While you’ll never truly be able to replicate the feeling of riding your bike outdoors while sitting in your living room, Wahoo is trying its damnedest to get you as close as possible. With the additions of the Wahoo CLIMB and HEADWIND, two of the biggest holes in the indoor training experience have been filled — pitching your bike up and down when climbing and descending, and airflow that responds to your speed.
The Good: With the KICKR CLIMB and KICKR HEADWIND, the indoor riding experience is finally significantly more tolerable. The CLIMB actually pitches your bike up or down based on the grade that you’re riding in a program like Zwift. Likewise, the HEADWIND is a Bluetooth-enabled fan that adjusts its speed based on your riding speed or heart rate.
Who They’re For: Admittedly, CLIMB and HEADWIND aren’t for everyone. For most, a KICKR trainer paired with your standard Honeywell fan will do just fine. But for those who want the absolute best indoor riding experience available, the system is worth a look.
Watch Out For: It’s worth noting that both CLIMB and HEADWIND are version 1.0. And as such, there are certainly some places that they can improve. In the case of the CLIMB, it doesn’t feel as solid when riding as I wish it did. The up and down movements, at times, aren’t quite as smooth as I’d like to see either. It’s also important to note that the Kickr CLIMB is only compatible with Wahoo smart trainers made from 2017 onward.
For HEADWIND, the big pain point for me is the price. Unless you’re really dedicated to making your indoor cycling setup as close to riding outside as possible (which is an admirable goal), and therefore using the setting that allows HEADWIND to blow harder the faster you’re pedaling, then you’re probably better off getting a standard, constant-blowing fan. You could even mimic Mark Cavendish’s setup and use Dyson’s Cool AM06 10 inch desk fan, for around $30 less than the HEADWIND.
Alternatives: Because these products are the first of their kind, there aren’t really any alternatives. As an alternative to the HEADWIND, with none of the features, you could opt for a standard Honeywell room fan ($50). If you want to pitch your bike up and down according to the grade on your virtual route, the CLIMB is your only option.
Review: Despite the shortcomings of both CLIMB and HEADWIND, the two new additions to the KICKR lineup make for the most advanced and most enjoyable indoor cycling experience I’ve had to date. Setting the system up, which is as simple as plugging in the pieces and allowing them to use a proximity sensor to pair with the trainer, is virtually idiot-proof. Once you’ve removed all of the packaging, simply allow them to pair with your trainer, turn on Zwift and you’re riding in less than three minutes (if you’ve set up Zwift before).
Riding with my bike attached to the CLIMB was a unique feeling that I wasn’t quite prepared for. The first time I hit a steep incline, the somewhat robotic movement of the front of my bike upward on the first grade above around 7% caught me off guard. But I quickly got used to it. And if I ever felt like the CLIMB was moving too much (this didn’t happen except for on hilly courses with lots of gradient changes), I simply hit the lockout switch on my handlebar that disables the up and down motion (it can raise up to 20 degrees or decline down to -10 degrees). You will notice both the sound and the vibrations from the movement at first, but they quickly fade into the background and are overshadowed by the noise of the trainer and your bike shifting.
As for the HEADWIND, it’s far quieter than I expected it to be. When I read on the box that it can blow up to 30mph, I fully anticipated that the sound of it would quickly overwhelm my small living room. While it was certainly noticeable, it wasn’t the wind tunnel effect that I braced for. The HEADWIND mitigated my usual torrents of dripping sweat excellently. While it was still the typical pain cave experience in terms of heat, using the HEADWIND made the whole experience far more enjoyable.
Many have noted that using the HEADWIND on its speed setting seems silly, but I found it pretty serviceable. Even on slow climbs, I found there to be ample airflow to keep me cool and my sweat at bay.
Verdict: When paired together with a KICKR Core trainer and Zwift, it’s hard to imagine a better indoor training setup. And it’s important to remember that this is version 1.0. Wahoo is clearly leaps and bounds ahead when it comes to technological advancements in indoor cycling, and even as they stand, CLIMB and HEADWIND are impressive pieces of hardware. If you’re looking to build out the ultimate pain cave, and take your training as seriously as possible this winter, adding CLIMB and HEADWIND to your setup is a no-brainer.
Wahoo provided this product for review.
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