Tech & Wearables

Wahoo Kickr Headwind: What I love; what bugs me

The Headwind makes indoor riding a more bearable experience with its bluetooth capabilities. But there's one thing that bugs me.

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I won’t lie to you and say I particularly enjoy riding inside. It has, however, gotten a ton more bearable thanks in large part to Zwift, and I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty killer indoor riding setup in my basement: Zwift on the computer, a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer, Wahoo’s Kickr Climb up front, and Wahoo’s Kickr Headwind on the table in front of me. The Headwind undoubtedly saves the day when I’m riding in place. It’s just a fan, but it’s got some nifty tricks up its sleeve.

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Wahoo Headwind: What I love

I sweat prolifically. (We all have talents.) Consequently, in addition to the dust and spiderwebs my basement produces, my Headwind proudly wears droplets of dried sweat. I have made it ugly. But it’s a beauty nonetheless.

In the past I have positioned a box fan in front of me, always running on full blast. That meant freezing for the first several minutes of the ride, and then suffering through what would be an unbearable headwind if I was riding outside. It worked just fine and I only spent $15 on it. The Headwind is vastly more expensive at $250, which initially put me off, but man, it’s become an indispensable piece of indoor riding gear for me.

That’s largely because the Headwind’s Bluetooth capabilities allow me to pair my heart rate monitor to the fan. During the first few minutes of the ride, when my heart rate is low and I’m still shivering in my cold basement, the fan keeps the blast of air low. When I start warming up, the air flow ramps up with me. And when I put in a big effort — say, a sprint or a long climb — I get a big blast of air to keep me cool.

You can also set up the Headwind to change its intensity based on your virtual speed. And perhaps most importantly, if you want complete control over the fan’s intensity over the course of your ride, you can control the Headwind from your phone using the Wahoo app.

Is the Headwind a necessity? No, of course not, but it sure does enhance the enjoyability of an indoor ride. As we say with riding outdoors, comfort is fast. It isn’t any different when riding indoors; the more comfortable you are, the more you’re likely to enjoy the experience, and subsequently the longer you’re likely to ride.

The legs in the rear fold down if you want to put the unit on the floor and tilt it upward. For tabletop applications like this, the rear legs help position the Headwind to blast straight at you. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

What bugs me about the Headwind

Aside from the price, there is one thing that bugs me about the Headwind. It’s a bit too bulky and directional. In order to get it just right, you have to position the Headwind right in front of you; that means the unit either takes up the valuable space on your desk right in front of you where you would otherwise have your laptop or computer, or you can put it on the floor in front of you to blow upward at you while you ride.

Wahoo Kickr Headwind
My basement is dank and dark, dusty and sweaty. The Headwind lives there, so consequently it, too, is all those things. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

This latter positioning the preferable setup as far as I’m concerned, though you’ll still run into problems if you have a desk or trainer table in front of you. In fact, when I position the Headwind just right on the floor, it blows right up at the Kickr Climb.

Still, this is a fairly minor nitpick for a piece of equipment that essentially encourages me to ride longer while indoors. The Headwind’s legs allow for plenty of different positioning configurations, so while you may never find the exact perfect setup, you still have lots of options for getting it darn close.