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JetBlack Victory: New $399 Direct Drive Smart Trainer Hands-On

The JetBlack Victory is a product announcement that needs more room in a post title. If I could have used all the words in the title, it’d probably say: “First Look at JetBlack Victory, the $399 Direct Drive Smart trainer with WiFi, unseen Zwift Cog 2.0, Race Mode, Wired-USB connectivity option, the first 3rd party ‘Zwift Ready’ trainer, and more!”.

But alas, I can’t have that. Thus, you got the shortened version I settled on up above.

As always, JetBlack is pushing the boundaries of incredibly priced trainers. They did it years ago with the JetBlack VOLT series, then again with the Zwift Hub One (remember the Zwift Hub was essentially a JetBlack Volt rebranded), and now, they’re pushing the limits of that again with the JetBlack Victory. Albeit, perhaps pushing the product naming limits a bit too. Still, do *NOT* mistake this for some knockoff budget trainer. The company has long ago proven it can be slotted up against the best of them – both in terms of specs, but also in real-world usage.

Before we go too much deeper though, note that the unit seen above/below is a pre-production one with a few components still being finished. Thus, this is purely a first-look post, I’ll do a final in-depth review later this summer with final hardware and software. As always, that’ll cover all the usual bits in-depth – like accuracy, responsiveness, and the litany of features JetBlack is including with the trainer.

With that, let’s dive into it.

The Tech Specs:

Here’s the quick and straightforward version of the specs of the JetBlack Victory. In many ways, it is somewhat similar to the previous JetBlack VOLT, except this is an entirely different beast internally (more on why in a second):

– Direct drive trainer: This means you remove your rear wheel
– Flywheel: It has a flywheel weight of 4.7kg (same as before)
– Cassette: Zwift Cog V2 virtual cassette, compatible with 8-12 speed bikes, though practically compatible with any bike/chain that you can physically mount on the trainer (axle-wise).
– Sound: Essentially silent. Only the sound of your drivetrain is heard.
– Handle: Yes, and cleverly wrapped in orange bar tape.
– Protocol Compatibility: ANT+ FE-C, ANT+ Power, Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control, Bluetooth Smart Power (everything you need). However, note that while fully compatible with other apps, you can *ONLY SHIFT* with Zwift. So, this will work perfectly fine in ERG mode on TrainerRoad, but you’ll be going nowhere fast on Rouvy or IndieVelo without shifting. More on that later.
– WiFi: Yes, Direct Connect to all apps via WiFi
– USB Connectivity: Yes, Direct Connect via USB
– Zwift Race Mode: Yes, 10 Hz
– Unique Party Trick: Can rebroadcast your heart rate sensor within a single channel, ideal for Apple TV Zwift users (who are Bluetooth channel limited)
– App Compatibility: From a protocol standpoint, anything, but from a practical standpoint, just Zwift for simulation mode due to the aforementioned shifting limitation.
– Skewer Compatibility: All the skewers and adapters you could ask for: Road 130mm, 135mm, 142x12mm, 148x12mm
– Max Incline: 16% simulated grade
– Max Wattage: 1,800 watts resistance
– Stated Accuracy: < +/-2.0%, auto-spin down calibration
– Built-in odometer: Tracks your distance via the JetBlack app, for all trainer rides
– Power Cable Required: Yes, power block compatible with 100-240v
– Pricing and Availability: $399USD, €449, £399, and $749AUD

First up on some of the notable things is that this is the first 3rd party branded “Zwift Ready” trainer. Prior to this, it was trainers that Zwift themselves were releasing (without any ‘Zwift Ready’ tag). That included things like the original Zwift Hub (ironically made by JetBlack), as well as the new Zwift Hub CORE ONE (made by Wahoo Fitness).

But Zwift has opened up the Zwift Ready program to essentially any trainers that have the Zwift Cog cassette + Click virtual shifting. Also notably, this is the first trainer, Zwift or otherwise, to showcase the new Zwift Cog V2. That’s got a new indexing system to reduce noise further, but ensuring perfect alignment (aka indexing) with your specific rear derailleur. It’ll soon become the standard Zwift Cog version shipped, later this summer.

