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Verdict: 
Effective fan for indoor training, but so expensive and sensor modes aren't really necessary
Weight: 
5,500g

The Wahoo Kickr Headwind training fan is an indoor-training-specific fan with some useful features, and the performance is good. You'll really need to want them to be able to justify spending £200 on it, though, when a very good gym fan costs about a fifth of that.

  • Pros: Good focused airflow, HR control works well, neat
  • Cons: Not adjustable enough, speed mode is pointless, very expensive

There are four ways to control the Headwind. At the most basic level you can click the buttons on the front of it to make it go faster or slower, but if you're happy doing that you may as well just get yourself a cheap gym fan.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Secondly, you can pair the fan to your smartphone using the Wahoo utility and use your phone as a remote. That means you can start the fan off on a gentle setting, and ramp it up later in your workout. That's handy if your trainer is somewhere cold and you don't want to freeze before you've got the blood flowing, or you're doing a mixed workout with easy sections where you don't want quite as much wind in your face. The Wahoo app also allows you to update the fan's firmware, although there doesn't seem to be much scope for adding new features here.

Wahoo KICKR Headwind Bluetooth Fan - detail.jpg

Thirdly, you can pair the Headwind with a speed sensor, so it does actually mimic a headwind: go faster, and the fan will blow more air in your face. While I'm all for the pursuit of realism in indoor training up to a point, this is just ridiculous. You don't want the fan on minimum as you're grunting up the Alpe du Zwift on your limit, and then on maximum when you're coasting back down again. Ever. It's so pointless I don't even know why Wahoo has done it.

Thankfully there's a sensible fourth option, which is the one I used most of the time to begin with. If you connect to a heart rate monitor strap then you can have the fan blow harder as your heart rate goes up. The utility app allows you to set minimum and maximum heart rates, and the fan does the rest. So it's a gentle breeze in the warm-up, rising to a full-on headwind blast when you're cranking out high-intensity intervals.

It works really well, and it's simple enough to set up: just click the left arrow button until it's on the HR setting and it'll search for an ANT+ HRM strap and pair automatically. It picked up my Wahoo Tickr Fit arm strap every time. Since there's no actual interface for choosing a sensor, it might raise issues if you have more than one bike/HR strap in your pain cave, but that's only going to be a problem for a small minority of users.

> Buyer's Guide: 11 of the best smart home trainers

Over time, though, I found myself using the Bluetooth control on the phone more and more. If you're in a heavy intervals session then you're hot enough between the reps to feel the need for plenty of wind, even if your heart rate has dropped quite low. So I tended to have the fan quite low for the warm-up then boost it before the hard work started. Given that it's easy to control from the handlebar like this, both of the sensor-based modes end up feeling a bit redundant. What would be even better would be to have a simple Bluetooth remote to control the fan so you don't need your phone; not everyone needs it for their indoor training.

The design of the Headwind looks at first glance like it should be able to rotate to any angle around its base, but in fact the angle is fixed. Well, sort of: there's an extendable foot at the back of the unit that you can, erm, extend.

Wahoo KICKR Headwind Bluetooth Fan - legs.jpg

So there are two positions. Two is better than one, but really it's a missed opportunity to have a proper adjustable angle. Everyone's setup and fan needs are different, and personally I found that to have the fan on the floor and for it to be pointing where I want it (in my face) It was too far away to be effective. The set angle seems to be designed to blow air up your body towards your face, but I'd rather have the full force of the fan keeping me from dripping sweat all over bits of my bike. If I'd been able to angle it up some more it would have worked closer to the bike. You can stick a brick under the front, but then it doesn't look as neat. In the end I put it on an adjustable table by the front wheel, and for me that was just right.

Wahoo KICKR Headwind Bluetooth Fan_.jpg

Wahoo claims that the Headwind can kick out a 30mph airspeed. Presumably that's measured right by the grille, and the airspeed drops off quite quickly the further away you are, but if you can set the fan up to be reasonably close to you it does kick out quite a breeze, certainly more than my gym fan. The airflow is quite narrow, so the fan needs to be accurately positioned, but assuming it is it's very effective. I was a bit less sweaty than using the gym fan when using both in the same position, high up and quite close to the bike. On the floor I found the gym fan to be more effective, as it's much easier to adjust for tilt and it's not quite as crucial to get it exactly right as the airflow is less focused.

