Winter training is just around the corner, which likely means you are about to head inside for the bulk of your training. Having a good trainer can make the winter miles go by faster and with a lot of the new technology, they can even make winter riding fun. This week we will take a look at the Wahoo Kickr Snap. One of the best Smart Trainers on the market.
I finally decided to replace my really old and really busted trainer, it had a pipe wrench holding it together ffs.
I liked what I had heard about the Kickr products and the Kickr Snap seemed like the way I wanted to go. I already had a trainer wheel, my apartment is a bit tight on space and the Snap is more along my budget at $600. I also wanted something that is easy to use. I had a Computrainer setup back in the day and it always seemed to break and be a pain in the rear. Giving myself 3 hours to ride would end up being 45 minutes of fooling with the trainer and 2 hours of riding. Ease of use was going to be paramount for me.
The Snap comes with all kinds of cool features. It’s ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible, it measures power and maybe coolest of all the resistance will change automatically if you are riding on Zwift (which I do every time I ride inside). These were all cool things I was interested in checking out, but honestly I don’t care about all the bells and whistle, all I wanted was to be able to throw the thing down and ride, without fuss.
I brought the Snap home and immediately tossed the directions in the trash. After a decade competing in triathlon, 7 years previously working in the industry and now working in tech development, if I couldn’t figure this thing out…I wasn’t sure who could. I wasn’t let down either. The setup is as basic as trainers go. Throw the wheel in, lock it down, adjust the resistance until the tire doesn’t slip and presto you’re ready to ride. I was REALLY happy it was that easy. I rode the entire first week without plugging the thing in and it was exactly what I wanted.
Week 2 I finally decided to test out all the bells and whistles. The first time all I did was plug the Snap in, sync it with the ANT+ on my computer and ran a course on Zwift. I kinda had mixed reactions on this first go round. I am a data junky. I have a SRAM Quarq on the TT bike and I was comparing the two power numbers in real time (talk about something that will drive you nuts). The Kickr was consistently lower than my Quarq by 30-50 watts. If you are gonna miss, don’t miss low. Nothing is more frustrating than watching people rip past you on Zwift cause it thinks you are putting out 50 less watts than your Quarq says you are! This drove me nuts the first day and I texted a buddy who is a religious Kickr user. He asked me if I did a “spin down” and it dawned on me I had neglected any of the tech aspect of this thing.
I downloaded the Wahoo Fitness app and paired my phone with the Kickr Snap via Bluetooth, now we were rolling. I did the spin down protocol and the power adjusted. Now to be fair, it was still off but it was only like 10-20 watts, which is in range given the tire based power vs crank based power.
With the power adjusted, I went to work on the poor fools on Zwift. Okay maybe that’s a stretch, but once the power was rolling the entire operation was really cool to use. I have always put the bike on the trainer and used the gearing to adjust the resistance and therefore the effort. With the Snap plugged into Zwift the resistance would change based on the elevation of the course. I had to be dialed into the Zwift course to shift gears accordingly, similar to how you would in a race.
My only complaint here is less about the Snap and more about Zwift, but in a race you shouldn’t wait until you feel the resistance change in your legs. You should see the hill and adjust before you get there. In Zwift that is a bit harder to do. I found myself shifting as a reaction to the resistance, not shifting in preparation for the resistance which is how I would ride outside, but again that’s on Zwift, not on the Snap.
My only complaint about the Snap directly is it’s storage. My old crap trainer had a base on it that allowed me to store it vertically. The snap doesn’t and I guess is supposed to be stored flat? This kinda sucks in a small apartment, so I wedge it (vertically) in between two Rubbermaid’s in the closet. Without the based to hold it upright it always wants to tip over. I know this is minor, but it would be nice if it was easy to store vertically.
With all that the Kickr Snap has become a vital part of my winter training program, and I can already feel the difference while riding.