Finally, JetBlack sent over a list of nearly a dozen changes compared to the VOLT, designed to improve various things. This included everything from new bearings, to new pulley alignment, to increased internal airflow, upgraded axle adapters, and other electrical changes – ultimately resulting a 15°C lower temperature internally.

With that, let’s dig a bit deeper.

Initial Impressions:

First up, we’ve got the parts in the box. Much like existing JetBlack trainers, you’ll basically just attach the legs. Two bolts per leg and you’re done. Plus, any swapping of the axle adapters you need for your specific bike. In addition to what’s shown below, the final production box will include the Zwift Click buttons (seen later, I had a few sets already):

And with that, you’re assembled. I’ve gotta hand it to JetBlack, if you’re a fan of orange, this trainer ticks almost all the boxes. You’ve got Zwift orange on the Zwift Cog (which is made by Zwift), then you’ve got JetBlack orange on the trainer itself, and finally, you’ve got a not-quite-yet-matching orange for the handlebar tape on the trainer handle:

JetBlack says that come final production unit, all shades of orange on the box will be matched to the Zwift orange, Pantone 165.

In any event, I think the bar type choice is amazing. Such a good tweak on the standard trainer handle that both makes sense, as well as is on-brand for a cycling product. I’m now tempted to bar tape the staircase handrail in the DCR Cave.

You’ll notice the unit has the new Zwift Cog V2.0 on it. That cog has a new indexing feature that essentially lets you get the gear positioning *just right* to further reduce any noise or alignment imperfections.

As for the rest of the trainer, you’ve got a design that’s not terribly unlike the previous (and very successful) VOLT trainer (which again, became the Zwift Hub). Though, JetBlack says they made some internal changes to be a bit more different than the nuances of Wahoo’s patents (Wahoo previously dismissed it’s case against JetBlack that had been concurrent with its case against Zwift, before Wahoo/Zwift ultimately made up). Realistically, the judge had signaled it’s unlikely some portions of the Wahoo patent would have held up, but these internal design changes theoretically remove any potential issues there – including switching from a flywheel-style design to more of a ‘disc’ for weight. Only the thin left portion (which is labeled ‘Victory’, below), actually spins. The rest is fixed (as seen in the video).

Next, the package will come with the Zwift Click, which is the remote shifter piece (same as other Zwift Cog units). In my case, the pre-production unit didn’t have that, but no biggie, I’ve got plenty of them. Alternatively, you can use Zwift Play too.

In any event, here it is pairing up to Zwift – both the Zwift Click, as well as the JetBlack Victory, via Bluetooth on Bluetooth:

Except wait…a key new feature of the new JetBlack Victory is the built-in WiFi for Direct Connect (aka DirCon). Thus, here it is shown that way after I configured the WiFi network with the JetBlack app:

So for now, I’ll use that for my first ride. Off to Zwift I went, ready to ride. In this case, I just selected a route with various gradients to ride. This would mean I’d use the Zwift Click for shifting to change virtual gears.

All of that worked just fine, and just like the existing Zwift Hub and Wahoo KICKR CORE with the Zwift Cog. In terms of road feel it basically feels like an existing JetBlack VOLT, or a Wahoo KICKR CORE. Likewise, in terms of audible noise, it is pretty much silent, save the typical drivetrain/chain noise. But, it’s definitely quieter than the COG V1 version.

Of course, the unit also has:

– Heart Rate Bridging: This means that on Apple TV, you don’t run out of connections, as Apple TV has two concurrent Bluetooth Connections (plus the remote). So this allows the trainer to channel the heart rate data as a single trainer/HR/power/cadence connection, then the Zwift Click as the second connection.

– Zwift Race Made: 10hz (10 times/second) data update rates.