I wasn't expecting to be blown away – I'm here all week, folks – by the Headwind, but mostly I've enjoyed using it. Once you get it set up in a good position, with your HR strap connected, it's a really good fan for indoor training: the best I've tried in terms of actually blowing air at you. Is it better than a £40 gym fan? Overall, yes it is, although I'd like to see better adjustability. Is it five times better? No, of course not. I'll probably miss the Headwind when it goes back as I like the actual blowing of air that it does, but my standard fan does an entirely adequate job for a lot, lot less.

> Buyer's Guide: 16 of the best turbo trainers and rollers

If you want to control a standard fan from your bars then you can search the internet forums for ways to do that, and there are some good home-made solutions out there as well as remote-controlled pedestal fans from about £30 (see here, for example). You could just hack a remote mount for your handlebar; even an elastic band would do the job.

The Headwind scores because it works out of the box, it's neat and it's effective, but for me it'd be better just as a Bluetooth-controlled fan with a remote and an adjustable angle. Wahoo has tried to be too clever, and what you get is one sensor mode that's completely pointless and one that's okay, but no better really than manual control. And it's really, REALLY expensive. I certainly wouldn't be able to justify the spend based on the improvement over a standard fan. You might.

Verdict

Effective fan for indoor training, but so expensive and sensor modes aren't really necessary

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Wahoo KICKR Headwind Bluetooth Fan

Size tested: Max: 18"L x 12"W x 19"H

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 says, "The KICKR HEADWIND is the first ever smart fan, designed with the cyclist in mind. Its Targeted Airflow Pattern mirrors the shape and position of a cyclist's body while riding. The KICKR HEADWIND is sensor controlled so as your speed or heart rate increases, so will the fan speed, and there are also 4 manual speed settings should you want to set your own ideal airflow. With speeds of over 30 mph (48 kph), the KICKR HEADWIND will keep you cool during the toughest training sessions."

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

Wahoo lists these features:

POWERFUL AIRFLOW

With wind speeds topping out at over 30 mph the KICKR HEADWIND will keep you cool during your hardest efforts.

TARGETED AIRFLOW PATTERN

The Targeted Airflow Pattern of the KICKR HEADWIND is designed to mirror the shape and position of a cyclist's body while riding on a bicycle.

SENSOR BASED FAN SPEED CONTROL

Control the speed of your KICKR HEADWIND by pairing your ANT+ speed sensor, heart rate monitor, or smart trainer directly to the fan. As your speed or heart rate increases so will the fan speed.

APP BASED FAN SPEED CONTROL

Pair to the Wahoo App via Bluetooth for easy fan speed control at your fingertips.

4 MANUAL FAN SPEEDS

Control the KICKR HEADWIND with a simple press of a button. Four (4) preprogrammed fan speeds allow you to select your ideal airflow.

KICKR DESK COMPATIBLE

The KICKR HEADWIND was specially designed to fit with the KICKR DESK. The wheels on the KICKR HEADWIND allow you to roll the fan into position when it is attached to your KICKR DESK.

Motor Spec: 240v 50/60hz

Dimensions (leg tucked): 16"L x 12"W x 19"H

Dimensions (leg extended): 18"L x 12"W x 19"H

Weight: 12 lb

Max Fan Speed: 30 mph/48 kph

Wireless Software Updates: Yes

Connectivity:

Bluetooth - Pair to phone to control the fan speed via app

ANT+ - Pair to speed sensor, heart rate monitor, or smart trainer to control fan speed

Adjustable Leg: Yes - 2 Positions

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Seems well made, no issues during testing.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

App control and HR control are good, speed control is pointless but works. Could do with being adjustable for angle. Airflow is excellent.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

No reason to suspect it won't last.

Rate the product for value:
 
3/10

£200 for a fan. Whichever way you slice it up, that's a huge price tag that's hard to justify.

