Wahoo Rollr and PowrLink Zero pedals on display at Rouleur Live LDN
A compact, wheel-on trainer, and power meter pedals were on display — but not yet for sale — at the recent Rouleur Live event, in London, UK.
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Wahoo Kickr Rollr
Breaking cover at the recent Rouleur Live LDN show was the first example of Wahoo’s new Kickr Rollr to go on display, and the company’s foray into power meter pedals, the PowrLink Zero pedals.
Despite taking centre stage on the company’s stand, the staff present wouldn’t divulge precise details — expected price or release date. With Wahoo’s major markets in the USA, UK, and Germany all approaching winter when many riders turn to indoor training, an imminent launch would make sense. But Wahoo has stated that the product won’t be available until 2022.
After some time visually examining the Kickr Rollr, and asking a lot of questions, we think we have a reasonable idea of how it works.
The concept was born from a UCI request for a warmup device that would be available to all riders competing in UCI world championships. The brief asked for a trainer, with a universal attachment for almost any bike, without any disassembly such as removing a front or rear wheel. The trainer should make for quick and easy bike attachment, with no need for a mechanic to be on hand to ensure the bike is correctly set up, both on the trainer and before racing.
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We can’t say if the UCI asked a number of companies to bid designs, or if Wahoo, as an official supporter and official supplier for the UCI road world championships, was the only one considered. You may have spotted the Kickr Rollr being used in the warmup area of September’s road worlds in Flanders. Only 30 Kickr Rollr units currently exist, and all were in use in Flanders because that’s how many the UCI intended to be available at each event.
Wahoo’s existing trainers are either direct drive or use a single roller for the rear tire, so the twin roller design is a departure. The obvious initial comparison is with Feedback Sport’s Omnium folding trainer, but it, and other, similar designs require the front wheel to be removed in order to clamp the fork, whereas the Kickr Rollr keeps the bike intact.
The Kickr Rollr is based on a T-shaped tubular frame with the roller unit at the rear, and wheel support at the front. The wide V-shaped front wheel support comprises two parts, the front looks to be attached at the frame’s T-junction, and the rear has two recessed hex bolts, which presumably allow it to slide to adjust for tire circumference if necessary. Each part has what looks like a textured rubber layer on top to help the tire grip.
The arched front wheel support rotates around the frame to ease wheel fitting but folds flat for storage. Two vertical, rubber-coated jaws can be closed or opened by rotating the central dial, and are thought to work for tires up to 2.1 inches wide. As the only form of bike support, this system shifts the clamping and support stresses to the front wheel instead of the rear dropouts and/or fork. Wahoo said that several wheel companies, including Zipp, were involved in evaluating any potential front-wheel stress caused by the Kickr Rollr’s design, and cleared it for use with their wheels.
Once the bike’s front wheel is clamped in place, a central lever allows the frame’s main tube to telescope to the ideal length for your bike’s wheelbase, ensuring the rear wheel is centralized between the oversized rollers. As far as fitting a bike to the Kickr Rollr goes, that’s it, with no tools required – assuming the front wheel support is already adjusted for tire circumference. We’d estimate that it shouldn’t take more than a minute to mount a bike, which is ideal for the rider who just wants to warm up before a race.
The clamp’s bulk above the wheel will be a challenge for time trial riders who have a bike set with an extremely low handlebar position, or smaller riders, where there is little space between the top of the front tire, and their aero extensions. The wheel clamp can be moved away from the handlebar to avoid the bars, but its jaws will have less wheel to clamp on to, and will be less effective. Clamping too far forwards is also likely to allow turning movement from the fork, which could be unstable for some.
The twin rollers include an attached flywheel unit. We have been led to believe that the Kickr Rollr can be used as a “dumb” trainer, with no external power or wifi connection, and still provide around 400 watts of progressive resistance. For warmup duty, this could be a useful feature. When connected to a power source via its rear socket, we expect the Wahoo to operate as a smart trainer, and offer resistance of up to 1500W.
In an unusual quirk, it seems unlikely that the Kickr Rollr has any onboard power measurement capability, which differentiates it from most other “smart” trainers. As the bike’s frame is not fixed to the trainer, the rear wheel is only being pressed into the rollers by the rider’s weight and therefore is able to bounce, skip and fishtail from side to side, all of which will affect traction, and therefore the accuracy of any power data measured by the rollers.
But any crank or pedal-based power measurement system will be able to connect to the Kickr Rollr via ANT+ or Bluetooth. And as luck would have it, Wahoo was also showing off their new Speedplay-based Powrlink Zero power pedals alongside this trainer. This idea continues the concept of a standalone, universal trainer that can be used with minimal setup time.
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One question that remained unanswered pertains to stability, since the displayed Kickr Rollr has no more than 15mm of ground clearance beneath its T-shaped frame, and its four wide, flat feet don’t include any form of adjustment. On a perfectly flat surface, this shouldn’t be a problem, but many floors, let alone random race venues, aren’t perfectly flat or level. The curving camber of a road surface could potentially prevent all four feet from contacting the ground. Wahoo considers the existing units as working prototypes, so it is quite possible that the final production Kickr Rollr will address this.
Storage and transport is also worth closer examination. It seems clear that the hinged front wheel support can fold flat, and that the central lever allows the unit’s overall length to be reduced, but not by much. The size of the flywheel and rollers can’t change, meaning that the Kickr Rollr could perhaps slide under a bed, or stand against a wall, but if the rear section of the frame could be detached, it would offer more possibilities.
The Kickr Rollr is obviously designed with 700c wheel road bikes in mind, but the front wheel clamp is said to accept tires up to 2.1-inch wide, which caters to almost all gravel bikes, too. Cyclocross riders might find it useful too, assuming they’re happy to buzz their tread blocks away on rollers – something many already do. With modern MTB racers generally running tires larger than 2.1 inches, the Wahoo would need amending in order to be of use to them.
Wahoo Powrlink Zero Pedals
Since acquiring Speedplay in 2019, a power measuring pedal has been expected from Wahoo. The company said that Speedplay users had been requesting one, and so the Powrlink Zero was designed.
Maintaining Speedplay’s uniquely compact dimensions was key, and Wahoo said it only increased the pedal’s overall stack height by about 3mm. Since this isn’t enough to contain all of the necessary power measurement and data signal hardware, an additional ring is located just inboard of the pedal spindle threads — much like the Favero Assioma power meter pedals. The increased pedal stack height may have a small effect on Speedplay’s impressive cornering angle, although this shouldn’t bother most riders.
Details about the pedals were hard to obtain, but with the info printed on the pedal’s packaging, we understand that the Powrlink Zero will be the only model (Speedplay pedals are offered in four varieties), and they’ll only be available in black.
The pedals are charged with the supplied split USB cable, and Battery life is claimed to be in excess of 75 hours. The Powrlink Zero offers dual-sided power data with an accuracy of +/- 1 percent. The transmit data over ANT+ and Bluetooth signals. The pedal spindle is stainless steel, the pedals offer 0-15 degrees of adjustable float, have 13mm stack height, and weigh a claimed 276g per pair.
Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.