We’ve been in love with our CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer for at least a couple of years, and it’s been on our list of bestselling stationary bike stands for some time now. But it’s always interesting to see the latest innovations and designs coming to fruition, especially from market leaders like CycleOps.
Take a look at the video below for a peek at the new generation – the CycleOps Hammer trainer! It looks like it could redefine training as we know it, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a podium-seeking pro…and yes, we’re hoping to test this direct drive beast out real soon!
It’s currently priced at around $1200 – but watch out for some specials over Black Friday and in the Christmas runup…
Ever since I first tested the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive indoor trainer, my other stationary bike stands been gathering dust, lying in the cupboard, unloved and unused. This trainer has been touted as the very best all-round performer in the CycleOps pantheon – an impressive achievement, considering the array of top-end products this esteemed company has put out in the past few years (we’ve been big fans of the Fluid 2 for a looong time).
And yes, I would have to agree with that contention – smooth, sleek and silent, the CycleOps Silencer is as close to the complete package as an indoor trainer can possibly get.>>>Check out the latest reviews and discounts for the CycleOps Silencer
So, what’s so special about the CycleOps Silencer?
First up, that sleek, sexy design…
Although style might be less important with an indoor trainer than it is with your bicycle (after all, most people will never lay eyes on your indoor trainer), it’s worth noting just how good the Cycleops Silencer looks. Clad in sleek, matte black alloy, and boasting clean lines in a very modern-looking chassis, this must be one of the classiest cycle trainers on the market.
The Silencer Direct Drive’s good looks, however, do not come at the expense of ruggedness or build quality. Weighing in at 12 pounds, with three reinforced rubber feet arranged in a wide stance, this cycle trainer is built for a stable ride.
The most striking thing about this Cycleops design, however, is probably the wheel-off design, which is still a relatively novel innovation in the indoor trainer market. Essentially, the bike’s cassette can be directly attached to the flywheel once the rear wheel is removed. This generates massive cost savings since training tires don’t come cheap and most indoor trainers are extremely tough on tires (especially MTB tires).
It also does wonders for the cycling experience (but more on that in a bit). Notably, it’s possible to purchase the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive with a 10-speed Shimano/SRAM compatible cassette (this review relates to that model – you can read about the cassette-less version here), which is definitely the cheaper and more convenient option (especially since most other wheels-off trainers don’t come with cassettes) and the one I fell for.
The only caveat is that if you intend to use a Campag cassette, you should opt for the package without the CycleOps cassette for reasons of cost and practicality, since the default cassette will not fit Campag gear anyway. It’s also worth noting that your bike frame must have a rear fork of width between 130 mm to 135 mm to fit in this indoor trainer, which is hardly a problem for most racing bikes.
The riding experience…
The combination of the wheels-off design and the weighted flywheel makes for an extremely enjoyable ride that accurately simulates road cycling.
I’ve always found wheels-on trainers to be a little jerky (particularly with oddly-shaped tires), which takes away from the illusion of coasting on tarmac. With the CycleOps Silencer, resistance changes were incredibly smooth thanks to the high-end 5-position magnetic driver design, and were easy to employ via the handlebar-mounted resistance lever.
This latter feature deserves mention since it mitigates the complaint that cassette-mounted trainers lack resistance due to the lack of tire rub. At the highest magnetic resistance level, it was a real challenge to pedal at 50 rpm for more than half a minute, which in my books is more than enough resistance for a satisfying workout. I still missed cycling outdoors, of course, but the road cycling simulation was realistic enough to give me confidence that the Silencer will preserve my road cycling skills in the off-season, so I can come back raring and ready to go next year.
The other major selling point of this CycleOps trainer is the “silencer” feature, which eliminates wind noise by using a magnetic driver design. I wouldn’t say the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive is completely noiseless, but it’s definitely quiet enough that you’ll have to strain to hear it. Even with thin walls and light sleepers in the house, I was able to get in my early-morning workouts within a single complaint from my family or neighbors.
Some impressive tech specs…
- The noise level at 20 mph is a very quiet 59-64 decibels
- Dimensions L*W*H: 24″x18.5″x19.5″ (612x465x493 mm)
- Has a wide, stable base for boosted stability
- Weighs 39 lbs (17.6 kg)
- Direct drive design features a fixed rear wheel mode
- Fits frames with rear fork widths of 130mm and 135mm
- Fits road bikes and mountain bikes with wheel diameters of 700c and 29 inches
- Adjustable magnetic resistance, via an easy to use 5-level handlebar adjuster allows for true road-like feel
- 220 lb (100kg) maximum load — excluding bicycle.
- SHIMANO and SRAM 8/9/10/11 speed compatible.
Things to consider…
In my opinion, the only downside to the Silencer is the lack of portability. The machine doesn’t fold down and it’s pretty heavy, so lugging it anywhere, even between rooms, is a bit of a chore. However, indoor trainers don’t generally offer much in the way of portability because there’s simply no demand for it – after all, there’s no point carrying a heavy cycle trainer outdoors if you can simply cycle outdoors – and so this comment probably comes as no surprise.
