Saris MP1 Platform

You place your smart trainer on this platform, to make that trainer feel more like you’re riding out and on the road. That's the idea. Does it work? Yes. But not in the way I expected it to.

I thought the sexy part of this trainer was going to be how it reacted when I was out of the saddle. But I didn’t find that a particularly compelling experience. I didn’t dislike it. But it wasn’t a rewarding enough difference to cause me to want to part with $1,200. But I was compelled by something else this platform did.

What I didn’t think would matter much was the experience of riding while seated. But this is where I did find a difference.

At least that's what I thought I was feeling. I didn't want to imagine or talk myself into anything. So, I set up another stationary workstation, same rider position, same pedals, so that I could hop off one and onto the other and get instant feedback.

This is what I did, over a number of days. Switching bikes, on and off the MP1 Platform, back and forth. Folks I know on Zwift were messaging me. “You’re testing something, aren’t you?” I’d be in the middle of a Zwift ride, stop, start a new ride because I had to reboot Zwift each time I switched bikes.

As to the presentation of the platform itself...

The Saris MP1 Platform shows up packaged perfectly – if you get it via mail order – and the assembly was easy and quick. One thing. I couldn’t get past the creaking, at the edge of the platform when it moved side-to-side. I asked Saris’s man-for-all-seasons, Brian Turany. “Another user complained of this,” he said, but only that one. I lubricated, I inspected, nothing worked. So I started taking pictures, and sent this one below to Brian.

You’re supposed to remove those pads between the wheel and the leaf spring, he told me. Those pads are for shipping. I took the pads out. No more creaking! Companies often have to update their user instructions after I review a product, because I can find a way to mess something up beyond the capacity of a normal person.

I videoed myself on the platform because there’s really no good way to describe it. You have to see the platform in action to get the gist of it.

The upshot is this: I like the platform. I would definitely find an improvement in my cycling experience with the platform, if we’re talking about a smart trainer rather than a smart bike.

However, as noted, the platform pleasantly surprised me in an unexpected way, but what I thought the platform would provide me is not a feature I’ve so far found compelling in the way I expected. Why? Two possibilities. First: I have not been riding outdoors this season at all, and because it always takes me awhile to get used to riding out of the saddle once outdoors, maybe it’s just that. Second, perhaps it’s that lack of rotation about the steering axis that I miss.

A note about the images here. You’ll see a couple of risers that come with the platform, and they’re installed one on the other, like Legos, as you need more and more rise. You’d need that rise if you’re riding a smaller front wheel.

You might note that one footpod on the H3 trainer is near the edge of the platform. This is because trainers aren’t symmetrical, side-to-side. The cassette body sits out one side. When you center a trainer on the platform, one leg may sit out farther aside than the other, and that’s the case with the H3. Also, the H3 has particularly “long legs.” More so than other trainers. But the platform is perfectly stable. The bike is absolutely locked down on the platform in front, and the trainer likewise in back. Nothing is going anywhere on this platform.

The images here show the underside and what you’re looking at are the mechanics that make the platform move. There’s a set of curved tubes front and rear and the trainer moves on these tubes via wheels. This is the fore/aft movement you sense when you’re getting in and out of the saddle and the video embedded here clearly shows this.

Then there are leaf springs, and this is what allows the trainer to move from side to side.

Would I buy this platform? f I had a good smart trainer, the MP1 platform is definitely an enhancement. Yes, I would buy this platform. But if I had to choose between a smart bike – the KICKR Bike or the NEO Bike – I’d pick the smart bike as my purchase (and those bikes won't work on this platform). But, these smart bikes cost between $3,100 and $3,500 versus $1,200 for the platform. Also, you can’t put a KICKR Climb on this platform. Both Wahoo and Saris say no can do. Mind, I’m tempted anyway. But I’m not going to try it.

In my opinion, if you’re a Zwift racer, and you think the MP1 Platform is going to give you the edge when it’s money time and you’re sprinting for dough, either the answer is no, this isn’t the device that’s going to get you the extra 10 watts through ergonomics, or the answer is maybe you might get those watts and I just am not a good enough sprinter to know whereof I speak.

If you’re a just-riding-along kind of person, seated almost always, looking for a more road-like experience in subtle ways, they yes. This device delivers that for sure.