Why choose CORE with Zwift Cog vs cassette?

The KICKR CORE was released as a more affordable, but thoroughly capable, alternative to our flagship KICKR trainer. Now offered with the 8-12 speed cassette of your choice or a Zwift Cog already installed, how should you choose whether to buy the CORE with a cassette or a Zwift Cog?

1. "Where" do you plan to ride indoors? 

The Zwift Cog + Click is a 14 tooth single-speed cog, compatible with almost any 8-12 speed bike and a two button digital remote that’s easy to attach to wherever you’d like on your handlebars, that offers 24 virtual gears of resistance when used with Zwift.  The Zwift Click’s virtual shifting functionality only works on the Zwift platform.

If you have no intention of using Zwift, then a cassette that matches your drivetrain may be a better choice.

If you plan to do all your riding in Zwift, the Zwift Click will allow you to shift virtually and the single speed Cog will be perfectly suitable for ERG mode workouts.

If you plan to ride in Zwift, but also in other apps like our SYSTM training app or others, the Zwift Cog will work for most applications, but because the Click only functions in Zwift, you won’t be able to shift gears. This is fine for ERG mode workouts, but for other virtual ride environments, fitness tests, or some sprint workouts, shifting is necessary.  In any case, read on for other considerations.

2. Number of bike(s) to be ridden on the trainer

The next question to ask is – How many bikes do I (or we, if living in a multi-rider household) want to use on the trainer

If it’s just you and only one bike, then it’s entirely based on how you want to use the CORE.  Skip to #4.

If you have multiple bikes that you want to use on the CORE or you only have one bike that you plan to use both indoors and outdoors, then a Zwift Cog may be the best option, as it should not require any derailleur adjustments, and is compatible with most 8-12 speed bikes.  

3. Number of cogs on the cassettes of those bike(s)

The Zwift Cog becomes an even stronger choice if you have at least two bikes with a different number of cogs on the rear cassette of each bike (ie. bike 1 has 11 cogs (11 speed) and bike 2 has 10 cogs (10 speed).  

In order to use both of these bikes with a cassette installed on the CORE, you would need to have a different cassette for each bike and take 10-15 minutes to swap them each time with some specialized bike tools.  With the Zwift Cog, you would only need to swap the bike itself and possibly the adapters.
If the bikes you plan to use on the CORE have the same number of cassette cogs, in most cases, you can use one cassette with both bikes. You may need to make small adjustments to the rear derailleur of a bike when moving it from outdoor wheel to trainer and back.

4. ‘Ease of use’ vs. ‘real feel’ 

The CORE is designed to provide as close to an outdoor ride experience as possible, using the flywheel to simulate the effects of inertia and allow your bicycle to interact with the trainer like it would a wheel outdoors.  When used with a cassette, your shifting experience in a virtual ride environment like Zwift is equivalent to riding outside. You use your bike’s shifters to control gear changes.  

With a Zwift Cog, bike installation is simplified. Shift controls are moved from your bike’s shifters to the Zwift Click, two button bluetooth controller, mounted to the location of your choice on your handlebars.  Shifting is now done with one hand, and limited to single-step shifts in a linear progression (1-24).  If you have a two chainring crankset, this increases the overall gearing range, but limits how you can access them, as one-touch shifting from small > large rings in a sprint or drop shifting from large > small from a downhill to climb are no longer available.

The CORE with Zwift Cog is certainly easier and faster to set up with most bikes, but in order to most closely simulate your outdoor riding experience, choose a CORE with a cassette that matches your bike.


5. Gear range

Most of the group rides and races on Zwift are oriented toward pavement / road riding. If your bike is geared lower than optimally for that environment, ex. if you have a trail / enduro mountain bike (or gravel bike) with a smaller single front chainring oriented toward climbing, the expanded 24 gear range of virtual shifting provided by the Zwift Click will remove the limitations of your physical gear configuration.


6. Compatibility

Both the Zwift Cog and the range cassettes offered with the CORE allow for compatibility with almost all bicycles on the market. 

Zwift Cogs are compatible with the great majority of 8-12 speed drivetrains. It is not compatible with belt-driven bikes or internal gear hubs such as Shimano Alfine or Nexus. Bikes equipped with SRAM Flattop chains [used with Red, Force, Rival, or Apex AXS or Eagle Transmission drivetrains] may experience slightly accelerated wear than when used with their outdoor wheel.

If you wish to use a cassette,

  • cog count (how many cogs/gears on the cassette),
  • min/max tooth count (how many teeth on the smallest and largest cogs), and
  • your drivetrain's brand (as some brand chains/derailleurs will only interface properly within that brand's system),

become critical in determining compatibility.  Almost all bikes are compatible with the CORE, but may not be with the pre-installed cassette options. Some may require the purchase of a different cassette and possibly a different freehub.

For more information about drivetrain compatibility, please see our support article on Drivetrain Compatibility for CORE.

If you have specific questions about compatibility or just aren’t sure, please contact our support team with the year, make, and model of your bicycle, make and model of your rear derailleur, and number of cogs, and tooth count on the largest and smallest cog of your cassette, and we are happy to help answer your questions.

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