Wahoo has been missing a mid-price trainer for a couple of years, but now with the CORE priced at £699 / $900 / AU$1,200 it has been pitched directly against models from Tacx and Elite — who have had popular smart trainers available for some time around this price.
The CORE may be the mid-range trainer, but it doesn’t skimp on features when you compare it with the range-topping KICKR. The CORE is compatible with all the apps you could want, including training platforms Zwift and TrainerRoad, and connects via ANT+ and Bluetooth.
In the box you will find a wide range of adaptors to enable you to run 12x142mm and 12x148mm thru-axles as well as standard quick release.
Unsurprisingly, the CORE is also compatible with the £499 / $599 Wahoo Climb (pictured), which simulates gradients by raising and lowering the front end of your bike in tune with the undulations of virtual courses.
Add in the £199 / $249 Headwind smart fan (also pictured), which optimises cooling and creates realistic wind speeds, maxing out at 30mph, for a fully connected, blinged-up pain cave.
The CORE is limited to a maximum incline of 16 percent and max wattage of 1,800, but in reality that is more than enough to cover mere mortals.
Wahoo KICKR CORE set up and ride
Straight out of the box the CORE is simple to assemble, you just need to attach the legs. The larger one goes at the front, which took a little longer than expected to work out. Once the legs are bolted in place, the CORE feels secure and stable, but be aware that the front legs only fold in slightly to aid storage.
Before you can start riding, you do have to make two additional purchases. First, the unit doesn’t come with a cassette so you will have to add that onto the overall costs. Also you’ll need to add a cadence sensor to your bike because the unit doesn’t transmit that information.
The top-end KICKR comes with both, and features a larger flywheel for supposedly better ride feel, but any actual difference in ride feel is hard to quantify.
The finishing touches to the setup are made via the Wahoo Fitness App, where you can adjust the settings to match your bike, for example its wheel size. You can also amend the trainer modes to suit specific training sessions.
You will need to perform a spin-down to make sure the trainer is correctly calibrated however, which is all managed in the app.
The biggest selling point, and reason to upgrade your turbo, is the new drive belt, which is pretty much silent.
The reduction in noise over the older KICKR models is a real step forward. If you don’t have your turbo set up in a separate room this makes training a lot less anti-social and it’s now possible to listen to music without having the volume cranked up to 11.