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Reviewed: Wahoo ROLLR Smart Trainer

Wahoo's latest hybrid smart trainer/roller has a number of new and novel features, but also misses a few of the basics. Read our review to see if it's right for you.

Review Rating


Basics

Wahoo takes an old-school concept—rollers—and makes them less dangerous, more fun, and “smart.” The ROLLR combines connectivity with realistic, road-like feel for an easy-to-setup indoor ride.


Pros

Super fast set up


No need to remove either front or back wheel


Can be used with/without electricity or connectivity


Realistic road-feel

Cons

Does not come with a power meter


Not easily transportable or storable


No ability to combine with a connected climbing or steering add-on


Little guidance on how to secure front wheel


Price

$700

Brand

Wahoo


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The Wahoo ROLLR ($700) is born out of the tried-and-true rollers that have been used by road cyclists for decades. The ROLLR removes everything most dislike about “dumb” rollers (steep learning curve, difficulty balancing while on the rollers, and the fear of falling off) and replaced it with a “smart” fix: a secured front wheel, easy setup, and the ability to be used with or without connectivity.

The ROLLR is incredibly easy to set up. The user only needs to tighten two screws in order to then set their bike on the trainer and begin riding. The ROLLR is also designed so that the rider does not have to remove the front or back wheel in order to start cruising.

The front wheel sits in two rubber beds and is then secured with a quick release mechanism. The quick release sits where the front wheel meets the bike frame and is tightened manually. We’ll get into the pros and cons of this system below.

The back wheel then sits on the two rollers, which can be adjusted to fit the length of your bike. Be sure that your tire makes contact with both rollers, or else you’ll be riding with little-to-no resistance.

Like the entire suite of Wahoo trainers, ROLLR connects with your favorite third-party apps such as Zwift and TrainerRoad, and can upload data to TrainingPeaks, as well.

However, it’s important to note that it does not come with its own power meter, like most smart trainers. You must supply your own. Thankfully, the ROLLR is compatible with both ANT+ and Bluetooth power meters. Or, you can look at purchasing Wahoo’s new POWRLINK pedals to complete the ROLLR ecosystem.

RELATED: The Extended Wahoo POWRLINK Zero Pedal Review

Wahoo ROLLR: What We Liked

One of the biggest barriers to entry for using a smart trainer has typically been the setup of the trainer itself. From needing to screw on legs to securing a cassette to taking a back wheel off and snaking the chain onto the direct drive trainer, there are usually a ton of steps to complete before a rider can actually use their new equipment.

Not with the ROLLR.

ROLLR is ready to go in less than five minutes. Simply unpack the two pieces, screw them together with the provided screws and screwdriver, plug in the trainer, secure your wheel via quick-release, and you’re ready to roll—literally.

The ROLLR also provides an extremely realistic road-feel. As your back wheel rotates over the rollers, it will track slightly, mimicking the motion a back wheel would make on the open road. No need for a rocker plate or additional equipment to achieve this via the ROLLR.

Lastly, the ROLLR can be used with or without connectivity. You can plug in the trainer and connect it to your favorite apps and power meter to get the automatic resistance adjustments and thrill of riding through Watopia, or you can simply hop on the ROLLR in “manual mode” and use your bike’s own gearing to get in a ride.

RELATED: We Dive Into Wahoo’s New ROLLR Hybrid Trainer

Wahoo ROLLR: What We Didn’t Like

The most important thing to know about the ROLLR is that it does not have a built-in power meter like most smart trainers do. In the past, it’s been extremely difficult for roller-type trainers to accurately calculate power within their own systems, so Wahoo decided not to include an integrated power meter at all.

Instead, ROLLR relies on you either having a bike-mounted power meter already, or purchasing its ROLLER + Powerlink bundle ($1300) to add power to your ride via Speedplay pedals (which you can also use out on the road, of course).

Secondly, the ROLLR is a massive trainer. Although the front wheel quick release stand does fold down and lay fairly flat, the entire trainer checks in at just under five feet long. This means that the ROLLR is great for those who have a dedicated spot for their trainer and do not frequently need to move it.

Finally, the ROLLR is not compatible with any steering or climbing add-ons like the KICKR CLIMB. While you can still simulate slope and resistance via the Wahoo app or third party programs like Zwift, there is no ability to combine steering or climbing technology with the ROLLR because of how the front wheel is secured.

For more insight, check out our deep dive on the ROLLR.

Conclusions

If you already have a power meter and want a trainer with the best outdoor-feel on the market, the ROLLR could be for you.

Its easy setup, awesome feeling of actually cruising on the asphalt, and seamless swapping of your bike from trainer to the outdoors are some strong highlights for this first-of-its-kind smart trainer.

However, the ROLLR’s inability to combine with climbing and steering technology, plus its lack of an integrated power meter, mean that if you spend a lot of time in your pain cave, the ROLLR may not have enough features for you.

We’ll be curious to see how the ROLLR evolves over time and what updates Wahoo adds in future versions.