If you’re not too skilled with a wrench, setting up the Silencer can also be a little challenging. This is partly due to its weight, which makes it difficult to thread the bolts in, and partly due to the issues I had attaching the resistance knobs to my base bar (though they fit just fine on my mountain handlebars). But still, 10 minutes and most of you will have this up and ready to go…
In summary: why you NEED the CycleOps Silencer Direct Drive trainer
As you’ll probably have noticed, neither of the drawbacks mentioned above relate to the key indicators of a good indoor trainer – speed, silence and durability. In all the departments that matter most, the CycleOps The Silencer Direct Drive trainer is a top performer, earning it my unequivocal recommendation.
It’s truly perfect for the cyclist with a small apartment – and who really wants to pump out some high intensity cycling work! It’s just so quiet compared to anything else that I’ve worked hard on, and seriously, is one of the very best indoor training solutions you can get!
If you need a quick look at the Silencer user manual, just to get an idea of how easy it is to get up and running, click here.
Another direct drive trainer to consider in the similar price range: the awesome Lemond Revolution 1.1.
The Lemond Revolution 1.1 is seriously all about the cycling experience. One of the pioneers of the “wheel-off” direct drive design, this celebrated indoor cycle trainer delivers the most realistic road cycling simulation in its price category (we’re talking a reasonable $600-ish – and yes, it out-rivals the road-like experience of the Kinetic RocknRoller).
If you’re willing to overlook the noise (and this is easier now that the noise output levels have been dampened compared to the very first Revolution, the 1.0), the affordable price tag and brilliant design make this a very solid purchase for serious cyclists looking to maintain fitness in the off-season.
What’s to like about the Lemond Revolution 1.1?
The Lemond Revolution is practically ready to use right out of the box since there’s very little assembly required.
You will, however, need to purchase a cassette if you haven’t already, and if you are thinking of using a Campag cassette I would definitely recommend purchasing a crossover version as Lemond has built the Revolution primarily for cycles using Shimano gears. This is part and parcel of the direct drive trainer experience – but no worries, the benefits of this design far outweigh such a minor inconvenience.
Traditional indoor trainers can be far more expensive than you originally start out thinking, mainly because they wear out your rear tires so quickly. I’ve used some truly hard-wearing tires for indoor training in my time, and even the most robust of these eventually succumbed to frays and tears after sustained indoor use. The Lemond Revolution 1.1 avoids these problems. To use it, I simply had to remove my rear wheel and mount the bike directly to the Lemond via my Shimano cassette.
But durability and cutting tire costs isn’t the only advantage of this design – resistance changes are also incredibly smooth, since taking the rear wheel out of the equation significantly improves the efficiency of energy transfer between the drivetrain and the trainer.
As I mentioned above, the primary draw of the Lemond Revolution has to be its road-like ride.
The design has barely changed since the product’s first inception, yet it remains capable of beating all-comers in its price range. The combination of a big flywheel and a highly efficient fan makes for a slick ride, particularly at cruising speeds, and the simulation of wind drag is extremely realistic, ensuring you won’t be off your game when the new cycling season begins.
In terms of real-world results, no indoor trainer (not even the top-end fluid trainers like the Cascade Pro or Fluid 2 from CycleOps) will deliver as effectively and quickly as a turbo-driven product. And with up to 700-watt load capacity, interval training sessions will be punishing enough to satisfy even the most masochistic of cyclists – I’ve certainly been driven to breaking point more than once on this machine.
The video below will give you a bit more of a taste of what the ride is really like…
The Lemond Revolution is also rightly famed for its solid construction, weighing in at just under 15 kg. This makes it a little too hefty to heave around the house, but that’s more than compensated for by the extreme stability of this product.
Even when you’re pedaling out of the saddle and sprinting like your life depends on it, you’ll find the bike stays level, firmly anchored and stable, addressing any safety concerns you might have. I felt confident enough about the Revolution to let my eight-year old have a go, and this is a kid who’s managed to send a massive oak wardrobe tumbling to the ground. Besides the heavy-duty frame, credit must also go to the adjustable feet (which can be handy on carpets or other flooring materials prone to creating uneven surfaces) coated with anti-skid material.
To get the most from your Revolution 1.1, I would definitely recommend installing a Power Pilot. Although it’s an expensive investment, it’s worthwhile for the superb data-tracking capabilities. By examining my cadence and speed statistics, I was able to correct my sprint technique in the off-season and come bursting right off the start line in my first spring outdoor session. Lack of ANT+ support is a bit of a bummer, but Lemond has promised that this will come in time (and appears to be just about here, in the form of the Watt Box), and the USB compatibility ensures that all that data can still be put to good use.
What we didn’t like…
As with any other turbo trainer, noise levels are significantly higher than with a fluid trainer. However, Lemond has taken note of noise complaints, and the 1.1 definitely improves on its predecessor in this regard. It’s only a problem at very high speeds, and with earphones in I could barely hear the flywheel whirring away. At cruising speeds, the noise wasn’t much of a bother.
Why you’re going to have to purchase the Lemond Revolution 1.1
In summary the Lemond Revolution delivers where it really matters – the riding experience. I used to hate the off-season because I missed cycling outdoors. Of course, no cycle trainer will be able to recreate the crisp smell of fresh air or the sensation of warm sunshine, but in terms of replicating the feeling of cycling on tarmac, the Lemond Revolution is hard to beat.
If you’re after a direct drive trainer, this is definitely one of the top 3 you’ll have to consider – it certainly gives the likes of the awesome CycleOps Silencer a run for its money!