Wahoo adds Zwift Cog feature to KICKR CORE trainer

Wahoo Fitness has just released a new Wahoo KICKR CORE Zwift One model, which adopts the same Zwift Cog / Zwift Click technology I wrote about previouslyThis unique feature (up until now offered only on Zwift's Hub One indoor trainer) eliminates the need to use a cassette, instead relying on "virtual shifting" via a handlebar-mounted Zwift Click remote.

A few other headlines also put Zwift in the news recently - one of their CEOs departed, and they laid off more than 100 employees, so the introduction of the new trainer is more than just a new product announcement, it signals more hardware and software changes that may be coming in the future for Zwift users. How does this change the Zwift landscape?

KICKR CORE Zwift One vs. Zwift Hub One

If you're reading this wondering why these two indoor trainers seem almost identical... me too. They share the same retail pricing, Zwift Cog / Click feature, and seem to be targetted at the same customers, differing only in some stickers and a slightly different industrial design "look."

Perhaps the only meaningful difference is the accuracy, claimed 2% on the KICKR CORE Zwift One vs. 2.5% on the Zwift Hub One.

Given the collaboration between Wahoo and Zwift moving forward, and the similarities between these two products, you might be thinking there isn't room for both on the market - and you'd be right - it appears that Zwift will discontinue their Hub One, leaving the KICKR CORE the number one entry-level option at this price point.

Zwift Cog / Zwift Click

As with the Zwift Hub One, the Wahoo KICKR CORE Zwift One version will be ideal for families or teams that want to use multiple bikes while sharing a single indoor trainer. That's pretty common due to the expense of modern smart trainers, but can be difficult when the bikes have differing number of cassette cogs. The Zwift Cog neatly eliminates that concern, bypassing the need for a cassette entirely - instead, the rider changes gear ratios as needed via a handlebar mounted remote. That means you don't shift from your existing shifter/brake levers like you would on an outdoor ride.

What about previous KICKR CORE owners?

It appears that if you own a KICKR CORE that predates the Zwift One model, you'll be able to upgrade to virtual shifting by purchasing Zwift Play (Zwift Play is sort of like an Xbox or Playstation video game controller that mounts near your brake lever hoods) and applying a firmware update to your existing trainer.

At this time, there is no upgrade path to Zwift Cog, though - this means to use the virtual shifting, you would simply pick a gear on your existing cassette and leave it there.

Does virtual shifting work outside of Zwift? 

No. While it's possible this technology could be opened up in the future, at this time, if you want to use the Wahoo KICKR CORE Zwift One or Zwift Hub One trainers outside the Zwift ecosystem, you'd need to remove the Zwift Cog and install a traditional cassette - otherwise you can't change gear ratios! The virtual shifting only works on Zwift at this time. With that in mind... 

Can I still get a KICKR CORE with a cassette?

Yes. If Zwift Cog isn't for you and you prefer to use existing cassettes you may already own on your indoor trainer, the "classic" KICKR CORE is still available for purchase. If you plan to use an online service that isn't Zwift, note this option.

Is there a price change?

No. KICKR CORE "classic" and KICKR CORE Zwift One both sell for $599, which includes a 1 year Zwift subscription.

It's worth noting you can find the KICKR CORE "classic" unbundled from the 1 year Zwift subscription for $499. That's not an option for the version with the Zwift Cog, which is only available bundled with the Zwift subscription.

What about the Wahoo / Zwift lawsuit?

Wahoo previously sued Zwift in a patent dispute, which was eventually resolved. With hurt feelings apparently in the rearview mirror, the two organizations are collaborating once again, sharing technology across their product lines, and you can also buy a Wahoo trainer on Zwift.com again as well.

Which indoor trainer should cyclocross riders use?

If you want to use an indoor trainer to prepare for cyclocross, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Buy a "wheel off" or "direct drive" trainer model, like the Wahoo KICKR line, Saris H3, or Garmin Tacx Neo.
  • "Wheel on" models, on which your rear tire runs against a drum for resistance, should be avoided at this time. Knobby cyclocross tires work poorly on this type of trainer, causing a jerky motion and rapid tire wear.
  • If you have multiple bikes with differing drivetrains and want to use Zwift, get the KICKR Core Zwift One for ease of bike changes and wide compatibility with the Zwift Cog / Click virtual shifting combo.
  • If you use an online service other than Zwift, and/or want to bring your own cassette(s) then buy a KICKR CORE "classic" or one of the other trainer models that use traditional cassettes and gear shifters. 

Should you buy a KICKR CORE Zwift One?

Absolutely, and especially so if your application and use case for an indoor trainer revolves around the Zwift ecosystem. While there are other online subscription services for indoor training, Zwift is the largest, and the tight integration of the Zwift Cog / Click hardware with the Zwift software is the best availabe at this time.

Once you're in the Zwift system, it's easy to recommend the KICKR CORE Zwift One at the entry-level price point of wheel-off indoor trainers. If you were thinking of buying a Zwift Hub One before this announcement, it makes sense to get the KICKR CORE Zwift One instead now.

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