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Verdict: 
The Snap isn't far off being a great trainer but the reliance on an iOS device and its accuracy are disappointing drawbacks
Weight: 
17,236g
Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer
7 10

The Kickr Snap is Wahoo's more affordable, but still not cheap, smart trainer. It feels brilliant to ride on and offers a huge number of software options, although setup and accuracy could be improved.

Wahoo has, in the past few years, evolved from a relatively small fitness company in Atlanta, Georgia, into one of the big names in cycle training. This success has been helped, in part, by the exposure given to the original Kickr through Wahoo's partnership with Team Sky, and can also be attributed to the widespread adoption of technology by the more "average" consumer in recent years.

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Training with power is becoming commonplace among club-level riders, and the emergence of software like TrainerRoad and Zwift means amateur cyclists can train like the pros and enjoy an entirely new kind of online community at the same time. The Wahoo Kickr, which Dave tested last year, is currently the golden child in the smart-trainer market, so the Kickr Snap has a lot to live up to.

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer.jpg

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer.jpg

Build quality

The first thing that strikes you about the Kickr Snap is how sturdy it feels. The unit is really heavy, 17.2kg, and once you have snapped shut the quick-release axle clamp, which itself feels reassuringly solid, your bike feels completely secure. Even when you are sprinting you never feel even a hint of a wobble and the rubber feet keep the unit planted firmly in place.

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - foot.jpg

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - foot.jpg

If I am being super-picky, there are two areas that don't seem as well made as the rest of the unit. The first is the front wheel block, which feels like a plasticky afterthought, and the second is the socket into which you plug the power adaptor. It is essentially a semi-flexible 5cm wire with the socket at the end. It didn't give me any trouble at all, but its location makes it quite vulnerable to getting caught, and with the Snap being so hefty, I don't think it would take much to break the plug off.

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - riser.jpg

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - riser.jpg

Ride

Something I noticed immediately is how realistic the ride feels. At 4.7kg the flywheel in the Snap is claimed to be 1.8kg heavier than its (unspecified) leading competitor, which gives your back wheel just the right amount of inertia. You don't feel like you are fighting against an unnatural resistance the way you do on a fluid or fan-based trainer and, as long as you tighten the resistance unit correctly, you are unlikely to experience tyre slippage.

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - resistance unit.jpg

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - resistance unit.jpg

The ride is even better when you start to explore its smart-trainer functionality. I tested the Snap with what are likely to be the two most popular software options for Kickr users: TrainerRoad, with its workouts and programmes based on FTP (functional power threshold), and Zwift.

For anyone unfamiliar with Zwift, it's a virtual world where you can ride in real time with other real cyclists over hills, descents and gravel. When connected to your smart trainer, Zwift automatically adjusts the resistance to simulate the type of terrain you are experiencing virtually. The subtle changes in resistance coupled with that heavy flywheel create a sensation that is genuinely comparable to riding on the road, so much so that riding indoors no longer felt like an inferior, painful alternative to real cycling.

Setup

Setting up the Kickr Snap is where I experienced my first real issues. Initially it's straightforward, involving plugging the Snap into the wall, without the need to flick any switches or press any buttons. This is followed by connecting your device via ANT+ or Bluetooth 4.0, securing your rear skewer in the locking clamp and tightening the resistance unit against your back wheel. So far, no issues.

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - clamp.jpg

Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer - clamp.jpg

You then need to perform a spindown to calibrate the Snap after warming it up for about 10 minutes. This, again, is fairly easy to do using the Wahoo Utility app, but after successfully completing the spindown for the very first time, the Snap started reading around half the power of my power meter (a Powertap G3, recently serviced and calibrated).

After a bit of research online and a chat with the Wahoo customer support people (who were very good) via the website, it turned out to be a known issue for users of the android app (like myself). The solution was to perform an 'Advanced Spindown', which you can only perform using the iOS app. This will be a problem for users who don't have access to one.

Something I found slightly tedious was the frequency with which you have to perform spindowns in order to keep the power readings accurate. Wahoo suggests that you perform a spindown after moving the unit. I don't have the luxury of a dedicated turbo room so this meant having to perform a spindown every time I used the Snap. That, in turn, meant it was necessary to plan for a 1min interruption, 10 minutes into every turbo session.

Accuracy

The power readings from the Kickr Snap were another annoyance. I often hear people say that accuracy between power meters doesn't really matter and that you just need to use the same power meter for all of your training for it to be consistent. But in reality, if you use a power meter on the road, you need your smart trainer to display the same reading and produce the right amount of resistance for your training sessions.

