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Wahoo KICKR Climb Review 2019

At Interbike 2017 we got our first real introduction to the Wahoo KICKR Climb, a climbing simulator for the Wahoo KICKR, KICKR Snap (2017 editions) and the KICKR Core line of cycling trainers.

Wahoo KICKR Climb

Wahoo KICKR Climb TRAINER COMPATIBILITY

Before getting really excited about the KICKR Climb 2018/2019, be warned, the Climb only works with 3 Wahoo trainers at present.  

The KICKR CLIMB is exclusively compatible with these Wahoo smart trainers (older versions and third-party trainers are not compatible):

  • Wahoo KICKR ’18
  • Wahoo KICKR CORE
  • Wahoo KICKR ’17*
  • Wahoo KICKR SNAP ’17 

*Please check your specific KICKR ’17 serial number as outlined in the Identify KICKR by Serial Number section beneath the image.

IDENTIFY KICKR BY SERIAL NUMBER:

Find the KICKR serial number on the drive side of the KICKR flywheel as shown below:

Serials of KICKR trainers must meet the following requirements to be KICKR CLIMB compatible :

  • The first two digits must start with 17 or greater (ex: 17TRNR220001 and 18TRNR000001 are both compatible)
  • If the first two digits are 17, the two digits immediately after 17TRNR must be 22 or greater (ex: 17TRNR220001 is CLIMB compatible, while 17TRNR219999 is not)

KICKR trainers with serial numbers that do not meet these requirements are not climb compatible.

If you own a competitor brand of trainer like the Tacx Neo or the Elite Drivo or any other trainer brand, those trainers are not designed for it.

BE WARNED – once you start using the KICKR Climb you will not want to go back to using a trainer without one. It’s that good and is definitely not gimmicky.

KICKR Climb – Designed For New Trainers

Wahoo designed the KICKR Climb in conjunction with the new generations of the KICKR, Core and Snap.  The new trainers had to be engineered to allow for the bike to be raised and lowered by the Climb.   The new trainers come with the ability to rotate at the rear hub, allowing the bike to move up and down freely.  Previous Wahoo trainers and competitors don’t have the ability to rotate, which can cause damage to the trainer, the bike frame and the Climb. 

Unboxing

Wahoo KICKR Climb Unboxing 2018

Wahoo sent us out the KICKR Climb after coming back from Interbike 2018. 

Actually the Climb and a bunch of other Wahoo products including an ELEMNT, ELEMNT Bolt and Headwind were all waiting for us to check out.

Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb Unboxing 1
The Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb includes 1 skewer, 4 sets of fork adapters, power brick, power cord and instructions.
Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb Unboxing Plugs
The Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb includes 4 sets of fork adapters including a set of Quick Release, 12×100 Thru Axle, 15×100 Thru Axle or 15×110 Thru Axle adapters.
Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb Unboxing Unit 2
The Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb with power cord, adapters and instructions.
Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb Unboxing Unit
The Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb with power cord and power brick.

REVIEW

Wahoo KICKR Climb Review 2018

The KICKR Climb is the latest product to hit the KICKR lineup and integrates with the KICKR, KICKR Core and KICKR Snap (2017 edition) cycling trainers.  Previous KICKR trainer versions are not engineered to work with the new Climb and as such will not be compatible.

Wahoo KICKR Climb 2018

Ascend Up To 20% and Descend Down To -10%

The KICKR Climb works by raising and lowering a bike’s front end while riding in a virtual world like Zwift’s Watopia or manually using the included remote control.  Gradient changes are relayed to the KICKR Climb wirelessly through one of the paired KICKR Trainers (KICKR, KICKR Core, KICKR Snap) or through the Climb’s remote control.  As the elevation increases, the bike’s front end can raise up to 20% and descents can be lowered to -10%, making for a much more realistic riding experience.

Pairing The KICKR Climb

The Climb communicates directly with a Wahoo KICKR trainer rather than with software or hardware devices. 

Pairing Your KICKR Climb

  1. Ensure KICKR CLIMB and smart trainer are plugged in and powered with the blue LED illuminated on the KICKR CLIMB remote. (Note: The Climb only works with Wahoo trainers at present)
  2. Press and hold the center lock mode button on the KICKR CLIMB remote for 3 seconds until the center white LED flashes steadily.
  3. Hold the CLIMB’s remote near the KICKR, KICKR SNAP or KICKR CORE until the center white LED flashes quickly, then turns solid. The center white LED remains illuminated and solid while connected and successfully paired to the smart trainer.
  4. Once paired, be sure to update your KICKR CLIMB firmware before riding.

After updating, you’re ready to go! You can now use your KICKR CLIMB with any compatible app using the unlocked mode.

KICKR Climb & Compatible Software

Once both the trainer and Climb have been paired, any software that effects trainer elevation is relayed from the trainer to the Climb. 

