We’ve combed the web seeking Wahoo KICKR Core reviews and information, summarizing our findings so you can learn everything worth knowing about this smart trainer. If you decide to purchase the KICKR Core, please consider doing so through the shopping links at the bottom of this post, as this will help support Zwift Insider.
Wahoo rolled out the KICKR Core mid-range direct-drive trainer at July 2018’s Eurobike show. Priced between Wahoo’s wheel-on offering (the Snap at $599) and their flagship direct-drive Kickr ($1199), the Core competes directly with the industry’s other mid-range direct-drive smart trainers, the Tacx Flux and Elite Direto.
The Core is essentially a stripped-down version of Wahoo’s industry-leading KICKR. How do the two differ? The Core’s frame is less robust, the flywheel is a bit smaller, its max watts/gradient are a bit lower, and it does not include a cassette or cadence sensor. There are also some minor power inaccuracies showing up in early testing which will probably be cleared up with a firmware update.
Are those differences worth the $300 price difference? That’s for you to decide, but we will say many are calling this the best smart trainer for the money available today. In fact, the Core is DC Rainmaker’s top recommended mid-range trainer for 2018.
Ray at DC Rainmaker says:
I suspect it won’t take long for the KICKR CORE to become Wahoo’s most popular trainer, and for largely good reason. You can save $300 with almost negligible ‘loss’ compared to the full KICKR 2018.
Tom at GearMashers says:
With the Release of the KICKR Core, Wahoo has shored up a mid range trainer line that competes nicely with Elite Direto and Tacx Flux. In fact they have done such a great job it actually competes with its more expensive and heavier flywheel KICKR counterpart.
Wahoo KICKR Core Promo Video
- Accuracy: + / – 2%
- Maximum Grade: 16%
- Maximum Power Output: 1800W
- Flywheel Weight: 12 lb
- 9″L x 23″W x 21″H (legs closed), 20″L x 23″W x 19″H (legs open)
- Weight: 40 lb
- Hub Types: 130/135mm QR, 12×142, and 12×148. Thru Axle Adapters included.
- KICKR Climb and Headwind compatible
- Cassette and cadence not included
Pros & Cons
- Very quiet
- Quality flywheel feel
- KICKR Climb compatible
- $300 less than KICKR
- Cassette and cadence sensor not included
- Minor power accuracy concerns
- Awkward to carry
We’ve taken a look at the best KICKR Core review videos and summarized them for quick digestion.
- Nice and quiet
- Pairs with KICKR Climb, no problem
- Accurate power at steady state
- Overshoots power on short, max power intervals
- Some power overshooting means not quite a 10/10. Hopes firmware updates will fix this issue.
- KICKR Core is virtually silent, very similar to new KICKR ’18
- Tacx Neo actually has more of a hum than the new KICKRs
- Wahoo working on firmware fix for minor accuracy issues
- ~5% power drift after 1 week with no calibration
- 1800 max watts not an issue for most
- 12# flywheel vs 12.5# of previous KICKR models (only KICKR 18 has 16# flywheel)
While its 1800w/16% gradient max is lower than what the most expensive trainers offer, it is better than the other trainers in this price range. Besides, most Zwifters run their trainer difficulty at 50% or less, meaning they would never get close to a 16% gradient feel!
And while the 12lb flywheel is significantly lighter than the KICKR 18’s 16lb flywheel, it is worth noting that all prior KICKR models had a 12.5lb flywheel. It would seem Wahoo only increased the KICKR 18’s flywheel size to differentiate it from the KICKR Core!
With all this in mind, Wahoo’s KICKR Core looks to be today’s best choice in the mid-range direct-drive smart trainer market.