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While other sports wait for trends to come to them, triathlon has a long, rich history of living at the cutting edge of technology and design. Multisport has led the pack in breaking trends, and while not every tri design is a home run, our sport is a petri dish for exciting innovation. We sat down with our editors and a team of gear experts to whittle through the most exciting and impactful people, products, and more from the last year to see who is truly deserving of Triathlete’s designs of the year. We’ll be announcing the winners one by one here on Triathlete.com. Pick up the March/April issue for a complete list of winners (and don’t forget to enter to win the bike featured on the cover). The winner of the Most Extra Design award is…
Saris MP-1 Nfinity Trainer Platform
This category was a sprint for the line, but the Saris MP-1 Nfinity Trainer Platform wins in a photo finish. While the $1,200 price tag may be a little shocking for an indoor training accessory—particularly because it doesn’t include an indoor trainer at all—this piece of cycling furniture is actually both good-looking and very functional. Constructed in Wisconsin, this striking birch platform uses some very old-school mechanicals underneath to simulate a very new-school feel while riding inside. After strapping your trainer down using the included velcro (it works with 90% of manufacturers’ trainers), and strapping your front wheel down, the MP-1 simulates the side-to-side rocking and forward/backward “sliding” that one would feel out on the road.
Novelty aside, this fairly realistic—and very specific—motion actually does a great job of working one’s stabilizer muscles while riding. Working to keep the bike straight while in the aero bars is a particularly valuable exercise because it’s not necessarily something you can do for hours at a time without interruption out on the road. Aside from providing a more engaging workout for small stabilizer muscles that you just don’t get on a static trainer, the platform also gives a measurably more comfortable ride by relieving pressure points. One of the big reasons people hate riding inside is because that solid position wreaks havoc on one’s underparts as there’s no forgiveness side-to-side. This definitely helps.
While the extra workout you get via your stabilizers and realistic feeling you get while sprinting/climbing are great, by far the most noticeable result of the moving platform is definitely comfort. That said, comfort isn’t necessarily “extra” if you spend enough time training indoors. Price tag aside, the MP-1 is also a very heavy and tough-to-move piece of equipment, but if you’re an indoor completist, you’ll probably be able to overlook this minor inconvenience.
Honorable Mention: Enve Air Pressure Station
The Enve Inflation Station was a very close runner-up for most extra design because of its sheer extravagance. Though proper air pressure in your tires is becoming less “extra,” as we learn more about rolling resistance, rider comfort, and speed, the sheer Type-A-ness of this device is hard to ignore. Included in the box is an air hose, inflation chuck, and a very well-designed wall-mounted head unit with ports and a display. What’s not included in the pressure station is any kind of pump, so bear in mind that you’ll still need an air compressor that maxes out somewhere in the 150psi range (or higher) for best effect.
This small device acts as a pass-through between any standard home or shop-grade air compressor and your wheel. For $750 the Air Pressure Station can accurately read pressure to within 0.5% accuracy (psi or bar) and even features a burst function to help seat tubeless tires. The burst function is definitely not to be overlooked, and if you’re looking at getting serious about tubeless-ready tires, this is almost a requirement for seating the tires yourself. If you’re into DIY and into tubeless tire technology, this is one of only a handful of options.
The other big feature on the Air Pressure Station is its ability to store and recall pressure presets, that—when activated—will increase or decrease the amount of air in your tire to exactly the preset amount. Enve also has a handy NFC tag built in that can be scanned by your compatible smartphone to get an updated tire pressure recommendation. This little box and 15-foot coiled hose can be mounted to almost any wall, but remember it still requires power and an air source. If you’re cuckoo for air accurate air pressure, this is the Omega to your Alpha.