Wahoo Launches KICKR Direct Connect for Hardwired Connections to Newest KICKR

Wahoo Launches KICKR Direct Connect for Hardwired Connections to Newest KICKR

When Wahoo announced its latest KICKR back in August 2020, the most surprising new feature was the inclusion of an RJ25 port to allow for direct cable connections instead of wireless.

And while the port existed, there was no dongle released to plug into that port. Until today! Wahoo has just released their $99 “KICKR Direct Connect” accessory.

Buy Now at WahooFitness.com >

Why Wired?

Many Zwifters have struggled with Bluetooth or ANT+ signal dropouts and connection issues. ANT+ users, in particular, are susceptible to USB port silliness and interference from certain WiFi channels and other electronics. And Bluetooth users often have problems due to other devices or programs taking the Bluetooth connection, or Windows Bluetooth acting a bit funky, or some combination of the two.

While it had been talked about for years, no trainer on the market has supported a direct connection until today.

It’s funny to talk about a wired connection like it’s an advancement – but for some, it is. Things can get especially ugly in “crowded” environments like we saw when CVR hosted Zwift races at the LA Velodrome, or Zwift hosted their own in-person races. In both places ANT+ dropouts were a problem, and spectators were asked to turn off their cell phones to reduce interference.

But Not With Zwift. Yet.

As of today, Direct Connect is compatible with SUF, TrainerRoad, FullGaz, and RGT Cycling. Wahoo says, “Other platforms are expected to become compatible in the coming months, including Zwift.”

We asked Zwift what their plan was for Direct Connect support, and they explained that Zwift’s product team now has the cable, and started work last week. They assured us that, “Zwift will support the cable but we don’t have any dates at this time.”

How Does It Work?

KICKR Direct Connect plugs into your Wahoo KICKR V5, then you plug a standard ethernet cable into the other end. That ethernet cable then plugs into your router or the ethernet port on your computer. Easy!

The Direct Connect pod actually plugs into a quick disconnect cable, which then plugs into your KICKR. This allows for (you guessed it) quick disconnects, including the accidental sort that happen when your spouse trips over the new ethernet cable running across the living room floor.

In Wahoo’s SUF app, it simply pops up as another connection option to the KICKR once everything is plugged in. We received a Windows Security Alert when plugging directly into the computer’s ethernet port, but clicking “Allow Access” let everything work just fine.

Conclusions

We like having options, especially when those options improve the overall Zwift experience. We can see the Direct Connect option becoming popular with competitive Zwifters living in high RF environments (areas with a lot of wireless frequency traffic) who struggle with ANT+ dropouts or unexplained Bluetooth issues.

Buy Now at WahooFitness.com >

Questions or Comments?

Post below!

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Ben Pitt
Ben Pitt (@benjamin_pitt)
7 months ago

Hoorah!!!

Nuno Pinto
Nuno Pinto
7 months ago

Why is that not bult in in the trainer, defies any logic…. And if wahoo supports now an Ethernet stack, ten why not make int WI-FI…it runs 1000x better than BLE or ANT+

Derek
Derek (@dpr4473)
7 months ago
Reply to  Nuno Pinto

Because Wahoo can make more money making you buy this separately. It’s all about marketing.

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Nuno Pinto

They need to keep “new” features for the kickr v6, so you can justify replacing your old kickr v5.

I also guess that the technology was simply not ready once they released the v5, so they opted for that stop-gap solution. They will also know if people really want that feature by having the number of adapters sold vs the number of kickr v5 sold. Also if there is an issue with that new technology, it’s easier to ship small replacement adapter around than a full kickr.

Sam
Sam
7 months ago
Reply to  Hugh

logic! If you do wifi, you will need to have your other stuff including computer or apple tv or whatever in that int wifi, and how would you use your zwift companion app if you are on that internal wifi or have internet generally speaking…

joe
joe (@jwhiteley)
7 months ago
Reply to  Sam

As long as you’re in the same subnet it doesn’t matter if you’re wired or wireless.

Kath
Kath
7 months ago
Reply to  Nuno Pinto

This is another way for Wahoo to force us to spend more $, just like they did when they changed the backside of their new Tickr HRM – won’t work with any of my aftermarket straps like the previous model. Now when someone wants an extra strap or two they’ll be forced to pay twice as much for a product from Wahoo that doesn’t work nearly as well.

