Wahoo KICKR V6 Smart Bike Trainer In-Depth Review

Like most KICKRs last couple of years, the upgrades are relatively modest. This review is simple enough, so I’m going to run through the new upgrade first. Then I will run through the existing specs to catch you all up. Then we’ll discuss configuring the new KICKR, and just general ride feel into accuracy.

New Upgrades for Wahoo KICKR V6

So the first item on the list is the addition of WiFi. There’s a new little WiFi status light, and remove the AMP plus status light while AM plus is still there. Fear not, but their logic AMP Plus is always on; therefore, there’s little usefulness in having an always-on-status light.

Though the WiFi is always on, we will just go with the flow. Right next to the Bluetooth indicator, they also add a bunch of warnings, such as the indicator that the flywheel gets hot, not to stick your fingers in it, and stuff like that. Then with that new WiFi feature, we get automatic firmware updates at night when you sleep, in the morning, or the afternoon. It checks for new updates every 11 hours.

So if you’re not pedaling or not actively using, it connects via WiFi, checks the server, and then downloads any updates. But if you are pedaling, the system will return in 11 hours. The idea behind that is that if you do your workouts in the morning or the evening at the same time, it will hit you at different times every day.

So eventually, you’ll find a time of the day when you’re not on the Wahoo KICKR V6 and grab those updates. This is a huge deal, but we’ll talk about that later. Next, they’ve added a new feature they copied from Elite Dureto still trainer that was announced this past summer: the easy ramp.

If your doorbell dings dongs and you need to jump off your trainer in the middle of the URG workout, you return to your trainer and try to ride again. If you have a smart trainer, that can be incredibly difficult, especially for the mid-interval.

Trying to go from zero to 400 watts or something super high is challenging. And so what Elite added this past summer and now Wahoo is that when you stop pedaling, it’ll ramp up the URG resistance level throughout X number of seconds.

In the case of Wahoo, it’s 10 seconds that ramps up to the pre-specified level. From what I tested, I stopped pedaling in the middle of the URG workout, and then I went ahead and started pedaling again. The KICKR ramped me back up slowly to that level again. The app is none the wiser, though.

The app has no idea what’s happening, and this is handled inside the KICKR itself. Next, the last new feature is the addition of an odometer, which sounds strange, but it’s all about resale value and support.

You can open the Wahoo KICKR app on your phone and look at the odometer value for this KICKR itself. It basically standardizes onto 700cc tires, so it’s all the same across the board. So, you can see exactly how many kilometers the KICKR had in its entire lifetime.

That’s super useful, like two or three years from now, you might be looking at this article and want to buy someone else’s KICKR. You could ask them to show you in the app how many kilometers they have on the KICKR. Then, you might make a judgment call on whether or not that’s worth what they’re offering or whatever the case is.

And then the last new thing is, they’ve raised the price for a hundred dollars, increase on the US sides up to $1299 from $1199. That’s the first time we’ve seen this price increase after so many years since Wahoo launch the KICKR.

Same Features With Previous KICKR

Wahoo keeps some good stuff from previous models, like the existing kicker access feet. These are little, like barely squishy feet that give it a tiny bit of movement. They’re the same as before, so it’s neat. They also retain the Wahoo Direct Connect port on the back. So that’s the non-ethernet port that you can buy an adapter for a hundred bucks plugged in there and then have an ethernet port.

Most people with WiFi now will probably not use that, but if you really do need to go wire, that’s still an option. It’s still back there. Next, you still have the zero calibration feature on the KICKR V5, automatically calibrating behind the scenes. You can’t override it.

That’s done mainly from an eSports racing standpoint, so you can’t fake the calibration values, and it has a power accuracy claim of plus or minus 1%. It also has dual AM Plus and Bluetooth smart, and I tried concurrent Bluetooth smart to know how many devices can connect to it simultaneously. So the result is three concurrent Bluetooth channels at once can be connected to this.

Wahoo also maintains unlimited AMP Plus channels, the same as past. It has an 11-speed cassette built into it, but it is compatible with 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12-speed cassettes. For the 12-speed, you need XD or XDR adapter for it to work. The maximum incline is 20%, and the maximum wattage resistance is 2200 watts with a built-in handle.

I’m mentioning that because some trainers don’t, and it’s super helpful if you had to move this thing a fair bit. Last but not least, it needs to be plugged in to use it to transmit power and that kind of goodness.

Setting Up Wahoo KICKR V6 for First-Time Use

So with that all set, you first need to take your trainer, throw it on the ground, and spray open the legs. You got the little lock pins that keep the legs locked in or opened up. You can also adjust the height, which has different height levels to suit your height profile.

You need to plug it in, and then you’ll crack open the Wahoo Fitness app on your phone. At that point, you’ll add a new sensor, which is a KICKR, and it will probably offer you a firmware update that takes about two to three minutes.

Then from there, you’ll see the option to go ahead and connect to a WiFi network. Wahoo KICKR V6 supports 2.4 gig WiFi, not 5 gig WiFi, as that sounds like that’s mostly a chipset availability issue. They say that they have put this through the test. They’ve tested microwaves directly next to it while people are riding on trainers, and there have been no dropouts.

Hopefully, that should be held true for everyone else. So far in my testing, I saw AMP Plus dropouts due to WiFi interference. However, I did not see that on the WiFi side, so that was cool. After you connect it to your WiFi network, it will validate the connection, and you’re done. You can open the app and

use the Wahoo app or Zwift app. The Wahoo app doesn’t show the icons properly, but in the Zwift app, they mostly do.

