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AASQ #60: Saris spins out answers to all your trainer & stationary bike related questions!

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We know, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But there are some questions you might not want to ask your local shop or riding buddies. AASQ is our weekly series where we get to the bottom of your questions – serious or otherwise. Hit the link at the bottom of the post to submit your own question!

Do all smart trainers provide the same resistance when using programs like Zwift? – Tom

Saris: They are generally similar, but some have lower limits than others.  For instance, our M2 will simulate grades up to 15% and the H3 can simulate a 20% climb.

There is also a difference in how quickly smart trainers react. Our smart trainers use electromagnetic resistance systems.  Their reaction times are comparable to the speed it takes to flip on the lights.

What’s the best way to get the most out of your time on the trainer? – Kate

Saris: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a popular and effective training technique.  The concept is to pack a lot of effort into a short period of time.  Even if you don’t enjoy the workout with this system, at least it is over quickly.

However, the best way to get the most out of your trainer is probably finding a system or program that makes you look forward to your trainer rides just like you do your outside rides.  Some people find that satisfaction by racing on Zwift.  Some will find that satisfaction by riding routes from beautiful locations with real video on Rouvy.  While others will find their satisfaction by completing an annual training plan on TrainerRoad.  Most apps have some sort of free trial so you can experiment.

It is also important to know what your goals are.  Do you want to maintain fitness through the winter or come out meaner and leaner in the spring?  Do have a race planned in 2020 or do you want to stay with the front group on your weekend rides.  Once you know your goals, you can work with a coach and have an annual training plan with specific workouts integrated from Training Peaks to your app of choice or head unit.

No matter what your trainer budget, by just putting in the hours and pushing yourself, Saris has the hardware that to help you get or stay strong.


Wahoo Kickr Climb lifts your bike to simulate climbing and descending on indoor trainers

Can I get a real answer, why would you go to the trouble of developing such a robust, universal and expensive trainer platform and not make it compatible with the Wahoo KICKR Climb? You have to figure that anyone willing to spend that kind of money on a platform likely already has a Climb, looking at the questions on the Saris website prior to launch, it seemed like every other person wanted to know about Climb compatibility. This seems to me a huge oversight, but I would really like to know Saris thoughts on this. – Mark

Saris: Climb compatibility wasn’t an oversight. Being compatible with as many other products as possible was a primary objective during development. In fact, it’s not so much a matter of compatibility as it is safety concern. The fore-aft nature of the MP1 Nfinity movement results in the bike and trainer “walking” slightly if the straps and riser block are not used. It may seem like overkill but preventing the front wheel from moving is critical to keeping the trainer (and rider) safely aligned and on the platform. A final concern stems from raising the center of gravity with something like the Climb and the angle of side-to-side lean putting the rider in a precarious position.


Long before Zwift, we played Mario Kart while riding our trainers to help pass the time, as it was infinitely better than staring at a blank wall… and we had run out of James Bond movies well before Netflix and streaming services were so prevalent and accessible. At some point I began dreaming of a day when I would be able to steer, shoot, and accelerate based on the movements, power, and actions of my bicycle on the trainer. My question for Saris is; when can I throw bananas peels and turtle shells virtually instead of from across the room? – Josh

Saris: That is a great idea. Fischer Price beat everyone to the punch 😉 but we are also looking to make indoor riding more fun.

We have hacked some hardware to play games while riding.  We are also very excited to see where Zwift takes their FutureWorks steering project.  The potential for some interesting collaborations is enormous but it will take both hardware and software working together. Saris is squarely focused on the hardware side of that equation.

Will we see a “spin scan” similar to what CompuTrainer had added to Saris power trainers? It allowed more in-depth analysis of pedaling dynamics. Currently, the CompuTrainer is woefully outdated and unsupported technology. Thank you. – David

Saris: We’d agree that there is more in-depth analysis of the pedal stroke possible on a trainer but are skeptical if it’s truly useful or actionable from a performance improvement perspective. We’re not the experts on that but like to see clear user benefits for a feature or function before devoting time and resources to developing something. It’s on our list for sure, and we’ll continue to keep an eye on it as these metrics are better understood.

I’ve got a 2019 Specialized Roubaix Comp with a 12mm thru-axle and I can’t find a trainer adapter that will thread through the frame. Do you know if any axles that work with this frame?- Heath

Saris: You are in luck.  The H3 ships with end caps for all common QR and Thru Axle standards.  Your 2019 Roubaix will run on the common 12 x 142 end caps.

Specialized used a less common 12 x 135 thru axle for a short time.  If someone has one of those frames, you can use two driveside 12×142 caps on our H3.

Editor’s note: If you already have a trainer that isn’t a direct drive model, and need an axle for it to clamp to, Wolf Tooth Components says that their X-12 rear axle with the corresponding axle trainer end caps will work. There are probably other axles out there as well, this was the first one that came to mind.

The Hammer was $1199 last year and is now $999. This is an era where everything is getting more expensive for the same thing. What happened that shaved off $200? – Drew

Saris: New products are expensive for a lot of reasons.  From the Hammer, to the H2, and now the H3 we have been able to reduce costs as volume has increased over time and sped up manufacturing here in Madison, WI.

Hi there. I preordered the MP1 Trainer Platform back in August. The release has been pushed back several times so far. When will it really be in stores? Thanks. – Dan

Saris: Thank you for your order, we started shipping this week!  The first wave of orders are being fulfilled in the order we received them. Demand is exceeding our capacity to build at the moment, so thank you to everybody for your patience.