JayDee
JayDee
7 months ago
Reply to  Nuno Pinto

Wifi doesn’t solve the problem at all when the problem is a wireless connection, which will be only worse as there are more and more wireless networks. Ask progamers whether they would like to play on wifi, instead of an ethernet connection. 😀 Or professional drivers, if they would like fully automatic transmission in their race car. This is the same thing. More advanced technology being inferior when used with very high demands.

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  JayDee

Wifi can be done right. I’m in a very crowded area (highrise building) with a lot of wifi around. I have one Ubiquiti access point per room running low power and it’s working great. Wifi you have more control over than Bluetooth or ant+. I don’t 2-3ms latency will do much difference on a trainer, but it might be more important for a gamer. For example that’s my current latency on my wifi:
36 packets transmitted, 36 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 0.985/1.980/3.998/0.802 ms
For Zwift a peak of 4ms doesn’t make much of a difference.

Kurt Angus
Kurt Angus
7 months ago

Does this direct connection change the 1-3 second lag that Zwift and other platforms inherently have. There has always been a delay in gradient change, along with a change in watts of up to 3 seconds.. A direct connect would imply that it’s a direct input with no lag like a lot of other games that have wire peripherals. Also if this does improve this, why not look at the technology that Logitech uses for gaming peripherals. They use a new light-speed connection with very low latency.

Michal Wozniak
Michal Wozniak (@michwoz)
7 months ago
Reply to  Kurt Angus

Ant+ or BT? I observe this lag via Ant+ but not via BT (instant gradient changes).

JayDee
JayDee
7 months ago
Reply to  Kurt Angus

Network latency is of no issue for virtual cycling if we talk about normal latency. The delays are caused by other things, which cannot be mechanically improved, at least with current technology. Power meters sample data when you pedal and if you would use all the samples on their own, the output would be very spiky, so you would have to use some smoothing algorithm, which is just another way of accomplishing what the power meters do themselves-sample data and each second send a wattage computed from the samples from the last second.

Nick Weerheim
Nick Weerheim
7 months ago

you call it RJ11 but the pictures show RJ45, RJ11 is the old phone standard and RJ45 is what ethernet cables use. might want to correct the terminology used.

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick Weerheim

It’s really a RJ11 port on the Kickr that the adapter connect to.

Dirk Diggler
Dirk Diggler (@eggshapedfred)
7 months ago
Reply to  Nick Weerheim

The trainer has an RJ11 socket.

DCR
DCR
7 months ago
Reply to  Dirk Diggler

Actually, it has an RJ25 port. It looks identical to an RJ11 port, but includes extra pins. 😉

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  DCR

For general knowledge: The RJ11 standard dictates a single wire pair connection, while RJ14 is a configuration for two lines, and RJ25 uses all six wires for three telephones lines.

Jim Haysom
Jim Haysom (@haysom)
7 months ago

So if my laptop has only 1 Ethernet port, I’d be forced to use WiFi for internet connection (which is open to drop outs), and use this dongle to connect directly laptop to trainer, instead of an Ant+ dongle or BT. Is that right?

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Haysom

It depends on your network setup. But technically you can connect your laptop to your network (with wire) and you can also connect the wahoo Kickr direct connect to your network (with wire). That way no chance of WiFi dropping. You will need a router with multiple ports or add a network switch.

Jay
Jay
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim Haysom

You could also use an ethernet>USB adapter to connect directly to the laptop if you have a single ethernet port that’s already occupied.

Derek
Derek (@dpr4473)
7 months ago

Oh great! So it’s up to Zwift to get the ball rolling on their end. Expect compatibility by 2026.

Sam
Sam
7 months ago
Reply to  Derek

Yes I would not hold much hope for zwift! the dev or product are not very agile, they are probably panicking as of right know when they saw a new card on the agile board.

