In many ways, smart trainers themselves have largely flat-lined in terms of new features. Sure, we’ll continue to see new models with relatively minor tweaks, but much of the focus for the indoor smart trainer world has been on accessories lately. And that’ll likely continue for the foreseeable future. One such category is motion accessories, commonly called rocker plates. Though, not all rocker plates are created equally, and they’ve got vast differences in what type of motion, how much motion, and the direction of motion.
And thus this brings us to the Gymrail Momentum X1 which is by far one of the craziest rocker contraptions I’ve seen make it to production. Unlike most rocker plates, this is a split-component design (kinda like the Inside Ride E-Flex system). This means that you’ve got one portion holding up your front fork doing its thing, while another holds up your entire trainer and the remainder of the bike frame.
Between these two components, you and your bike will tilt side to side while concurrently moving forward and backwards. Your handlebars also rotate slightly (which is what enables rotation elsewhere in the bike). However, the kicker here is that, unlike most rocker systems, the rear/trainer portion of your bike also moves laterally side to side, thus accenting movement (both steady-state and sprint). And that combined with the rotational portion allows the whole thing to kinda ‘snake’ along.
Note that Gymrail sent over a Momentum X1 earlier this year to try out for a few months. Once I’m done with this review, it’ll get shipped back to them like normal. Just the way I roll. If you find this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a semi-weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.
With that, let’s get into it.
Unboxing & Setup:
The Momentum X1 comes in two boxes. The flat box is just the flat plate as you’ll see in a second, whereas the bigger box is a collection of other parts including the front portion as well as rollers/pieces for the rear portion. Here are all the parts laid out:
Essentially, there are a few major part groupings here:
A) The rear board + skateboard that goes under it (including screws)
B) The front assembly, including the fork stand
C) The straps that hold your trainer on the rear board/assembly
D) The various axle adapters for your specific bike
You can see the straps and adapters here:
First up is taking a screwdriver out. Preferably a good one, and preferably one that aspires to be a drill – since that’s effectively what it’ll be doing in a moment.
Next, you’re going to place the roller system on the plate. You’ll notice I’ve pointed out with my fingers the screw holes on the skateboard. This is notable because there are no holes on the board itself. You’ll be creating those holes via the screwdriver by rotating the included sharp screws into the wood.
The only downside to that is that they very slightly start to poke through the board. I mean, it’s barely visible here, but that would be my only minor complaint here. Once you stick a trainer on them, you’d likely never notice them.
Now, with the wheels on the rear plate, it’s time to turn our attention to the front plate:
Despite looking like a folded-up spider that’s about to attack you, it’s actually pretty straightforward. You just swing the very sturdy feet out from under it, and then lock them in place with the screws. If there’s anything you should come away with as a takeaway here is that this front thing is built like a tank. It’s the CompuTrainer of rocker plates systems.
You’ll then rotate the feet out to ideally the same height, else…well, nobody wants a tipsy platform. I mean, I guess unless you were literally building a rocker platform. But this part of the rocker system shouldn’t be tipsy. So spend 5 seconds to get the heights right.
Then you’ll rotate the small pole onto the middle. This stripper pole for gnomes is what holds up your front fork. You can swap out the exact axle adapter you’d need for your specific front fork.
Finally, moving our focus back to the rear, it’s time to get that smart trainer on there. In my case, I went with a Wahoo KICKR CORE, simply because it was the closest trainer to me at the time. I used a small level to find the right placement to ensure the rear plate was level. This is pretty much the norm on all rocker plates.
Then, the X1 has these little plates that you’ll place wherever you see fit. It’s these that allow you to strap your trainer to the board. Most of the other major pre-built rocker plate systems instead have slots in the board that you thread the straps through. But here you affix the included brackets to the board wherever you see fit (using the same screwdrivers + screws technique earlier).
Once all is said and done, it’ll look like this:
It’s super stable, and didn’t go anywhere (nor has it since). For context, my overall install time was 25 minutes, but that’s including taking both video and a gazillion photos. In general, I find that doing the extra photos/videos usually doubles my install times. So I’m guessing this would take 10-15 minutes for a normal person.
Now, from a compatibility standpoint, the Momentum X1 is compatible with basically every smart trainer, according to their FAQ page. Though, they do note that you shouldn’t put rollers on there. Which seems like a self-explanatory thing, as if to say “Please don’t skateboard on the roof of a moving vehicle”, but hey, there are plenty of stupid people in the world. On the bright side, if you do have an unlisted smart trainer that’s larger than the back plate size (L 700mm x W 760mm), they can apparently sort you out (since it’s basically just a single board, that you then affix the hardware to after the fact).
