Home
Verdict: 
Easy-to-use direct drive trainer that provides a quiet, realistic ride
Weight: 
15,000g
JetBlack WhisperDrive trainer
9 10

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.

Find your nearest dealer here

Buy this online here

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.

Training time

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.

Verdict

Easy-to-use direct drive trainer that provides a quiet, realistic ride

road.cc test report

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.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

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

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

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 worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, 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 past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

7 comments

Avatar
fukawitribe [1923 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

[deleted]

Avatar
macrophotofly [257 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Wish the Wahoo Kickr was quieter, like this.
130/135mm adjustment widget isn't a tight enough fit so it creaks on every pedal stroke when you put in more than say 250W. The main noise problem though is the rubber drive belt used internally between the flywheel and rear drive connection. The flywheel cog for the belt is so small in diameter it causes noise and there is not enough adjustment either. Everything else is brilliant.... wonderif JetBlack and Wahoo could work together to make the Kickr quieter???

Avatar
antride [2 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Hi nice review. In regards to using a campagnolo freehub will a tradition 11/10 speed fulcrum or campagnolo wheel freehub body 2014 model work on the Whisper or is it Jetblack specific freebody fitting ? thanks

Avatar
Ginsterdrz [88 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

What is 'virtual power'?

Jet black don't define it or how they reach the power figure.

From their website they seem to be able to calculate power without cadence?

Avatar
fukawitribe [1923 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Ginsterdrz wrote:

What is 'virtual power'?

Jet black don't define it or how they reach the power figure.

From their website they seem to be able to calculate power without cadence?

Virtual power is a just a phrase used to mean power estimated indirectly from some known quantities that relate somehow to the 'real' power you'd have to produce to get those quantities - for example in a magnetic trainer like this, the resistance to movement of a given metal rotor in a magnetic field is approximately linear in the speed (angular velocity) of the rotor for a given field strength and magnet/rotor setup (e.g. the separation between the two, number of magnets and so on).

Submerge a water wheel and try and rotate it and the resistance is approximately cubic in the wheel speed - that's your basic fluid trainer, nice because that same resistance curve pretty much applies to the drag you feel on your bike outside.

What Jet Black will have in their app is a simple calculation that says - given the speed, what is the power we'd expect you'd need to produce it for each resistance level (e.g. effective magnetic field strength) ?

That will have been pre-characterised by Jet Black for each of their trainers using an accurate power source to turn the rotor. If they did that characterisation by applying the known power at the cranks, for example, then you will have an estimate that takes into account transmission losses - at least to some degree. If you apply the known power source directly, say to the cassette or freehub then your power estimate will probably under-estimate the power needed to maintain a particular speed as there will be no power lost in the drive chain between you and the gubbins in the trainer.

One thing to note is that power is, for most practical purposes, independent of cadence, it's the speed of the spinning thingy in the fluid, air or magnetic field that is important - so big gear/low rpm and granny gear/high rpm can give you the same power. Obviously if you keep in the same gear then higher cadence implies higher power, all other things being equal, but it's not required to calculate power.

The speed reading will come from their speed sensor to the phone, presumably via Bluetooth/BTLE.

The app does the simple sum and displays its estimate of the power you are putting out - the 'virtual power' based on the trainer, resistance level and wheel speed.

There's a lot more to it than that when you drill down to the details, but hopefully this gives you an idea what they mean.

Avatar
ChickenCycleKit [3 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Hi Antride,

The WhisperDrive is sold with a SRAM/Shimano 10/11x freehub body. To use a Campagnolo equipped bike, you'll need to purchase the Campagnolo specific freehub body, made by Jetblack. This goes for the SRAM XD hub bodies too.

Avatar
Pang [1 post] 1 year ago
0 likes

Well, this may be a bit off the virtual power discussion. But, this piece of garage welded garbage is 700usd? Hmm...Yes, it is quiet. Yes, it does have quite a bit of rolling time on the drive, when the gear is set easy. Well, speaking of the resistance shifter, wow, why not put a piece of crap Sora shifter on an expensive trainer. And, let's make it even worse by not allowing the clamp to fit around a 31.8 bar. Real smart Jetblack. Also, why don't you send it to me with a broken back boot around the base, because it's just darn right cheap plastic. And, better yet, when I email you, 2 months ago, just throw it in the bin, the customer is never right. 

Yep, if you want a quiet trainer, it's for you, not only that, the customer service is quiet as well, then, when you get really angry just throw it in the garage and not use it..Why, oh yeah, the base is broken out of the box.

Can't even give it one star, thanks Jetblack