There are three smart trainers that we think are the best. We think the Saris H3 is our favourite smart trainer, especially considering the price.
There have been a few major changes at CycleOps in the last couple of years, particularly when it comes smart trainers. To better align with Saris, the parent company based in Wisconsin, CycleOps underwent a rebranding. Saris is Cycleops. The legacy CycleOps brand is owned by Saris, who made some of our favourite bike carriers and power meters.
Saris then introduced the H3, a smart trainer that was vastly improved and new. Although the H2 was built and promoted for several years, there were a few flaws to it. These flaws were fixed by the H3.
Bottom line: The Saris is our favourite trainer, even when you consider the price.
You can find the
>HTML3 at REI here. You can also get it >from Competitive Cyclist, here.
Saris H3 Competition
The main rivals of the H3 to our opinion are the Wahoo KICKR and the Tacx Neo. We will be reviewing both models separately. Both are great models that we review separately.
Horseback Riding Experience
This unit is a great unit overall and a significant improvement on the previous version.
The Saris H3 offers a much more enjoyable riding experience than its main rivals. The model has many great features, including its stability on the ground, responsiveness and low noise levels.
When it comes to unit wobblyness, poor connection or loss of connection or excessive noise, we are very strict. Although the original H2 model was competent, it had some shortcomings. The H3 addresses them all and is comparable to, if not better than, the best.
Some people think Saris is not keeping up with the competition, but we believe the H3 product is something they should be proud and at the top of the market for performance.
Maximum power output is 2,000 Watts. This is plenty for avid cyclists. I would like to introduce you the Olympic committee if you require more than 2,000 watts for your workouts.
H3 Compatibility and Connectivity
It is very easy to connect the H3 with your favorite apps. We usually connect to either an Ipad tablet or an Apple TV device (in Zwift’s case). The H3 quickly recognizes the connection and does not require any modification to the firmware.
We only found a few dropped connections after testing the unit for several months. We weren’t sure if the drop was caused by the unit or the receiving device.
We conclude that the H3 will find and connect to any app you use, including Zwift or Sufferfest, Rouvy or Trainerroad. This is in line with the H2, which has a long history of finding and keeping the connection to the app or Apple TV device.
The H3 works with all indoor cycling apps including Zwift and Rouvy. The H3 is Zwift certified and comes with a month of Rouvy.
It is the most obvious improvement in H3 compared to H2. It is quieter. Way quieter.
We love the fact that Saris took all feedback about the H2’s “whine”, and concentrated on the H3. We love the H2, and we have ridden a lot of miles on it. However, there is a whine at first that can be annoying. It will eventually stop bothering you.
The sound quality of the H3 is greatly reduced thanks to a new drive system. According to the company, the sound quality is reduced by approximately 5 times compared to H2. Although it may not be as quiet as the Tacx Neo’s, there is still a level where you can say it is quiet enough. We think that the H3 is quiet enough.
Saris states that the H3’s sound output at 20 mph is 59 decibels. Although we don’t have a decibelmeter, we can tell you it is quieter that the H2 by far.
The H3 seems to have very high accuracy. We haven’t yet tried to measure power accuracy by riding the trainer while simultaneously using a separate power meter. We will be running that test within the next 30-days, and we will publish the results.
The wattage at exertion levels that we are familiar with seems to be within 5% or less. Also, the responsiveness when increasing or decreasing power has been excellent.
Some people disagree on whether running the unit cold or hot has an impact on the power readout. The H3 has better cooling capabilities so this is less important than in the H2 or the KICKR, which can get quite hot when running at higher wattage.
The readings from smart trainers that are completely cold can be slightly off. Most people prefer to ride the trainer for 10 mins before calibrating it.
Mounting and Driving
Install your cassette on the H3.
An H3 trainer is direct-drive. This means that the rear wheel is removed and the bike can be mounted directly into the trainer. A rear sprocket will serve as resistance. The sprocket will then be connected to your chain. This is how the KICKR, Neo and Neo connect.
We wish it came with a prepackaged cassette or sprocket, as with all other trainers, except the Wahoo. This is the most delicate part. Mounting the bike to the trainer will be easy once you have it all set.
A smart trainer has a lot more flexibility than a regular trainer. Many cyclists cringe at the thought of clamping their carbon fiber frame to the trainer and the tension it places on the chain and seat stays. Smart trainers connect and fasten in a way that is more friendly to the frame.
A mat is a good choice for setting up your H3 or bike. It will stabilize everything and protect the ground beneath it from sweat and scuffs. Saris is a great option that can be used with or without your trainer.
Smart trainers are safe, and this is especially important if there are young children. Experiments have shown that kids are attracted by the sound of the bikes and the buzz. They won’t let you go.
Smart trainers are more efficient than regular trainers because they remove the large rear wheel, which is one of the most important moving parts in the equation.
We love the H3 and all the Saris/ Cycleops smart trainers, because they conceal the flywheel. Everything is contained within the case. This might make it more difficult to access when you have to do some maintenance, but this should not be an issue. It makes it safer around children. If a hot, exposed flywheel like the one on the KICKR can cause injury or burns to someone who didn’t know how fast it moves or how warm it can become, it could be dangerous.
The H3s flywheel design we think is superior for this important, but not so well-known, factor.
The H3 can carry riders up to 300 lbs. To ensure safety, the H3 can handle riders up to 300 lbs. You may wish to speak to the company.
