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Road Gear

Wahoo Kickr Headwind

If you're building the ultimate smart trainer setup, you probably want a fan to match. Wahoo's Kickr Headwind isn't cheap but it is smart.





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It was cool to hate boy bands when I was in high school. (And let’s be honest: It still is.) But there was always that one song that you liked, the one you’d listen to in your headphones when you were alone in your bedroom.

The Kickr Headwind is the “Bye Bye Bye” of indoor cycling accessories.

I wanted to hate it. A $250 fan? Come on. But if I’m being honest, when I’m all alone in my basement pain cave, I love this thing. And yes, it is better than just a cheapo box fan.

For starters, it’s much more compact than a box fan and much quieter. The wind speed changes based on either your speed when paired with your smart trainer, or your heart rate if you’re wearing a heart rate monitor. There’s also a manual mode if you’d prefer to just set it and forget it.

That means you’re not always getting blown in the face when you don’t need it, and you don’t have to reach down to ramp it up when you really get going.

And that’s it. That’s what’s so great about it. It sounds ridiculous that a $250 fan is actually kind of cool, but it is. When it is set to respond to your speed, it adds nuance to your indoor ride and heaps of comfort. Plus, it does so automatically, without any need for reaching, adjusting, or otherwise tinkering during the ride.

The unit has adjustable legs too, so it’s ideally suited to both sitting on the ground and pointing upward at you, or sitting on a shelf or table in front of you and blasting straight on. Since it’s fairly small, it’s easy to find a good position, even in tight spots.

The Kickr Headwind does have a few niggles. (What pop song doesn’t?) For starters, it was often difficult to get the unit paired properly, particularly when using the speed adjustment setting. It can take about a full minute to pair, and a few times it took more than five minutes. This happened most often when we were switching between trainers. You’ll probably only be using it with one trainer, so once it’s paired the first time, the Kickr Headwind should remember the last trainer to which it was paired, and match pretty quickly. Still, even when we used it over and over again with a single trainer, it didn’t pair up very quickly.

That aside, the only downside to the fan is its price. Would you be just as happy with a $10 box fan from Target? Perhaps. That will blow wind at you and keep you cool, no argument there. But if you want a more comfortable and nuanced experience, one that will actually make you want to pedal just a bit longer during the long winter nights in the basement, the Kickr Headwind is a good upgrade.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.