Riding & Usage:
So first things first is putting your bike on it. Given I presume you know how to put your bike on your trainer, I’ll assume you can repeat that task with the bike on the same trainer, just now atop a board instead. Similarly, on the front-end, it’s no different than your front wheel, except now just the small pole. Notably, said pole actually tilts left and right as well (you can see it in the video).
Now’s a good time as any to mention the official movement specs:
Fore-Aft Movement: 6cm back, 6cm forward, for a total of 12cm (4.5”) total range Side to Side Tilt: 7.5° left, 7.5° right, for 15° total tiltable range Ride to Side Lateral Movement: 6cm back, 6cm forward, for a total of 12cm (4.5”) total range Rotational Movement (twisting): Up to 7° on both front and rearward pivot points
So, in many ways, this portion of the review is frankly better done just watching the video at the top. After all, this is all about movement, and seeing the movement is so much easier than writing about it.
Nonetheless, let’s step through this from back to front. I will note that mounting the bike atop the trainer atop the wiggle-wiggle platform is a bit tricky at first. Like mounting some other rocker plate creations, you get better at it each time, though there’s always the little voice in the back of your mind that wonders if the DCR Cave Nest Cam will catch an epic (dis)mount failure.
Once on, you’ll start pedaling as normal. Nothing about your trainer changes here. Instead, it’s all about how your bike reacts to your movements and efforts. The first movement angle you’ll have already felt when you mounted the bike is the tilting angle (up to 7.5° each direction). And as you ride, it’s this tiny bit of movement that is arguably the most important one. Even in super stable steady-state riding (such as long medium-intensity ERG mode sessions), you’ll feel that gentle tilting, which in turn forces your butt/body to move slightly around the saddle. It’s that movement (even just a couple of millimeters) that tends to help with longer indoor trainer rides, reducing the fatigue of one spot.
If you give the pedals a bit of a surge in power, you’ll next notice two things. First is that the bike will slide forwards (and then immediately back). This is your momentum carrying you forward, upwards of 6cm each direction from the center point. For lesser sprints this feels nice, such as for just moderate increases of power. When you get to a hard/abrupt sprint, this also feels abrupt, because you’ve only got those 6cm of range to work with before you get pulled back.
As part of this springing forward, the rear of the platform actually moves forward on its wheels. Meaning, your skateboard moves. This then brings up the question of how a trainer mat might impact that feeling (since a mat would increase the rolling resistance). I’ve tried it both ways, and while yes, it doesn’t quite feel as responsive on a trainer mat, it’s not bad either. I’m lucky in that I’ve got buttery smooth concrete floors that it loves rolling on, and I can sweat on those all day long without damaging any flooring.
Now, when you did that surge in power, you probably also rotated the handlebars just slightly (or, a lot). That’s because that gnome stripper pole up front holding your fork also rotates. It’s this rotation that keeps the entire movement illusion on-point. Also, it ensures your bike doesn’t break, which is mildly beneficial.
(It’s worthwhile noting that the company is working on an electronic steering-enabled variant of this pole (above), that will integrate with platforms that support steering. The plan is to have it as a simple accessory you can buy to swap out the existing pole, and it will then transmit rotation like the Elite Sterzo Smart or other steering accessories.)
And finally, if you go for an all-out sprint, you’ll notice that the entire thing almost does a little ‘s’ snake behind you, which is basically the combination of the rotational elements on the front and back allowing the platform to somewhat chase you as you sprint forward, sliding left and right based on your power kicking the plate with each pedal stroke. If you spend enough time on YouTube looking up cycling sprint videos, you can actually see this effect there. It’s super tricky to see, because most cyclists are riding on a white line or such to make it obvious. Maybe I’ll have to find a friend and get some footage outdoors.
Which then immediately dovetails into the usual discussions on rocker plates about how when you sprint, the tilt direction is opposite of what happens when you are out on a real bike (relative to which leg is down). And that’s true, that happens here as well. There’s no gravity to counter-balance here like there is out riding on the real road, since your bike is clamped into a trainer. To me, it doesn’t bother me much. It bothers (or maybe triggers) some people, and that’s fine. But I also don’t bother to try and ‘fix’ my cycling form while riding indoors like some do. Again, I just don’t really see the value in that, partially because I’m not generally doing constant hard sprints when I ride.