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

I enjoyed using it, it works well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Heart rate control, good focused airflow.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Very expensive, lack of angle adjustability, daft speed control option.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's not really comparable to anything else directly, but it's five times the price of my good quality gym fan.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were loaded, yes.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a really nice fan. But it's not worth £200, and the sensor modes would be better replaced by a simple remote.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

36 comments

Avatar
JimD666 [110 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

I love my Kickr and Kickr Climb, both bought when Wiggle still offered their loyalty discount on Wahoo products. The saving was enough that I did really think long and hard about the Headwind.

I then slapped myself round the head a couple of time and just pocketed the savings.  1

Avatar
slappop [91 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
Quote:

Is it better than a £40 gym fan?

A "gym" fan? Do you mean a fan? Cost you a lot less than forty of your British quids.

Avatar
Cupov [79 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Just come and ride in Yorkshire, always a free headwind here...

Avatar
dave atkinson [6545 posts] 11 months ago
4 likes

slappop wrote:

Quote:

Is it better than a £40 gym fan?

A "gym" fan? Do you mean a fan? Cost you a lot less than forty of your British quids.

When I say "a gym fan", what I mean is: a gym fan.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oypla-Electrical-Chrome-Speed-Standing/dp/B00HU...

Avatar
ericf [10 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

This is literally the dumbest thing I have ever seen.

Avatar
CXR94Di2 [2771 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
ericf wrote:

This is literally the dumbest thing I have ever seen.

 

Not the dumbest thing, its an expensive fan for sure.  It does have a very directional air stream.  I didnt go for one, mainly because I have 3 foot diameter industrial floor fan to cool me down

Avatar
richiewormiling [90 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

OMG and as food-bank use continues to escalate.  3

Avatar
bechdan [263 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

Ha ha! Although its a rarity I do enjoy when an overly expensive product gets the slating it deserves, 2.5/5 suck on that wahoo

Avatar
hawkinspeter [4387 posts] 11 months ago
4 likes
richiewormiling wrote:

OMG and as food-bank use continues to escalate.  3

I don't think this is edible.

Avatar
rtw [67 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I'm a little confused about the comments. What is the purpose of this product? It is a fan yes, but it is also a unqiue innovative product on the market. Price must be seen in context.

Wahoo are an innovator and a first mover. They got this position with the original Kickr, and they need to defend it. They are also a premium brand. Given that a Kickr is £1000+, did anyone expect this product to be £100?  Perhaps that might sell more in the short term, but they don't exist in the budget arena.  Premium fans such as Dyson are £250. Wahoo have also proved with the Kickr that by offering more functionality, they can command a premium. Go back and read the gasps about the cost of the original Kickr, if you want a chuckle.  How many of them have they sold now?!  I predict that they will lower the price of this in the future, but not until they have capitalised on the initial excitement. And price is part of that excitement.

It is the same with the Climb. Hats off to Wahoo.  They are pushing the indoor cycling envelope, and we are all going to benefit.

 

 

Avatar
don simon fbpe [2997 posts] 11 months ago
8 likes
rtw wrote:

I'm a little confused about the comments. What is the purpose of this product? It is a fan yes, but it is also a unqiue innovative product on the market. Price must be seen in context.

Wahoo are an innovator and a first mover. They got this position with the original Kickr, and they need to defend it. They are also a premium brand. Given that a Kickr is £1000+, did anyone expect this product to be £100?  Perhaps that might sell more in the short term, but they don't exist in the budget arena.  Premium fans such as Dyson are £250. Wahoo have also proved with the Kickr that by offering more functionality, they can command a premium. Go back and read the gasps about the cost of the original Kickr, if you want a chuckle.  How many of them have they sold now?!  I predict that they will lower the price of this in the future, but not until they have capitalised on the initial excitement. And price is part of that excitement.

It is the same with the Climb. Hats off to Wahoo.  They are pushing the indoor cycling envelope, and we are all going to benefit.

 

 

You work in marketing, don't you?

Avatar
huntswheelers [187 posts] 11 months ago
6 likes

cheaper to come to Cambridgeshire..... the wind is free here and is in every direction of travel....

Avatar
huntswheelers [187 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

cheaper to come to Cambridgeshire..... the wind is free here and is in every direction of travel....

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [1179 posts] 11 months ago
4 likes
rtw wrote:

I'm a little confused about the comments. What is the purpose of this product? It is a fan yes, but it is also a unqiue innovative product on the market. Price must be seen in context.

