Pairing the Wahoo KICKR

KICKR with Bluetooth and Ant+ Connections

The hardest part of setting up my Wahoo KICKR with Zwift was pairing it with my computer. The KICKR can pair with the computer using both Bluetooth and ANT+. Initially, I choose to use ANT+ because my Garmin cadence sensor and heart rate monitor were ANT+. Since most laptops aren’t ANT+ capable, I had to use a USB ANT+ dongle. Luckly, I already had a Garmin USB ANT+ dongle that I could use.

Even if your computer isn’t ANT+ or Bluetooth capable, generic USB ANT+ and Bluetooth dongles are cheap and relatively easy to find so your computer can still be used for Zwift. In my case when I later switched to Bluetooth my computer’s Bluetooth was not compatible with my KICKR, so I had to use a Bluetooth dongle. Regardless of which protocol you use, the setup is basically the same.

Garmin ANT+ and a generic Bluetooth dongle

Nevertheless, if you still find pairing difficult, another alternative is to use the Zwift Companion app on a mobile device as a bridge that can convert the trainer’s Bluetooth signal into a format that your computer can recognize.

Over the past few years, I have paid my devices with ANT+, Bluetooth and the Zwift Companion app. All three methods have worked for me. Once everything is paired you are ready to go.

Ken Whittaker


Getting Started with Zwift

Zwift program display while riding

Before I started training with Zwift, I first needed a trainer. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post “Why I choose a Wahoo Kickr over a Peloton Stationary Bike,” I use a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer. However, whichever type of trainer you decide to use, it should have a power meter, cadence sensor and heart rate monitor (note power meter, cadence and heart rate data displayed on top left of Zwift Screen).

Since I use a smart trainer and not a stationary bike, I also needed a bike for the trainer. In my case, I use the same bike that I used to cycle across America. Since I’ve ridden this bike many thousands of miles, there is no need for any changes or additional setup of the bike for the indoor trainer.

Finally, I needed an internet capable electronic device to run the Zwift program on and a Zwift subscription. While I’ve used both my mobile phone and laptop computer, I found that the mobile phone screen was a bit too small and a computer with gaming capabilities worked the best.

Ken Whittaker


Why I choose a Wahoo Kickr over a Peloton Stationary Bike

Wahoo KICKR Smart Trainer

After researching the Wahoo Kickr smart trainer and the Peloton stationary bike, it was clear that I could maintain my fitness over the winter months with either platform. I didn’t think either system offered a greater training advantage to make that the deciding factor in choosing which system was right for me.

However, I knew that when the warmer weather returned, I would be anxious to get back to cycling outside as soon as possible. Either trainer would be packed away until cycling outdoors was no longer practical again next winter. So, spending a lot of money on a bulky stationary bike I would only use a few months and put in storage the rest of the year was not a viable option for me. A smart trainer that I could use in combination with my regular bike made much more sense.

Besides the obvious benefits that a smaller smart trainer has over a bulky stationary smart bike, like being portable and easy to store, the transition back to outdoor cycling is seamless. In fact, I find it very beneficial to be able to tweak my bike over the winter while I’m using it on a trainer. I’m able to try out new gear and setups and when the warm weather returns, I simply take my bike off the trainer, mount the rear wheel, put the trainer in the closet and I’m ready to go and I know everything will work well together.

Ken Whittaker


What is Zwift?

Zwift Watopia Volcano Circuit

According to the folks at Zwift.com, “Zwift is an at home social fitness service.” However, that description is just the tip of the iceberg of what Zwift is all about. And like an iceberg, there is much more under the surface than first meets the eye.

But let’s talk about the social aspect first. Today is Christmas day and I just wanted to get in a short spin, just a few miles to help me relax before the start of a very hectic Christmas day with my family. So how do I squeeze in a ride when you only have twenty minutes? On swift.

