Eurobike 2012 - Wahoo launch new indoor trainer
Electromagnetic resistance unit controlled by your iPhone - turbo training goes social
You may already be aware of Wahoo fitness; they make a range of ANT+ and low-energy Bluetooth devices to allow you to use your iPhone as a bike computer. They've got something very new and interesting at Eurobike though: an indoor trainer. And it looks very nice indeed.
the Kickr trainer is a direct drive unit in the mould of the Lemond Revolution. You take your rear wheel out and attach your bike to the trainer directly, there's a Shimano-compatible 12-25 cassette included. The cassette drives a belt to the resistance unit like the Lemond, but there the similarity ends. Unlike the Lemond, which uses a fan for resistance, the Kickr has a heavy flywheel with the resistance controlled by an electromagnet, not unlike the Tacx Fortius.
That means instantly controllable resistance and also plenty of it; Wahoo reckon the Kickr can accurately replicate a 15% gradient and certainly a cursory swing of the leg over the trainer confirmed that you can really ramp up the effort. The flywheel system is also very quiet; it's difficult to know exactly how noisy a trainer is in a crowded show hall, but it really wasn't making much noise. The flywheel gives a very good road feel, with the weight of the wheel smoothing out your pedalling effort.
The Kickr has internal strain gauges for measuring your power output, rather than using an algorithm like the Lemond and Kurt units do. In theory this should mean that you get more accurate power measurement, they were suggesting +/-2% accuracy. The Kickr works in two basic modes: you can either feed it a resistance number and it'll set the electromagnet to a certain strength, or you can tell it what power you want to simulate and it'll adjust the resistance according to your speed so that you're always putting out the same number of watts.
What's most exciting about the Kickr though is that it doesn't come with a head unit. It'll be ANT+ and low-power Bluetooth compatible, relying on your smartphone or computer instead, and the software development kit is available for third parties to develop apps for the trainer. There's some available already; on the stand were Kinomap, who use a map-based system with video. Their app crunches gradient data on the map and feeds it to the Kickr to give a realistic ride experience. Also showing were TrainerRoad; their software is more analytical and includes tools for threshold testing, which you can then use to set your base resistance for any of their 300+ workouts. You can plot your progress online, and they've also teamed up with The Sufferfest to offer their excellent video sessions. Wahoo have also worked up an app to allow you to race Strava segments on the Kickr, and the possibilities for social and online use of the trainer are huge.
There's a couple of other features to note. Firstly the axle height is adjustable so you can run anything from a kid's bike to a 29er on the trainer and have your bike level. Secondly it's available with a 12v adaptor so that you can power the Kickr from your car if you're taking it to a race. The support legs fold in for easy stowage too.
As yet pricing isn't available for the Kickr, although Wahoo were very much talking about it as a rival to other indoor trainers as opposed to more expensive power-measuring systems. Obviously the lack of a head unit will help to keep the cost down; holding our wetted thumb to the breeze we'd expect it to sell for maybe £600 when it's released.