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Wahoo Kickr Core review: Hitting the turbo trainer sweet spot

When Wahoo released its premium Kickr turbo trainer back in 2020, it had an immediate impact among pros and amateurs alike.

With the company’s Kickr Snap already offering a solid entry-level option, too, Wahoo decided that it needed a mid-level trainer to complete its lineup.

Enter, the Kickr Core. This model leans so heavily on the build quality of its bigger brother – the v5 Kickr – that it’s immediately one of the more intriguing options to consider in the mid-range tier.

We’ve been testing it out to see whether it holds up against the market’s latest options.
Our quick take

The Kickr Core hits the sweet spot of features, functionality and price in Wahoo’s turbo trainer line-up.

It provides all of the most important features from its bigger brother, the Kickr, in a slightly pared-back and cheaper package. It’s easy to see why this has become a firm favourite among indoor riders. Its build quality is rock solid, there’s accurate power and cadence data and it is super quiet in operation.

There is strong competition in the turbo market, with many companies taking aim at the Core’s market while undercutting it on price, but, for our money, the premium you may pay for the Kickr Core is worth it.
The first thing we noticed when unpacking the Core is its weightiness. It has the feeling of solidity that gives you immediate confidence – even if it does mean we had to wrestle it a little to fit on the two supporting legs.

It’s a five-minute job to complete the setup, including installing a cassette. You don’t get one included with the Core, so you’ll need to factor that into the overall cost – and adapters for your bike’s axle.
Wahoo also recommends that you download its app so that you can update the Core with the latest firmware and register it with them. The app also affords you some basic control of the Core, such as setting a target resistance level or wattage, or, more importantly, performing a spindown to calibrate its power meter. However, we suspect that most people will ignore this app for the most part, as they will be using their favoured third-party apps.

Once it’s all set up, the Core has a premium look and feel to it. From the matte black finish to the metal work – there’s only a small amount of plastic covering used – combined with the chevroned flywheel and Wahoo decal, it really looks the part. Usefully, the Core can also be partly folded when not in use, with the legs closing together to reduce its footprint, which will appeal to users who don’t have a huge dedicated space for training at home.
The Core is a direct drive turbo, so you remove the rear wheel of your bike and fix it to the trainer. It’s compatible with most road, gravel or mountain bikes, though there is no way of adjusting the Core’s height to allow for different wheel sizes.

This means that you may be riding at a slight upward or downward angle when using it – however, in practice, we have never found this to be a problem and aren’t really able to even notice the subtle differences. If it really caused an issue for a rider, a front-wheel block can be purchased separately.
The Core needs to be calibrated when you set it up, and Wahoo then recommends this is repeated every 2 weeks to ensure accurate power readings. Some premium trainers, including Wahoo’s own Kickr, auto-calibrate, meaning that you don’t ever have to perform spindown tests. Performing the spindown is an easy 2-minute task through Wahoo’s own app and many of the third-party apps also have a spindown option, so we didn’t find it a particular chore.

With everything set up, we tried out the Core with some of the most popular third-party apps, Zwift, Trainer Road and Wahoo’s own Systm (previously known as Sufferfest).

The Core was, as we would hope, found immediately by each of the app, whether we connected using Bluetooth or ANT+. We didn’t suffer a single dropout, either, on what proved to be rock solid connections.

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Ajmal Solangi is a Tech writer specializing in the intersection of tech and reviews. He likes tech news, mobile unboxing, reviews, gadgets, and more.

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