It’s a bit different than connecting most of your other bluetooth or ANT+ cycling devices. The KICKR Climb needs a compatible trainer (Wahoo trainer) to communicate with, since it doesn’t communicate with other software directly.

Here is Shane Miller’s 2018 KICKR Climb Review

Product Specs

Wahoo KICKR Climb Features

Wahoo lists the product specifications as follows

  • Real-Time Grade Changes
  • Up to 20% and descend to -10%
  • Wahoo KICKR and KICKR Snap 2017 edition Compatible
  • Locked and Unlocked Climbing modes
  • Manual Grade Adjustments with Remote Control
  • 3rd Party App compatibility (Zwift, Ful Gaz, Virtu Go …)
  • Wahoo ELEMNT & ELEMNT Bolt Compatible
  • Quick Release and Thru-Axle bike Compatibility
  • Retail – $599.00

NOTE: The KICKR Climb was designed to work Exclusively with the 2017 Wahoo KICKR or KICKR Snap and the new 2018 editions of the Wahoo KICKR and KICKR Core.  The reason why it couldn’t be backward compatible with older KICKR trainers was due to how the older KICKR’s rear axles were engineered.  The Climb requires a pivot point, which couldn’t be accommodated with the older trainers.  I been told that then engineer team had tried to come up with a solution, but eventually gave up on the idea.

Wahoo KICKR Climb Locked or Unlocked Mode

The KICKR Climb has two different modes including Locked and Unlocked.

Wahoo KICKR Climb Controller

Locked Mode

The default for the KICKR Climb is Locked Mode and every time you use the Climb, it will initially be locked. While in Locked mode, you have to manually raise or lower the bike to simulate hills or descents. 

Locked mode is convenient if you are not wanting to have outside software dictate elevation changes.  Also if you are doing repeat hill workouts, you may want to manually change the change the elevation based on your workout routine or needs.

Unlocked Mode

When in unlocked mode, a paired Wahoo KICKR trainer can adjust the ascent or descent based on whatever compatible trainer software is being used. 

An example might be when you are riding in Zwift and there is an increase in elevation on the map, Zwift relays the information to the KICKR Trainer to increase the resistance and the KICKR trainer then relays the information to the Climb to raise the bike up.

The Climb works flawlessly and sight changes in elevation are really smooth, almost imperceptible.

Changing Modes (Locked vs Unlocked)

Putting the KICKR into Locked or Unlocked mode is done through the KICKR Climb Remote Control unit by pressing the Locked/Pair/Level button.

Wahoo KICKR Climb Remote Control

The KICKR Climb comes with a detachable handle bar remote controller that allows you to change elevation and lock and unlock the Climb’s elevation controller.  There are icons and light indicators that show you if you are in locked or in unlocked mode and switching between the 2 can be accomplished by pressing a button.

KICKR Climb Remote Control
Q&A

WHAT TRAINERS ARE KICKR CLIMB COMPATIBLE?

As stated earlier, the KICKR CLIMB is exclusively compatible with the following Wahoo smart trainers (older versions and third-party trainers are not compatible):

  • Wahoo KICKR ’18
  • Wahoo KICKR CORE
  • Wahoo KICKR ’17*
  • Wahoo KICKR SNAP ’17 

DOES THE KICKR CLIMB NEED A BLUETOOTH CONNECTION TO ZWIFT?

No. The KICKR Climb gets elevation data directly from a compatible Wahoo Trainer and doesn’t interface or send bluetooth signals to Zwift.

CAN YOU USE THE KICKR CLIMB ON OTHER SOFTWARE PROGRAMS?

YES. Any program that can communicate with a Climb compatible trainer and send elevation data will allow the Climb to change elevation.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line – Wahoo Fitness KICKR Climb

To be honest I thought the Climb would be sort of gimmicky, but it is actually rather cool.  When riding in virtual worlds like Zwift Utopia, the KICKR Climb feels more stable than having a front wheel on and makes the climbs seem more realistic.  I also felt my overall watts were higher during rides using the Climb than not using it.  I am not sure if the positioning as you go up and down has something to do with it, but it was noticeable.

For those looking to spice up their indoor workouts, the Climb might be just the ticket.  Wahoo’s goal to make climbing more interactive and more realistic is commendable.  Let’s face it indoor training at times can be very boring and anything that can alleviate boredom is really welcome.

Will the KICKR Climb make you a better climber?  The verdict is still out, but it certainly will make climbing hills more fun, that is if slogging up a hill is fun.

Check out Wahoo Fitness (https://www.wahoofitness.com) for all their great cycling products.

About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of GearMashers.com, 10KstepsDaily.com, EndTheTrendNow.com, AntiqueOutings.com, MiniatureReview.blogspot.com and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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