ok, weighing back in here now that i have both wheel-on and direct drive:
i rode a Kickr Snap wheel-on trainer for about 3 years. i just upgraded to a Kickr 2020 direct drive, and have ridden it 4 times. here’s my initial impressions.
- i agree that it is not night and day. the differences are subtle between Kickr and Kickr Snap. in fact, they are so subtle that i would say you should probably ALWAYS buy the Snap first until you are sure you’re going to ride the trainer a lot. save the money!
- not having to pump the tire and/or stop at 10 minutes in to do a spin-down is INFINITELY AWESOME. i hated that so much on the Snap!
- the “road feel” on the Snap is better than the Kickr. something about having to turn that rear wheel just feels more like “on a bike outside”.
- the “responsiveness” to changes in resistance is much better on the Kickr. it’s really nice and smooth how quickly this thing responds. however, i think this is part of why the “road feel” is missing – it just feels more like a trainer than a bike.
- the new feet on the Kickr that underwhelmed GPLama and DCRainmaker are pretty awesome for me – the Snap didn’t move at all, and the swaying motion of the Kickr is very welcome. (and i am on a mat, too!)
- the power is definitely more accurate on the Kickr. i could feel the difference between rides on the Snap, even if i did calibration spin-downs. sometimes, i even got a “bad spindown” that would elevate or depress my power readings by as much as 30-40 watts (this was rare, but incredibly frustrating!). i was never sure if my power was ‘correct’ on the Snap, but i can feel consistency on the Kickr.
- no more trainer tires! i had two CycleOps tires that warped from heat, and a Tacx one that shredded little bits of blue rubber everywhere. i doubt it will ever cover the difference in cost, but it’s yet another convenience to not have to worry about this. also, if you leave the tension on with the Snap, you can develop a little hop in your tire which you can both feel and hear until it works its way out.
- i’ve got a slight grinding sound in one of the cogs on the cassette i put on the kickr. obviously, didn’t have that problem on the cassette on my actual rear wheel. not too big a deal, but an observation.
- i haven’t changed my “trainer difficulty setting” yet (about 25-30% today), but i think i will need to increase it for the Kickr – the setting i have for the Snap seems like it doesn’t leave me “big enough” gears on the Kickr.
i’m very happy with the Kickr – the conveniences of no trainer tires, no tire inflation, no spin downs, some side-to-side motion and faster/smoother resistance changes are absolutely worth it to me.
but – i do not doubt/regret my decision to start with the Snap at all. it’s an awesome trainer, and until you ride it so much that you get sick of spin downs, you’ll never notice the difference between the two! (also – i rode something like 7.5k miles and 430k vertical feet on that Snap, and it’s still functioning like the day i bought it – it’s a tank!)