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The JetBlack WhisperDrive is a direct drive trainer with magnetic resistance, and it's the quietest trainer I've ever used.
Direct drive means your bike connects directly to the trainer, rather than your rear wheel turning a roller. The initial setup is relatively straightforward, although, unlike The Silencer trainer from Cyclops that we reviewed recently, the WhisperDrive doesn't come with a cassette fitted so you'll need to install one yourself. The RRP of a Shimano 105 11-speed cassette, for example, is £41.99, although you can pick one up for about £25 online if you look around. You'll also need a cassette tool and a chain whip (to stop the cassette/flywheel turning as you tighten the lockring). If you don't have these, you could ask a bike shop to do the work.
The freehub body will take 11 and 10-speed (and 9 and 8-speed) cassettes from Shimano and SRAM. Campagnolo and SRAM XX1 freehub bodies are also available.
Once set up, it's just a question of removing the rear wheel from your bike and mounting the rear dropouts onto the WhisperDrive. It takes, ooh, maybe 30 seconds.
The vast majority of bikes have either a 130mm or 135mm spacing between the rear dropouts. The WhisperDrive takes both equally easily; you just alter the position of a small spacer on the quick release assembly to swap between them. It'll also take a mountain bike with a 12x142mm thru-axle as long as you first fit the conversion caps that are provided. It's the only direct drive trainer we know of that allows you to do that.
When the bike is on the trainer, you just tighten the quick release skewer, adjust the feet if you're on an uneven surface, and you're ready to rock.
The WhisperDrive comes with a 5.9kg flywheel and the resistance is provided by magnetism. It's exactly the same as The Silencer in both of those respects. You get seven different levels of resistance (The Silencer has five) that you can control via a handlebar adjuster and, of course, you can shift through the gears on your bike exactly as you would out on the road. That's what you'll do nearly all the time.
You get a realistic road feel from the WhisperDrive. I set the trainer at the minimum resistance, put the bike into a 52-tooth chainring and a 12-tooth sprocket and pedalled at 80rpm, then stopped pedalling. It took 14 seconds to coast down to stationary.
Shift to a very high resistance and a big gear and things feel a little less realistic because there's less momentum – the ride is more jerky than when you're out on the road – but you can still get a good workout. JetBlack reckon the maximum resistance at 60kph (37.5mph) is 1,200 watts.
In the highest resistance setting and a 52x12 gear, I struggled to pedal at 22rpm for one-minute intervals – so getting on for three seconds for every pedal revolution! That's a lot like a weights session. Personally, I don't need any more resistance than that.
The WhisperDrive is very quiet in use, though not completely silent. You can hear noises from your drivetrain and a small amount of noise from the unit itself, but it's not loud. You're certainly not going to have the local environmental health officer around, even if you live in a flat.
It's very stable largely thanks to the 70cm-wide support legs at the front of the unit and a weight of 15kg (33lb). Even when hitting it hard for out-of-the-saddle sprints, everything feels perfectly solid. With a maximum load of 100kg (15st 10lb), that'll be the case for the vast majority of riders.
That weight means the WhisperDrive isn't as portable as most standard (non-direct drive) trainers, but the support legs do fold in and that's a real bonus (it would be even better if they locked in to give you another handhold). The difficulty with carrying The Silencer isn't so much the weight but the fact that it's quite cumbersome; the WhisperDrive is much easier to move around. It takes up less space when not in use, too, measuring 55x26x50cm with the legs folded in (a lot of that is empty space).
You can also download a free JetBlack training app (iOS and Android versions are available) that will provide coaching sessions and let you see various parameters onscreen as you pedal: gear recommendations, goal cadence, session time, session profiles plus your heart rate if you use a heart rate monitor.
You'll need a JetBlack-specific speed/cadence sensor to measure your speed and virtual power. All of this info will be uploadable to Training Peaks and Strava, but we've not used the sensor simply because it is not yet available. JetBlack's UK distributor Chicken Cycles reckon it should arrive in the next few weeks.
Overall, the JetBlack WhisperDrive is a very attractive package if you're after a direct drive trainer. It's simple to set up, easy to use, quiet, and it offers a realistic ride. Add in a decent price for a direct drive design and you're onto a winner here.
Easy-to-use direct drive trainer that provides a quiet, realistic ride
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Make and model: JetBlack WhisperDrive trainer
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
JetBlack say, "The JetBlack WhisperDriveTM is a direct drive trainer with 'whisper' quiet and smooth magnetic resistance and is the first to be compatible with both 12x142mm and QR135mm/QR130mm axle systems. The direct to drivetrain interface gives you the benefit of zero tyre wear and easy setup. No more winding in of caps or lugs. The JetBlack WhisperDrive trainer has a rocksolid design with the front legs positioned closer to your centre of body mass than any other direct drive trainer. Now you can give it everything during a sprint session or interval training with efforts upward of 1,200 watts.
"The JetBlack WhisperDrive eliminates variations in resistance from tyre contact or air pressure, meaning you can repeat exactly any trainer session and monitor your training progress. When used with the full range of JetBlack sensors, you can enjoy training sessions identical to those used by professional cycling teams. You can even upload your session to Strava!
"The JetBlack WhisperDrive, like all JetBlack trainers, comes with a lifetime warranty."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
JetBlack list these key features:
- Direct Drive.
- Manual handlebar adjustment with 7 resistance levels
- Whisper quiet and smooth.
- Realistic road feel (long coast down times).
- Adjustable Resistance 0-1,200W.
- Ultra stable frame design. The widest ground contact point is positioned in line with the user's centre of mass for rock-solid sprints or intervals.
- Folding frame design for easy storage.
- Once your cassette is installed, it's ready to go out of the box.
- Compatible with 130mm, 135mm and 12x142 Thru axle bikes.
- Compatible with 10/11 speed cassettes. Campy and XD drivers available
- No tyre wear.
- More accurate and repeatable resistance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It really is a great product, especially for the money. I've used it loads over the past couple of months and have got on really well with it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Realistic feel on all but ridiculously high levels of resistance, quiet, easy to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm struggling here.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.