Written Dec 2019
A couple days ago I had the pleasure of coming home to a few small packages on our front porch, and I knew it was going to be a great christmas, because only one thing could be in a box that big: a Saris MP1 Nfinity trainer platform. I felt like Ralph from A Christmas Story when, after months of waiting, his father reveals a secret gift, a Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock.
Let's take a look in the box, shall we?
Unboxing: 10 out of 10
The size of the box was a little intimidating at first, but I was stoked when I opened it! The MP1 is pretty much fully assembled right out of the box. It’s always a mixed reaction for me when I open a box and see 99 parts, screws, and tools and realize there’s at least an hour of assembly required. Not so here. Once I got the box open and the few parts out, it took less than fifteen minutes from open to setup. Thank you, Saris!
Read the instructions and clean the runners with the supplied towel first. This is way easier to do while the unit is in the box and upside down.
Remove the small rubber pads holding the roller wheels in place while it’s still in the box; even though there is more movement when setting up the MP1, it’s easier to do when the plate is upside down.
When you take the MP1 out of box, test the plate’s fit by pushing it both forward and backward all the way. My first placement was too close to the fan, and I quickly learned in my first test ride just how much movement it has (don’t worry, my fan’s ego was damaged, but it’s fine).
Assembly: 9 out of 10
Again, super easy here. The only reason my score isn’t a ten is that the instructions were a tad hard to follow. I highly recommend watching the setup video on the Saris website for an excellent overview. I have the Saris H3 smart trainer , and the total assembly time was less than ten minutes. I like a little extra rise on my bars on the trainer, and the Saris “block” system was a perfect solution! I love that they took the time to consider how different trainers—and more importantly, different riders—have different rise. Great work, team Saris!
Use a level to make sure the plate is actually level before putting your trainer on it.
Don’t lock down the front wheel or trainer straps till you get the trainer positioned right. The front wheel is fixed, and if the bike isn’t aligned (in other words, the trainer is too far left or right), it will feel like your handlebars are turned when you’re riding. You can easily test your alignment by jumping on for a few strokes before tightening everything down. In the image below, you can see how the H3 trainer needs to be offset to make the bike line straight as an example.
Think about the things around you; you are about to be taller. The plate adds about six inches of height to your setup, so consider how to adjust your support tables, monitors, etc..
Mounting your bike: 9 out of 10
This step is super easy but took me a few times to get it right. Why? Well, because of the fixed nature of the front wheel and trainer, you need to get them in correct alignment. I had to jump on and off a few times to slightly adjust the positioning of the rear trainer to align perfectly so that my handlebars felt straight. I got it perfect on the third attempt, locked everything down, and was ready to roll.
Don’t completely tighten everything down till you get in a few pedal strokes and are happy with the bike alignment.
Once you get the alignment correct, use a permanent marker and trace the outline of the trainer on the platform; this ensures you can easily return it to the correct location if you need to move your trainer for any reason.
First Ride: 9 out of 10
From the first few pedal strokes, I knew this would be amazing. So why only a 9 out of 10? Due to our weather and some time constraints, I have been on the trainer a lot in the last two weeks, and the feeling of movement on the bike took a bit to get used to. It’s pretty different. I think we (our brains) have adjusted so completely to a fixed trainer ride that it takes some time to unlearn the feelings and relearn how to move on a bike on the trainer.
First Ride Tips
Dedicate an easy 30- to 45-minute ride to (re)learn how to move on the bike. Yes, I know you know how to ride outdoors, but teaching your brain to connect the motion without the bike moving forward takes a bit of practice.
Test some different paces. After about ten minutes of steady riding, I repeated a few hard, 30-second efforts to get a better feel, then actually attempted some sprints. Learning to handle the different efforts (the harder you go, the more the plate will react) helped speed up my comfort on the MP1.
Riding and Training on the MP1 Nfinity: 11 out of 10
Let me start with the key end point first, what I think is the greatest breakthrough; comfort. One of the biggest barriers of extended indoor training is the discomfort. You can buy an expensive trainer, enroll in an online program like Zwift or RGT, and invest in a training plan, but if you aren’t comfortable on the trainer, none of it will matter, because your indoor training sessions will be compromised or ___ (insert your favorite torture word here). Comfort is king.
Once I got a little practice time on my MP1 Nfinity, I set out to do a two-hour trainer ride. About 45 minutes in, I knew I was in love! On a fixed trainer, all the force of movement is transferred back to your contact points, most of which fall on your sit bones. For most of us, this leads to saddle discomfort (I use a more padded saddle on my trainer but still get pretty uncomfortable about 90-120 minutes into a trainer ride). On the platform, you simply don’t feel that force and discomfort. My two-hour ride flew by with no discomfort! To further test this, after three or four longer rides on the MP1, I moved my H3 off of it and returned to my old on-the-floor setup. I was pretty miserable 45 minutes into my ride. I actually ended the experiment early and moved everything back onto the platform to complete the ride.
What about performance and feel? They’re amazing, too. Being able to stand, move the bike, surge, and settle in, all while the trainer is moving under you, significantly improves the experience. The quality of the Saris H3 trainer (or any high-end trainer) and the movement of the MP1 Nfinity give you a true feeling of the road. As a pro coach, I rarely prescribe my athletes trainer workouts, because it can mess with their pedal stroke, but the combo of a high-end trainer and the MP1 Nfinity makes the pedaling feel identical to riding on the road.
One thing that’s tough for me on longer trainer rides is that it “beats me up.” For any trainer ride longer than 90 minutes, I typically feel a little sore and battered (unlike riding outside), but on the MP1 Nfinity, I don’t feel this way. I always knew that the battered feeling of long trainer rides was the effect of being fixed in one place and fighting all those forces, but I was still surprised by how much better I felt post-ride on Nfinity. Total win!
I would also note that after the first longer ride, I had some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in my core area. As I mentioned above, it’s been a while since I’ve been on my regular bike, and using the Nfinity requires a little balance, thus engaging some additional core muscles.
If you ride and train indoors, buy the Saris MP1 Nfinity . It’s that simple.