The Saris M2 is an affordable, wheel-on smart trainer that serves as an ideal introduction to the world of interactive training for riders with a relatively tight budget.
Despite the mid-range price tag and A-frame design, this is a fully-fledged smart trainer, with claimed power accuracy of +/- 5 percent. Saris claims the M2 is capable of handling up to 1,500 watts at 20mph and can simulate up to a 15 percent gradient.
The M2 uses a motor unit that sits against the rear tyre to provide resistance and feedback from your efforts, and comes in a stealth black finish that looks far better than many similar trainers.
The legs fold out for when it’s in use and fold flat against the main frame for easy storage. At 9kg it’s not overly heavy to carry around either.
The M2 will work with dropouts with 120mm, 130mm and 135mm spacing, and Saris provides a steel skewer in the box that fits into the trainer and saves damage to any fancy quick releases you may be running.
There is an optional thru-axle adaptor available for 142 x 12mm and 148 x 12mm but this doesn’t come in the box, so you’ll need to buy it separately if you have a thru-axled disc brake bike.
Before you can mount your bike, a little building is required, though it’s a simple job and even the least mechanically minded individual will be able to do it thanks to the simple instructions provided.
Setup essentially involves bolting on the resistance unit, and screwing the adjustment lever for the wheel and the clutch knob that is used to apply pressure to the tyre.
When slotting your bike into the trainer be sure to lock the right-hand quick release lever to keep the bike solid in the unit. There are three incremental width adjustments on the left side, making for an easy life.
Applying the resistance unit against the tyre is a simple affair with the large yellow dial adjuster. This allows you to apply a decent pressure to get a good contact with the resistance unit.
The unit roller itself is made from alloy to reduce slippage. If you do find your tyre slipping it usually means you need to increase the pressure dial. I would recommend one of the many harder compound tyres designed for training to help with longevity.
With the legs folded out ready for action, the M2 has a footprint of 58cm long x 77cm wide x 40cm tall. With the legs folded in for storage it reduces the size to 33cm long x 52cm wide x 49cm tall, which makes for easy storage.
The M2 has eccentric levelling feet, which are easily hand twisted for adjustment on any uneven surfaces. A neat touch.
The unit has integrated, dual ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth connectivity, which makes for an easy life when it comes to pairing the trainer with your phone, tablet or computer. Connecting to third party software is a doddle too and it works with all the main players. I hooked up with Zwift during testing and everything worked instantly.
The M2 will also link up to your bike computer and allow you to operate things from your Garmin. Firmware is kept current on the M2 thanks to over the air updates via Bluetooth devices.
Saris M2 impressions
Once plugged into power, the M2 is ready to go. If you’ve ever used a classic-style turbo then there’s a nostalgic familiarity when you jump on. You will need a front rise block though (or a copy of the Yellow Pages…) because there isn’t one in the box.
The ride feel is stable and the frame holds you and the bike well. Saris uses a 1.2kg flywheel and this system is never going to be as forgiving or have that same inertia feeling as a more expensive direct-drive unit (where the bike’s chain runs directly on a cassette mounted to the trainer).
The ride is solid, even out of the saddle throwing down the power. The frame does a good job of handling everything without issue.
When it comes to power, the M2 is able to handle 1,500 watts at 20mph, which for most training instances and for most mere mortals will never be an issue. In use, changes in resistance are relatively smooth, and impressive for a trainer of this style and price.
When it comes to climbing, the unit can simulate up to 15 percent gradient, which is plenty. The unit also has internally integrated speed, cadence and power data. This eliminates the need to purchase any extra external sensors.
What is noticeably different with the M2 is the noise level. It is louder than a direct-drive style trainer but does offer good performance for a classic style turbo – I recorded noise levels on an iPhone app at 75dB at 20mph (Saris claims 69dB). Tyre choice will effect this though.
Power accuracy compared to my Garmin Vector pedals is good too. Saris suggests it’s within 5 percent but I found it to be within 3 percent.
Saris M2 overall
The Saris M2 is a good value interactive trainer; it’s solidly built, folds away for easy storage and does the job in hand well without disturbing the neighbours, though it is a little noisier than a direct-drive trainer. Plus, it doesn’t cost a fortune.