I’ll dig into all that during my final in-depth review, but I wouldn’t expect that to be any different. Likewise, JetBlack warned prior to shipping the unit that the unit I was sent was not fully calibrated with the final calibration rig/data, and thus there were some known accuracy items still outstanding before final production units start shipping (namely peaking on sprints). They didn’t express much concern about those, and given JetBlack’s history in this area in producing quite accurate trainers, I’m not super concerned about them either yet. Here’s a quick snippet of a short ride I did this morning with the most recent beta firmware hot off the press from a few hours prior:

Now, last but not least – one final tidbit of fun: Using it with the Zwift Frame from the Zwift Ride setup. As Zwift noted when it launched the Zwift Ride, the intention is that the Zwift Frame becomes available to purchase as just the Zwift Frame later this summer (versus the whole Zwift Ride trainer package). That benefits existing Wahoo KICKR CORE, KICKR V6, and Zwift Hub owners, who want to get the Frame. But it also benefits all the future ‘Zwift Ready’ trainers, starting with the JetBlack Victory, that can be slotted under the Frame, just like such:

In this case, I was able to shift just fine with the Zwift Frame’s handlebar shifting package, controlling the virtual gearing of the Zwift Cog on the JetBlack Victory.

It should be noted that JetBlack says if you want to throw a regular 11-speed cassette on there, for non-Zwift usage, you can easily do so. The built-in free hub supports that without anything special. Like many other trainers, if you want to put a 12-speed cassette on there, you’ll need to buy an XDR free hub accessory ($43).

Wrap-Up:

Like the Britney Spears song, JetBlack has basically done it again. They’ve drastically lowered the price entry bar for a high-quality smart trainer with more features than any of their competitors at basically half the price. While competitors often like to use the term “race to the bottom” when it undercuts their pricing, the simple reality is that JetBlack has demonstrated over the last 6+ years that their hardware and software quality is just as good as their competitors. After all, Zwift picked them as their launch hardware partner for their own Zwift Hub, and then now again to be the first 3rd party company leveraging the Zwift Ready program.

Of course, the proof is still in the pudding. JetBlack will need to wrap up pre-production and move to production, something they say will happen in the next couple of weeks, with production units starting to arrive in Australia in late July, and then the rest of the globe by early September. They say by the time October rolls around, they’ll be found in various big box stores in North America and Europe, as well as Amazon, and various other retailers.

Thus, at some point along the way, probably sometime in August, I’ll drop a final in-depth review, once I’ve got a final production unit and put some mileage on it. Assuming they can deliver the same performance as the JetBlack VOLT V2 from which this is built atop, this will be an exceptionally difficult trainer to top from a pricing standpoint.

Thanks for reading!

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52 Comments

  1. Pavel Vishniakov

    This looks really curious. I think I might consider selling my Tacx Neo 2 and buying this with Zwift Frame. Shame for the road surface simulation, of course, but on the other hand I’ll get a dedicated indoor setup, because putting a bike on a trainer becomes more and more hassle with time (remove the wheel, put on the sweat catcher, put on Zwift Play controllers, do those things in reverse when you want to ride the bike outside).

  2. Ken

    Are there any Zwift compatible trailers for kids bikes? Something like a 20” wheelset that has a few gears?

    • Andy

      Unfortunately Zwift isn’t allowing any new accounts for kids under 16 right now. Do even if you come up with something they can’t ride. I’ve had plenty of success with 24” bike setups on smart trainers. Spacers can be required if you’re using a cassette that’s normally on a kids bike – 8 speed. My kids can still use Zwift because we’ve had accounts previously. They stopped allowing new ones in April.

  3. ArT

    Wahoo when will you introduce virtual gears for Kickr v5. You promised.

    • That’s sounding increasingly challenging, due to running out of memory space in the V5 firmware.

    • ArT

      This news is very disturbing. If the problem gets stuck due to lack of memory. I’m waiting for the next modification.

    • Roman

      They should have found some better excuse for not delivering virtual shifting to v5. This is absolutely bizarre, since Kickr Core introduced 2 years before (!!!) v5 doesn’t have any memory constraints/issues, but newer and more premium v5 has. In fact, Core was the first trainer to use virtual shifting!