The Snap was consistently reading 5-6% higher than my Powertap, which meant I had to compensate by telling Zwift and TrainerRoad that my FTP was 5-6% higher to get the right resistance. Having the ability to manually adjust the reading by x% would be a welcome addition to the Snap and would allow you to use data from your bike and the Snap interchangeably.

Powertap screengrab.png

Powertap screengrab.png

Software compatibility

As I mentioned, the world of software-assisted training is becoming a mainstream business these days and the Kickr family boasts compatibility with an impressive range of apps. The Snap paired quickly and easily with both my android and iOS devices using the Wahoo Utility and Wahoo Fitness apps.

> Check out our guide to cycling turbo trainers and 11 of the best here

It was an equally easy job to pair with Zwift and TrainerRoad on my Mac via a Garmin ANT+ dongle: you just plug in the dongle, start the apps and the Kickr is available to use.

Despite the omission of the Advanced Spindown option in the android app, the user experience of the Wahoo apps was intuitive, and I didn't experience any issues with usage or installation.

Conclusion

The Snap is a really nice trainer to ride on, the build quality is undeniably good, and the ease of use is also top notch. Still, it is a little disappointing that the android support is lacking, though I would still consider buying it despite the issues with accuracy and setup (things that could have potentially been fixed via a software update by the time you read this).

It's currently retailing for £499.99 which, despite being half the price of the original Kickr, is still a large amount to pay for an indoor trainer (even a smart trainer). The Snap isn't far off being a great trainer, but for the money I would expect to be able to use it without being dependent on an iOS device. And manual power offset would be the icing on the cake.

Verdict

The Snap isn't far off being a great trainer but the reliance on an iOS device and its accuracy are disappointing drawbacks

road.cc test report

Make and model: Wahoo Kickr Snap Smart Bike Trainer

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Wahoo touts the Kickr Snap as "The Most Realistic Wheel-On Indoor Riding Experience...","incredibly powerful Smart Trainer not to be confused with entry-level solutions"and say that "Whether you're training to cross the finish line first or training to enjoy the ride, Wahoo Smart Trainers provide the most realistic, power-accurate, virtual training experience available."

For the most part, it delivers on these claims.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Flywheel Weight - 4.76kg

Max Wattage (@ 20 mph) - 1100 W

ANT+ & Bluetooth 4.0 Compatible

iOS / Android / PC (Mac and Windows) Compatible

Resistance Type - Electromagnetic

Accuracy + / - 5%

Wireless software updates

Footprint (legs open) - 74cm x 66cm

Metrics - Speed / Distance / Power

Wheel sizes - 24", 650c, 700c, 26", 27.5", 29"

Hub types - 130mm, 135mm, 142mm (142 requires adapter)

Total Weight 17.2 kg

Electrical connection - 240v power cord

1 year warranty

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Apart from the slightly cheap looking front wheel block and the interesting power supply socket, It feels exceptionally well built.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

The feel of the ride is great but the accuracy of the power reading and unit set-up let it down slightly.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I had no issues but could see the power supply socket coming to an early end if you aren't careful while lugging it around.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
10/10

It is certainly heavy. On a turbo trainer that is a good thing and results in a very stable ride, even during sprints.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

The Kickr Snap is a great turbo trainer but it is hard to ignore that it is one of the more expensive wheel-on units out there.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

On the whole, the Kickr Snap performs really well as an indoor trainer. There are a few issues around accuracy which will put some people off, but for those looking for a smooth, realistic ride, it is one of the best I have ridden.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The ride quality.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The spin-down requirements and the power accuracy.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly

Use this box to explain your score

The feel of the ride is very realistic and the build quality of the unit is great, but the Kickr Snap loses points for being a bit too optimistic with its power readings.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 34  Height: 6ft 2in  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rose Xeon CRS Road at the moment  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides

17 comments

Avatar
rjfrussell [403 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

when testing against a power meter, did you find that the error was consistent, or was there variability.  The latter would obviously be more serious than the former.  also did the % error vary with wattage?

Avatar
Simon Ker [11 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
rjfrussell wrote:

when testing against a power meter, did you find that the error was consistent, or was there variability.  The latter would obviously be more serious than the former.  also did the % error vary with wattage?

Hi rjfrussel, It was more or less consistent after running a spin down (5-6%). If you didn't spin down after moving the  Snap, however, the error was anything up to 20% above or below the powertap so spinning down was really a required step if you dont have a static setup.

