Wahoo’s Kickr Climb elevates your trainer game

The trainer raises and lowers a bike's fork to mimic climbs and descents.

LOCHAU, Austria (VN) — The best way to make an indoor ride feel more like an outdoor ride is to just go outside. In lieu of that, Wahoo has created a ride feel that mimics — but does not reproduce — real-life terrain. With the introduction of the Kickr Climb, Wahoo takes that experience one step closer to an outdoor ride by providing real-time grade changes via a vertical unit that affixes to your fork and raises and lowers the front end of the bike as your virtual course progresses.

The Kickr Climb looks like an in-home air purifier or standalone heater. It stands about three feet high and is encased in a plastic shell that houses a motorized fork mount. The mount rises and falls depending on the elevation being communicated to the unit from programs like Zwift, though you can also control the elevation manually using the included remote control. The remote can be mounted to your handlebars for easy access.

The up and down movement happens quickly and sometimes subtly, though if the road kicks up steeply, the front end will rise as quickly as it would in real life, or nearly so. The Kickr Climb’s grade range runs from +20 percent to -10 percent, which means you can get in a descending position as well. At the lowest point, your pedals will barely clear the floor by about an inch or two. The unit will begin its adjustment after 1 percent of elevation change. This movement allows the rider to get into a more natural climbing position and properly target muscles you’ll need in real-life climbing situations. No more overweighting the handlebars and stressing your hands and wrists as you attempt to climb out of the saddle.

You’ll also be able to re-ride your favorite outdoor routes indoors by syncing the Kickr Climb to your Wahoo Elemnt or Elemnt Bolt. The Kickr Climb will adjust according to the elevation profile saved in your head unit.

Wahoo also released an updated Kickr trainer that has new axle adapters to accommodate thru-axles. (It also has a new design to better accommodate disc-brake-equipped bikes.) This is important to note for potential Kickr Climb users because the Kickr Climb will not work with current Kickr trainers, or any trainer that doesn’t feature movable axle adapters. Because the Kickr Climb moves the front end of the bike up and down fairly significantly, it becomes necessary to allow free movement of the bike’s rear end as well. Otherwise, your bike’s dropouts can become sheared or the trainer may move, causing instability. The current iteration of the Kickr locks your axle in place, as do most trainers on the market. So in order to take full and safe advantage of the Kickr Climb, you’ll also need to upgrade to a new Kickr.

That won’t be cheap. The Kickr Climb unit alone will hit the market for $600, while the new Kickr will cost right around $1,000. But for cyclists who spend long winters indoors, this might just be the tool you’ll want to make the long trainer rides more fun, structured, and realistic.