Ultimately, where most rocker plates shine isn’t the hard sprints that easily demonstrate the rocker plate movement, but rather the more steady-state riding and light surges that are harder to show on camera, but in terms of feel and fatigue, are the places these type of devices make the biggest difference.
And that’s true here as well. I like the overall movement of the entire platform, mainly for more even-handed riding. On the sprint side, it gets a bit crazy, but the unit they shipped me is with the lesser-tension springs (they also make one with more tension/stiffness). So, if I wanted to reduce some of that sprint-wiggle, one could go with the higher tension springs instead.
Nonetheless, with the Momentum X1’s multiple directions of movement, it feels far less restrictive than most other rocker plates or motion systems I’ve tried.
Of course, you’re probably looking for some comparative thoughts. First up, it’s worthwhile mentioning the price now – which is steep! It comes in at 1,395€ + VAT. Eeks!
For comparison, the Saris MP1 Platform is priced at about 1,030€ (real-world EU pricing), which also does side-to-side tilting and front/back movement, but doesn’t laterally move your bike left/right like the X1 does.
Below that price-wise you’ll find a slate of DIY and semi-DIY rocker solutions, some as simple as tennis balls under a trainer, and others more advanced ball+board solutions.
In many ways, it’s both a simple and confusing market. The challenge is figuring out what you actually want out of it motion-wise. The more motion directions you want, the more you pay. However, whether or not you need or care about those additional motion vectors is a pretty valid question. For many people, simply introducing just a tiny bit of motion (be it tennis balls or the Tacx system) is enough to ‘do the trick’ in terms of tricking your core into unconsciously slightly moving your butt on the saddle, which mimics outdoor riding and typically reduces fatigue on longer indoor trainer rides.
And there’s a vast difference between riding a trainer that doesn’t move at all, and one that moves just a tiny bit.
But that’s all quite different than riding something like the Gymrail Momentum X1 or Saris MP1, which aim to give far greater movement directions and quantities of movement. When you sprint, you briefly move forward, which amplifies that sprint. In the same way that as you ramp-up on a surge, you’ll feel that throughout the bike on the Momentum X1, because it’s going to start swaying a bit, in a nod to what your rear wheel actually does behind you out on the road (you can see it around the 1:20-1:27 marker of this sprint video of Peter Sagan and friends).
Of course, the biggest challenge here is simply the pricing. For me in the Netherlands, if I were to buy this it’d be ~1,700€ all-in. Whereas including VAT, the Saris MP1 motion right now is showing about 1,030€ . That’s a tough bridge to gap. Note that while it’s only available in Europe today, the company does hope to be in the US market by the end of the year.
There’s no question the Gymrail system is unique. I suppose that was probably obvious the first time they showed it to the world, it didn’t really look – or move – like any other rocker plate system at the time. The next question is: Is that uniqueness a good feeling?
Yes, I think overall it adds good movement to the indoor feeling – and most importantly, it largely feels natural. As noted, there are two different spring versions, one with less tension and one with more tension. I tested the lesser tension one, which means more movement given I’m probably a larger rider. In my case, I was good with that amount of movement, while others might look at the footage and prefer a bit more stability. To each their own.
As with most rocker systems, you’ll still have the inversion issue whereby the sprint lean angle is opposite compared to a regular bike out on the road (since you’re not fighting gravity here, but rather a counterweight system). Practically speaking, most people never notice until someone on the Internet points it out. This then gets to the second piece, which is whether or not to try and ‘correct’ that through changing your riding form. Some prefer to do so, but frankly, I’d prefer not to worry about it. There are many things that are different about indoor riding compared to outdoor riding – and I’m OK with that just being one of them.
In some ways, probably the best part of the Momentum X1 is that it just feels a bit spicy. Meaning, with a regular rocker plate, I know it’s going to basically just tilt side to side, or perhaps, also move on a rail front/back. But with the Momentum X1 having the lateral side-to-side movement too, and the wheels – you kinda never know exactly how it’s going to react. It kinda reminds me a bit of riding a mountain bike downhill, in that as you briefly take flight over bumps, the exact way your bike lands over the next set of roots/rocks/ground is always a little bit different. This is kinda like that, except still in your garage.
With that – thanks for reading!
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