We don’t have much data about durability since the H3 is only on the market for one year. It is a joy when you are able to see the actual “mileage” of your unit. We’re not there yet.
We are able to say that we have had good luck with the Saris/CycleOps brand over the years. This is true for both the H2 which has seen many, many hours of riding and the traditional trainers that we have put through their paces.
The H3’s internal cooling fan is a feature that will help prolong its lifespan. This fan has been a great asset for smart trainers. This will keep the flywheel safe from extreme temperatures. We know that friction points, key components and bearings tend to wear faster at higher temperatures.
The Saris H3 costs $1,100, which is lower than the Wahoo KICKR ($1,200), and the Tacx Neo ($1,400). The H3’s functionality, which is a significant leap forward over the previous generation, is $200-400 less than other models. This makes it a better deal overall. While the Neo and KICKR are smart trainers, the H3 is a great value for money due to its performance and features.
It can be purchased
Saris H3 vs. Wahoo KOCKR
The Wahoo KICKR is likely to be the strongest overall competitor for the H3, due to both brands being around for a long period of time and the Wahoo being priced just a few hundred dollars higher than the H3.
Let’s begin with the price topic. We believe that the H3 offers better value for money. Both are reliable, responsive, smart, and quiet intelligent trainers that have been around for a while. The H3 is $200 cheaper.
The KICKR is a great choice for gadget-hounds and gear-junkies. You can simulate climbing by attaching the indoor grade simulator to your front fork. We were skeptical at first, but have been receiving great reviews. The KICKR Axis feet also allow for some side-to-side movement to simulate an outdoor ride. You can also integrate your third-party powermeter to increase your output.
The H3 can simulate incline but not as much. The H3 can simulate a 20% slope, while the Wahoo KICKR can simulate both a 20% and 10% decline.
Many of these features can be skipped for the average rider, who just wants to get on Zwift and Sufferfest once a week and have a good time. Although we don’t intend to tell you what features are most important, we believe that the H3 has enough functionality for about 80% of riders.
We prefer the concealed flywheel of the Saris to the Wahoo exposed flywheel. It’s safer for pets and young children.
All that being said, Wahoo is not in any way under attack. We went to a Wahoo KickR Review and liked most of what we saw. The KICKR has always been a favorite of ours and we would ride it again ( >, which you can find).
TACX Neo vs. Saris H3
If you are looking for a sleek and elegant trainer with a low price, the Tacx Ne 2T is the one you should buy.
The Neo is a very cool unit. Its design is first and foremost, stunning. It’s sleek and minimalist and looks great in your gym. It is also extremely silent. It is so silent that you can use it in your baby’s room while they sleep. The only sound you would hear from the screen is your cursing. It packs a lot into its sleek design, with the ability to simulate 25 mph inclines, and 2,200 watts, if needed. Comparing that to the H3 with its 20% incline, and 2,000 watts.
The Neo 2T is priced at $1,400. It costs $400 more than the H3. Although it is superior in many aspects, it is still inferior in the basic ability to get you moving and keep you in good shape. The Flux 2 is a step-down Tacx model. We enjoyed what we saw in the Tacx Flux 2 Review.
The Neo ( >Check latest price here) is a great option if you have the funds. We think that the H3 is a good choice if you want to get the most value.
Saris H3 vs. Saris (or CycleOps) H2
We wanted to take a moment to compare the Saris H3 and the Saris (CycleOps), H2. You can get an H2 at discontinued pricing. This means that it may be $100 less than the H3, making it a great way to enter the smart trainer market. It would be a brand new, but discontinued product.
The main benefits of the H3 are in the quieter drive system and belt, which reduces noise as well as internal cooling fan. The improved drive belt will reduce the whine that many H2 owners can identify with. The cooling system should also help extend the life of the unit. But only time will tell. If you are looking at a $1,000 purchase, it is better to look back over three years than to analyze everything after just a few months. The problem is that in three years there will be a better model.
These two benefits are not the only ones. You will also have the same reliable firmware. Keep in mind that the firmware does not depend on the model. As new versions become available, Saris’ firmware is easily updated like an app. The H2 and H3 appear to have similar accuracy, stability, and an overall similar design and body. The H2 has been subject to hours of rigorous testing and is still holding up well. The H3 is expected to be similar in durability.
Given the advances in H3, we believe the H3 is worth $100 more than the H2. The H2 can be purchased for half the cost of the H3 if you’re looking to save some money. The H3 is a smarter trainer, but let’s not forget that it’s superior.
Peloton vs. Saris H3
The H3 and the Peloton are a bit like comparing apples to oranges. The H3 lets you ride your bike and work out on Zwift, Trainer Road, or other apps. Peloton is simpler, but you will need to use the Peloton app and ride your bike. While some may prefer the Peloton, most people who train for the next triathlon season or century ride prefer to train on their bike. The H3 is one of the best options to Peloton.
Where can I buy the Saris H3?
Two reliable places are recommended for purchasing your new Saris H3. You will find the price to be roughly the same. However, if someone offers a discount, grab it!
Competitive Cyclist’s Gearheads are very knowledgeable about trainer shipping and know what to do. They also offer a 30 day return policy for used items and an unlimited period for new-in box.
>View their H3 trainers stock here
Our friends at REI also keep a lot of H3s in stock. Although they might not be as gear-crazy as the Competitive Cyclists, some prefer REI to be close to home for service, which should never be necessary. Order the H3 at REI.