People up and down the UK are now training indoors on their turbo and this review focuses on the Wahoo KICKR SNAP Smart Turbo Trainer. Love them or hate them they are now an essential tool for targeted training and now with SMART technology, turbo’s are more fun than ever before. Here is what I thought…
So what is the Wahoo KICKR SNAP?
Now at a glance the Wahoo KICKR SNAP looks like other ‘Classic’ wheel-on turbo’s on the market today. It’s not a Direct Drive trainer, like the Wahoo KICKR, but instead features the tried and tested Classic ‘Wheel-On’ turbo frame design. This incorporates legs that fold out giving a wide stance and a resistance unit which the rear wheel sits on (wheel-on design). This design has been around since turbo’s were born and provides superb stability and ease of use. Simply place your bike on the unit, securely clamp it, adjust the resistance unit, and pedal.
As mentioned above, the SNAP ultilises a wide stance and provides a firm and stable platform. The ends of the legs are finished with a thick rubber end cap that protects the floor it’s on. I pushed plenty of power through this unit and it didn’t move an inch at the time so grip is good. The legs are not adjustable, what I mean is there is no small dial that allows the foot of the leg to move up or down thus stabilising the turbo if it is used on slightly uneven ground. So with this in mind the SNAP must be used on level ground otherwise you run the risk of the unit rocking when in use, which is not good. When testing the SNAP it used it in my garage and out on my patio.
The Wahoo SNAP is manufactured out of oversized steel tubing that is coated in a tough and durable black finish. Like other turbo’s, the frame is foldable with the legs folding inwards making it slimline, to a degree, and more transportable. The resistance unit is fixed to the back of the frame, but the large blue knob does move the roller against the wheel (increasing the resistance). The bike is clamped to the unit via the easy-to-use and silky-smooth blue lever. I’ve used plenty of turbo brands in the past and have to say that this lever operation is superb. As long as you adjust the opposite side (non-drive side mechanism) to the correct position, the drive-side mechanism locks the axle firmly in place giving a good secure lock. It’s really simple to do.
The Resistance Unit
No escaping it, the resistance unit on the SNAP is heavy, which is due to the massive flywheel, but I think this is out-weighed by the superb road feel and riding performance the large inertia flywheel provides. Feels like I’m riding on the open road and is super-quiet too. To be honest, when I purchase a turbo I never take into account the weight of the unit. This is because I am lucky enough to have a dedicated area to use the turbo (and my turbo bike) and have no need to pack it away or move it about to use. It simply stays in my garage with my turbo bike always fixed to it. I just need to bring myself, bottle, and laptop to the turbo.
But I’m aware that others may not have this luxury or available free-space that I have. Don’t get me wrong you can lift it about when required, but it’s a heavy unit and I’m sure other Direct Drive units are heavier.
Being a Smart Trainer means the Wahoo KICKR SNAP Smart Turbo Trainer uses ANT+/Bluetooth technology to communicate with third party Apps and either PC or Laptop (with a dongle) software such as Zwift. This also means this software (Zwift) can reply back and adjust the resistance accordingly to what is displayed on the screen. With this I mean if you are climbing a hill on the Zwift Island, the resistance increases (gets harder) and if descending the resistance gets easier (quicker).
Being old-school, when I was younger we had none of this, but once I tried this new way of training, it’s so much fun and hard work at the same time. Now I guess this is just the same as watching a cycling video/DVD or TV, but with Zwift it’s interactive meaning you can ride with your mates who could live just around the corner or another village without actually meeting them in the ‘Real World’.
Pairing the devices
Setup was easy, but my inexperience with this technology meant I had a few teething problems at first, which was down to me, NOT the SNAP. Before getting the SNAP, I downloaded a free trial of Zwift then once I got the SNAP unboxed, I plugged it in, sorted out the calibration, opened up the Zwift program and hit my first and only problem. It transpired I required an Ant+ USB Dongle so the SNAP could communicate with my laptop – silly me.
So after a few days, I acquired said Dongle, plugged it in and then the Zwift platform found the SNAP and paired itself to it. I did the same for my PowerTap wheel and then set off cycling around the Island of Zwift.
Have to say, this virtual interaction is great fun and brings another dimension to training on a turbo especially on a cold wet and miserable evening. It’s fun and exciting as well as being hard work at the same time. Zwift allowed me to join other riders/groups and/or to ride with my mate 100 miles away. Also I loved the way that the software dictated my resistance. Yes, I still had the use of my gears, but having the resistance getting harder, just like when you start climbing, or when you crest the top of a climb and pedalling becomes easier automatically is fantastic.
Well, I’m impressed with this virtual technology and can understand why it has such an attraction with riders. A few teething problems at first, but after testing this unit for month, I’ve come to the conclusion that Smart Trainers are here to stay that’s for sure and it’s because they provide another dimension to your training bringing in the fun factor as well. For me nothing compares to the open road, but the Wahoo SNAP delivers an exciting alternative to indoor riding with great ease.
Yes, it’s heavy and yes it looks just like a traditional turbo, but the Wahoo KICKR SNAP Smart Turbo Trainer comes packed with modern technology that makes your time on the turbo much more fun, especially when interacting with friends and with people that are halfway across the globe. One other thing, you can of course use this without plugging into the mains and hooking up to Zwift, or alike, but using it to its full potential is best.