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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Snap isn't far off being a great trainer but the reliance on an iOS device and its accuracy are disappointing drawbacks
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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
Apart from the slightly cheap looking front wheel block and the interesting power supply socket, It feels exceptionally well built.
The feel of the ride is great but the accuracy of the power reading and unit set-up let it down slightly.
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.
It is certainly heavy. On a turbo trainer that is a good thing and results in a very stable ride, even during sprints.
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.
About the tester
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