July 19, 2024

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Saris H3 Bike Trainer Breaks Away From The Pack in a Big Way

Believe it or not, before Peloton, there was such a thing as indoor cycling and training.

Ask any endurance athlete and they will tell you training indoors is what you do to get fit and fast for the warm weather. 

What Peloton did was make indoor cycling mainstream while at the same time introducing connected fitness to the world outside of endurance athletes.

BP Before Peloton, companies like Saris had been manufacturing bike trainers for decades, from the most basic “roller” to their latest offering the H3 and the MP1 Nfinity Trainer Platform.

Combined they have taken indoor bike training and connected fitness to a new level, that will leave you soaking wet with sweat and eager to get up and get back at it, workout after workout.

The H3 is a direct-drive bike trainer, meaning you can use your own bike to “ride” by attaching the back wheel and gears to the H3 and after you turn it on and configure it, you can simulate outdoor riding indoors.  You know without wind, traffic, and the constant need to stop and post a selfie on Instagram.

The technology isn’t new, but the level of advanced technology and connectivity is top-notch. 

A few things, other than the affordable price point as compared to other trainers in this category, the Saris H3 Direct Drive Smart Trainer is $1,100.

When it comes to indoor bike trainers, the most frequently asked question is: how quiet is it? Taking this to heart, the Madison, Wisconsin-based team set and met the goal to build a trainer so quiet, that the only sound is that of your drive train.

The result? A direct-drive smart trainer that touts a sound specification of 59 decibels at 20 mph. In other words, the H3 is five times quieter than previous generations, making it pretty darn quiet.

It’s cycling tech at its best, encased inside the trainer are components calibrated to measure power, speed, and cadence, as well as a precision-balanced flywheel — all built to handle 2000 watts and replicate a 20% climbing grade.

All of this means it is ready to take any kind of beating you can dream up, from a century ride to a 15-minute Peloton class.

Connecting seamlessly to apps like Zwift and the ride only gets better.  We will review connected training apps. later, but in a nutshell, Zwift gives you the ability to ride, race, or train with other trainers on virtual courses from around the world.  The H3 responds to every hill climb and descent without delay.

Making the mistake of letting Zwift choose a course for me, I spent 50 agonizing minutes riding up the Alps, climbing 12% grades, averaging about 5mph. As unfortunate as it sounds, that’s about what would happen if I was riding in the Alps.

Heart-pounding, legs aching, sweat dripping — the experience and workout are fantastic and inspiring.

Just to make sure you’re paying attention Saris also released the MP1 Nfinity Trainer Platform for $1,200.  It is at its base a balance type board that you mount the H3 on top of and it wobbles, and shakes left and right as well as fore and aft as if you were outside, based on your movement.

The technology and thought utilized in the MP1, bring indoor training to life. The MP1 Trainer Platform with Nfinity Technology has patented fore/aft movement as well as side-to-side. The max Fore-Aft Travel: 9.5,” while the max Side-to-Side Angle: 6° 

There are cheaper models out there, but this is solid steel base, well made, and is compatible with a wide variety of trainers.  After you get over the initial fear of falling or tipping over, the experience is wonderful.  As you ride and climb, your stabilizer muscles kick it into gear and the battle for great biking form is on.

This is not a gimmick that tilts for you as you go around a virtual corner or lifts your front wheel as you climb a virtual hill. Imagine putting your wheels in two exercise balls as you ride.  That’s the feeling and what it does, is challenge your stabilizer muscles and core to work.

More importantly, it’s made to make you more comfortable, because with a more traditional trainer set up, you are limited by movement.  Pressure mapping and motion capture technology shows that the MP1 helps to alleviate saddle and foot pressure for better more comfortable and productive workouts.

Peloton. If you’re a Peloton person, get ready to leave nasty comments below. Why? Because the H3 combined with the MP1 makes Peloton better. Much better.  

By using both the Peloton app. for a class and the Saris app. to track your cadence, watts. etc.  The workout gets notched up to a level that is intense, motivating, and fun.  Making the sweet mistake of taking a “Hit and Hills” ride, I was faced with the challenge of having to crush my cadence, and stand, a lot on my own bike as I balance on the MP1.

The result was pools of sweat on the floor and an honest workout that can really only be emulated on a direct drive trainer like Saris H3 and the MP1.  There is no dogging it, because if you slow down or stop, you have to start from ground zero, meaning starting as if you were on the road, with real resistance of the road, your gears, and your bike.

The bundle together is $2300. Seperately they are $1100 for the H3 and $1200 for the MP1 Nfinity Trainer Platform. which is a smaller investment than a Peloton and you get to use your own bike.

The true judge of a piece of exercise tech. is does it motivate you to get up and use it?  When you are done and going on with your day, do you think about when you will be able to do it again, with enthusiasm?  With the Saris H3 and the MP1, the simple answer is, yes.

Picture of By David Wallach

By David Wallach

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