Kickr Snap vs Core

I need to get a new electronic trainer. My current one is the ANT+ CycleOps Power Beam Pro. I’ve had it for 5.5 years.
I refuse to buy another CycleOps trainer. Somewhat of a long story, but my PBP has a nice groove in the roller where the tire goes, and I haven’t actually used it that much–maybe 750 hours. I was not happy with how CycleOps responded when I talked with them about this issue. So, I refuse to buy another trainer from them.
I am looking at the Kickr Snap vs Core.
Yes, I have read DCR’s reviews. I have watched GPLama’s videos on the Core. I am aware of Wahoo’s issues with the 2018 production, but I think they are beyond this now.

Items to note about how I use the trainer:

  • I do not use ERG mode very often. I prefer resistance mode because I do a lot of training outside, and I feel that resistance mode is closer to how I ride outside. However, I like how the electronic trainers feel better than the fluid ones. I have a Kurt Kinetic as well.
  • I do grinders every fall (base training… grinders are very low RPM, not super-high power but usually around high Z3) to build strength, and I don’t have a good hill near me to do them, and the electronic trainer is the best way I’ve found to be able to add resistance to do them. I can hear some slippage between my rear wheel and my PBP with grinders, so I wonder if a direct drive trainer would be better.
  • I do not use Zwift. I’ve tried it once and it wasn’t for me. There is a small chance I will use it in the future if we have another super-wet winter here in NorCal, but it is not my preferred way to ride inside.
  • I have a power meter on my bike, so I’d be using powermatch and don’t care if the power is more/less accurate with a direct drive.

My questions:

  • I am hesitant to go for a direct-drive trainer because it seems like a pain to have to maintain yet another cassette. I am trying to be better about replacing my chain, but it doesn’t always happen as regularly as it should. Is this a valid concern?
  • Is direct-drive really that much better? A friend may be selling her Snap that has been heavily used but only about 1.5 years old. (She wants a direct-drive.) This would be more economical, but if it’s not the right choice based on how I use it, then I’d rather get the right product. (Plus, there are some 20% off sales going on right now, so it seems like a good time to buy new.)

Thanks for your input!!

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IMO for the core. Maintain a cassette with the assumption you are riding indoors will take very minimal effort. Fiddling with the snap and getting the pressure correct on the wheel day in and day our will be much more of a hassle.

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There is no fiddling. Snap user since December 2017 and it’s been great. My trainer tire and my Snap look and work as good as the day I bought it. I simply ensure tire pressure before every workout, as you would before any outdoor ride, and I’m off and working out. I do a spindown calibration after 10 mins of warming up the Snap in the beginning of every workout. This is probably not needed with powermatch, but I do it anyways. I prefer not to use powermatch as I like the feeling of the Snap’s Erg. Luckily, my Snap’s Erg and my Quarq PM are within 1% of each other.

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I am on year 3 with a snap. I just got a new/reburbished one to replace my original that died last week. Wahoo support was fantastic and even though it was out of warranty, for $150 and one way shipping I have the latest model. Before it died, but snap had been pretty set and forget through almost 300 TR rides.

I am using a bike dedicated to the trainer now, so I can leave it set up. And I use a smooth gravelking 32c tire which is totally suitable for outside use. If that bike didn’t have a stupid proprietary wheel spec on the back it would be easy enough to swap wheels outside/in.

It is pretty quiet too. And I have gotten stronger training on it, which is what we all want.

BTW, I use ERG more almost exclusively, and control it with my stages PM.

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I owned a Snap for 3 years and then at the beginning of this year I bought the Kicker 18 (basically a Core with a heavier flywheel).

Wheel-On vs Direct Drive
Having used both a lot, I can say that both will give you the desired training benefit. Spending more on a trainer will not give you a higher FTP :slight_smile: Neither will hold you back in terms of training, just wanted to say that up-front.

There is a difference in overall experience though, a Direct Drive is just so much better. Wheel-On is kind of a pain, especially if you take the bike on-and-off frequently. You have to keep the tire pressure consistent and the clamp on the trainer tightened consistently too. It’s noisier since you have the wheel on a roller and you will occasionally blow a tire which is a pain. It didn’t happen all the time, but at least a few times a year I would go to get on the bike and there would be a flat from the tube perishing due to heat). I think there is almost nothing worse than mentally being prepared for a tough TR session and having to change a tire first.

With the Kickr18, I just have a more ‘connected’ feeling on the trainer. There are people that say a Direct Drive trainer is more ‘responsive’ to changes in wattage, but I didn’t find that to be noticeable. Maybe if you do a lot of micro-burst workouts, this might be a consideration. I did plenty of Spanish Needle workouts on the Snap and it was fine.