If I was trying to squeeze in an outdoor ride, it would take me 20 minutes just to get dressed and get my bike out of the basement. And it would almost be impossible to find someone to ride with me. But, in the virtual world of online cycling with Zwift, I found 11,143 riders from all over the world to ride with in the Zwift virtual worlds of Watopia, Yorkshire and Innsbruck. In only 20 minutes I completed a short route in Watopia and was ready to start cooking Christmas dinner for the family.

Ken Whittaker


A Zwift Trip to Watopia

Watopia on Zwift

A large part of what I enjoy about cycling is simply being able to get outdoors. However, that isn’t always possible to do safely during the winter months where I live. During those dark and cold months, my only alternative is to turn to my indoor trainer.

While I used to dread my indoor trainer and viewed it as a form of torture that cyclists must endure until the weather turned warm again and we could get back outdoors, I do enjoy Zwift. Indoor cycling will never be as enjoyable as riding outdoors. However, Zwift does offer features that make training indoors much more enjoyable.

For example, as you can tell from my blog, I love cycle touring. I love to go on cycling adventures to new places. Luckily there is no shortage of new places to explore on Zwift. There are currently 100 routes on Zwift of various length and difficulty, with many other event-only routes also available. Another big benefit of Zwift is I don’t have to worry about distracted drivers, and I can safely ride without a helmet.

Ken Whittaker


Don’t Forget Wind Chill

One of the many pleasures of cycling is that cool breeze we generate as we pedal along on a warm summer day. I can’t think of any other physical activity that offers such a pleasant breeze to help to keep us cool during physical exertion like cycling. However, as the weather gets cooler that same breeze can make it feel much colder than the actual outside temperature.

Staying warm is crucial l when cycling in the winter. Unfortunately, the outside thermometer alone is not a good indicator for selecting cycling clothing in colder weather. Cycling speed can also have a big impact on wind chill or perceived air temperature. Fortunately, it is easy to approximate wind chill by multiplying the wind speed by 0.7 and then subtracting that value from the air temperature. But, don’t forget to factor in your cycling speed for this calculation.

Example:

  • Formula
    • Wind Chill = Outside Temperature – (Wind Velocity x0.7)
  • Where
    • Outside Temperature: 45 degrees Fahrenheit (°F).
    • Wind Velocity: 18 mph (Wind Speed 3 mph + Cycling Speed 15 mph)
  • Wind chill
    • Wind chill = 32.4 degrees Fahrenheit (°F)
    • 45 degrees Fahrenheit – ( 18mph*0.7)

Not good with math or don’t want to be bothered by the calculations? Then just click here on the Wind Chill Calculator.

Don’t be afraid of cold weather cycling, just be prepared. Layering up is the best way to stay warm and remember that too many layers are better than not enough. You can always take a layer off  and enjoy the ride.

Ken Whittaker


A Must Have Winter Addition to Your Cycling Kit

Neck Gaiter

As the weather turns cooler, a neck gaiter becomes an essential part of my cycling kit. There is nothing more versatile at keeping my head and neck warm. An added benefit is that when it gets too warm to wear my neck gaiter it is easily stored on my wrist while I’m cycling. Below are the ways I use my neck gaiter:

Neck Gaiter

While it may take some time to learn how to transform this versatile garment into all its possibilities, with a little help from YouTube you can become a master at it in no time. So stay warm and keep cycling!

Ken Whittaker


The Hidden Cost of a Bosch E-bike

If you’ve read my post “BUILD OR BUY AN E-BIKE?” you know that I purchased a ready to ride Bosch e-bike and also converted one of my old bikes to a Bafang powered e-bike. After a year of riding both bikes about 1,000 miles (1.6K KM) each, which system do you think cost more to maintain?

The Bosch system was by far the most expensive to maintain. While neither the Bosch nor the Bafang systems had any mechanical or electrical problems, the Bosch system had to go to my local bike shop twice for service and the Bafang system never needed service.

Let me say that again.

While the Bosch never had a mechanical or electrical problem in the last year, it had to go into the local bike shop twice for service.

So why does a bike that has no mechanical or electrical problems need to go to the bike shop twice in 1,000 miles? Because Bosch designed their system so that a maintenance required indicator comes on every 500 miles (see wrench icon in bottom right corner of image). Once the icon comes on, it can only be reset by an authorized Bosch dealer using Bosch diagnostics software.

