Saris Mag+ Review
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|Pros||Lightweight, affordable, durable design||Lower price range for a premium trainer, good responsiveness, smooth, high power accuracy||Quick setup, easy operation, durable, stable, communicates with training apps, low noise||Quick setup, easy to move around, light, simple design||Very affordable, light, easy to carry, store, and move around|
|Cons||Loud, mag resistance has limitations, assembly takes some effort, requires speed sensor purchased separately to connect to third-party apps||Still relatively expensive, requires calibration, heavy, slightly aggressive in ERG mode||Limited max resistance, roller can heat up and accelerate tire wear, no power data, no control||Louder, unrealistic road feel, low max power, no controllable features, not supported by many popular training apps||Limited resistance, cable shifter, durability and quality issues|
|Bottom Line||This is a utilitarian mag trainer that provides more reliability than others in the low-end price range||A more affordable premium direct drive trainer to get you through winter, rain, and turbo-charged training sessions||A simple, affordable, and highly functional tire drive trainer with the option to use it with training apps||This is the trainer you get when you’re just trying to get your legs spinning without paying a ton||If you can't possibly spend more, this trainer works to get the legs spinning|
|Rating Categories||Saris Mag+||Saris H3 Direct Drive||Saris Fluid 2||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...||FDW Bike Trainer|
|Connectivity and Power Accuracy (25%)|
|Road Feel (25%)|
|Specs||Saris Mag+||Saris H3 Direct Drive||Saris Fluid 2||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...||FDW Bike Trainer|
|Type||Tire drive||Direct drive||Tire drive||Tire drive||Tire drive|
|Weight (lbs)||20 lbs||47 lbs||21 lbs||19 lbs||19 lbs|
|Compatible Platforms||Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, and more (with speed sensor)||TrainerRoad, Zwift, Rouvy, BKOOL, Kinomap, RGT, and more||TrainerRoad, Zwift, Rouvy, Wahoo SYSTM||None.||None.|
|Communication Protocol||ANT+ FE-C or Bluetooth FTMS||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS||ANT+ BlueGiga USB||None||None|
|Dimensions L-H-W (inches)||28" x 21.5" x 15.7"||31” x 18.5” x 19.5”||28" x 21.5" x 15.7"||23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6||23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6|
|Storage Dimensions LxHxW (inches)||20.5" x 9" x 20.75"||8.5” x 18.5” x 19.5”||20.5" x 9" x 20.75"||23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6||23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6|
|Power Comparison||N/A||1-3 watts, 1%||10 watts, 5%||N/A||N/A|
|Decibel @ 230 Watts||66.5 dB||55.3 dB||64.7 dB||65.2 dB||65.2 dB|
|Roll Out Time @ 200 watts||4 seconds||58 seconds||15 seconds||5 seconds||5 seconds|
|Flywheel||Magnetic||20 lbs||3 lbs||5 lbs||5 lbs|
|Additonal||Skewer||No Cassette included||Skewer||Skewer||Skewer|
|Axle compatibility||142x12mm and 148x12mm bikes||130mm, 135mm compatible || Thru-axle available for 142mm and 148mm through CycleOps.||120mm, 130mm, 135mm compatible || Thru-axle available for 142mm and 148mm through CycleOps.||130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm||130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
To get the low-down on the Mag+, we spent hours in the saddle and just as long behind the computer researching materials, design, and claims to validate or debunk. We tested both individually and alongside other top trainers to bring you the details that matter.
Connectivity and Power Accuracy
The Mag+ isn't going to get many points under this measure because it's not a smart trainer. It does get credit because you can find good power curve charts on the Saris site. We were able to validate that against our power meter. Using an aftermarket speed sensor, we also easily found it on Zwift and could sync for a slightly more accurate ride, but it's still not true connectivity because the training programs were running off of our speed sensor (not included with this trainer), not the trainer. If you purchase and install a speed sensor separately, you can also connect to other popular third-party apps, but you'll still have to control the resistance.
Magnetic trainers don't do an excellent job of simulating the road (until you get to the high-end direct-drive trainers). The Mag+ is no exception. The drum is way too smooth, and the inertia you get from the small flywheel just isn't there. This is why we suggest that this trainer is ideal for getting the legs spinning but may be less suited to serious training workouts. You get a small degree of flexibility or workout versatility with the five levels of resistance adjustment, which helps. Still, you're going to struggle with workouts requiring lots of standing, sprinting, or quick changes in output.
We think the design is pretty good for what it is (a low-cost magnetic trainer). It's durable, made with tough materials, and gets the job done. We've heard complaints about the drum on the resistance unit wearing out over time, but we couldn't validate that or find good evidence for it after a few months of use. We notice that it is quite loud, which Saris explicitly says is not the case. Perhaps they can work on that.
The only other areas that stood out were the shifter cable and the small flywheel. The flywheel is so essential for these trainers to deliver an adequate road feel. The Mag+ flywheel is probably only 5 or 6 pounds. Future iterations might up that a bit. The shifter cable is also an area that could see improvement. Getting the cable set into the resistance unit was a pain, but getting it attached to the handlebars and using it was…silly. It's not the most stable mount, and there were a few times where we were in the middle of a workout segment, and we lost the shifter mid-shift. We think this is an obvious area for easy improvement by Saris.
We wish Saris would put just a bit more effort into this area. That's not to say that they don't make an effort, only that they could improve the setup process. The most annoying thing to us was the assembly of the resistance unit. It was easy enough to affix it to the stand, but getting the resistance cable aligned with the internal components and keeping the tension on while stretching it out was a pain. Not impossible, but a few minutes of unexpected tweaking and tedium.
The Mag+ is a fairly lean model that breaks down neatly, so stowing it is pretty easy. You can even remove the resistance unit and stuff it all back into the compact box Saris ships to keep everything together and bound up. The only annoying thing is the resistance cable, which you'll have fun folding and keeping stowed up. It's excellent for any OCD or Type A people.
Should You Buy the Saris Mag+?
While not a perfect bike trainer, we think this little gem is enough to get you moving for inside training without the frustration of buying a lemon or something you won't want to use. While we understand the draw of a budget-friendly option and that some are looking for wallet-friendly options, there is no point in spending any money on a product you'll never use. We think most of the really inexpensive options are likely to end up gathering dust in the corner for years before finding their way to the local Salvation Army. The Mag+, however, has potentially hit a sweet spot of being reasonably priced and not frustrating. So depending on your needs and how much you have to spend, this could be the one for you. It is the best of the basic models with a price reasonable compared to the more advanced competition.
What Other Bike Trainer Should You Consider?
If you want the absolute best trainer and money isn't a huge factor, then the Tacx Neo 2T Smart is the one you want. It earned the highest overall score and the best road feel and connectivity results. If you like Saris or want something a little less expensive, the Saris H3 Direct Drive offers everything you want without the high, high price tag. If you have a tight budget and aren't sure you need all the bells and whistles, you should consider the Saris Fluid 2, a top pick with a fair price and higher performance than the Mag+.
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