      To me it’s more than clear that they want to force users of v5 to buy newer trainers (I guess they will launch v7 this summer). But with such bad handling of this situation – promises from the very beginning to bring the virtual shifting and then making U-turn with really unbelievable excuse – this could lead to until now loyal Wahoo users to try something else.

      Moreover this is also very environmentally irresponsible, since v5 is basically same as v6 minus wifi. Therefore still very capable trainer in 2024. It’s just pure ecological waste to replace it only because Wahoo management decides to boost the sales of new devices by not releasing low-hanging fruit software update.

      If they were thinking at least a little bit, they could provide virtual shifting update for v5 as let’s say, in-app purchase for $100 one time fee. It would be up to the users to decide if they want to extend the lifetime of their existing trainer if they want virtual shifting.

    • ArT

      This just goes to show that I will never buy the most expensive model from Wahoo again. Where the cheaper one gets a free upgrade. I would also pay to UPDATE via Wi-Fi. However, $100 for just the runs is too much. Apparently a beta version for V5 has already been released, as someone wrote on the ZWIFT forum.

  4. Max

    Impressive stuff so far… However, as an owner of a Volt2, I am hesitant.
    Last year, with the release of the zwift cog and virtual shifting on the zwift hub, JB representatives were promising release of virtual shifting firmware for the volt2 “soon” – seeing as it’s the same hardware, that sounded believeable and not like it’d be too much effort on JBs part. Now, in mid 2024, we have yet to see virtual shifting and I honestly feel a little cheated. Could’ve been transparent about not releasing virtual shifting for the volt2 – fair enough, it wasn’t even on the horizon when I bought it, perfectly fine. But don’t announce it and then don’t deliver… that seems odd. Oh well, at least we got race mode, I guess ;-)

    • It sounds like things took a bit longer than they expected. Right now they’re aiming to essentially release it once this starts shipping (since it’s shared code).

  5. Russell

    I’ve been using a wheel on trainer for almost a year waiting for a cheaper priced direct drive trainer. I think this is the one I’ll buy.

  6. Simon

    Love your work Ray, but what’s with the ever increasing use of “thus”? It’s an odd word and rarely necessary. Is it the new “so”? 😂😂

  7. Adam

    Ken,

    My kids use their 20” Trailcraft bikes (10 speed) on the Wahoo Kickr without any issues.

  8. David

    WOW!

    Dumb questions time. I hate to assume – will this work with TrainerRoad?

    To use a 10sp bike, not on Zwift, what would I need to do? I use TR and have not done the Zwift thing. This would get me from my traditional resistance trainer to a more modern one.

    Thank you!!

    • Yes, it’ll work with TrainerRoad, since it’s all ERG mode. No issues there.

    • Jet

      Hi Rey, were you able to actually test it with the TrainerRoad iOS app? TrainerRoad tends to not officially support smart trainers not from any of the major brands on their iOS app. This was my experience with my Thinkrider trainer. It would not be detected as a smart trainer.

  9. Robert

    My gf, who is scared to ride outside in our region, has been interested in Zwift for a while but the cost of getting a suitable trainer plus bike has been holding her back. With this, she could easily get the whole setup for only about $700 or so since a decent used bike just for zwifting should be easy enough for about $300. Seems like a great deal

  10. Paul

    That sounds like a heckuva lot for that price.

  11. Tim

    “It should be noted that JetBlack says if you want to throw a regular 11-speed cassette on there, for non-Zwift usage, you can easily do so. The built-in free hub supports that without anything special. Like many other trainers, if you want to put a 12-speed cassette on there, you’ll need to buy an XDR free hub accessory ($43).”

    Maybe I’m being dumb, but if it supports an 11-speed cassette without anything special, would it not also support Shimano road 12 speed cassettes without needing to buy a different freehub?

