I Tried This Budget-Friendly Theragun Copycat, and Now I Get Why It Has Nearly 12K 5-Star Reviews
It can't be denied that the Theragun completely changed the game when it comes to managing post-workout muscle soreness, and even offering a pre-workout warm up. Massage guns are now commonplace among recreational and competitive athletes alike.
I’ve tested and reviewed every single Theragun massage gun model and admittedly, they are all fantastic. The only problem? Despite having chronically sore and stiff muscles due to my tendency to run a lot and forego stretching (I know, I know, not good!) on top of a neurological disorder that causes excessive tightness and spasticity, I can’t really justify dropping several hundred dollars on a massage gun myself.
So I was thrilled to find the Flyby F1Pro massage gun from Flyby, which costs a very reasonable $75, a price that works in my tight budget. But I must admit, I was pretty dubious that this massage gun would actually work effectively enough on my crazy-tight muscles without crapping out after a few uses.
After all, my mom always drilled in the message, “You get what you pay for!” Still, I decided to give it a shot—and now I understand why it has nearly 12,000 five-star reviews.
Opening the box, I found there are little details that clue you in that this is a budget-friendly massage gun. For example, the wall charger isn’t USB-C, there is no LCD screen on the device, and it doesn't come with travel/storage case.
That said, I was impressed with the range and quality of the six attachment tips, how neatly everything was packaged, and the feel of the massage gun in my hands. It has a minimalist design, with just one button on the bottom to toggle for the three different speeds.
The best features of the Flyby F1Pro
For such a low price point, this massage gun has quite a few bells and whistles. Here are some of my favorites:
Multiple attachment heads
The Flyby F1Pro comes with six unique attachment tips.
- Round balls: There are two ball heads, each a different size, for softer and smoother massages. I used them along my shins, neck, and where my foot meets my ankle in the front, which is always super tight because I run on my toes a bit.
- Spinal fork: The firm fork attachment is ideal for massaging the tissue around your spine.
- Flat head: The broader, flat head attachment is sort of like a paddle, so it can apply a widespread massage to a larger area like the thigh.
- Bullet head: The tapered bullet head applies a very concentrated or targeted massage to tight areas. I like this one for massaging knots in my calf. I also used it for digging into a spasm I got in one of my lats after rowing too aggressively (and with sloppy-ish form) without warming up.
- Wedge: Designed for scraping movements, I used this attachment to help mobilize my plantar fascia on my feet and my IT band, which always feels wound up like a thread you pull on your sweater that causes the entire thing to pucker up.
The attachments are all made from hard plastic, except for the two balls, which are molded out of soft foam. The plastic heads seem really durable, and although I enjoyed the softness of the balls because it feels gentler on sensitive areas (like around the ankle bones and along the shins), I do worry they might deteriorate over time. So far so good, though.
Honestly, I’m surprised at how well-made the Flyby massage gun is. The plastic parts sort of look cheap and feel a bit cheap in your hand, but when it’s actually in use, it doesn’t seem to operate cheaply.
At just 1.8 pounds, the Flyby F1Pro is lighter, smaller, and easier to use one-handed compared to the Theragun Prime or Theragun Elite, each which weigh 2.2 pounds. That might not sound like that big of a difference, but it’s actually about 20 percent lighter.
Because I’m pretty tiny (and admittedly have sort of poor hand and wrist strength and control), I found the Flyby much easier to manage without my arm getting tired or needing to revert to gripping it with both hands. The vibration on massage guns gets surprisingly tiring for your arm, especially if you’re trying to hit hard-to-reach places on your body!
Great battery life
The Flyby F1Pro is said to run for 4 hours on a single charge, which is twice the battery life you’ll find on the Theragun Prime or Theragun Elite. I put that claim to the test and ran it on the medium speed setting while safely pointing upwards between my couch cushions. It eventually petered out at just under three hours and 40 minutes, which seems right on par with what they advertise. (The four-hour mark is probably when using the lowest setting.)
That means if you use the massage gun for 10 minutes every day, it could last for 10 days on a single charge.
Easy to use
One of the best things about the Flyby F1Pro is it is super simple, which makes it a good option for people who don’t have a lot of interest in learning the ins and outs of tons of features and settings. While the Theragun’s companion apps and customization may be great for avid athletes who want to be very specific in their recovery, the choices can be downright overwhelming if you just want to hit “on” and get massaging.
It’s very quiet
The Flyby is extremely quiet compared to the Theraguns. Even at the highest speed, it operates at a maximum noise level of 45 decibels—about on par with an electric toothbrush. On the lowest speed setting, I could barely hear it at all and I have very sensitive hearing, and get particularly irritated with repetitive noises. I actually found this to be one of my favorite features.
The downsides of going the inexpensive route
The primary drawback of the Flyby F1Pro is that the amplitude of the stroke height is only 10 millimeters, so you can’t get a particularly deep massage. For comparison, the Theragun mini has a stroke of 12 mm and the full-sized models can travel 16 mm, which is quite a bit more.
Great pressure, but no pressure sensor
That said, the massage gun can still deliver 50 pounds of pressure, so although you can’t necessarily get a super deep massage, the force still feels quite impactful—I can really pummel the serious knots in the calves. The Theragun Prime and Elite only deliver a maximum of 40 pounds of pressure, although they have a pressure sensor that lets you know how much pressure you are applying—a feature I missed while using the Flyby.
Wide range of speed, but only three levels
Another perk is the wide range of 1800 to 3200 pulsations per minute (ppm). The maximum speed is actually greater than what you can get from the Theragun. However, the Flyby only has three distinct levels. I might be oversensitive (I do have sensory processing disorder), so I tend to notice small gradations more readily than most people, but I found myself craving more like five or six different levels to more precisely dial into the intensity I was looking for. (The Theragun Prime and Theragun Elite both have five speeds, ranging from 1750 to 2400 ppm, with further customization available in the app.)
If you work out at the gym or travel a lot for work, run races or compete in other athletic events, it’s really helpful to have a travel case, which is missing here. Of course, you can always buy some sort of zippered pouch, but I’m just not that organized.
Is the Flyby F1Pro worth it?
For being about one-fourth the price of Theraguns (or even less, depending on the model!), this massage gun is surprisingly powerful, able to deliver a targeted, professional-quality vibrating massage. As long as you aren’t looking for every single bell and whistle, it’s a smart purchase to encourage blood flow, aid tissue recovery, and ease your pain.
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