Gear

Trainer desk face-off: Wahoo Kickr vs Saris TD1

I wish I could combine the best points of the two, as neither is a complete solution.

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Judging by the 10,000 to 25,000 people concurrently on Zwift these days, riding inside is officially a thing in 2020. I’ve been using the Wahoo Kickr Desk and the Saris TD1 Trainer Desk and want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of each here.

For the record, my personal ‘trainer desk’ consists of the plywood workbench I built in my garage, with a power strip affixed to the wall underneath one of the shelves. So I hear all you folks in the “my workbench/chair/shelf works just fine” crowd. And I’m also here to tell you that a dedicated tool can be better.

The short of it is this: I wish I could combine the easy height adjustment and tablet/phone friendly design of the Wahoo desk with the stability and integrated USB/120v plugs of the Saris desk. As is, they are both 80 percent solutions to what I’d like to have for riding inside. Here’s why.

Wahoo Saris
Height positions 12 4
Position change via Buttons Four bolts
USB and 120v plug-ins No Yes
Desktop dimensions (cm) 70×30 70×30
Height range (cm) 83-120 107-150
Clearance between legs (cm) 60 53

Wahoo Kickr Desk — $250

The Kickr Desk is easy to adjust for height, and the built-in tablet and phone holders are handy. Photo: Ben Delaney

The good: The Kickr is easy to set for height: Just press the two blue buttons and slide the thing up and down. I can get it low enough to lean forward, forearms on the handlebars, and type on my laptop during the regular VeloNews Zwift ride, and I can pop up it up at head level to watch race coverage while pedaling.

The angled trays front and back work well for propping up tablets and phones. One minor quibble for Zwift is that the ‘back to me’ and menu button that pops up on the in-game screen sits partially beneath the desk on an iPad when used in the tray.

The rubbery top grips laptops well, so I’m not worried about accidentally pushing my computer off the thing.

Although the depth makes for a stable holder, it also means the bottom menu buttons in Zwift on an iPad are awkward to press. Photo: Ben Delaney

The bad: The wheels can be handy for moving it around, but since they don’t lock, the desk can glide away from you on hard surfaces if you don’t cobble together a wheel block. A simple wheel lock would be an appreciated fix.

Relatedly, the RAD Cycle Products desk — which is a blatant knock-off of the Wahoo desk — has wheels, wheel locks… and a lower price of $178.

The ugly: It’s a bummer that Wahoo doesn’t build a power strip into the desk the way Saris has.

Wheels are nice when you want the desk to roll – but annoying when you want the thing to stay put on a hard surface. The Wahoo legs are wider than that of the Saris desk, though. Photo: Ben Delaney

Saris TD1 Trainer Desk — $330

The wood top looks sharp, and the Saris desk is sturdy and stable. Photo: Ben Delaney

The good: The wooden top and the unit as a whole looks sharp, like actual furniture. But the coolest part has to be the two USB and two 120v plug-ins, because if you need a desk for electronics then you need a place to plug in said electronics.

The Saris desk is stable (and heavy!). You don’t have to worry about an accidental bump sending your precious electronics flying.

Power outlets are handy, as something always needs charging. Photo: Ben Delaney

The bad: While the four height options are good, having to bolt the thing together seriously compromises its flexibility. I haven’t bothered to reposition the height more than once, for instance. And the lowest setting still isn’t as low as I’d like for typing while riding.

The ugly: $330 is a lot of dough for a desk. Call me cheap (the ‘trainer desk’ I made wasn’t even from new wood, just from scrap left by former occupants of my house), but the price strikes me as high for something that doesn’t easily adjust.