  12. Lee

    I would be curious to see if this particular trainer handles higher power. The original trainer Zwift was using from JetBlack could not handle sustained race type efforts from anyone that had an ftp over 250. Zwift realized this and allowed returns on the trainer. But in all the original trainer got glowing reviews from all the reviewers. Has the the Victory fixed those issues?

    • Jess

      I have a 278ftp on my Zwift Hub. This is the first time I’ve heard of any issues with sustained power. Are there any articles I can read on this?

    • Lee

      I’m not sure if there’s articles. This was an issue what was brought up within the live streaming racing community. The JetBlack Zwift Hub had very large wattage drift when it got hot. You probably wouldn’t notice if you didn’t have a secondary power meter. I know of at least 3 people within the community that got full refunds on the trainer after troubleshooting with Zwift customer support.

    • I never saw it with any of my testing (sustained high power), with the Zwift Hub, and my FTP floats at 290-310w. Not saying it doesn’t exist, but keep in mind they did add temp comp stuff back earlier this year.

  13. Koen Miseur

    Hmm, very interesting, I want to replace my Elite Tuo Smart next indoor season (it’s to annoying for virtual climbing because my wheels keep skipping if I push to hard). And this is almost as “cheap” as that one and it’s a direct drive.

  14. MichaelP

    I’m in the market for a new trainer as my 2018 Kickr (which is a warranty replacement) is making sounds like it is about to implode. I love the idea of virtual shifting, but I have zero interest in any of the new units that essentially only work with Zwift. I have a low degree of faith that Zwift’s promise to make its remote shifting an open protocol will happen before the end of the decade. I wish virtual shifting was a function of the trainer vs the application.

  15. Sven

    SO…. As a JetBlack VOLT v2 owner, does anyone have news about using the Zwift ONE with it?

    I keep searching, but just can’t fund any mention about supporting existing owners

    please tell us “Yup, it works :)”

    • Tony Simmonds

      Sven, JetBlack is working on virtual shifting for the Volt and will make an announcement once this is ready.

  16. Peter^

    I am baffled that people would even enter their real birthdates when registering accounts, let alone be stopped from using a platform they want to use by some “this date is not in the valid date range” check ;)

    • SG

      Faking your age (like a virtual fake ID haha) is only one aspect. There is also the issue that pretending to be an adult puts you (or used to put you) in a different pricing category.
      That might be less relevant now with the family/group subscription, but could of course change again in the future…

    • Paul

      Has the family plan been confirmed?

  17. JCampos

    I was thinking buying the VAN RYSEL D500 for the next winter. This seems interesting, should I wait for it?

  18. Andras

    Hi Ray,

    There is an information in the article which is sorta-kinda misleading about the shifting. While the Zwift Click uses Zwift’s proprietary protocol and doesn’t work with other apps, the trainer is usable together with other apps which has built-in shifting (e.g. indieVelo).

    • Hi Andras-

      I’d disagree here. I think it’d be misleading to try and convince consumers that a Zwift Cog trainer is able to shift with Indievelow (or ICTrainer). Sure, on a technicality, but only if you want to shift with a keyboard – which, approximately nobody does.

      And to be crystal clear – this isn’t a slight on either of those two apps. I think it’s neat that they’ve added it. But trying to say it’s fully compatible isn’t actually helping the overall cause to convince Zwift to release Zwift Protocol to apps like they have to hardware companies. It gives Zwift an out.

      Now – all that said, it doesn’t matter a ton in the case of JetBlack Victory. Or won’t. They confirmed on Friday they’ll also be offering both 11sp and 12sp cassette versions, for the same price. Distributors/etc can already order it. It’s on my Morning to-do to update the post above.

    • If you have the Di2-Shifter (12) you can shift in the icTrainer-app via the Di2 with the buttons. Else you can use the icTrainerRemote-app on smartphone, so there is no need to use a keyboard.
      But you are right, it’s necessary to allow also to use a button similar as the Zwift Click.

    • Good to know about Di2 option – which, I’d agree, is a legit option.

      However, I’d still argue that shifting with a companion app mid-race, or a keyboard, isn’t really super viable. And further, that everyone should be trying to convince Zwift it’s in their best interest to open this up, rather than lock it down.