Some of your comments/questions:

I’m such a big fan of ERG. It just takes all the thinking out of the workout. With lots of wattage changes due to intervals, I don’t want to use brain-space to think about gearing. With ERG, I just pedal. When I committed to ERG on the Snap (and then the Kickr) I found that I completed the tougher workouts more often (IF >.90) and saw bigger improvements as a result. I really think ERG is a game-changer if you do a lot of indoor training. I would suggest you give it another go.

I don’t think this is something to worry too much about. The stress on chains and cassettes is much greater outdoors and that can be reduced even more by switching to ERG (no shifting). You’d have to be doing a serious amount of training indoors to have to change a cassette more than every year or two. Put it this way, if you’re using parts consumption as a way to decide between Snap or Core you will 100% use up tired and tubes on the Snap, but the exact same stress on your chain and cassette with both.

I think I answered this pretty comprehensively above, but to summarize; Direct-Drive is better for sure. Both will give you the same training benefit, but a Wheel-On is less convenient. Is more convenient worth a few hundred dollars to you (over the next 2-3 years)? Only you can answer that.

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A Snap is definitely less “just ride” than a Kickr. Some people call that fiddly, I say “less convenient”. Whether the amount of fiddling (tire pressure, wheel clamp adjustment, spin down) is above or below an acceptable level of maintenance will be down to the individual.

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Thanks, everyone, for your responses so far!

Since I’ve been using a wheel-on trainer for 5.5 years, I’m used to making sure my tire is pumped up (maybe I’m weird, but I pump up my tires almost every night before a ride anyway). I’m not sure how the Snap works from a tire-tightening perspective, but my PBP is such that I tighten it down until it clicks, and then I just do one extra click. It’s always the same. Maybe the Snap is more like the Kurt Kinetic, where you can just keep cranking down to make the roller squeeze the tire tighter and tighter, thus changing the resistance. But since I use powermatch anyway, it doesn’t matter.

That is very nice to have. The bike I use on the trainer isn’t 100% dedicated to the trainer… it’s also my rain bike, so when it’s wet or potentially wet, I ride that bike outside. Therefore, the cassette on the trainer is not the only cassette the chain will see.

It seems like taking the rear wheel off is more of a PITA than just putting the whole bike on the trainer…? Tire pressure isn’t a big deal, but I don’t know the specifics of the Snap clamp (see my comment above). Noise doesn’t really matter–I train in the garage, and no one is around. I have nice speakers for my music or whatever I’m watching.

I’ve never run into this… interesting.

Maybe I should have been more specific about my concern regarding the cassette/chain combination. I don’t just train indoors–this bike is used both indoors and out, and in sub-optimal conditions. I don’t change the chain as frequently as I should, and so there is the possibility of the chain/cassette being more worn on the bike, but the cassette on the trainer being less worn. That would mean that the chain would potentially not shift as smoothly (or even skip) on the trainer.

So you feel that with direct drive, it’s more like you’re on the road than you did when on the Snap?

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Thanks! That is like the Kurt Kinetic. Yes, that is more difficult to make sure it’s consistent, although with PowerMatch it’s less of a concern… however, it does make me think more about the Core.

I run two bikes on the trainer (mine and my wifes), so I’m constantly taking a bike off the trainer and removing wheels. I would say this is about the same amount of inconvenience as clamping, tightening and pumping that you have to do with wheel-on. So then I’m left with zero chance of flatting and a better feel on a direct-drive. Having a lot of experienced on both, I would prefer not to go back to a Snap.

Ok makes sense. With a wheel-on, they will wear together better than two cassettes. But, this would be on the very bottom of things that I would worry about.

Another plug for ERG on the trainer so that you don’t have to worry about shifting at all.

No, neither feel like you’re on the road. I guess it’s hard to explain, but I feel that with wheel-on I am making the wheel turn which then makes the roller turn, like two separate steps. With direct-drive I feel like the bike and the trainer are more a single device. We’re talking about something very small here. If I’d never swapped to the Kickr, I wouldn’t even know or care. The main reason I changed was the futzing and occasional tire flat (while infrequent, very annoying).