We are very excited about the MP1 Nfinity.  It is a category-creating product that we plan to build on for many years.

When I’ve got both my Garmin Edge’s ANT+ and my phone’s Saris Bluetooth application next to my H3 how does it decide which signal to follow? – Cheese

Saris: Hi Cheese, you must be from Wisconsin too.

Both ANT+ and Bluetooth (BLE) are available all the time.  So, if you are paired to one the other can chime in at any time.  BLE will take priority over ANT+, so if a BLE control command is received, all ANT+ control commands are ignored.

In your scenario, you could be doing a workout with your Garmin controlling your H3.  If you start a firmware update with the Saris App the trainer will listen to the BLE command and start updating regardless of what the ANT+ signal is doing.

A more common scenario is that you would be controlling the H3 with a BLE device, and an ANT+ computer (your Garmin) would be listening simply to record the workout.

Why does Saris not offer a Campagnolo compatible free hub on their smart trainers? – Robin

Saris: The demand has been too small, AND you can run SRAM, Shimano, or Campy cassettes with any 11-speed drivetrain.  The age of cross compatibility may be coming to an end as we enter the 12 and 13 speed era for bicycles, but for 11 speed we enjoyed a near perfect convergence.

What direct drive trainers can be used with 145mm (tandem) dropout spacing? Is there an adapter you can use? – Benjamin

Saris: None of our trainers are compatible with a 145mm standard.  Even more limiting than the rarity of this use case is the stability concerns we would have for a tandem on a trainer.  With the captain much farther in front of the trainer, it would be difficult to keep everyone steady.

So, even if you could find a hack with spacers or a modification, this would not be recommended.

Why on the H3 is the upper most pulley smooth/textured, when the belt is ribbed length wise like an automotive serpentine belt. The lower pulley has notches to mate to the belt, but the upper one does not, causing occasional belt slip. I know you have started sanding the upper pulleys to fix this, but I’m wondering from an engineering standpoint why you didn’t just make the upper pulley with notches to mate to the belt like it’s seen in cars or even on the lower pulley in the H3? – Alex

Saris: You might be surprised to learn that a grooved pulley wheel makes the belt jump across grooves in our application.  With a smooth pulley wheel the belt is stretching equally to both edges of the pulley wheel.  Those balanced forces help to keep the belt in correct alignment.

The H3 system looks A LOT like the system you see in an automobile, but the similarities are only skin deep.  We’re designing trainers to withstand a couple thousand watts, not a couple hundred horsepower.

How often should you calibrate a smart trainer, and what’s the best way to do it? – Pete

Saris: You can calibrate using most virtual training apps.  We know that Rouvy works with all our trainers and we also have an app for iOS and Android for calibration.  Those are the best way to calibrate.

Direct Drive trainer calibration drifts very little.  So, you can get away with a calibration after about 30 hours of use OR as you see fit… if you suspect drift or you have a race or FTP test on the calendar.

Wheel-on smart trainers must be calibrated with every use.  That is because small changes in tire pressure can have a very large influence on trainer accuracy.  Tire temperature will also change accuracy, so you should ride for several minutes and calibrate again for best results. 

Additionally, you can pretty much skip trainer calibration if you use a power meter on your bike.  You can use the same power meter you train with outside and pair it to your app of choice.  Then the trainer is simply responding to power data and commands (slope or target power) from an app.

It seems like clamping a bicycle into a trainer and holding it in a rigid position while putting out big watts would be damaging to a bike frame. Have you done any testing to see if this is actually the case? – Rob

Saris: We have not but some frame manufactures have. This is another reason to buy MP1(s).


CycleOps had a complete stationary bike before it was cool. Can we expect to see a complete Saris stationary bike with smart trainer tech soon? – Daniel

Saris: Daniel, we think you’re cool.

Editor’s note: So is that a maybe?


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4 years ago

Running a 12 speed drivetrain that Saris doesn’t support makes it easy to choose another manufacturer’s indoor trainer.

4 years ago

Robin, you can run any 12 speed bike on a Saris M2 trainer, and SRAM AXS 12 speed on a Saris H3 with our XDR accessory. https://www.cycleops.com/product/hammer-xd-driver

4 years ago
Reply to  Brian

So you’re claiming all 12 speed drivetrains have compatible dimensions?

Eric E.
4 years ago

I still use Campagnolo 10 speed drivetrain on my bike…hoping to jump into 12 speed in 2020. The fact that the Saris H3 can’t be used with a Campy-compatible freehub is the reason why I purchased an Elite Direto X last month.

4 years ago
Reply to  Eric E.

Campy’s marketshare isn’t insignificant, so it’s surprising that Saris and Wahoo are so willing to ignore that part of the market. Luckily, there’s Elite and Tacx/Garmin to provide products that Wahoo and Saris refuse to provide.

4 years ago
Reply to  Eric E.

You can run, as stated a competitors 11, 12 speed cassette with Campy. I use Campy and run Sram cassettes on some wheels.

4 years ago
Reply to  Exodux

So you’re saying definitely that Campy and SRAM 12 speed have compatible cog spacing and cog thickness that will cause no issues across the gear range no matter your setup? You’re saying you’ve used a Campy 12 speed drivetrain with a SRAM 12 speed cassette. Hmm. Was that an Eagle or AXS cassette?

4 years ago
Reply to  Robin

Campy 11 is close to Shimano and Sram but not the same. People that say it works perfectly simply have lower standards.
Wahoo makes a Campy body for their trainers.

4 years ago
Reply to  Greg

The new Campy freehub body from Wahoo is a welcome update.

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