Kickr Bike MTBr steering hack!

Here is a great hack I will soon put on youtube. When I was trying to decide between Kickr Bike and wahoo trainer, I was worried about the fact that steering with smart phone running ZC (Zwift Companion) would only work with wahoo trainer. And as a MTBr I want to ride trails! (Repack ridge) But with an engineering and fabrication background I had a feeling there would be a Kickr bike hack I would come up with. And so I got the bike, and lo and behold there is! Create Moveable handle bars. I tested the concept by loosening the screws attaching stem to head set Post, applied some high viscosity lubricant, mounted the phone on handle bars with ZC running, and it works: handle bars move, and you can ride repack ridge and steer with Kickr Bike! If have since fabricated my own stem, headset assembly that does this more permanently-no harm done to Kickr bike as I just swapped the parts. Note however that with the recent update to add steering buttons for road riding, I could no longer get on Repack. I discovered that all one needs to do is decline steering on initial pairing when entering Muir and Mountain, then turning on to Titans grove the turn onto Repack again appears (shortly after bear climbing tree). So do not pair the steering buttons on initial setup if you wish to ride Repack on Kickr Bike. BTW this “hack” works incredibly well. latency is not bad, and it really makes for great virtual mountain biking and a great workout. So If Wahoo engineers are listening: Make an add on handle bar set with freely moving steering to pair with ZC with smart phone attached. Or better yet, use encoders in the head stem assembly and team up with Zwift for Kicker bike steering. In the meantime I’ll continue to use this mountain bike steering hack! It’s friggin awesome!

i wondered if wahoo would look into an upgrade (stem or headset) that would allow steering rather than buttons. i did like the sterzo feeling for steering better than the buttons. it is much more engaging. if you ride in 3rd person view on a big screen while steering, it really gets you into it, like a VR headset

Here is latest version of my steerable handle bars. Works great on Repack, and no harm to bike, just swapped out parts. BTW. Free steering adds to realism on toad as well and reduces fatigue, even though on toad bike doesn’t respond. Now we need more trails. I’m going to do a whole review on the MTBr Forum in a few weeks.

Hi Joe,
thanks for your posts.
I was thinking about doing the same since a while but put the “engineering” on hold during summer and now that Zwift enabled the steering button I delayed the rework further.
quick question:
what is your design to allow handlebar movement? is it just loose screws or have you worked out something more sophisticated?
I was thinking about a ball bearings but that might be easy-going. in terms of realism steering should get more stable when doing higher speed. so I’m still not to certain on what to engineer.

Hi Don. I had fabricated a head set from spare parts with a Teflon bearing surface. But in trying it find that loosening the headset and applying high viscosity lubricant results in just as smooth a movement, with no play, as long as you get tightness just right on Allen screws. The only problem at all is that the Allen screws loosen a bit after a ride or two, introducing play. So what I am doing in the spirit of “no-harm” to the bike (I.e. leave every component of Kickr bike as is, not messed with) is getting another stem and a riser post. Riser post will attach tightly to where Kickr stem was, and new stem to riser post and will articulate there. (I like my bars a bit higher anyway). I will then slightly flatten (or use locktight, or whatever it’s called) threads on those new stem screws so they won’t turn too easily and not on their own. I’ll post photo when done. But basically, loosening screws on current stem and lubricating works fine. I just like the idea of leaving original parts just as is and not introducing wear and tear. But the reality is that I don’t see any additional mechanical stresses introduced. BTW I got hold of Wahoo development. They are intrigued and asked for photos of what I am doing. Bottom line: having a blast on Repack!

Forgot to comment of stability with speed. So yeah, no way to duplicate the experience of greater stability with speed (no counter steering, castor effect or angular momentum of wheel!) but the bottom line for me is that steering on the trail adds so much to the “virtual experience” that it’s fine as is. Grab a phone, mount it on handle bars, loosen screws, and so e gervase and see how it feels. The only real obstacle here is how little Zwift offers in the way of trails. It’s really too bad how under represented MTBing interests are in Zwift. I think this is a huge untapped market. So for example, Roadies are far more likely to ride year round here in CO than MTBrs because paved paths are more often rideable in winter than MTB trails at 9000 feet. Zwift would offer an alternative for them. Also, I suspect that MTBrs tend to be a bit more thrill oriented, and would take to the video game like experience of virtual trail riding. I’m hoping it’s only a matter of time before Zwift or one of the competing apps focuses more on off road.