Sam
Sam
7 months ago
Reply to  Derek

yeah zwift devs and product are basically useless or very well disorganised, they are probably panicking when they saw that new card added to the already over filled taskboard

Jaja
Jaja
7 months ago
Reply to  Derek

Zwift has been pushing for this for a long time. So, I might expect a solution slightly sooner than that. Zwift has to deal with all the complaints about Ant+ drop outs, because people tend to blame them. That gives Zwift some extra motivation.

rdcyclist (Mark Crane)
rdcyclist (Mark Crane) (@rdcyclist)
7 months ago
Reply to  Derek

Oh don’t be so pessimistic, Derek. I’m SURE they’ll get it done this year. December is still this year…

Dirk Diggler
Dirk Diggler (@eggshapedfred)
7 months ago

So you can’t just use a £5 RJ11 to RJ45 cable to PC??? That would be too easy and inexpensive. Presume the box isn’t just an adapter??? #IGotsTaKnow 👍🏿

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Dirk Diggler

No, that’s why they used a RJ11 on the trainer instead of a RJ45, so people don’t plug their network directly in there. That box do more than that.

Joel
Joel
7 months ago

Anyone know if this will this trickle-down to the KICKR Snap models by Summer 2021?

Russell
Russell
7 months ago

“While it had been talked about for years, no trainer on the market has supported a direct connection until today.”

Elite Real Tour had direct USB connection in 2008. I bought one secondhand in 2015 and it worked with Zwift as soon as I signed up in 2016. Obviously the trainer itself was somewhat tired by that time!! But the connectivity was perfect. Why have they made this one so complex…?

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Russell

Because this is not a direct connection to the trainer, but a direct connection to your network (which can be over WiFi or wired depending on the device). So your USB connection would be hardly compatible with an Apple TV, but this solution would work with it (and with the companion app on your iPhone that is over Wifi, etc.). It follows the newest standard, so they built for the longterm. While this version is over ethernet, it opens the door for a Wifi version as well.

John Murray
John Murray
7 months ago

At first glance, my thought was, “AWESOME!”. I am generally a fan of wired connections over wireless connections, but this seems like the worst design decision they could make. If I’m going to run a wire to my router it would be for my laptop. Why wouldn’t they go with a USB connection? Wired connections have their drawbacks too, especially when the connectors break. I guess my ideal trainer would be one that connects to the computer via USB with an option to connect Bluetooth/Ant+ if the connectors fail. I guess they created a solution that was compatible with devices… Read more »

Aleš
Aleš
7 months ago
Reply to  John Murray

You can also use a switch. Either way it’s optional and just provides more choice.

Brian
Brian
7 months ago

Do they even make laptops with RJ45 ports anymore? I have 7 laptops in my house between myself and kids\wife, zero have network ports. How about USB-C for gods sake

Jay
Jay
7 months ago
Reply to  Brian

I’ve had good luck with ethernet>USB adapters. Not the ideal solution (yet another adapter), but they work.

charliebrown
charliebrown
7 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Yes, gaming or high-performance laptops have at least one. Sleeker lifestyle devices like the surface require a dock.

Hugh
Hugh
7 months ago
Reply to  Brian

You don’t need to connect the adapter to your trainer, but to the network. Then your computer can connect to the network over wifi.

JayDee
JayDee
7 months ago

Why not simply connect the trainer via USB port? Mice are working like that without any problems even in 1000 Hz mode, which is way more than a trainer would need.

Jan Dvořák
Jan Dvořák
7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Oh right, I didn’t think of all the people who don’t use Zwift on a PC.

Daniel Ahlfield
Daniel Ahlfield
7 months ago

$1200 Kickr v5 out of the box, BT won’t connect, tech call to Wahoo in minutes, guy says, “yeah, don’t use BT, get an Ant+. WHY don’t they give a free Ant dongle if they know BT won’t be reliable?! Tip: add an extender cable and the Ant + dongle so it’s right beside the Kickr: no drops at all! Way cheaper than buying this “upgrade” spent about $25 for dongle+extension cable, vs $99…do the math. $99 for Wahoo to release v5 w/o a standard Cat. 5/6 connector? Why isn’t this free because Wahoo released a product before they built… Read more »

Daniel Ahlfield
Daniel Ahlfield
7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

BT on my gaming laptop did “see” the Kickr. But Kickr could not make the connection…and Wahoo staff said to forget trying to make BT work with laptop. ant+ worked immediately! The extension cable puts the dongle right beside the Kickr, connection is flawless now. Seems to only matter with a PC not working, my smart phone connection with Kickr was great, but a 6″ screen for Zwift is no fun.

Expert in everything
Expert in everything
7 months ago

Your BT driver and hardware is outraged.

