or TrainerRoad it can’t play quite so much to its strengths.
Wind machine
The KICKR HEADWIND fan can be controlled based on your riding speed, your heart rate or manually.
Cadence measurement?
The trainers available from the competition all incorporate a cadence sensor. This has to be bought separately for the Wahoo KICKR CORE.

The complete system consisting of the KICKR CORE, CLIMB, HEADWIND and BIKE DESK is very comfortable and has proven to be useful in our quest to sink deeper into the world of Zwift and company. But even without these additions, you’ll be able to happily enter the world of smart indoor training with the KICKR CORE.


The KICKR CORE is the best total package in test. Both beginners and experienced Zwifters will find a great tool in the KICKR CORE to have fun and train effectively. This direct drive trainer convincing us with good performance and good value for money, as well as the option to expand the system thanks to the modular system. Additionally, there is almost no limitation when it comes to compatibility which meant it had to be awarded best in test.


  • modular concept
  • low standover
  • low noise
  • value for money
  • compatible with lots of bikes


  • not always the most natural feeling
  • quite a lot of force required to secure your bike

More information at: wahoofitness.com

All turbo trainers in review

In our overview article “The best bike trainer 2020” you will find everything you need to know about indoor bike trainers for Zwift and Co.

Elite Direto X | Elite Nero | Relaxdays Rollentrainer | Tacx NEO 2T Smart | Tacx Satori Smart | Wahoo KICKR BIKE | Wahoo KICKR CORE

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Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf, Jonas Müssig