My review of the CycleOps Silencer: an amazing Direct Drive indoor trainer!

CycleOps Silencer ReviewEver 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.

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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.

CycleOps The Silencer CassetteThis 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 silence…

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.

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Another direct drive trainer to consider in the similar price range: the awesome Lemond Revolution 1.1.

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