The Wahoo KICKR Snap and the TACX Bushido Smart are both very capable trainers. Both trainers perform well, but some aspects of the TACX Bushido Smart stand out as unique. Athletic Tech Review (ATR) is going to pit both of these trainers against each other in a head to head match. We want to see, and show you which trainer performs better in real life testing. ATR has the links to all three reviews of each trainer. We take each trainer apart in Part 1, show the calibration and accuracy in Part 2, then do the performance testing in Part 3.
Each article also has a corresponding video you can watch. We had a lot of fun testing these trainers and hope you enjoy the video below. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest video updates. We also send out a weekly newsletter on Sunday. You can sign up for the newsletter on the right of our webpage.
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Head To Head On Paper
The first thing we will do is compare these trainers head to head on paper. We have validated the sprinting wattage and climbing slope through our other tests. You can see a wide range of prices for the TACX Bushido Smart. On my affiliate link, you can purchase that trainer for $549 at the moment where as other sites are selling it for $799. There is still a big swing on prices at the moment. The other thing you will notice is the lower slope rating for the Bushido Smart. That is because it struggles at lower wheel speeds. I’ll talk about that more in Round 7, which is the climbing round.
The big difference between these two trainers is flywheel weight, overall weight, and the Bushido smart providing it’s own cadence and power. Yes, the Bushido Smart is self powered; no need for a power cord. The KICKR Snap is also significantly heavier than the Bushido Smart, which gives it a slight advantage in our sprinting round. Okay, let’s get to Round 1!
Round 1: Style
In Round 1, we look at the style of the trainer. How appealing is it to the eye? The KICKR Snap is well put together. They use Carbon Steel in the design, so it is built like a tank. The use of color and branding is on point. The Bushido Smart has one flaw in color scheme. Their is a blue plastic piece that really doesn’t match the grey on black color scheme. At first look, the KICKR Snap seems to be the obvious winner. However, the TACX Bushido Smart does one extra thing that I really love.
On the Bushido Smart you get this really cool light display. The lights not only change colors with intensity, but they scroll with your cadence. Now, I’ll admit I am a bit of a moth attracted to the flame of shiny lights. I just love the light show that the Bushido Smart puts on. So, because of the great light display integrated into the Bushido Smart, we give Round 1 to… The TACX Bushido Smart.
Round 2: Build
Athletic Tech Review takes each trainer apart to see the specific build. You can tell a lot about a trainer when taking them apart. I was guessing about how the Bushido Smart operated until I actually took it apart. I was amazed with what I found. It not only generates power through one device, but applies resistance through that same unit.
Now, the KICKR Snap is also an amazing feat of engineering. The Carbon Steel design, with a near silent 10.5lb flywheel is a wonder to “not hear” and ride. The thing is built like a tank but as quiet as a mouse. The only time I have seen this trainer give customers issues is when there is a manufacturing default that makes it out of the assembly line. That is not specific to the KICKR Snap either. Plenty of TACX trainers have shipped to customers with manufacturing errors also. All in all here, you would think that the KICKR Snap is a shoe-in for the Build round.
I am calling this one a tie. Yes, that is correct, it is a tie folks! You cannot discredit the engineering that went into the generator/electromagnet design. You don’t need a power cord with the Bushido Smart, you are making your own power with your legs. I love that concept. This concept is enough to match the build quality of the KICKR Snap.
Round 3: Road Feel
Road feel is a really tough thing to replicate for indoor trainers. The premium trainers do a decent job with road feel because they have massive flywheels. The inertia of that flywheel replicates road feel. However, you can never truly replicate road feel. We only look at who gets you closer to the inertia that replicates riding your bike outside.
The KICKR Snap comes with a 10.5lb flywheel. There is no other Mid-Range or Budget trainer that even comes close to the KICKR Snap on flywheel size. The Bushido Smart only has a 2.5lb flywheel. However, the design of the integrated generator/electromagnet does a better job than something like the CycleOps Magnus. Generating power through that unit feels like your driving a 7lb flywheel. This one isn’t a runaway, but the KICKR Snap takes it in Round 3 for Road Feel.
Round 4: Sound
ATR looks at some basic data when it comes to sound. We use a sound meter that we hold in our hands during the ride. The bicycle is brought up to 20mph and we do a sound test. Then we take the bicycle up to 35mph and do another sound test. What impresses me the most, is the 10.5lb flywheel on the KICKR Snap is sneaky quiet. The more trainers I test, the more impressed I am.
The Wahoo KICKR Snap comes in at 61dB at 20mph and 66dB at 35mph. That is impressive. The TACX Bushido smart is 67dB at 20mph and 77dB at 35mph. 77dB is about as loud as I like to get. That is equivalent to a large fun running on high. I do not want any trainer louder than my fan. I do have a caveat with the Bushido Smart.
You won’t be able to hold the Bushido Smart at 35mph for very long.
The baseline power curve of the Bushido Smart gets really steep the faster your wheel speed is. This means, that you need to hold around 600 watts just to generate 35mph. Not too many people are going to be holding that wattage for very long. So, you won’t experience 77dB for very long with the Bushido Smart. It will only happen when you are sprinting. The win for sound, easily goes to the Wahoo KICKR Snap.