The error was steady with wattage, It was Less noticable at lower intensity where 6% was 6-10 watts but when you get up to 300+, that suddenly becomes an 18 watts difference which is (for me at least) hard to ignore.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2009 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

To be fair to Wahoo, the Snap is sold as being accurate to +/-5%, and the PowerTap was +/-2.5% (now quoted as +/-1.5%), so it could well be on spec - and we don't know how well calibrated your PowerTap (which is why comparing a single power meter against another is never a robust test). You should also generally calibrate a wheel-on trainer each time anyway, which is part of the trade-off you make with cost and convenience. The Kickr (big boy) also has a reputation of reading high (quite high in some cases) against others PMs, Zwift Riders FB page has regular mentions of this, although that's hardly the height of scientific accuracy...

Avatar
Simon Ker [11 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:

To be fair to Wahoo, the Snap is sold as being accurate to +/-5%, and the PowerTap was +/-2.5% (now quoted as +/-1.5%), so it could well be on spec - and we don't know how well calibrated your PowerTap (which is why comparing a single power meter against another is never a robust test). You should also generally calibrate a wheel-on trainer each time anyway, which is part of the trade-off you make with cost and convenience. The Kickr (big boy) also has a reputation of reading high (quite high in some cases) against others PMs, Zwift Riders FB page has regular mentions of this, although that's hardly the height of scientific accuracy...

 

Yep - Completely agree that. The accuracy was just about within advertised limits. I think my main worry is that the fact that there is an offset there that you can't do anything about, rather than what that offset is (and this is clearly a bigger-picture issue that affects all power meters). Unfortunately, I think it might be an issue that smart-trainer manufacturers might need to address more than on-board power-meter manufacturers. It is likely that most of the people that have both will be using their on-board meter to define, FTP, Zones etc, so having a trainer that doesn't marry up means that you have to experiment and calculate how to fix that offset via software or in your head. It's not the end of the world but, as I discovered, it is a hassle.

Avatar
wombat [16 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm not familiar with how the different types of power meters work, but presumably you can use the power reading from your G3 to control the trainer resistance and so do away with the offset issue? Trainerroad seems to support it with their PowerMatch feature.

Avatar
rjfrussell [403 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Simon Ker wrote:
rjfrussell wrote:

when testing against a power meter, did you find that the error was consistent, or was there variability.  The latter would obviously be more serious than the former.  also did the % error vary with wattage?

Hi rjfrussel, It was more or less consistent after running a spin down (5-6%). If you didn't spin down after moving the  Snap, however, the error was anything up to 20% above or below the powertap so spinning down was really a required step if you dont have a static setup.

The error was steady with wattage, It was Less noticable at lower intensity where 6% was 6-10 watts but when you get up to 300+, that suddenly becomes an 18 watts difference which is (for me at least) hard to ignore.

 

Thanks Simon, that's very helpful.  I have a Snap, but no other power meter, so it is helpful to hear that it is at least consistent with itself.  I don't find the spindown a problem at all to be honest.  10 min warmup, run the spindown which takes less than a minute, and then start the session proper.  I do it every time even though I have a static set up.

Avatar
Simon Ker [11 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
rjfrussell wrote:
Simon Ker wrote:
rjfrussell wrote:

when testing against a power meter, did you find that the error was consistent, or was there variability.  The latter would obviously be more serious than the former.  also did the % error vary with wattage?

Hi rjfrussel, It was more or less consistent after running a spin down (5-6%). If you didn't spin down after moving the  Snap, however, the error was anything up to 20% above or below the powertap so spinning down was really a required step if you dont have a static setup.

The error was steady with wattage, It was Less noticable at lower intensity where 6% was 6-10 watts but when you get up to 300+, that suddenly becomes an 18 watts difference which is (for me at least) hard to ignore.

 

Thanks Simon, that's very helpful.  I have a Snap, but no other power meter, so it is helpful to hear that it is at least consistent with itself.  I don't find the spindown a problem at all to be honest.  10 min warmup, run the spindown which takes less than a minute, and then start the session proper.  I do it every time even though I have a static set up.

 

Yeah, I guess it  won't be an issue for most and it also has a lot to do with planning your workout. I was using zwift  quite a lot which was a pain as you can't really run the spindown when zwift was applying resistance so you have to stop Zwift. You either end up with 2 workouts or you miss the first 10 minutes as there is no way of pausing zwift while still pedalling (planned for a future software release). I tried unplugging the ANT+ dongle during the spindown but my mac wouldn't re-connect when plugging it back in without restarting the software... All it will take is a few software updates and most of these issues will be sorted (fingers crossed)

Avatar
Simon Ker [11 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
wombat wrote:

I'm not familiar with how the different types of power meters work, but presumably you can use the power reading from your G3 to control the trainer resistance and so do away with the offset issue? Trainerroad seems to support it with their PowerMatch feature.