But clamping/tightening/pumping are all less messy than taking wheels on and off. :wink:

Interesting. I’ve never tried a direct-drive, so I don’t really know what it feels like. The only flat I’ve ever experienced on the trainer was actually on rollers… I don’t recall what caused it, but the nice thing was that I could just hop off, switch over to my other bike, and continue with the workout. That bike has an 11-speed cassette, my normal trainer bike has 10-speed, which is the other reason I keep hesitating on the direct-drive. However, my boyfriend reminds me that I have never actually done a trainer workout on the 11-speed bike. I also have an 11-32 cassette on my bike, while his bike is 11-28. I thought that having a wheel-on would enable both of us to use the trainer if we wanted, but in the 5.5 years I’ve had it, he has never ever ridden the trainer. So the arguments that we need to put bikes that have different types of cassettes on the trainer are not really valid, hence my indecision.

I understand that there are a lot of people who love ERG mode. We all have our own preferences. As I noted in my original note, I prefer working on getting the feel of the right gear combo to achieve power/cadence targets. I do a lot of workouts outside, and there is no erg mode there.

Almost 2 years Snap user with zero issues, it is a very simple reliable device compared to Kickr, which has a lot more moving parts. However, if I was looking for another trainer, I think I would go for direct drive. Either will challenge you in workouts :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your input! Is it possible for you to elaborate on why you would switch? This is what I’m trying to figure out.

I can’t say I consider removing and replacing a wheel as messy. Maybe you do it differently than I do, but it takes probably 10 seconds and my hands do not ever get dirty doing this.

If you do decide to go direct-drive and then your boyfriend suddenly decides he does want to start riding. You can overcome cassette and gearing issues if one of you is ok riding in ERG. Whoever wants to ride manually, match their wheel cassette to the trainer. Even with mismatched cassette sizes, you will be able to find at least one sprocket that runs smoothly and they can train in ERG. If you both want to ride manually, then yes it’s more of a problem. But, after 5.5 years, it sounds unlikely (but you never say never!).

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I think wheel/drum has lots of variables that need to be satisfied to have consistency, like mentioned before. To be precise, every session requires to use same wheel, tyre, tyre pressure, drum pressure. All these need to be set every ride, unless you have external PM. Beside that, there is noise, but it is rather vibration noise. If you have a floor that is not a concrete slab, there is a possibility of noise caused by vibration. Snap has a massive flywheel. Tyre slippage on high power demands, for example if you produce 500W at 70rpm in lower front ring to simulate climbing, that tyre will squeal like a pig, not to mention the wear. I’ve been doing this ever since and while it takes extra effort to get going, it’s not hard or frustrating. When I was getting Snap, direct drive trainers were twice the price.

I think with direct drive, once calibrated, it is a matter of mounting the bike on and off you go, I like how simple it can be.

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Thanks–that is actually very useful. While I don’t put out 500W during my grinders, I have noticed that my PBP does tend towards slippage during my grinders. I suspect this is the biggest argument to go for the Core rather than the Snap.

Well, the full Kickr is still pretty expensive. The Core is in the middle, which is why I’m considering it. I don’t need the additional features of the full Kickr.

+1 for direct drive for all of the reasons already mentioned. I’ve had my Kickr 17’ for two years and have never had any issues, have only changed the cassette once and only because I changed gearing on my road bike. I leave my bike plugged into it anytime I’m not riding outside regularly and it takes less than 1 minute to install/uninstall it on a bad day.

I would also argue it makes me take better care of my drivetrain because when I do ride outside, I make sure to clean my chain before slapping the bike on the Kickr - this means I never have to clean the Kickr cassette. :slight_smile:

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I had one snap that crapped the bed two weeks after I bought it. I upgraded to 2018 Kickr in January, and that lasted about a month. Wahoo sent me kickr 2 that fried on me in April. They sent me a 3rd kickr that was dead upon arrival. I just sent it back and bought an H2. Wahoo can pound sand. You may look at other options. There is fiddling with the snap. It requires a 10-min warmup, followed by a calibration before each ride for optimal results. Notice, the guy who posted up a kickr with no issues was pre-2018. By the way, my brother is on kickr number 3 as well. Wahoo is a nightmare

I don’t understand all the comments about difficulty to setup wheel on for the use case here where they have a separate PM.

I also control my snap via my road stages meter as well and it really doesn’t matter what my tire pressure is or how precisely it clamps. It automatically compensates.

Point here is I think original user would be crazy to spend that much more for direct drive when they have a PM that eliminates wheel on calibration concerns. In fact, I would advise anyone to get snap plus a power meter for price of direct drive if they don’t already have a PM.

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Clever training has the H2 on sale for $800 right now. Remember Chip the CEO of wahoo in an interview on January 29th said all kickrs going forward had no problems and all had been fixed. Case solved. Yet since then some people have gone through 5 more kickrs including the incompatible platinum versions. I would go tacx, h2, or a wheel on. My kickr core died in 3 weeks. My h2 is louder but it just works.

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