Last summer when Wahoo announced the KICKR V5 / 2020, one of the new features was a new port from the trainer that would allow you to plug it into your home (or office) network, bypassing any wireless connectivity. As a means of doing. You may have problems. While most of us use wireless connections just fine, some of us are not as lucky – especially if living in a crowded RF location like a large apartment building. Likewise, it may also appeal to certain events.
Anyway, the KICKR V5 / 2020 didn’t really have an Ethernet port on the sidelines, but rather something similar for a telephone port. In return you will need to buy an adapter (aka, dongle), and plug it in. After this you will plug the cable into it. After which, apps will be updated to see this new connectivity type (other than the normal ANT + and Bluetooth smart connections).
Short story – until this morning you can buy that $ 99 dongle.
Now I had planned a full-in-depth review to be released today … but … umm … things are not going smoothly. However, in this rare scenario, I do not think it is a representation of product per product, but rather time. Simply put – 3rd party apps are not ready yet and the last firmware has just arrived in the last two days to make it ready. If it was a week from now, it would probably be a different story. But when this second phase begins, the apps are a motive, but try to make the crew look as if they are having a difficult night outside the bars. All times…. Drink alcohol… all night.
So, I’ll be back next week or with the final review and all the app players. This review will look vaguely like this post but with some detail on some nuances and how each app has implemented it. Also, this is arguably the best introduction to the video I shot.
Above is the box you will receive the direct connect cable, it is similar to almost every other Wahoo fitness box. Inside you will find a dongle and a quick release extension cable for the said dongle. And yes, I will keep saying dongle. Because … I am a 5 year old boy.
The extension cable is actually there when you travel over the Ethernet cable, as it will clean your dongle or KICKR port separately rather than detach. It works in the same way as their power cable. If there was a redeemable aspect to not having a native Ethernet port, there would be a quick-release security cable.
In any event, you’ll take the quick release cable, and dongle, and glue all the pieces connected to your KICKR V5 / 2020 together.
Oh, and then paste an Ethernet cable into it:
After that, plug the other end of the Ethernet cable into your router / hub / switch (technically you could plug it directly into the computer’s Ethernet port if you wanted to):
Remember, the goal here is getting the KICKR data stream on your home network. The app device you are using can be wired (such as a computer) or wireless (like a phone). While it may seem counterproductive to go back to a wireless tablet or phone, the reality is that for most people, it is not the WiFi dropout that is the issue – but ANT + or Bluetooth Smart (due to WiFi or other interference) Dropout with. Nevertheless, in my case I used both a wired Apple TV (for fun), a Mac (WiFi) and an iOS device (WiFi) to display all variants.
If you were cracking open the Wahoo Fitness app (on which you can place sensors and such), you would see the KICKR status of the Direct Connect connection (shown below ‘KICKR CLIMB’). When the app is not actively using it it will be ‘disconnected’ for the TCP connection state. This allows one concurrent application via Ethernet at a time.
Now, crack open our favorite instructor app to get coupling. Officially, Wahoo says the following in his press release today:
“To date, Wahoe’s SUF training system, TrainRoad, FullGaz and RGT Cycling are compatible. Other platforms are expected to become compatible in the coming months, including Zwift. “
Officially, the actual real-world status of all apps live here at the moment:
Phulgaz: In beta build but not working yet in my test
RGT: Fully functional in public production version
the victim: Supposed to work in production, but not for me or others
Trainroad: Some builds in beta, but have not yet fully functioned in my testing. Target for release in early February.
Zwift: According to Zwift’s product and PR team, the actual official goal is “later this year”
I haven’t checked there yet with all the other trainer apps, but will add them to the list if they shoot on their ETA.
And since Zwift is clearly the elephant in the room here (and of course the platform that needs it most), here is Zwift’s full quote, based on my question when it would be compatible with Zwift:
“Preparatory work has begun and Zwift will provide support to the Wahoo Direct Connect adapter on all platforms, as all QA testing has been completed later this year.
The hard time limit in the game is not in sight at this time, but we will communicate it as we move through the testing process. “
Got it all? Okay, now, we’ll choose one app that works for me today: RGT. For this you will use your mobile companion app to search for devices on the network. A few seconds later you can see the Woooo KICKR trainer as a direct connect trainer as well as a Bluetooth trainer (it was on iOS). It has a special icon that looks like a broom. I know … I know … it’s going to look like a wow dongle.
In this case, Direct Connect will take care of connection strength and cadence, as well as trainer control. However, ANT + and Bluetooth connections are still available to connect you, such as with a watch or bike computer. On the KICKR itself, you will see both lights illuminate from behind and remain stationary, indicating a direct connect connection:
After that, you just ride normally. There is no difference here, nor any notable change. It does not transmit data at any faster or slower speed or more often. It is the same.
And on FullGaz (on Apple TV) it is the same – you will see the ‘network’ option for each connection
With this, it is all there. The goal for Wahoo (and the apps I talked to) is to be completely transparent to you. You simply plug the cable into your network, and then your device / app locates the trainer and you’re done.
And, if you ask me after a week or two – I’m sure it will work in exactly the same way. Unfortunately, to date it is not fully ripe. As such, I’ll be back in another two weeks, as these apps have a few minutes to do all this work, and dive into more granular details (like side comparisons of data streams). All the geeky goodness you have come to expect.
As I said before, I’ll be back with full app test results (in which I’ve done some other tests that are either hilarious or sketch … maybe both), once I’m compatible with non-Zwift apps I become Given that Zwift won’t be here until ‘later this year’, I’m not going to wait for them. A few random days in 2021 when they release an update to make it compatible, I circle back and update the post on how it works in Zift.
Ultimately, I doubt that the WoW Direct Connect adapter (aka, the dongle) will be a short-term product. Not because there is anything wrong with it, but because I see zero chance it is anything other than a one-hit wonder. Meaning, if the next KICKR or KICKR bike doesn’t have it built internally, I’d be shocked (and disappointed). Ultimately, KICKR V5 / 2020 was basically just not a time complication for this reason. And while I have no idea when Wahoo plans to release a new KICKR, they are historically pretty much the end of every August (except for the year they released a smart bike). This means that this product has a practical peak-sales time frame of 8 months. Of which, Zwift may not be compatible at all during that time frame.
Of course, people will have KICKR V5 trainers for years, and boat loads of them have been sold in the last 6-7 months. So the dongle can be bought by them for years.
Now – while the dongle will probably be on its own, I expect the built-in Direct Connect technology to become a standard option on Wahoo trainers / bikes – and possibly the standard (in some ways) throughout the industry. Even though some regular consumers are likely to use this feature, some will be likely. Thus even if the adapter hardware is a little flame, the development effort that went into it will not be useless – it will likely be radically integrated into future Wahoo products.
In any case, more in my final review.
With this – thanks for reading!