Wahoo KICKR v5 Review: The Golden Standard of Smart Bike Trainers

Wahoo KICKR v5 review: KICKR v5 from the right side on a wooden floor and white background.

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This is my Wahoo KICKR v5 smart trainer review.

I decided to buy it to find out how it stands against its competitors like Tacx NEO 2T or Saris H3.

KICKR one of the best smart trainers on the market because of its accuracy, practicality, and reliability. I did multiple tests and consider it a golden standard in smart trainers.

Buy it here (v6), or continue reading to find the results of my accuracy tests and other pros & cons I found during its use.

NOTE: Wahoo KICKR v5 was discontinued. The KICKR v6 is almost the same (learn more).

Who Is Wahoo KICKR v5 for?

The Wahoo KICKR v5 is suitable for riders looking for a high-end smart trainer. 

Thanks to its AXIS feet, it provides side-to-side tilt, making the training more comfortable. This is because this movement eases the friction between your bottom and the saddle and reduces vibrations.

KICKR is also easily portable thanks to the carry handle and has a relatively small form factor when folded.

It also works flawlessly with other Wahoo accessories like the CLIMB or HEADWIND.

TIP: Learn how Wahoo KICKR differs from KICKR MOVE and KICKR CORE.

Wahoo KICKR v5 Summary

Here is the summary of the main features and the technical specification of the Wahoo KICKR v5.

Main Features

  • Good ride feel
  • Highly responsive and accurate
  • Portable thanks to the carry handle and foldable legs
  • Side-to-side tilt thanks to AXIS feet
  • Cassette is included
  • Compatible with Wahoo accessories like the CLIMB
  • Highly reliable

Technical Specification

  • Maximum resistance: 2200W
  • Accuracy: ±1%
  • Gradient simulation: −10-20%
  • Weight: 47 lb (21.3 kg)
  • Dimensions: 20 × 28 × 17″ (51 × 71 × 44 cm)
  • Flywheel: Virtual, 16 lb (7.3 kg)
  • Noisiness: ~58 dB @ 200W
  • Power Consumption: ~6 Wh @ 200W, ~10 Wh @ 300W
  • Connectivity: ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth
  • Power required: Yes

Also available at competitivecyclist.com and wiggle.com

Unboxing & Ease of Setup

The package includes:

  • Wahoo KICKR v5 trainer
  • Charger
  • Spacers
  • Quick release and through axle adaptors 
  • Cassette
  • Manual

The setup of the KICKR v5 was easy. I only had to unfold the legs, adjust the bike type, choose the correct adaptors, and plug it into electricity. I also upgraded the trainer’s firmware using the Wahoo Fitness app.

KICKR v5 bike type (road, MTB, etc.) settings detail.
Bike type settings

The carry handle is super useful because I don’t have a permanent place for my trainer. It makes it easily portable.

Furthermore, KICKR doesn’t take up much space with folded legs. So, fits a closet or under a bed.

Unfolded Wahoo KICKR v5 on a wooden floor.
Unfolded Wahoo KICKR v5
Folded Wahoo KICKR v5 on a wooden floor.
Folded Wahoo KICKR v5.

Ride Impressions

Just like ThinkRider X7 PRO, KICKR provides side-to-side tilt. This is thanks to the AXIS feet that act as dampeners.

Detail on Wahoo KICKR axis foot that provides side-to-side tilt.
Axis feet provide side-to-side tilt

The effect is not as significant as when using X7 PRO or a rocker plate, but it helps.

This is because when the saddle is fixed, the side-to-side motion of our pelvis creates friction and discomfort (you can learn more about this phenomenon in my article on the benefits of rocker plates).

I enjoy the tilt because the indoor rides are more comfortable than on a rigid trainer like Saris H3.

TIP: Check out my comparison of KICKR v5 vs. Saris H3.

But it takes some time to get used to it, especially when riding out of the saddle on a rocker plate.

