For the discerning connoisseur of Sufferlandrian Torture Chambers there are several full-featured smart trainers available that are particularly drool-worthy. The Wahoo KICKR is one of these. The KICKR is what's known as a direct-drive smart trainer, meaning you remove your rear wheel and install your bike on the cassette and skewer of the trainer. This not only reduces wear and tear on your drivetrain and rear tire but also results in much quieter operation. We're not talking doing-"Blender"-in-the-same room-as-a-sleeping-baby quiet, but compared to a conventional trainer the KICKR does speak in hushed tones.
As a smart trainer, the KICKR allows you to choose from several different modes and resistance levels, and communicates power and speed data to external applications through the ANT+, ANT+ FE-C (Fitness Equipment Control) and Bluetooth Smart protocols. One of the most impressive features of the KICKR (and some other smart trainers) is what's known as ERG Mode. This mode allows an application like The Sufferfest app to control the resistance of the trainer to match the efforts of structured workouts. Just pick a workout, choose a gear that gives you a straight chainline, and start Suffering. The Minions in the Machine do the rest. And don't even think about cheating on the last 5 seconds of that interval in "Revolver". ERG Mode doesn't play that game. On second thought, maybe they should've called it "AARGH" Mode. If you prefer to control your own Suffering, you can choose one of the standard resistance levels when you connect the KICKR in the Ride Check screen of the Sufferfest app.
The Wahoo KICKR is fully compatible with The Sufferfest app in both ERG and standard modes. If you're having issues connecting the KICKR to the app, the first thing to check is that you have the most current firmware installed on the trainer. You can use the Wahoo Fitness Utility to check and update the KICKR's firmware. In the Wahoo Fitness Utility you can see your current firmware version and then validate it with Wahoo's 1st Gen KICKR Firmware or 2nd Gen KICKR Firmware.
Connecting To the Sufferfest App
ERG and Resistance Mode
As we mentioned above, the Wahoo KICKR can connect to The Sufferfest Training Centre app using either ERG ("AAARGH!") mode or Standard mode. You can also complete a "spindown test", which will calibrate your KICKR before you enter a workout. The accuracy of power meters can be affected by both temperature and barometric pressure. Performing a spin down periodically will help ensure that your KICKR is properly calibrated.
We recommend at least a 5 minute warm up on the KICKR before you do a spin down test for the most accurate power readings. We also recommend you do your spin down test the same way each time. This will create consistency in your power readings.
The image below shows you the different options you have when selecting to use your Wahoo KICKR. ERG mode will control the KICKR's resistance and Standard Mode will run the KICKR in slope mode just like a standard fluid trainer. Standard mode is useful when completing the fitness test video, "Rubber Glove", which is used to help you determine your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR). To view the power curves for each of the standard resistance levels, consult this handy graph from Wahoo.
Using Power Meters for Cadence
If you are using a Stages Power Meter, or another power meter that reports cadence, you can connect your device through the KICKR. This signal will be sent to the KICKR and then sent to The Sufferfest App. However, there is a slight delay in the cadence signal being sent to the KICKR then retransmitted to the App. However, this is a useful feature if you already have a power meter and do not wish to purchase a separate cadence sensor.
UNFORTUNATELY THIS OPTION IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR ANDROID.
Control the KICKR with ANT+ Power Meter
You can also control the KICKR through the ANT+ channel. Just make sure you select FE-C trainer in the power section. This will ensure that the App is using the FE-C software to control the trainer. The FE-C option is also good option for troubleshooting signal issues. If your bluetooth connection is acting up, you can select the ANT+ FE-C connection to see if it is just Bluetooth, or possible other issues with your signal to the Sufferfest App.
UNFORTUNATELY THIS OPTION IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR ANDROID.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About The KICKR?
There are a few things we need to talk about when using the KICKR. The KICKR adjust resistance according to the speed of the flywheel. If your Sufferlandrian legs begin to fail, and your cadence slows, expect the KICKR to ramp up resistance. We refer to this as the "KICKR Black Hole". Once it begins to suck you in, it is hard to escape (Just like couchlandrian furniture!). We suggest back pedaling for ten seconds while the KICKR slows and resets. This will give your legs the quick break they need and allow you to finish the Sufferlandrian interval that Grunter Von Agony has set for you. If you are finding that you are constantly hitting the "KICKR Black Hole", you may need more rest or you are due for another FTP test.
How Often Do You Do A Spin Down?
You can do a spin down calibration with the Wahoo KICKR once every month. The Minions at Sufferlandrian Services also use the Wahoo KICKR and will shamefully admit we only do once every 6 months. Rarely, do we even notice any differences with this device. The KICKR is highly reliable.