Most of the reviews I read of the Saris MP1 Nfinity rocker plate have involved borrowed units that were ridden a few hours before the review was created. Although such reviews have value, I attach more credibility to long-term reviews, since first impressions can be deceiving.
I bought the MP1 (as I’ll call it for the rest of this review) a few months ago, and have about 50 hours on the platform. This seemed like a good time, then, to do a review (I’ll do another one, focusing on long-term reliability, in a year or so). Note again that I own the MP1; this wasn’t a loaner for product-review purposes.
I bought the MP1 primarily for one reason: my butt really hurts on longer indoor trainer rides. That includes my former Peloton (my review of Peloton vs. Zwift is here), and my current indoor trainer, a Saris H3 (review coming on that shortly, as well!). I can do about an hour on a trainer, but the pain usually starts around the 40-minute mark. After 60 minutes, the discomfort typically becomes acute.
The reviews I read before buying the MP1 said that rocker plates, since they add an element of movement, more closely simulate outdoor riding. Since the forces generated via pedaling are dispersed through the natural motion of the platform, they’re not all absorbed by your butt (and other parts of your body you’d really rather not have absorbing these forces).
The theory is that because of these factors, the ride is more comfortable, allowing you to ride longer. Of course, theories are often discarded when real-world usage is applied.
I won’t go into unboxing or other setup. Others do that, and I’m less interested in those things anyway. Just let me say that it was no problem to set up, even for a mechanical incompetent like me. Putting the trainer and bike on the MP1 was also easy, and securing them to the wooden plate was also simple. I haven’t had any part of the bike or trainer slip yet.
What you really want to know, however, is HOW WELL THE DANG THING WORKS. Let me give you my 50-hour impressions.
The MP1’s Art of Subtlety
The movement is more subtle than you might think. There’s a generous range of rocking back-and-forth and side-to-side available, but for the most part, the MP1 moves just a bit while I’m spinning at my normal cadence of around 90. That movement is back-and-forth, and I’d estimate that it’s less than an inch in total.
But it’s interesting how significant that feels over the course of a workout. The Kurt Kinetic R1, by comparison, is probably the most well-known smart trainer that offers a rocking motion. The R1, though, is only side-to-side. That back-and-forth makes a difference in the realistic feel, and it’s not to be overlooked.
When you’re working out of the saddle, either in a climbing configuration or sprinting, the rocking of course gets more significant. The MP1 handles it all brilliantly.
It does take some time to get used to, but within a couple of hours, I was completely comfortable with the platform. Now it’s become second nature to me, and I can’t imagine going back to a locked-down, stationary trainer.
Is it exactly the same as riding outside? No. Is it close enough for government work, as my stepfather likes to say? For sure.
What About the Pain?
As to the discomfort I had before, it’s mostly gone. I can still get a bit of soreness, but that can also happen outdoors. When that happens, I just get out of the saddle for a bit, and I’m good. I’m also not afraid of longer indoor rides anymore. For me, that’s a big win.
One fun note: the back-and-forth motion can be highly exaggerated. When I feel like being silly, or want a break from the occasional drudgery of riding in the basement, I enjoy rocking the bike back-and-forth hard. It feels in a very minor way like an amusement park ride, and usually brings a smile to my face.
About that Price Tag…
Yeah, it’s, um, an investment, at $1,200. Only you can decide if you want to spend that much on basically a shaped piece of wood that slides around on metal rails. For me, it’s worth it, as I’m committed to getting in shape for long rides outside and maybe some racing. And something that helps me enjoy basement workouts as much as the MP1 is worth the money.
It’s the same rationale that helped me tip the scales toward my expensive Trek Domane road bike. The Domane’s comfort is astonishing, and encourages me to spend longer hours in the saddle. That’s what I want.
I had a Trek Emonda before that. It was a brilliant bike, but not great for rides of more than a couple of hours. There were numerous other factors that came into play as well, but comfort was the chief consideration. The Domane begs to be taken on long hauls, and I attach significant value to that (for the record, I don’t use my Domane on the trainer—instead, I use my old Lemond Maillot Jaune steel-frame road bike. It’s still a sweet piece of metal).
The MP1 has the same effect as the Domane—it keeps me on the bike. Anything that does that is gold.
(Full disclosure: I have no financial relationship with Saris. They didn’t request a review, and I’m sure they have no idea who I am. I receive no compensation for this.)