HydroGEL update for JetBlack indoor trainers

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JetBlack Fluid HydroGEL

17th November 2010   Words: Nick Rearden

Typical. No sooner had we posted our 7 of the best: Indoor trainers review than the model that won the “best on a budget” award gets an update. JetBlack’s indoor fluid trainers now have an improved roller.

Claiming to reduce noise by 55% and tyre wear by 25-30%, the new HydroGEL roller features on JetBlack’s new £200 Z1 model as well as the less expensive Fluid model we liked in our review. Admittedly, the price of the new Fluid HydroGEL (shown above) has gone up a bit to £164.99 but it still seems good value.

Fluid trainers are so called because they employ an oily viscous liquid to provide resistance to a fan or, more accurately, an impeller in a sealer chamber. The advantage of this over an exposed air fan is much reduced noise and it’s safer. So much so that air fan trainers have pretty much disappeared although there are still models on the market, including a couple made by JetBlack, that employ simpler and cheaper magnetic resistance units.

The disadvantage of magnets  is that you only get a range of resistance that increases in a linear manner – twice as much effort equals twice as much resistance – whereas cycling is all about air resistance squaring as you work harder. The upshot is that even average cyclists quickly run out of resistance on magnetic indoor trainers  and fluid trainers provide a more natural simulation of real cycling.

Apart from the quieter roller, JetBlack’s all-new Z1 machine gets a redesigned finned aluminium cooling chamber to contain the resistance fluid and impeller. Better cooling means more consistent viscosity across the full operating range, so we’re predicting this will be of benefit to indoor-training monsters – you know who you are.

In our experience, the average cyclist who uses an indoor trainer only does it under duress (you’ve seen the weather today?) so there’s something to be said for buying the budget model as long as it’s decent. Based on our riding experience of the now superseded model, the JetBlack Fluid HydroGEL is certainly that and we’re looking forward to trying the improved roller.