Andy from Competitive Cyclist reviews the Wahoo Fitness KICKR SNAP power trainer. This benchmark trainer offers outstanding accuracy, ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility, and realistic flywheel-based resistance for an indoor training experience with remarkably real road feel.
Five years ago, if you’d asked me which trainer to buy, I probably would have said something like, “Pick one that fits your budget.” Because at the time they were all about the same, regardless of how much money you spent. Sure, there were cool variations on the theme, but nobody really broke the mold.
Ask me that same question today, and the answer ain’t so simple, because a new category has emerged: the smart trainer. That’s right, that same old back wheel torture machine has been updated, big time, and our pain caves have become as technologically advanced as the Bat Cave. And, quite honestly, nobody’s riding this wave better than Wahoo is with their KICKR Power and KICKR SNAP trainers.
Wahoo was founded by an engineer who discovered he couldn’t easily bring together, view, and analyze all the data from his training devices. This happened right around the time the first iPhone came out, so he wrote an app and invented the ANT+ key to pull all the data into the computer in the palm of his hand. Once he solved that problem, he went to work on creating a cycling computer that could do everything his iPhone did, but also mount to his bars and withstand the elements. The first iteration of that idea was the RFLKT, and the latest version is the ELEMNT, which the perfect companion for the KICKR trainers. But you don’t have to buy one, because both the KICKER and the KICKR SNAP will work with a whole host of resistance-creating apps available for your smartphone, tablet, or computer. But … more on that a little later.
So Wahoo sent me the KICKR SNAP, and while it may appear to be a watered-down version of its big brother, it’s not. And, as a matter of fact I’d say it’s the better choice because as you’re looking at them side-by-side the only features they don’t match up on is 3rd party powermeter support, and the max wattage (1150w versus 1650).
And at almost $400 less, the SNAP kinda becomes a no-brainer. It’s extremely easy to set up and synch up, it’s bomb-proof and over-engineered, and it’s one of the quietest trainers I’ve ever used. I particularly liked the way the beautifully-machined arms moved and felt as they clamped onto the outside of the skewer, and the ergonomics of the banana-sized blue lever made it easy to make sure the SNAP was locked onto my bike. Unlike every other trainer I’ve ever used, nothing felt loose or wiggly. It felt as crisp and precise as a well-oiled bolt-action rifle.
The rugged industrial design and wide stance of the frame kept it really planted, even at super-high cadence and power efforts, and with the help of the ELEMNT computer I was able to easily harvest data from my rides on the road and recreate them in my garage. I’d never really done that before, so it took some getting used to. And, then, magically, the reasons for owning a Smart Trainer came sharply into focus when I took my first ever ride on Zwift. Now, I don’t want to turn this into a Zwift commercial, but man; if there’s an angry bike racer inside of you, there’s no better way to release his fury on the world. I’ve never EVER turned myself more inside-out on a trainer, and I couldn’t have unleashed that hound without a trainer that’s as accurate, as easy to use, and as easy to sync up as the ELEMNT.
The KICKR SNAP is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, and it’s built on an Open API , which means it’ll work with just about any training software program you’re using. Wahoo also offers super-solid front wheel blocks, a trainer mat, and a small ecosystem of sensors for heart rate, cadence, and actual speed.