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This is my Saris H3 smart bike trainer review.
Thanks to its responsive and accurate ERG mode, it belongs among the best smart bike trainers you can buy. I tested it and also checked its accuracy. You learn the results below.
Spoiler alert: Saris H3 ended up well. Feel free to buy it here.
Or, read my entire review for more detailed info.
Let’s dive in!
Who Is Saris H3 Bike Trainer for?
The Saris H3 bike trainer is ideal for dedicated riders who do structured training using apps like TrainerRoad.
Its ERG mode is highly accurate and responsive. It reacts well to big shifts in power and is probably the best in the business.
Saris H3 Bike Trainer Summary
Here is the summary of the main features and the technical specifications of the Saris H3 smart bike trainer.
- Highly responsive and accurate ERG mode
- Quality and sturdy construction
- Realistic road-like feel
- Relatively compact
- Cassette is not included
- No side to side tilt like on Wahoo KICKR or Tacx NEO 2T
- Maximum resistance: 2000W
- Accuracy: ±2%
- Gradient simulation: 20%
- Weight: 47 lb (21.3 kg)
- Flywheel: 20 lb (9.1 kg)
- Noisiness: ~58.7 dB @ 200W
- Power Consumption: ~8.8 Wh @ 200W, ~11.7 Wh @ 300W
- Connectivity: ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth
In the Box
The Saris H3 is packed in a compact black box. It includes:
- Saris H3
- Multiple adaptors for through-axles and quick-release
- Front wheel riser with a disc-brake caliber spacer
- Charging brick with a cable and all electrical outlet plugs used worldwide
Unfortunately, a cassette is not included, so you have to buy it separately.
Saris H3 Features & Benefits
Below I explain the pros and cons of the H3 in detail.
Quality and Sturdy Construction
Design-wise, I like the Saris H3, probably the most of all smart trainers on the market. Its construction is sturdy, so you won’t have to be afraid of falling over during sprints while compact enough for easy storage.
I noticed only one thing. When I lean too much forward (during sprints), the rear part of the trainer tends to lift slightly. So, don’t try to be as aero as possible indoors.
I also encountered an unusual issue. The plastic piece on the handle was poorly finished and cut my palm when I tried to relocate the trainer.
Honestly, I would never say this would happen to me with a smart trainer. However, I cut the piece with a knife, and now it’s okay.
Ease of Setup
Saris H3’s setup is easy. All I had to do was mount a cassette, unfold the legs, choose the suitable adaptors, mount my bike, and plug the trainer into electricity.
Those feet are adjustable, so if you have an uneven floor, you can adjust them as needed.
The included front wheel riser is nice to have, but it could be higher. I prefer having the front wheel higher (like when climbing) for a more comfortable riding position. But that’s just my preference.
Saris H3 offers the connectivity you expect from a premium smart trainer. This means it features ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS.
These protocols allow you to connect it to mobile devices like smartphones or tablets, computers and laptops with Bluetooth or ANT+ dongle, bike computers, etc.
During my testing, I didn’t encounter any dropouts or issues with pairing senses to indoor cycling apps. Everything worked fine.
H3 can measure your power, speed, and cadence, so you don’t need external sensors.
If you don’t want to use it with 3rd party apps, you can leverage its ‘Headless’ mode that uses a progressive resistance of the Saris Fluid2 trainer. You just have to plug it into electricity.
Road Like Feel
The road feel of the Saris H3 is great – similar to what you get from Wahoo KICKR v5 and other high-end trainers.
TIP: Check out my comparison of Saris H3 vs. KICKR v5.
However, Tacx NEO 2T is in a league of its own, mainly thanks to its virtual flywheel that can simulate various surfaces. Saris H3 doesn’t offer this because it uses a 20lb (9kg) flywheel.
If you want to get closer to the road-like feel, check out my roundup of the best rocker plates. They make your trainer move from side to side and some even fore-and-aft, improving your comfort and making your ride more realistic.
I like H3’s stability. Although I am not very powerful, I appreciate it when I can rely on my equipment without worrying about falling over or damaging anything.
Saris H3 is quiet. More noise will come from your fan or drivetrain than from the trainer. It varies about 58 dB, depending on how quickly I pedal and how hard.
Check out these smart bikes if you need an even quieter device (because you will train in the early mornings, or late evenings or don’t want to disturb household members). They are even quieter thanks to the lack of a chain-cassette-chainrings interface.
Saris H3 Accuracy Tests
Saris introduced a new version of H3 in 2022. It’s more accurate and has higher resistance and gradient simulation. See the complete comparison of Saris H3 vs. H4.
Test #1: ERG Mode
The following ERG mode test is inspired by the one that also does DC Rainmaker. It has a short warm-up, ramp-up, multiple 30×30s high/low power intervals, and cool down.
As you can see from the following picture, the power is almost on point. Saris H3 reacted to the power changes within 3 seconds.
Here is the comparison with other power sources.
The following chart shows cadence. H3 readings were sometimes slightly lower than Assioma DUO, mainly when I started pedaling faster just before the power increase. However, the deviation always was within a few RPMs.
So, the ERG mode ended up well. You can check the data set here to dig deeper into the data.
Test #2: Freeride
I chose the Pienza route in Wahoo RGT for the free ride because of its rolling terrain and beautiful scenery.
Here is where the first issues started to appear. Saris H3 overread and underestimated my power multiple times during the first 5 minutes of my free ride, and then less significant drops continued until the end. However, the average power was on point.
The power drops in the first 5 minutes of the ride were most likely caused by the cadence drops, as seen in the following picture. The average cadence was off by more than 6 %.
Test #3: Race
I also wanted to try how the H3 behaves during a race. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up as planned because I lost connection right at the start. It took about 30 seconds before Zwift reconnected. This means that I don’t have the ride data from the first 30 seconds, and I had to crop the other 2 sources to avoid the average power deviations.
Once the Zwift reconnected, the bunch was gone, so I rode a TT with two riders until I dropped them in a climb a few km before the finish.
Here is the power chart. Except for a few spikes, everything seems fine. The entire data set is again available on my ZwiftPower profile.
This time, the cadence looks much smoother and more accurate (unlike in Wahoo RGT).
Saris H3 Alternatives
Here are some Saris H3 bike trainer alternatives worth your attention:
- Wahoo KICKR v5 (also available at wiggle.co.uk) is more expensive and comes with a cassette. It works flawlessly with other Wahoo devices like the CLIMB. Feel free to read my KICKR v5 review for more info.
- Tacx NEO 2T (also available at amazon.com) is much more expensive but offers a more-realistic ride feel thanks to its virtual flywheel.
- Elite Direto XR (also available at rei.com and competitivecyclist.com) is similarly priced but doesn’t have as responsive and accurate ERG mode.
To check out more smart bike trainers, click the button below.
Saris H3 Bike Trainer FAQ
Saris H3 belongs to premium trainers with one of the best ERG modes in the business. Its power and cadence accuracy are also pretty good, but I encountered issues in Wahoo RGT.
I like H3’s stability, sturdiness, and sleek design. It’s also compact, allowing easy storage when not in use.
Due to its lower price than its alternatives, it is a great choice for those looking for a premium but more affordable direct drive trainer.