One thing I love about this is that it’s using the existing Direct Connect or Duracon connection that you had on the KICKR almost two years ago. So any app that supported Wahoo Direct Connect from nearly two years ago automatically supports the WiFi side of it, which is fantastic. So, in this case, I cracked open Zwift, and it immediately saw the KICKR on my network.

It works fine for me, and the same for the smart trainer and the cadence for the heart rate strap. There’s no rebroadcasting, which I hope we see, but it didn’t happen. In this case, I just paired up with another heart rate strap, and that was good to go.

Another cool feature about Wahoo KICKR V6 is on Apple TV now does not take up your Bluetooth smart connections. So Apple TV has a two Bluetooth smart concurrent limit connection and three if you include the remote. So this means that you could not have had steering if you had all this stuff plus heart rate. So this removes the element of the Bluetooth smart side and uses the WiFi connection.

I could also see the Duracon item listed there, next to the Bluetooth smart one, which is on my iPad in this case. I had no problems with that there, and I did the same in the Wahoo system, connecting it to it, except that it was funky. It looked like WiFi saw this as a new KICKR and all that kind of goodness, but it still forced me over to Bluetooth.

Most of you have no time to sit there and troubleshoot why this wasn’t working, but this app supports Duracon correctly. However, for whatever reason, it has the worst possible WiFi interface out of all the apps, despite being Wahoo’s app.

My Experience on Wahoo KICKR V6

But so far, I have used Bluetooth and had no problems with the trainer. Regarding the usage side of it, it’s the same KICKR as 2020 in terms of features like the flywheel and road field, which is also the same KICKR as 2018. Nothing’s changed since then; for example, noise is the same. There is no noise; you’ll only hear your drivetrain.

Then things like acceleration and deceleration all feel just like the past. I know I’m indoors, but the road feels for KICKR are very good. For most people, it is in the same league as a TACX series, a Wahoo KICKR, or the Elite Justo, they’re all like in that same ballpark, and you’re down personal preferences as to which particular unit you choose.

If I were to blindfold most bike reviewers out there, they probably couldn’t tell the difference if I didn’t tell them what trainer they tried earlier. So, in this case, I’m pleased with the ride to feel for Wahoo KICKR V6.

In terms of the access feed, as I mentioned earlier, and I mentioned two years ago when they came out, they added virtually nothing to the picture, especially if you have this on a trainer mat. Even Wahoo admitted at the time that if you put this on a trainer mat, you’re not getting anything more from the access feed.

If you have it on straight concrete, like on a garage floor or something like that, you might get a millimeter or two at most of the depression. So the idea here is that you add a little bit of movement. Ultimately, we might see Wahoo doing more in this realm.

Elite added their take on the kicker access feet in Elite Justo do, which was a better implantation. It had more give to it than KICKR does. But, if you want that give, you’ll have to go towards a rocker plate or some platform.

Performance and Accuracy Test for Wahoo KICKR V6

Two years ago, when the KICKR V5 came out, it had a rough go for the first six months of action. It was not accurate in specific scenarios, so I was keen to see the imporomevemt.

So I put this through many different scenarios and found out if it was accurate on the first go by using the computer. As a result, we got trainer road doing much a 30 by 30 and going from about 160 watts to 450 watts, over and over again. It’s doing about 2.5 seconds, which is spot on where I want to see it, and the accuracy is excellent.

Next up, we’ve got a Zwiff structure workout compared to a Quarq DZero in a pair of Duro Ace pedals. The result was spot on across the board, and I am delighted. I noticed a little blip around two-thirds of the way through, and that’s the Amp Plus side dropping out on the KICKR, but the WiFi side connection to Zwift stays spot on.

Then we got a Wahoo system workout, and I noticed it was a little more wobbly. The reason is that I just remembered that I had to go from my big ring in the front down to the small ring, and doing so is best practice for URG workouts across almost every trainer. It just gives the trainer more control and stability. From a power accuracy standpoint, things for KICKR V6 were spot on.

Interestingly, that makes me assume there are issues with a small ring in the Shimano power meter because it was terrible on the small ring previously but good on the big ring. Then finally, a Zwift kind, just a regular ride, in this case, we were with the pacer group, so I saw a lot of power fluctuations. But all these power meters are tightly together, across various terrain and gradients and shifting. So overall, this section is quick and efficient because the unit is spot-on and accurate.

My Verdict on Wahoo KICKR V6

At this point, the new KICKR V6 is a modest upgrade from KICKR V5.

But this will be a pivotal churning point if viewed through the long-term lens of smart indoor trainers. Primarily because of the WiFi features and the actual ride experience, it’s the same; it’s been for the last four to five years.

It goes the same for other companies for basically being the same trainer they released over the past four or five years. The difference, though, is that Wahoo has been making tiny internal changes that keep moving it ahead slowly.

It’s like Apple with their Apple Watch displays, like they keep just implementing higher-up specs each time. Things you didn’t ask for but you’ve got, and that keeps them just ahead of the competition. But now that the WiFi function is here, it’s much easier. It’s always on, and the firmware will constantly be updated. This upgrade is a big deal, even if it seems minor.

Overall though, Wahoo KICKR V6 is a solid option. Wahoo retains its title in that top tier of trainers and the leading edge of that top tier with the Tacx Neo and Elite Justo. Towards the bottom of that tier, there would be the Saris H4 because it lacks some additional features, but it is, of course, $300 cheaper.