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Tech & Wearables

Wahoo Kickr Core trainer

Wahoo's Kickr Core is likely the best smart trainer on the market for the price. It's stable, quiet, and easy to set up on Zwift.


40 pounds (advertised)





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It may not be as eye-catching as its more expensive sibling, but the Kickr Core still offers many of the features that make the Kickr the best on the market. You’ll have to add your own cassette (which is included on the Kickr); the cadence sensor isn’t included either; and the adjustable arms are gone in favor of a more traditional sandwich board design.

It’s not quite as powerful as the Kickr. Instead of a 16-pound flywheel, the Kickr Core has a 12-pound flywheel. The Core can simulate a grade up to 16% (the Kickr can simulate up to 20%), and the maximum power output is 1,800 watts (The Kickr’s max power output is 2,200 watts). While those numbers seem a bit watered down, they’re still well within the range of what many cyclists will max out at anyway, and it actually meets or exceeds the specs of trainers that cost several hundred dollars more. And you’ll still get the same +/-2% accuracy as the Kickr. It’s thru-axle compatible to accommodate the most modern bikes.

Out of the box, the Kickr Core requires minimal assembly. It only takes a few minutes and four bolts to tighten. And you’ll need to install your own cassette, of course. Otherwise, the trainer was up and running in just a few minutes.

It’s not as compact as the Kickr, and the Kickr Core is actually a fair bit harder to carry around because it lacks the convenient handle the Kickr features. As a result, there’s really no good place to grasp it. That makes the 40-pound weight feel heavier than it is.

It was immediately clear that the Kickr core is an incredibly stable trainer. The wide legs plant the unit firmly in place and there was little, if any, side to side sway. While some riders may appreciate a little lateral give for more realism, the Core caters to the crowd that prefers stability so you can focus on other things, like smooth cadence or watching Netflix. The legs don’t feature any adjustable feet like the Kickr does, though.

And the Kickr Core may actually be even quieter than the top of the line Kickr. This was perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Kickr Core, and if this is your price range, you’ll be hard pressed to find a quieter, more stable unit.

When used in conjunction with Zwift, the Kickr Core connected quickly and provided consistent, smooth resistance throughout all grade changes, sprints, and climbs. There’s perhaps a bit more lag when the (virtual) road kicks up, compared to the Kickr, but not by a whole lot. Resistance in sprints felt natural and we never exceeded the 1800-watt maximum output (unfortunately).

In short, this is an excellent trainer for those who want top-end features at a more affordable price. You’ll do without some bells and whistles, but the absence of things like a convenient handle and adjustable feet won’t affect your experience while riding. And that’s the most important thing. The Kickr Core punches well above its weight class, and you can save a few pennies without sacrificing reliability, realism, and stability.