• Adjusting a Wahoo KICKR for improved performance

Wahoo KICKR tuning tips

There’s a lot of talk comparing the noise level of various “direct drive” trainers. While the trainers themselves obviously make a noise, it’s often drowned out by the transmission of the bike that’s sitting on it. It doesn’t matter if you’re using FulGaz, Zwift, TrainerRoad or any of the other apps out there. They’ll all run into the same problems. Let’s look at a few things that can be done to fix it.

First, the basics

Sit the bike on the trainer straight
A common mistake is not to make sure the bike is sitting on the trainer nice and straight. To check this, undo the quick release and rock the bike from side to side a bit until you can definitely feel that it is sitting on both sides of the axle. Once you’ve found that spot, do the quick release up.

Do the quick release up tight
The forces applied at the rear of your bike are higher on the trainer compared with the open road, so make sure you’ve done your quick release up tight. If you have one of the old black quick releases with the external cam, lube every moving part or ideally replace it with a quick release from Shimano, Campagnolo or the steel ones that come with many trainers (the newer, chrome KICKR quick release is great). Your bike and your trainer will love you for it.

lube your chain
The KICKR can tend to act like the sound box in an acoustic guitar, amplifying any sound in the drivetrain. An easy first step to reducing this noise is to lube your chain.

Stuck in the wrong gear? stop pedalling
If you find yourself in a gear that’s way too hard for the terrain, don’t keep pushing and crunching the gears, stop pedalling completely. FulGaz and the KICKR will then give you a 5 second break before applying any resistance again. This will give you time to change down while not under load.

Workshop tips

Cassette spacing
Depending on the cassette being used, this can be out by enough to make gears that work well on the bike sound like a noisy bag of bolts on the KICKR.

Before you measure anything, make sure the central bolt that holds the cassette body in place is firmly tight. You don’t need to jump on it, but I’ve seen this work loose, ruining the cassette alignment in the process.

wahoo KICKR tuning tips 1

The measurement in the photo below should be the same on the KICKR as the wheel that came out of the bike. Typically it’s around 3.8mm from the end of the axle to the base of the teeth. With 11 speed transmissions, anything over about 0.2mm difference will start to add a lot of noise, or prevent smooth gear changes in one direction.

Making that gap the same on the KICKR can be tricky because washers don’t generally come in thicknesses of tiny fractions of a millimetre. Often the gap is a bit too big, so adding a 1.0 mm spacer behind the cassette and a 0.7mm one behind the axle locknut usually fixes this. This also provides a bit more space between the derailleur cage and the body of the KICKR.

tips2

Gear hanger alignment
This is often the tweak that makes the biggest difference. Have a look and see if the rear derailleur cage is parallel with the belt cover on the KICKR (See photo below). If it’s not, it’s a good indication that the gear hanger is bent. To straighten this you need a proper gear alignment tool. Do not attempt to straighten the hanger with anything else.

Wahoo KICKR tuning tips for zwift, trainerroad and FulGaz

If you’d like to know anything else about KICKR setup and maintenance, or you have some tips of your own, please comment below.

By | 2017-08-21T16:12:25+00:00 October 4th, 2016|Uncategorized|13 Comments

About the Author:

Mr FulGaz is Mike Clucas, the founder of the app and the possibly obsessive compulsive inventor, rider and film maker behind much of FulGaz's content.

13 Comments

  1. Bradley October 4, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Good tips.
    It took a bit of fettling before I could get the shifting just right. I have just changed my back wheel for a non-asymmetric rim so I need to change the Kickr spacing by a hair.
    The biggest problem the Kickr showed up was a gritty bottom bracket bearing. Not noticeable on road but definitely stuffed on inspection with the cranks off.

  2. Gerard October 4, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    I had a rough sound coming from the inside of the kickr and mentioned it to wahoo at the TDU. (Naturally) it didn’t sound familiar to them but about a month or two later the belt snapped (1 day after warranty!). My LBS said the tensioner was loose and asked if I had been playing with it (I hadn’t.) internal noise is worth getting investigated. Since then Wahoo sent me one of the links below for tensioning the unit. It looks straight forward so I’ll probably open it up once in a while to make sure the belt is behaving (my LBS has no training on the wahoo anyway – wahoo has no training material or maintenance manuals ?)

    https://youtu.be/Rpxb3iPU-iM
    https://youtu.be/M_eBvqsrAQ0

  3. fulgaz October 4, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    The tensioning video is a good one. I’ll link to it in my next instalment of tips. The belt is actually a Gates brand timing belt, originally for use in car engines. They’re brutally tough, but they do wear out, particularly if the tension is too low and slips a bit on steep climbs. You can buy them from shops that stock industrial belts (they’re more common than you might think). There is a code number on the belt.

  4. Matthew locker October 4, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Sure that your content? Looks a lot like a copy and paste?????

  5. fulgaz October 4, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Really?
    It’s all written, researched and photographed by me.

  6. Dieter October 4, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Your videos look amazing! Will be buying a Kickr soon, but have Android phone. When will your app be ready on Windows?

  7. fulgaz October 5, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Sorry to disappoint you, but Windows doesn’t have a definite release date. It’s a total rebuild from the ground up so it will be many months away.

  8. Bruce G December 18, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Anything happening in the near future with an online cycling environment in where we could actually pick the location using Google Maps – Street view?

    Would be cool to be able to interface to what’s already available and cycle anywhere in the world!

  9. Kris December 18, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Good tips. I replaced my stock Kickr cassette with a Shimano Ultegra 12-28, which is similar to what I have on my bikes (either Dura-Ace or Ultegra 11-28 or 12-28). I found that my bikes shifted a lot better after doing this, smoother, less noise and clicking, etc

    What irritates me now is the grinding noise. This has always been the case. Is this just normal for the Kickr? What causes it? Everything is perfectly aligned, my hanger is straight, cogs are in perfect alignment, chain clean and lubed, etc.

  10. fulgaz December 20, 2016 at 5:47 am

    In a word, no.
    Google street view has nowhere near the frame rate required to make a smooth video. They also place a lot of restrictions around access to large volumes of data.

  11. fulgaz December 20, 2016 at 5:50 am

    If you’ve done all those things it’s probably just a case of the sound of your bike reverberating around the KICKR belt guard. The other thing that people forget is that When you’re riding outside the wind noise is much louder than you think it it, masking a lot of noise from your bike.

  12. David December 23, 2016 at 1:21 am

    I notice on the above pic that the derailleur is not touching the belt cover on the Kickr. But then, there’s a gear left to go. What happens on the last hear? My bike does touch the plastic casing on the last inner gear. Is that normal?

  13. fulgaz December 23, 2016 at 8:45 am

    This can often be a sign of a bent gear hanger. The gap is very small though, even when everything is straight.

    One way to fix the problem is to put a spacer behind the cassette and a washer of the same thickness behind the lock nut that holds the cassette body on.

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