Review: Wahoo Kickr Snap 2 smart trainer

The Snap 2 transforms your bicycle into an indoor smart trainer, but its cost may put some off.

20apr wahoo kickr hero

I’ve been coerced by a group of mates into committing to the 2020 Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge in November.

At 160km, it’s a feat that requires a fair amount of fitness. Summer training is easy but over winter, when I need to ramp up the kilometres, I knew I’d shirk my duties. So how to beat the winter darkness and weather? My solution was to move my training indoors and use a Wahoo Kickr Snap 2.

What is it?

The Snap 2 is a wheel-on smart trainer. You clamp your bike’s rear wheel to the trainer. Then, when you pedal, the wheel turns a roller. The Snap 2 is “smart” – it connects to a companion training app that automatically adjusts resistance on the fly. This means you can simulate climbs and descents. On top of that, it can set you up on some intense interval training rides. In comparison, “dumb” trainers usually have a lever, which clamps on to your handlebars, where you manually adjust resistance.

Setting up the trainer

20apr wahoo kickr body

The first thing I did was replace my road bike’s axle with the supplied heavy-duty one. It’s an important step as this is where the Snap clamps down to keep the bike in place. There was a bit of fluffing around getting things lined up so it would fit securely. That said, it’s a one-time job and once set up, you never have to adjust things again (unless you switch bikes). Next, I adjusted the roller wheel so it was in contact with my rear bike tyre.

From start to finish, it took about 20 minutes to mount my bike to the trainer. The next step involved a 10-minute warm-up ride before performing a “spindown” calibration, which ensured the correct amount of resistance was being applied. You should do these calibrations weekly, or any time you take the bike on and off.

Heavy and pricey

The trainer is heavy (the courier who delivered it complained bitterly), but this makes it feel sturdy and stable. It took up a bit of real estate in my garage, but it turned a previously unused space into my own personal spin studio. To have a fun and interactive training ride, you’re better off downloading one of the compatible training apps, instead of relying on the basic Wahoo companion app. I settled on Zwift, which I ran through my iPad. Once I’d signed up, I propped my tablet up in front of me and set off on a beginner training programme.

The Snap is pricey – it retails at $800. On top of that, there’s the subscription to training apps (should you wish to use them). The Zwift app is $23.99 per month. This means training for a year would cost me just over a grand, nearly as much as I was paying at the gym. However, if I keep at it, it’ll only get cheaper since I’ll be spreading out the purchase cost. If you don’t have a bike, you’ll need to factor in buying one too.

What is Zwift?

Zwift is a cycling/running training programme. Rather than looking at a boring screen of power outputs, it plays more like a video game where you control an on-screen avatar with your pedalling or running with a connected piece of training equipment. Within Zwift, there are hundreds of training workouts and various routes to ride. It can also link up with smart training hardware from small cadence sensors to large training bikes and treadmills.

Once signed in, you can drop into Zwift’s virtual worlds and start training. As you work your way around, you’ll come across other avatars (controlled by real people) you can ride with, race against and chat with. It gives it a bit of a community feel and generally makes things more interesting. I’ve even had gentle recovery rides turn into an absolute slog because I didn’t like getting overtaken and was determined to return the favour.

Entering races and just pootling around the different rides in the Zwift universe will get you fit, but really you sign up to one of these apps for training purposes. While there are loads of individual workouts to choose from, along with training plans, you can also create your own workouts to fully customise things and make it your own.

The verdict

In the past, I would’ve had to go to the gym to do my evening training, but now I don’t need to find the motivation to drive down after getting home from work. There’s no waiting for a phone-gazing layabout to get off the bike I want, another bonus is my seat has only had my behind on it.

20apr wahoo kickr productmed

I already loved cycling, but Zwift’s structured workouts meant I worked much harder than I ever did on the road. After six weeks I’ve shed two kilos (not ground-breaking, but a sustainable weight loss) and I certainly feel slimmer. In terms of fitness, the Zwift app has told me I’ve improved by 14 percent. While I still have a long way to go till my Taupo ride, I’m well and truly on the road to make it round in one piece.

Specs

Price: $799
Bike compatibility: Fits most 130-135mm quick-release axles. 12X142 thru-axle adapters are available at an extra cost
Connectivity: ANT+ and Bluetooth
Devices: iOS/Android/PC
Weight: 17kg
Max user weight: 113kg

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David W.
01 Jun 2020
Exceedingly motivational exercise

I don't have experience with the Kickr Snap, but did buy the Wahoo Kickr Core last year while recovering from health issues. (It is a $1500 model that replaces the rear wheel with a direct drive smart trainer.) It was uplifting to ride - virtually via Zwift - with people stuck at home in Italy, Spain, England, etc during lockdown. I'm hooked and look forward to an almost daily dose: group ride, race, workout, or simply explore new routes. Some are replicas of places like London, Yorkshire, Innsbruck, Virginia or New York's Central Park.

Roy M.
18 Apr 2020
Smart but expensive

I have looked at smart trainers to enhance cycling through the winter but I have been put off by the cost of the trainer, the cost of a subscription to a training app and, from reading reviews elsewhere, the reliability of the machines. On this basis I have deferred making a decision to purchase. The model tested here seems expensive for a wheel on trainer as there are direct drive trainers for not much more money. These have the advantage of being quieter and not wearing the rear tyre. You do not go into the various options with these trainers some of which are fully interactive. I think the whole issue needs more investigation in terms of cost effectiveness and for a fuller review of these machines I would be looking at the DCRainmaker website.