KICKR v5 reacts quickly to gradient changes in third-party apps like Zwift. Although it can’t simulate different road surfaces like NEO 2T, it provides a great ride feel. This makes it one of the best bike trainers for Zwift.

TIP: Check out my comparison of the KICKR v5 vs. NEO 2T.

Let’s now take a deeper dive into its accuracy.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com and wiggle.com

Accuracy Tests

I double-checked the KICKR v5 power and cadence accuracy with my Favero Assioma DUO pedals (I use them as a benchmark for all smart trainer and power meter tests) and Magene P505 spider power meter

I also tested its ERG mode, responsivity, and road feel in multiple indoor cycling apps.

Test #1: ERG Mode

The following ERG mode test is the benchmark test I use for all smart bike trainers. I perform it in TrainerRoad. It has a short warm-up, ramp-up, multiple 30×30s high/low power intervals, and cool down.

The yellow line (power of the KICKR v5) is more volatile than on Saris H3

ERG mode test results of Wahoo KICKR v5 (data from TrainerRoad).
KICKR v5 ERG mode test (data from TrainerRoad)

The following chart shows the power of three power sources (see the entire data set).

You can see that there is one drop (after the last 30s interval). That was a moment when I lowered my cadence from around 110 to about 80 RPM.

Power chart of my ERG mode test of Wahoo KICKR v5.
ERG mode test (Power)

The overall average power is within −0.5% from Assiomas. Magene P505 overread the overall power by about +3.5%.

KICKR and P505 measured similar maximum power at around 390 watts. Favero only 350 watts. Given their reputation, I trust Assiomas more, but it’s possible they were wrong this time.

KICKR v5 reacted to power changes quickly and smoothly. However, it struggled a little with setting the right resistance (especially when I changed cadence).

It’s perfectly usable for ERG mode, but Saris H3 is simply better. I would say it’s ‘calmer’ and smoother.

Test #2: Free Ride

The next test I performed was a free ride of the Pienza course in Wahoo RGT.

It’s a punchy course in Italian Tuscany, so it’s suitable for testing the responsiveness and ride feel of the trainer.

I did a short, 10-minute warm-up on a different course and then rode one loop in Pienza. Here is the dataset.

During the first 5 minutes, the KICKR’s power is more volatile. I admit that this is not the first time it has happened to me when testing a bike trainer.

Power chart of my Free ride test of Wahoo KICKR v5.
Free ride test (Power)

The maximum power is again a little off, while the average power meets the claimed accuracy of within ±1%.

I suspect this is a problem with the Wahoo RGT app because, during a Zwift race, everything was on point (see the next section).

However, KICKR changed the resistance quickly, yet not aggressively. Steep ramps (around 10 %) felt like steep ramps and descents like descents (unlike when using ThinkRider X7 PRO).

My impressions from the reactions and ride feel were great.

Test #3: Race

For the last test, I did a Zwift race because that’s where power goes up and down unpredictably.

My poor form aside (yes, I was dropped in about half of the race), you can see that the KICKR v5 matches Assiomas almost perfectly.

Power chart of my Race test of Wahoo KICKR v5.
Race test (Power)

It recognized that I stopped pedaling within one or two seconds so that I could get into the super tuck position in descents and get some advantage.

The maximum power is within ±1% of Assiomas, and the cadence is also almost the same. See the following chart.

Cadence chart of my Race test of Wahoo KICKR v5.
Cadence chart – race

You can dive deeper into the data here.

Based on the test above and my riding experience with other smart trainers, KICKR met my expectations.

Wahoo KICKR v5 Alternatives

Here are some of the Wahoo KICKR v5 alternatives worth considering.

Wahoo KICKR v5 FAQ

My Verdict

Based on my tests, Wahoo KICKR v5 proved to be one of the best smart bike trainers on the market.

This is thanks to its practicality, responsivity, low noisiness, and accuracy.

Its ERG mode isn’t on the level of Saris H3, but it’s still high-quality.

I don’t hesitate to recommend it. Especially now, when the new KICKR v6 is out, and v5 is often discounted.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com and wiggle.com

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