Wahoo are an innovator and a first mover. They got this position with the original Kickr, and they need to defend it. They are also a premium brand. Given that a Kickr is £1000+, did anyone expect this product to be £100?  Perhaps that might sell more in the short term, but they don't exist in the budget arena.  Premium fans such as Dyson are £250. Wahoo have also proved with the Kickr that by offering more functionality, they can command a premium. Go back and read the gasps about the cost of the original Kickr, if you want a chuckle.  How many of them have they sold now?!  I predict that they will lower the price of this in the future, but not until they have capitalised on the initial excitement. And price is part of that excitement.

It is the same with the Climb. Hats off to Wahoo.  They are pushing the indoor cycling envelope, and we are all going to benefit.

 

 

This is road.cc mate, people don't look at things like this.   

Avatar
ConcordeCX [1222 posts] 11 months ago
7 likes
rtw wrote:

I'm a little confused about the comments. What is the purpose of this product? It is a fan yes, but it is also a unqiue innovative product on the market. Price must be seen in context.

Wahoo are an innovator and a first mover. They got this position with the original Kickr, and they need to defend it. They are also a premium brand. Given that a Kickr is £1000+, did anyone expect this product to be £100?  Perhaps that might sell more in the short term, but they don't exist in the budget arena.  Premium fans such as Dyson are £250. Wahoo have also proved with the Kickr that by offering more functionality, they can command a premium. Go back and read the gasps about the cost of the original Kickr, if you want a chuckle.  How many of them have they sold now?!  I predict that they will lower the price of this in the future, but not until they have capitalised on the initial excitement. And price is part of that excitement.

It is the same with the Climb. Hats off to Wahoo.  They are pushing the indoor cycling envelope, and we are all going to benefit.

 

 

i'm waiting for the Rapha one to come out so I can buy it in the sale

Avatar
slappop [91 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
dave atkinson wrote:

[When I say "a gym fan", what I mean is: a gym fan.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oypla-Electrical-Chrome-Speed-Standing/dp/B00HU...

There literally is one born every minute. That's a "fan" that's been rebranded for hipsters. It's not even suitable for indoor training since the wind doesn't normally come up from the ground when you're riding a bike. You need an ordinary floor-standing (height adjustable) fan.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2947 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
slappop wrote:
dave atkinson wrote:

[When I say "a gym fan", what I mean is: a gym fan.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oypla-Electrical-Chrome-Speed-Standing/dp/B00HU...

There literally is one born every minute. That's a "fan" that's been rebranded for hipsters. It's not even suitable for indoor training

It is, having tried one.

slappop wrote:

since the wind doesn't normally come up from the ground when you're riding a bike. You need an ordinary floor-standing (height adjustable) fan.

Not necessary - this is certainly way over-priced but it seems to work, and work pretty well from my brief experience and the feed-back from others with vastly more time and expertise of the options. Would I get one ? Staggeringly unlikely unless I suddenly came into some money.

Avatar
kjwalpole [4 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

I'm a happy owner (although my previous fan was crap so maybe my opinion is skewed). I got 15% off which made the price slightly more palatable.

One nice feature that's not mentioned in the review is the auto power-up based on the detection of your paired sensor. No more starting a Zwift race only to realise you've forgotten to turn your fan on!

I use the heart-rate mode. It took a few iterations to set the correct limits but, once done, it works very well.

Avatar
bechdan [263 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
kjwalpole wrote:

I'm a happy owner (although my previous fan was crap so maybe my opinion is skewed). I got 15% off which made the price slightly more palatable.

One nice feature that's not mentioned in the review is the auto power-up based on the detection of your paired sensor. No more starting a Zwift race only to realise you've forgotten to turn your fan on!

I use the heart-rate mode. It took a few iterations to set the correct limits but, once done, it works very well.

 

a fool and his money....

Avatar
rtw [67 posts] 11 months ago
6 likes
bechdan wrote:

a fool and his money....

I take it you are a runner then? No point wasting money on a bicycle! 

Avatar
bechdan [263 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
rtw wrote:
bechdan wrote:

a fool and his money....

I take it you are a runner then? No point wasting money on a bicycle! 