Expert in everything
Expert in everything
7 months ago

Outdated* spell checked obvs

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk_2)
7 months ago

$99 XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Old Bull
Old Bull
7 months ago

My computrainer has had this for 20+ years

Cade
Cade (@caderiver)
7 months ago

People can say what they want, but in the end I think that this is a step forward for Zwifters, even if it is slightly overpriced it will still help to eliminate drop outs for a fairly large group of people. I think that the interesting thing will be to see what other brands try to start rolling out similar technology and whether or not third party companies come out with similar products at a better price. I personally use an old Cycle Ops trainer and not sure that I find it worth it to upgrade my trainer just to… Read more »

Jeff Kryvicky
Jeff Kryvicky
7 months ago

Lama did a great in depth review – answered all my questions 😀 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtIM5675dLo

Hunter Pronovost
Hunter Pronovost
7 months ago

How does this help users who choose the power meter on their bike as the power source within Zwift? That’s what I do, and I don’t see the big deal here.

ExerScreen
Member
ExerScreen (@exerscreen)
7 months ago

Could someone with one of these grab a Wireshark trace for me? Pretty please? 🙂

Greg Thorensen
Greg Thorensen
7 months ago
Reply to  ExerScreen

Someone else shared this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtIM5675dLo and GPLama opens Wireshark just before 3 minutes.

Greg Thorensen
Greg Thorensen
7 months ago

Interesting development, however single connection only on port. So that means if I run Zwift with TrainerRoad that I can’t get data to both applications? Hopefully someone can test before I consider pulling the card out

Neil
Neil
7 months ago

Do you know if it also works with the kick bike?

Neil
Neil
7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Thanks. That was what I thought too. I’ve emailed wahoo asking if they will release an equivalent. Given it’s their top end product it’s a shame they haven’t released one

name here
name here (@janessoninlaw)
6 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Im unsure of the TRRS plug of this adapter but there is an unused one on the Kickr bike were the shifters plug in (3 total 2 used by shifters)

Paul Voorend
Paul Voorend
7 months ago

I know the kickr core doesn’t have the rj port, but any word on whether kickr will introduce a power / network dongle that plugs into the power, and then also introduces the ability to use this direct connect?

Paul
Paul
7 months ago

Love Wahoo stuff but i think they are having a bubble at the consumers expense charing just shy of 80 quid for this.

J. M.
J. M.
7 months ago

Do you think it will be possible to finally use two KICKRs simultaneously? we have a kickr and a kickr core and we have been plagues by Ant+ and Bluetooth cross-contamination signals, drops outs, etc, and we have never been able to ride together at all.

Also, do you think it will be possible to use two “kickr direct connect” with the same modem? hope you can 😀, im not happy “having” to buy this adapter to have a pleasant ride but its worth giving it a try.

PtboSteve
PtboSteve
7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

Like ‘Old Bull’ my Computrainer works perfectly. Thanks apple/Zwift for that. Does anyone here know what a Nintendo is? That’s where this all started. How about Spin Scan? That was very useful, where did that go? Cheers.

G W
G W
6 months ago
Reply to  J. M.

We had this issue when we added a v5 to an existing set-up with a 2018 Kickr. Drove me nuts. Solution was to have a “clean” set-up: reinstall Zwift on iPad or ATV (or laptop) to remove any past associations with it so that going forward each device has only one Kickr that has been paired with it. Worked a treat. Only remaining issue is that the Climb has been paired with both Kickrs and goes haywire when both Kickrs are in use, but I haven’t figured that one out yet

Allen Look
7 months ago

Good option, but not exactly a first, my Kinetic Rock & Roll Control has had an RJ45 port on it for a while…

BRB
BRB
7 months ago

In the interest of not spreading incorrect information, please review the connector type.

The red text in one of your photos says this is a RJ11, but that type is a phone connector. RJ45 is always the type used for a ethernet connector.

The last thing anyone needs is to read everyone saying that they are using a RJ11 for ethernet connectivity. Yeah, who cares – right?

BRB
BRB
7 months ago
Reply to  BRB

scratch that… proprietary dongle takes a RJ11 – RJ45. Gotta make it proprietary so they can sell you a $99 dongle for something that should have been built into the $1200 “v5” in the first place.

Dietmar
Dietmar
5 months ago

Hi
does anyone know whether this is also compatible with wahoo bike?

Dietmar
Dietmar
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

thanks for the information

Lee
Lee
4 months ago

Zwift needs to get this working.

david
david
4 months ago

when is zwift updating to make this work?

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