Is there anyone willing to KINDLY help a newbie?

I’m currently working on the Back to Fitness workout plan but I’m a complete newbie when it comes to all of this! I use a literal touring bike with a Saris M2 trainer. I struggle when the workout wants a cadence higher than the wattage. I’ve read articles about ERG mode and I’m not sure I even understand it. I had thought before I got the Saris trainer that the bike wouldn’t matter because the trainer would be doing all of the adjusting but now I’m not sure.

Please Be Kind! I love riding my bike in the Zwift worlds and would like to stay but I really have no idea what I’m doing.

Hi AmyJ. If you haven’t read this from zwiftinsider you may want to. Also explore other articles on his site which address erg mode and other pertinent info.

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According to Google this is a “smart trainer” meaning it will adjust resistance automagically. When doing the workouts you should feel the resistance get harder as the workout blocks get harder and call for more watts without the need to change gears. That is what ERG mode does (only during workouts). If you are just free riding around one of the worlds/routes or with a pace partner you should feel it get harder as you go up hill and ease off when you get back to flat road or downhill.

The bike you have shouldn’t matter too much, especially when doing workouts since you don’t need to change gears. If you find that you are running out of gears, can’t make it easy or hard enough, then that is when you may need to consider a different bike. People who use mountain bikes on Zwift run out of gears a lot mostly when on flat roads, they don’t have a large enough gear to get going as fast as those with proper road bikes.

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You mean when it asks for 100RPM at 70W or suchlike?

Could that be down to the adjustment of the trainer? The M2 is a “wheel-on” trainer with adjustable pressure/tension isn’t it? If your tyre is slipping at higher cadences that will have an effect on the power the trainer registers I think. Have you calibrated it correctly?

Some of the reviews on ZwiftInsider mention the “clutch” mechanism might be a bit tricky to adjust correctly.

I would ignore the cadence targets in workouts for now until you get used to the counterintuitive nature of ERG mode (you still get stars for sticking to the target power even if you miss the cadence target).

In the opposite way to how it works outside, in ERG mode when you reduce cadence it gets harder to pedal, and conversely easier to pedal if you increase cadence. This is because the trainer adjusts to maintain the target power (higher cadence means less resistance needed to generate the same power). This can feel extremely strange until you get used to it, and the trainer can take a couple of seconds to adjust.

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Thanks for all the input. I really think there’s a problem with the trainer. Tried emailing with Saris but that was a fail so I’ll be calling them on Monday. I think it’s possibly the clutch knob needing replaced…

I also have a Saris M2 (retired since last week because I bought a Tacx Neo 2T :wink:) maybe I can help you with your issues if you like (if they are related to the trainer)?

I have two issues really.

  1. My trainer randomly adds resistance that doesn’t match the workout or incline of the route. That I think is possibly the clutch knob.

  2. I have difficulty adding cadence without adding wattage. I think I should be adjusting the gearing manually when this is called for in a workout where I was expecting the trainer to adjust as needed.


  1. What kind of tyre (rear) do you use on the trainer?
  2. Does the clutch knob work like it should do (turn the knob and stop when it ‘clicks’)?
  3. Adding cadence without adding wattage is not possible when your in the same gear. More cadence equals more wattage when in the same gear.

When doing workouts (ERG mode) in Zwift shift to a gear ratio where you feel comfortable and don’t change gears. That the best thing to do if you ask me.

On a smart trainer in ERG mode, as you increase cadence it will decrease resistance accordingly to keep to the power target, albeit with a delay that can be confusing if you’re not used to it.

There’s usually no need to change gear on a smart trainer in ERG mode in a workout.

Yeah so I’ve been told. I’m not sure I’m experiencing that, if I am then I’m still not able to get to the cadence and power combo that the workout is asking for. How does it know what the power target is?

  1. No clue, just the tire that came with my touring bike.
  2. No, it doesn’t click.
  3. Then why are there workouts asking you to use a higher cadence than wattage?

That’s what I do but then I can’t meet the goals of some workouts.

I worked with Saris customer service for several weeks concerning their H3 trainer. you have to be patient with the email service as they are a bit slow. They always replied and tried to resolve the problems though.

About the tyre. I would advice to use a tyre specificly for indoor training. I used the Schwalbe Insider, but there a more brands that have indoor trainer tyres.

Check this vid concerning the clutch knob: Saris Wheel-On Bike Trainers | Clutch Knob - YouTube

If there is no click the clutch knob is broken.

It’s looking like I’ll have to leave the Zwift world because of Saris. We spoke to Saris more than a week ago. At that point my husband had been able to calibrate the unit but I couldn’t even get to warm up speed in an FTP test. Saris sent a new control unit, today we installed that and now my husband can’t reach the speeds being asked for in the calibration test because of all the extra resistance. Saris is now saying that I have the wrong kind of tires but the tires that I have meet the specs on their website. We have so much money invested in the bike and trainers and Zwift membership that there just isn’t any more to spend trying to fix the problem. What’s even more frustrating is that I bought the trainer from Zwift and noticed that they are no longer selling any trainers which is probably because of problems like mine.

I suggest you just go and do a few rides on Zwift and see how you like it. Forget erg training for now and your FTP - i have never done an FTP test and am at level 42. Training isn’t everything. And like you I was unable to resolve my problems with my Saris trainer which is a bit annoying to say the least. In the end i just got a different trainer.

Unfortunately I can’t do that because my trainer makes the pedaling too difficult to ride more than 2/10 of a mile :frowning_face:

I’m really sad to hear that you also had a problem with Saris that you weren’t able to resolve.


Can you post a picture of the pairing screen.

In what gear do you cycle. Small front and big rear.

After you got the new control unit you said that your husband found it too hard to do the calibration. That may be correct! With my Saris doing the calibration was stupidly hard. I had to be in the easiest gear and stand up and push down really hard just to get going. Once you get rolling it will ease off and you can go faster. Use the Saris app although there is a Zwift calibration too which is just as hard to do.
Also there may be a nearby shop selling these trainers that have experience with them and as a good will gesture may help you out.

Thanks for sharing your experience. He has actually pushed through it as you describe but it doesn’t get any easier (it was after the firmware update after the new control unit when he couldn’t complete it, I cut the story short to try not to bore people) and after completing the calibration it remained too difficult for me to reach warm up speed. It was at this point that we called Saris again and they suggested the firmware update which only made things worse.