Editor’s note: Matt Gardiner rides for Team Indoor Specialist, which is sponsored by Saris. As part of that sponsorship, team members were recently given Saris MP1 Nfinity Motion Platforms to test and use. As a big rocker plate fan myself, I was keen to see what Matt thought of his first experiences using the MP1!
It’s no secret that Saris has received some pushback due to the MP1’s “tightness”, lack of adjustability, and price point. (I’ve even written about it on Zwift Insider, and GPLama Shane Miller’s recent MP1 review video mentions the tightness as well.) That said, users seem unanimous in saying they love the MP1’s fore/aft movement, solid build quality, and additional comfort afforded by the rocking motion.
Shane Miller mentioned in his recent video (linked above) that there is a learning curve to using a rocker plate, and that’s true to some extent. It’s especially true if you’re accustomed to riding a typical rigid trainer setup, which doesn’t replicate outdoor movements well at all. But here’s the good news: the learning curve is not steep, and it’s well worth the trouble (in my humble opinion)!
After spending some time riding and racing the MP1, Matt put together a solid tutorial to explain how to properly use this motion platform. But the videos and advice apply quite nicely to all rocker plates. In fact, it may be the best rocker plate “How To” tutorial I’ve seen so far, which is why I asked Matt if we could share it on Zwift Insider.
You may not realize it, but riding your bike on an unmoving indoor trainer is not at all like riding your bike outdoors. Indoors, there is no need to contend with gravity to balance yourself (unless you are one of the lucky few who has managed to fall off the indoor trainer).
As you pedal, your upper body subtly leans towards your powering leg in an attempt to gain leverage through the power-phase of your pedal stroke. Outdoors, this motion is enabled by leaning your bike away from that powering leg as you propel yourself forward and work to stay upright. On the static trainer, it is not necessary (or even possible) to lean the bike as you would outdoors.
This video demonstrates the proper and improper forms for riding an indoor trainer rocker plate such as the Saris MP1:
When you introduce a rocker platform to your indoor riding setup, immediately you will notice your natural inclination to lean towards your powering leg (i.e. applying power with right leg, and leaning body towards right leg). This motion gets the rocker platform moving, but it will feel a bit foreign, as your entire bike and body will lean in the same direction: towards the ground.
To get the bike moving more similarly to how it would outdoors, you will need to apply gentle pressure with your hands — moving the bike away from your powering leg. To do this, as your right leg is entering the power phase (down-stroke) apply gentle pressure with your left hand, rocking the bike and MP1 to the left. As you progress through the power phase with your right leg, transition that pressure to your right hand as your left leg enters its power phase. The platform should rock side-to-side with each pedal stroke.
This concept is a bit hard to grasp by reading, so check out the following videos to get a clearer view on how to ride the MP1!
This video explains the simple motion involved in riding the Saris MP1 Nfinity at a steady, seated effort. Subtle use of your upper body by applying pressure on the handlebars makes riding on the MP1 far more like riding outdoors than a static setup.
Through each pedal stroke, push your bars away from the foot that is currently in its power phase. The MP1’s fore/aft movement will be felt as you do this, giving you the sensation of speed and inertia. The sensation of inertia on the stationary bike makes for an incredibly immersive experience in games such as Zwift!
This video explains the motion involved in riding the Saris MP1 Nfinity out of the saddle in a climbing effort. Apply pressure on the bars through your upper body, leaning the bike away from your powering leg for each pedal stroke. This allows you to generate constant force to maintain a fluid motion.
As you rise out of the saddle, the bike will respond to the movement by shifting backwards. Begin maneuvering the bike to initiate the fluid side-to-side rocking motion. Each pedal stroke should be met with a corresponding lean of the bike towards the other side.
This motion is comfortable and replicates the motion of climbing outdoors far better than simply raising the bike’s front end.
This video explains the body’s motion involved in riding the Saris MP1 Nfinity out of the saddle in a sprint effort. Sprinting is the most complicated of the efforts on the MP1, requiring complete upper body interaction with the bike.
As you throw the bike side-to-side, you will be pulling and pushing with your arms to generate leverage. Your legs will work to push against that leverage to produce as much power as you can through the pedals.
Once this motion is nailed down, you will be sprinting with the best of em’!
Interested in learning more about the Saris MP1 or indoor riding in general? Leave a comment below!
This post originally ran on teamindoorspecialist.com