CycleOps is part of the Saris family of products manufactured in Madison, Wisconsin. Their commitment to USA-made products is strong as is their pride, which results in high-quality, well-engineered units. The CycleOps H2 smart trainer is a sturdy, direct-drive companion for indoor training. Paired up with Zwift, I’ve been able to painfully enjoy plenty of early-morning training sessions from the comfort of my own home.

CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer Features:

  • PowerTuned using PowerTap technology for up to +/- 2% accurate power readings
  • Electromagnetic resistance provides a precise and controlled workout every time
  • Direct drive design features widest bike compatibility and quiet performance (64db)
  • Integrated cadence, speed and power data – no external sensors needed
  • Seamlessly connects to virtual training apps with dual ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth standards
  • Zwift certified
  • Includes front wheel tray (that stores in the unit, when folded)
  • Cassette not included
  • Weight: 47 lb.
  • MSRP: $1199.99
CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer Review

The H2 is easily-configured and includes compatibility with QR and thru-axle road bikes.

CycleOps H2 saves the training day

This winter has been normal here in Utah, which means that outdoor riding has been sparse. As I’ve settled into a solid Zwift routine, the new CycleOps H2 smart trainer arrived hot on the heels of the Wahoo KICKR smart trainer. Both are wheels-off direct-drive smart trainers that connect with all virtual training systems, but each goes about things in a slightly different way.

The H2 features a 20 lb. flywheel for a realistic ride feel up to 2000 watts and 20% gradient. In other words, it’s far more capable than any cyclist save a handful of track or WorldTour sprinters. My max 1-second watts is just shy of 900 watts, so I’m not too worried that I’ll cap it out anytime soon. By overbuilding the unit with a heavy flywheel and max wattage, the ride feel for mere mortals is as accurate and realistic as possible.

CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer Review

The training setup in the bedroom — great for early morning training.

Initial H2 setup

The CycleOps H2 arrives in a tidy box and requires minimal setup to get rolling. It features fold-out legs for the utmost in stability and a nifty front wheel stand that stores conveniently in the unit itself. With a large handle, the H2 can be moved with ease. As with any modern smart trainer, it’s got all the connectivity you’d expect to work with computers, head units, watches and the like. At $1199, the CycleOps H2 is priced inline with the competition, but you’ll have to budget for a cassette (Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival cassettes offer the most bang-for-the-buck, if you’re looking). I matched a SRAM Force cassette with the Shimano Ultegra R8070 Di2 Disc groupset aboard the Factor O2 Disc. Yeah, mixing brands isn’t ideal, but it’s what I had on-hand and it has worked like a charm.

The H2 will attach to bikes with 130/135mm quick-release or 142/148 thru-axles using the included adapters. Uniquely, the adapters screw on/off with ease, making for an elegant solution. If you have disc brakes, you’ll have to provide or make your own caliper block. I just stuffed some folded, thin cardboard in there and it has worked fine. The H2 doesn’t offer adjustable height for mountain bikes, so consider this best-suited for road bikes (but, it should work if that’s all you’ve got).

CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer Review

Wide legs with adjustable feet ensure stability.

The legs spread straight outward and feature locking, adjustable feet to ensure the utmost stability. Every few weeks, I’ve re-checked and tightened up the feet just a little, that’s about it.

Any technology that requires reading a manual these days is a sure buzzkill. Not once did I reference the manual and I was able to instantly pair the H2 with my MacBook Pro running Zwift. The beauty of the H2 is that it provides speed, power, resistance and cadence without any external gadgets. Oh, and the “green light special” is perfectly-viewable while in the saddle to know when the unit is transmitting and connected. Overall setup and syncing process is straightforward and painless and the green light is a great touch. Subsequent re-connects have remained flawless every time.

CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer Review

Rolling with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and the Factor O2 Disc.

Zwifting with the CycleOps H2

My chosen training platform is Zwift, but the H2 will most certainly work with Sufferfest, Rouvy, TrainingPeaks or other smart training programs as well. It may seem cheesy, but I really enjoy the variety of rides and the built-in competition available on Zwift at the drop of a hat. And, with the latest update, it’s even easier to switch back to Watopia, should you wish to hit a Jungle Circuit or Alpe du Zwift instead of another lap around Big Ben or Central Park.

I will say that during the latest Zwift upgrade, things got a little wonky with the H2 losing resistance completely. This was an issue with all trainers during that time. Before that, I did notice a few times where the resistance would get out-of-sync, but it was random and only happened 2-3 times among 30+ rides.

Zwift with CycleOps H2

Zwifting aboard the H2 in Richmond.

After a full-round of Zwift updates, stability and resistance responsiveness has been accurate and spot-on with the terrain. There are several variables at play between some complex technologies, so there are bound to be bugs, but things are in a good state right now. Technology is hard sometimes.

I’d recommend calibrating the H2 using the Rouvy app upon arrival and every few months thereafter. It’s also easy to upgrade the firmware that way as well.

CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer Review

The derailleur cage has some tight tolerances.

I’ve exclusively used the CycleOps H2 smart trainer with the Factor O2 Disc and Shimano Ultegra R8070 Di2 groupset. I’m a fan of electronic groupsets with smart trainers as it’s quiet, accurate and just feels right. I did notice that the tolerance between the derailleur cage and the H2 is pretty tight when riding in the lowest gear. It never interfered and stops about 1 mm shy, so I’ll just call it “smart engineering.”

Standing efforts are met with stability and realism, but a climbing block would be nice to have on longer climbs for a little more realistic feel. The included front wheel stabilizer is a nice touch and I appreciated it more than I thought I would. It’s something that I didn’t think much about with the Wahoo KICKR, but now that I have it, I’m a fan. As-is, it’s close enough and I find the virtual riding experience to provide a darn good replication of riding in the real world. Workouts are solid and I can wear myself out as if I’ve taken a ride up Utah’s Alpine Loop. At speed, the unit remains quiet. It sounds a little like an old-school siren that’s well-muffled. Early-morning efforts won’t wake your significant other (at least mine).

The Good

  • Always stable — in or out of the saddle
  • Realistic resistance
  • 20-lb flywheel makes for smooth pedaling
  • Easily-paired with quick re-connects (didn’t look at the manual)
  • Calibration and firmware updates are easy
  • Can be folded up and stored away, if needed
  • Quiet operation
  • Threaded axle endcaps are easily-installed
  • Reliable power and cadence, all without extra doodads
  • Broadcasts data across all modern bands
  • Made here in the USA

The Bad

  • Should include disc brake blocks
  • No cassette included (but, you’ll get to provide just the right one)
  • Not adjustable for different wheel sizes

The Bottom Line: CycleOps H2 Smart Trainer

There are only a handful of wheels-off smart trainers on the market and very few can boast the knowledge that CycleOps (Saris) provides. Their PowerTap power meter pedals and hub are some of the most well-known power meter options on the market and all that know-how is utilized within the CycleOps H2. I love that all data is accurate and transmitted without extra accessories.

Buy Now: Available at REI.com

In Summary

9.3 Virtual Fun

When it comes to smart trainers, the wheel-off variety is the best choice. But, they are definitely the most expensive. The CycleOps H2 delivers quality resistance with a 20-lb. flywheel that makes for a realistic ride-feel. This unit connects in a jiffy with a big LED light indicating it's all good as well. Paired with Zwift, it's been a great indoor training experience this winter.

  • Portability 8
  • Ride Quality 10
  • Ease-of-use 10
  • Stability 9

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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