Round 5: ERG Tracking/Smart Trainer Control
For Round 5, we look at how well the Trainers respond in The Sufferfest Training Centre, Zwift, and TrainerRoad. Both of these trainers responded very well and worked well in all applications. There is only one real difference here, how they track and follow target wattage.
The TACX Bushido smart tracks more like a power meter. That means, it doesn’t hold a steady line like the Wahoo KICKR Snap does. Now, Wahoo Fitness has updated their trainer firmware to give you that realistic power meter tracking if you want. So, that is also an option to consider. The Wahoo KICKR Snap tracks ERG mode smoothly and doesn’t bounce around. The TACX Bushido Smart bounces around slightly, but still tracks ERG mode very well. You can look at the images below of my examples. The orange line represents how a power meter would report. I am using a Stages power meter in these graphs below.
I can’t call a winner here because people may like their trainers to track differently. There was no fault with the way either trainer performed across all three apps. Round 5 is a complete tie, and specific to personal preference.
Round 6: Sprinting
The Sprinting test is the fun part of our testing. I get on the trainer and start ripping legs off. We want to verify that the trainer hits the target wattage in the manufacturers claim. The Wahoo KICKR Snap hit all targets very well. The 38lb weight of this trainer also helped apply as much power as possible. This was a really fun trainer to sprint on. There were some interesting things going on with the Bushido Smart.
The Bushido Smart could only sprint up to 1160 watts with TrainerRoad. We ran a power meter in the background and looked at our Garmin Display. The Bushido Smart was hitting wattage numbers right at 1400 watts as reported by the stages power meter. However, it was selling itself short. Also, this trainer was bouncing all over the place when we were sprinting. If you are big rider that can lay down some watts, you will be bouncing around like me. I have a max sprint between 1450 and 1600 watts at the moment and weigh 195 pounds. That gives you an idea of how I stack up.
The winner for our sprinting round goes to the Wahoo KICKR Snap. The weight of the trainer allows you to throw down some serious watts. It also spins up to a full blown sprint very, very smoothly.
Round 7: Climbing
Our last performance test is the climbing test. I put the trainer in the 39 x 27 gear ratio and then ride that at 65rpm. This gives me a wheel speed of about 8mph. That is a very low wheel speed and it really test the limits of these Mid-Range and Budget Trainers. We did run into some issues with the Bushido smart that we will cover last. Let’s talk about the KICKR Snap first.
The KICKR Snap is amazing the way it can hold power with low wheel speeds. This is purely due to design and the large electromagnets that sit in the flywheel. It has no problem holding 330 to 350 watts at a wheel speed near 8mph. No other trainer even gets close to that. I estimate that the real slope rating for this trainer is 10 to 12%. Now, onto the Bushido Smart.
What gave the Bushido Smart a tie in the Build section, is now it’s achilles heal in the climbing section. As you can see in the image above, the Bushido Smart Struggles to hold 100 watts at that super low wheel speed. The reason? It needs to generate power from wheel speed, and then it uses that power to apply resistance. Not enough wheel speed, not enough power, not enough resistance. It is as simple as that. The Bushido Smart can do a really good job in the 39 x 21 gear ratio, but I only rate the slope at 3 – 4% like the Budget Trainers.
The win in this round easily goes to the Wahoo KICKR Snap. There isn’t another trainer in this price range that can apply that much resistance, at that low of a wheel speed. Why do I even include this in my review? It shows how many gears you can use on your bike with these trainers. The Premium trainers allow you to use all of your gears on your bike. When we get to Mid-Range and Budget trainers, you lose the use of some of your gears. That’s why you are paying a premium for those nicer trainers.
Round 8: Supporting Apps
I threw this round in, because supporting apps are still a big part of some companies support plan. They still generate a decent amount of revenue through their training Apps. I also look at how the trainer is supported through it’s training app. Some companies do a better job than others in this regard.
There is no denying that TACX has a depth of training Apps. I like the calibration piece of the TACX Training App and they have some extensive software to integrate with their trainers. You can use the TACX utility App, the TACX Training App, the TACX Videos, and the TACX Software which is a virtual training platform much like Zwift. I think companies like Bkool, TACX, and Elite are going to be taking hits over the next few years because Zwift and The Sufferfest Training Centre are just getting better and better each year.
The winner of the last and final round… is the TACX Bushido Smart. That is 4 wins for the Wahoo KICKR Snap and 2 wins for the TACX Bushido Smart. Two of those categories were ties. Also, the Bushido Smart didn’t lose by much in the Sprinting test.
The overall winner is the Wahoo KICKR Snap. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy the TACX Bushido Smart. The Bushido Smart is the right trainer for the right person. It has huge flexibility since it generates it’s own power. It is the only trainer that I know of at this price point that does that. You can literally take it anywhere. That is major selling point for this trainer.
We cannot deny that the KICKR Snap is a great trainer. It deserves the win. I still need to review the Elite Rampa and the BKool trainer in the future. I don’t know if they will come close to competing with the KICKR Snap. I have the Elite Rampa in my office right now sitting in a box. If it doesn’t seem to stack up, it won’t get the title shot against the KICKR Snap. I will compare it to the number two trainer, the TACX Bushido Smart. You don’t get a title shot right away anymore. The KICKR Snap has also vanquished the CycleOps Magnus in a previous head to head.
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