Actually I didn't try that on TrainerRoad (Slapped wrist). I did try it on Zwift and it didn't work. Apparenlty a previous version of the software has this option but it was disabled due to technical issues (I can't find that exact tread now but there are 1 or 2 older ones discussing the same idea in the Zwift Support Hub)

Avatar
Augsburg [26 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Thanks for the review.  We have the Kickr Snap and love it.  As you note, the heavy flywheel makes for a very realistic ride.  We use Virtual Trainer, but that's only because we started with a CycleOps Powerbeam Pro, which we returned due to a defect.  The Kickr connects flawlessly with Bluetooth to our iPad Air.  We've not had the problems you identified.  Power reading accuracy is not a concern, as long as we get consistent workouts.  Besides, who knows which power reading device is the "correct" one anyway?  We are happy with Bluetooth and  iOS - although we realize a fraction of the cycling community still lives in the 1990's clinging to adapters and dongles and other PC/Windows 95/Android/Ant+ like nonsense.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2009 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

OTIO

Avatar
CXR94Di2 [1834 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

If you invest in a kickr then it would be wasteful unless you spend £6/month and get a full interactive experience

Avatar
rjfrussell [403 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Borrowed a mate's bike with an SRM power meter to compare with the Snap (actually, a mate on his bike).

Didn't test for long as we had both been out for rides, but essentially, before a spin down, the Snap was overreading hugely.  Carried out the basic spindown after 10 mins.  Thereafter, very close correlation between the two sets of readings. No discernible difference between the two.

Avatar
mbrads72 [215 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

How many racing Zwifters bother to do a spindown before every race, I wonder...?

Avatar
Simon Ker [11 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
rjfrussell wrote:

Borrowed a mate's bike with an SRM power meter to compare with the Snap (actually, a mate on his bike).

Didn't test for long as we had both been out for rides, but essentially, before a spin down, the Snap was overreading hugely.  Carried out the basic spindown after 10 mins.  Thereafter, very close correlation between the two sets of readings. No discernible difference between the two.

 

That is interesting... Thanks for the feedback.. I can feel a PT vs SRM vs Stages vs P2M vs bloody hell there are loads now, type test coming on.

It is always going to be hard to compare power meters when a meter that is advertised with an accuracy of +/- 2.5% (for example) means that you could have 2 identical meters that read 5% apart. I think there is even more of an argument to make it easier to manually offset your meter or calibrate one against another via a quick ramp test... If any of the big names introduce that functionality they will be onto a winner!

Avatar
Kynase [3 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
wombat wrote:
Augsburg wrote:

We are happy with Bluetooth and  iOS - although we realize a fraction of the cycling community still lives in the 1990's clinging to adapters and dongles and other PC/Windows 95/Android/Ant+ like nonsense.

i started off using my KICKR with iOS and initially thought it was great, but to truly make the most out of this or its bigger brother you need a good PC/laptop with ANT or BT. The more immersive pieces of software like zwift only run on PC, and if you want to play Sufferfest in tandem with Trainerroad then that doesn't really work on iPad yet. Much prefer ANT to BT too because it means I can just use the same sensors as with my Garmin head unit.

 

Minor point but I had heart failure as I read this and having invested in all the right technology, Zwift is also available to download for the Mac not only PC. 

Avatar
wombat [16 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Kynase wrote:

Minor point but I had heart failure as I read this and having invested in all the right technology, Zwift is also available to download for the Mac not only PC. 

 

Sorry - didn't mean to give the impression that it wouldn't work on Mac. Always forget that PC is a term used exclusively for Windows computers these days. I must still be living in the 90s after all  1

Avatar
wombat [16 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Augsburg wrote:

We are happy with Bluetooth and  iOS - although we realize a fraction of the cycling community still lives in the 1990's clinging to adapters and dongles and other PC/Windows 95/Android/Ant+ like nonsense.

i started off using my KICKR with iOS and initially thought it was great, but to truly make the most out of this or its bigger brother you need a good desktop computer/laptop with ANT or BT. The more immersive pieces of software like zwift only run on PC or Mac, and if you want to play Sufferfest in tandem with Trainerroad then that doesn't really work on iPad yet. Much prefer ANT to BT too because it means I can just use the same sensors as with my Garmin head unit.