They first caught the public's attention at Rouleur Live in November, but the Wahooligans remained tight-lipped about them. Finally, though, both the KICKR ROLLR and the POWRLINK ZERO, the newest products from the US manufacturer known for their ELEMNT and KICKR series, have been officially presented to the public. And they're sure to make a splash.
The ROLLR is the newest smart indoor trainer of the family. It was quietly leaked to the tech world at the UCI World Championships in September. And then, a bit less quietly, at Rouleur Live (make sure you come along next year, by the way).
So let’s dive into the details.
Wahoo describes the ROLLR as a whole new category in itself, and for good reason: it's very different from the KICKR despite also being a unit conceived for indoor cycling.
Its revolutionary trademarks are the locked front wheel and the unlocked rear one. Like other rollers on the market, the unlocked back wheel allows more for a real-life ride feeling when riding indoors (and avoids the downsides, like back pain, that are sometimes associated with long hours on the turbo). On the other hand, the fixed front wheel allows riders to feel more comfortable and stable than on standard rollers, as falling to the ground is always a risk on traditional ones where the wheels aren't fixed to the unit.
Standard rollers normally have three sets of rollers, two in the back and one in the front, and they require a level of acquired skill and balance. However – and here’s where Wahoo's idea is original – a roller with a fixed front wheel will make riders who are less experienced with rollers more comfortable, but, at the same time, still provide the main experiential benefits. Amongst those benefits is a handy mounting procedure, which does not require removing the back wheel (required for the most evolved smart trainers) or lead to the tyre carnage we see with the less smart turbos on the market.
All you need to do is drop your bike on the ROLLR. The wheelbase adjustment system is simple and smart, and elongates at the front and rear to match the length of your bike's wheelbase (because no, they're not all the same). The tyre gripper, which you then adjust up and down, is the main feature that will keep the bike upright and not allow it to tip over.
The ROLLR uses a dual roller design developed to enhance grip, ride and minimise noise (also essential for indoor trainers). Similarly to the KICKR's legacy, the resistance of the ROLLR is controlled through SYSTM, Wahoo’s training app, a head unit, or a third-party app.
ROLLR needs to be plugged in to function, and it features everything you'd expect from a smart turbo trainer: Bluetooth, ANT+, Direct Connect port, flywheel technology and two LED indicators (blue for BT, red for the power meter connector).
However, while the free back wheel provides an unmatched riding experience, it has limitations in terms of power accuracy. To get solid numbers when you're riding on the ROLLR, the unit requires an external power meter.
If you don't have a power meter, you can still ride and get progressive resistance based on a speed-only session, and you can use normal gear shifting to increase resistance.
But the ROLLR works best when plugged into Wahoo’s app, bike computer and a compatible power meter to control resistance. That’s why Wahoo has gone the extra mile to produce a completely holistic training system by launching its very own power meter system — POWRLINK ZERO. Chapeau, Wahoo!
The innate compatibility between POWRLINK ZERO and ROLLR is obvious from the outset. When using Wahoo's POWRLINK ZERO, the ROLLR automatically searches and connects to the nearby POWRLINK pedals (or any ANT+ power meter), after a couple of seconds of pedalling it's ready to ride (it will show a solid red LED). But, of course, if you're cycling with someone else who also has a power meter, you can switch the automatic pair off, and instead select your unit within the Wahoo app.
The POWRLINK ZERO is the first power meter launched by Wahoo. When the company acquired Speedplay back in 2019, there was a lot of speculation around the future of an iconic pedal brand. Then when Wahoo launched the new Speedplay line in 2021, the brand announced it was working on a power meter, but preferred to wait until there was a world class product ready and waiting before leaking any more details. That finished product is the POWRLINK ZERO that comes into the market today.
POWRLINK ZERO comes as both a one-sided (the right pedal does not have a power spindle) and a dual-sided power meter. In the future, Wahoo will also provide an upgrade kit to go from one-sided to dual-sided.
The POWRLINK is built around the Speedplay Zero standard hardware, though with some differences (it's 3mm thicker and allows your cleats and shoes to have full clearance to unclip over the power pod). They're sold with compatible cleats with standard tension, but you can also buy them with the easier tension if needed. The main difference from other Speedplay pedals is that they're wider and longer (55 instead of 53 mm), to allow space for the strain gauges and surrounding hardware.
The POWRLINK is the perfect piece of gear for riders with different bikes (pedal power meters are easier to mount and dismount from one bike to the other) and those cyclists who travel – and may hire a bike on holiday – but don't want to give up on their power numbers.
The other benefits of the POWRLINK are the automatic calibration each time you mount pedals on a bike and the easy-to-onboard registration on the Wahoo Fitness App. Plus, there's all the power data you could possibly binge on: total power, cadence, left/right balance (only available with the dual-sided unit), and also a feature that tracks data on rides with significant changes in elevation and temperature (temperature compensation). The latter is critical for accuracy — for instance, if you start early in the morning when it's colder and temperatures rise throughout your cycle, or any long day of climbing.
Thanks to their Y-shaped dual-sided charger, they can be charged simultaneously, which should be a no-brainer, but not always possible with power pedals. Wahoo claims a battery life of 75+ hours, which sits between the main competitors (Favero Assioma claims up to 50 hours, while Garmin Rally up to 120 hours). The POWRLINK is, however, the longest-lasting rechargeable power meter on the market, as the Garmin Rally series use replaceable CR1/3N batteries in each pedal. Different light colours will also give you an indication of the battery levels. Plus, with an advertised weight of 138g (276 for the pair, dual side), POWRLINK also declares itself to be the lightest power pedal on the market.