 

I am a runner too! Thats not free either you know, shoes can get fairly pricey once you get a few pairs for different uses, but as most of the posts above, including the actual road.cc review, its an overpriced fan and anybody who purchases one could do with re evaluating their perspective on value of money. If theyve got that much to waste on a fan, perhaps they should be doing more to help others rather than waste it? 

Just my perspective.

Avatar
kjwalpole [4 posts] 11 months ago
6 likes
bechdan wrote:
rtw wrote:
bechdan wrote:

a fool and his money....

I take it you are a runner then? No point wasting money on a bicycle! 

 

I am a runner too! Thats not free either you know, shoes can get fairly pricey once you get a few pairs for different uses, but as most of the posts above, including the actual road.cc review, its an overpriced fan and anybody who purchases one could do with re evaluating their perspective on value of money. If theyve got that much to waste on a fan, perhaps they should be doing more to help others rather than waste it? 

Just my perspective.

 

Thank you for your valuable advice. From now on all my purchasing decisions will be based soley on the ‘value for money’ criteria. I will no longer occasionally treat myself to something that some anonymous person on the internet may seem as excessive.

 

I will also increase my philanthropic activities with immediate effect.

Avatar
cougie [94 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I like the idea but as they point out - its a bit overengineered.

 

I've three fans when i turbo. 

 

One at head height next to the bike that I can turn on manually.

One on the floor just to one side of the bike - the big gym fan.

Another smaller one on the other side of the bike.

The latter two have remote controlled plugs so I can turn them on when I'm warming up and off when its cooling down.

Ideally you want the fans off to one side or the sweat will fall onto the bike.

Avatar
John Stevenson [462 posts] 11 months ago
5 likes

I keep reading this as the Hawkwind fan, and thinking it should be silver.

IGMC.

Avatar
bfslxo [153 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

& I wonder how many people criticizing the price of this criticize Rapha's pricing as well?

A Pinarello will set you back several grand but you'll not get too many on here saying it's overpriced crap & I don't want one but yet its still just a bike, doesn't does anything different than any other bike?

Remember went DVD's first appeared & their price & we all used VHS!

I don't any Rapha kit nor do I own a headwind but as another poster on here said I admire Wahoo for their innovation & pushing the boundaries with their products.

 

Avatar
dave atkinson [6545 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
bfslxo wrote:

& I wonder how many people criticizing the price of this criticize Rapha's pricing as well?

I don't any Rapha kit nor do I own a headwind but as another poster on here said I admire Wahoo for their innovation & pushing the boundaries with their products.

 

Rapha's kit is generally expensive, and does what it does very well. This fan is very expensive and is a bit hit and miss when it comes to design and functionality. If it was the perfect indoor training fan, and it was £200, I'd recommend it. But it's not, so I wouldn't.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6545 posts] 11 months ago
2 likes

And when Rapha stuff is overpriced nonsense, which it sometimes is, we shall say as much.

https://road.cc/content/review/11830-rapha-silk-scarf

Avatar
ConcordeCX [1222 posts] 11 months ago
9 likes
dave atkinson wrote:

And when Rapha stuff is overpriced nonsense, which it sometimes is, we shall say as much.

https://road.cc/content/review/11830-rapha-silk-scarf

i've bought one of those to tie to the front of the fan so I can see when it's on.

 

Avatar
Grahamd [1060 posts] 11 months ago
3 likes
ConcordeCX wrote:
dave atkinson wrote:

And when Rapha stuff is overpriced nonsense, which it sometimes is, we shall say as much.

https://road.cc/content/review/11830-rapha-silk-scarf

i've bought one of those to tie to the front of the fan so I can see when it's on.

 

Surprised you didn’t get two.

 

Avatar
Simon E [3887 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Grahamd wrote:
ConcordeCX wrote:
dave atkinson wrote:

And when Rapha stuff is overpriced nonsense, which it sometimes is, we shall say as much.

https://road.cc/content/review/11830-rapha-silk-scarf

i've bought one of those to tie to the front of the fan so I can see when it's on.

Surprised you didn’t get two.

 

(that's one each for you and ConcordeCX, thanks for biggest laugh I've had all day, possibly all week)

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