Wahoo KICKR CORE vs. Zwift Hub One - direct drive trainer shootout

If you're considering the purchase of a direct-drive style indoor trainer for use with online services like Zwift or Rouvy, you'll almost certainly end up comparing the Zwift Hub One with Wahoo's KICKR CORE - they're priced almost identically, and have a very similar featureset.

To use these direct-drive trainer models, you remove your wheel rear before placing your bike on the trainer, yielding more accurate power measurement and a much better, more natural pedaling feel compared with trainers where you leave your rear wheel on.

Let's take a look at these two budget direct drive trainers and see how they stack up. At the end of this article, you'll have a good idea of whether the KICKR CORE or the Zwift Hub One trainer is right for you.

Wahoo KICKR CORE vs. Zwift Hub One Pricing

As of this writing, the Wahoo KICKR CORE and Zwift Hub One are priced identically - $599 each, both with a free year of Zwift service bundled in, and for the KICKR, a cassette of your choice, which adds value.

Unlike the Zwift Hub One, however, the KICKR CORE can also be purchased without a year of Zwift service and without a cassette, for $499. That makes the KICKR CORE a better buy for those on a budget, for those who don't plan to subscribe to Zwift, and especially those who already own multiple cassette(s).


The Zwift-branded Hub One obviously was designed and intended for use with Zwift, while you can use it with other services too, it comes with big limitations - the Zwift Cog / Zwift Click "Virtual shifter" only works with Zwift. While the Zwift trainer itself can connect to, say, Rouvy, you'd have to remove the Zwift Cog, install a cassette, and go back to your traditional shifters in order to change the gear ratio.

The KICKR CORE, in contrast, lacks the nifty "virtual shifting" feature, but as a result offers wider compatibilty with just about any of the online subscription cycling services.

How about power meter accuracy and maximum wattage?

For everyone but the most serious pro riders, you're unlikely to run into the wattage ceiling on either of these two trainers. It is worth noting, however, that the maximum wattage that can be recorded on either is 1800 watts - a wash.

The KICKR CORE has a published accuracy of 2%. For the Zwift Hub One, in contrast, published accuracy is 2.5%. Is a one half of one percent difference in accuracy meaningful? For most riders, probably not, but perfectionists will note the slightly higher accuracy on the KICKR CORE.

Both trainers also have the same maximum simulated gradient at 16%.

Flywheel Weight

On the Wahoo KICKR CORE, the flywheel weighs 5.4 kg, vs. 4.7 kg on the Zwift Hub One. While either is likely adequate, serious athletes logging big miles and hours on indoor trainers prefer heavier flywheels, because they produce a smoother resistance with less of an on/off feel.

If you've ridden a "wheel on" indoor trainer - the style where your rear tire drags on a drum or roller for resistance, you've experienced the "on, off" feel as high and low friction spots create a herky-jerky feel. Fortunately, both the Zwift Hub One and the KICKR CORE eliminate this with their direct-drive, wheel-off design.

What about Zwift Cog?

The Zwift Hub One features a unique feature unlike any other direct-drive trainer on the market. Instead of mounting a multispeed cassette, the trainer uses a single "Zwift Cog" - sort of like the single cog you've seen on singlespeed or fixed gear outdoor bikes.

Since your shifters don't do anything with such a setup, the rider instead changes the gear ratio "virtually", using the Zwift Click, which mounts on your handlebar. The big plus of the Zwift Cog and Zwift Click is sharing the trainer among multiple riders with multiple bikes and 9, 10, 11, 12 speed drivetrains - drivetrain compatibility is suddently a thing of the past, and bikes can be swapped onto the trainer very quickly. That makes Zwift Hub One ideal for family or team sharing.

When using the Zwift Hub One with Zwift Cog, you no longer use your Shimano / SRAM / Campagnolo brifters to control the gear ratio. Everything is controlled from the Zwift Click. If you aren't into that, the KICKR CORE uses a traditional cassette and the rider controls the gear ratio using the same shifters used for outdoor riding - an important difference between these two trainers.

Who should choose the Wahoo KICKR CORE?

For some riders, the Wahoo KICKR CORE is a better buy:

  • If you don't plan to use the Zwift service, don't buy the Zwift Hub One. You should buy the KICKR CORE instead - with the Zwift Hub One, it only comes bundled with one year of Zwift's online service, while the KICKR CORE is available both with, and without, that option. That means you can get the KICKR CORE for $499 instead of $599 if you don't want the Zwift service bundled in.
  • Riders who own multiple cassettes will benefit from the KICKR CORE, because it's available for less $ for riders who can bring their own cassette. Bring-your-own-cassette makes less sense with the Zwift Hub One, since you're paying for the "virtual shifting" feature you won't use.
  • Tech-savvy, enthusiast riders who want the highest possible power meter accuracy at this price point will probably want the KICKR CORE.
  • Riders who just want to try out Zwift, Rouvy, etc. but aren't sure if they'll be long-time subscribers can use the KICKR CORE and subscribe on a month to month basis. That isn't possible with the Hub One, since it comes with a one year subscription to Zwift, bundled in, with no "opt out"

Who should choose the Zwift Hub One?

For others, the Zwift Hub One is a better choice. That includes:

  • Riders who share the indoor trainer with multiple bikes and riders, especially those with different drivetrains. On the KICKR CORE, you need to mount a cassette that matches your drivetrain (10 speed, 11, 12, etc) and that means all the bikes you use on the trainer need to have the same drivetrain for compatibility. If you want to use one bike with a 12 speed drivetrain, and a family member has a bike with an 11 speed drivetrain, you'd have to change the cassette with every bike swap!
  • The Zwift Hub One offers the "Zwift Cog" feature which does away with the cassette entirely, making it the obvious choice for sharing the trainer with multiple bikes and riders.
  • Riders already heavily invested in the Zwift ecosystem who are certain they'll continue to subscribe in the future.

In conclusion

Families and teams who use the Zwift online service and share an indoor trainer with multiple riders and multiple bikes should get the Zwift Hub One, which fits neatly into the Zwift ecosystem. Solo riders who aren't certain about using the Zwift subscription service long-term, and those who already own multiple cassettes should choose the Wahoo KICKR CORE instead.

I hope this helps you choose between the KICKR CORE and Hub One. Happy (indoor!) riding.

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