The joke among e-bike riders is that Bosch should change the maintenance icon (wrench) to dollar signs ($$$) because that’s what the icon really means. The bike doesn’t need service every 500 miles, the rider just has to pay to have it turned off. Perhaps it’s just an attempt by Bosch to bring revenue in to the local bike shops to help them pay for their expensive Bosch’s dongle and diagnostic software.

The maintenance of my Bosch e-bike is the most expensive of any bike that I’ve every owned. I don’t know if I would buy a Bosch system again knowing that Bosch intentionally created recurring hidden costs in their product that have no added value to the customer.

Ken Whittaker


The Magicshine SEEMEE 200 Taillight

Magicshine SEEMEE 200 Taillight

I rarely do product reviews. When I do, it is always of a product that I chose for my own use and paid for with my own money. I do not benefit in any way by a product review. I share my opinion of a product with the visitors to this website so they might benefit from my experience with the product. With that said, let me tell you about the Magicshine SeeMee 200 taillight.

If you’ve read my blog post BE EYE-CATCHING FLASHY you already know that I am a big advocate of cyclists making themselves more visible to drivers by using lights on their bicycles day and night. Unfortunately, a good set of lights can be very pricy. However, there are some very good lights available at very reasonable prices. One of these lights is the Magicshine SeeMee 200 taillight. So, what makes it a great light?

The Magicshine SeeMee 200 taillight features are:

  • Small – 32x28x43mm
  • Light – 1.4oz
  • Very Bright – 200 LM Output
  • Highly Visible – Up to 2 miles
  • Waterproof – IPX6
  • Smart – Motion Brake Sensor 200LM
  • Rechargeable – Micro USB cable included
  • Battery level indicator
  • Multiple lighting modes – 3 constant (30, 70 and 140 LM), 4 flashing (all 140 LM), and 2 smart modes
  • 360 degree visibility – Innovative auxiliary tracing light that shines a beam on the ground for visibility in all directions.
  • Runtime – 2.5 to 50 hours depending on mode.
  • Low Power Mode – When battery reaches 5% chare, it automatically goes to economic flashing mode(30LM).
  • Inexpensive – MSRP $44.99

This is a great light at the MSRP $44.99, but luckily I was able to purchase one on sale directly from Magicshine for $38.24 with free shipping, customs and tax included. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. Pictures speak louder than words.

Magicshine SEEMEE 200 Taillight with Tracing Light at night

The innovative auxiliary tracing beam of light on the ground adds a level of visibility that I’ve never seen before with any other taillight.

Ken Whittaker


Is AliExpress a Bargain?

When I first learned about AliExpress I was really excited about the bargains. However, there are several drawbacks to buying directly from sellers in China.

I’ve experienced all of the following:

  • Very slow deliveries.
  • Difficult communications.
  • Hefty foreign transaction fee.
  • Customs delays
  • Complicated and expensive import taxes.
  • Low quality and counterfeit items.
Magicshine Seemee 200

For example, with my most recent purchase the saving seemed to outweigh the risks. Besides, AliExpress had a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, “We promise your money back if the item you received is not as described, or if your item is not delivered within the Buyer Protection period.” Since I wanted to buy a Magicshine Seemee 200 Bike Tail Light, I ordered one. The seller estimated that the delivery time would be between 20-38 days. After waiting 80 days I requested a refund under the Buyer Protection period. Although the seller would not honor the guarantee and refused to give me a refund, I submitted a dispute with AliExpress and they quickly refunded my money.

When the item finally arrived the seller immediately sent me a message asking that I return the item but refused to pay for the return shipping. In retrospect, the minimal savings about 10% was not worth the hassle. In fact, I have since found the light from local sellers cheaper, delivered the next day and will pay the shipping for returns.

So if you are looking for bargains with Aliexpress sellers, buyer beware! The real cost in time and aggravation may be much higher than you think.

Ken Whittaker