      After all, a massive reason Zwift was successful in this industry is because of open standards – specifically just before they came to market, which previously had made app development very challenging in the indoor training space.

  19. myhandle

    Will I be able to use this with :
    ancient steel framed bike with quick release wheels
    workouts loaded from a non-Zwift platform, eg Xert
    Indievelo or MyWhoosh for visual distraction or fun element

    ie fit the old bike on, runs workouts on say a phone or head unit from Xert, and take part in races on some platform, all at the same time ? I can pretty much do that now by fitting power pedals onto my setup, but if I could leave those on whatever bike I’m riding outside at the time and bring in power from the JetBlack then that would be a good fit for me

  20. Naziur R

    Ray, amazing review. As a long time owner of Tacx Neo 2T, I find it baffling that they are offering all these at this price, even after following all they have done with the Volt. Question: Can you please do a comparison between this and Neo 2T, and for those Wahoo owners, with their 2 top end trainers? It’d really help all of us to understand the difference between them. Cheers!

  21. Just as a quick update for folks, from JetBlack.

    They’ve confirmed they’ll also be offering both 11 and 12sp cassette versions of this, for the same price, starting in September. Distributors can order it in any config as well. Woot!

  22. Bast Kaas

    Maybe silly question, but is this trainer equipped with some standard protocol making it compatible with the Garmin Tacx Training app? Or vice versa does Garmin support third party trainers? Based on this page it doesn’t seem possible at all: link to support.garmin.com

    • The trainer supports all the standard, but alas, Garmin’s Tacx app only supports Tacx trainers. They do it over standard protocols, but basically just filter out the ability to pair trainers not titled Tacx.

  23. Xabbar

    Once everybody buyed the zwift only specification hometrainers, I would increase the zwift monthly subscription to 30-40$ / month :-)

    • The ERG-Mode of “Zwift only”-hometrainers is useable with any app. So such a trainer is not 100% “Zwift only”, it depends on the way how you to use it. And there are also solutions for the virtual shifting functionality around. So there is still a risk for Zwift that users are migrating to different apps.

  24. Liam

    Will the JB Victory work with a Kickr Climb? In one of the videos it looked like it might support a pivoting rear axle?

  25. “fully compatible with other apps, you can *ONLY SHIFT* with Zwift.”
    -> the icTrainer Indoor Cycling app has a virtual shift mode that can be used with any trainer, so also with Zwift Hub One and with this new trainer. It works different as the virtual shifter of Zwift but it works.

  26. TSzkal

    Looks promising!
    Do we know whether the zwift cog V2 sprocket itself got any refinements done? I am still a bit hesitant to get the zwift cog for my sram axs drivetrain with the flattop chain because of the tolerances and it would be good to see some improvements in that sense. I know 100% cross-compatibility with other groupsets is almost impossible because of the roller size but still.

  27. CS_Trix

    I assume this is a next generation Zwift Hub. PLEASE be sure they have the heat/power issues sorted. I was very disappointed that no reviews called out the Zwift hub power issues that seemed to plague that trainer after the virtual shifting firmware. I could and did recreate the heat drift issue on EVERY rider on my Zwift Hub one. After nearly 90 days of fighting 7-10% accuracy drift during races of greater then 20 minutes, Zwift finally refunded my money on a Zwift Hub One – Quoting Zwift support

    “Generally speaking I don’t recommend the Zwift Hub to riders with an FTP above 250 strictly due to the amount of power that these riders can exert directly on to the device for a continuous amount of time. These high power efforts result in the trainer heating up significantly which can lead to thermal drift and inaccurate power reporting. With your FTP coming through at 301 I can only imagine that this is exactly what you’re experiencing. Especially when comparing the readings to non trainer based power meters that do not have the burden of generating physical heat.”

  28. Chris Stewart

    So, the question is better to wait for this and use with the Zwift Ride or take the Zwift ride as is now with a Kickr core?

    On paper this seems slightly better than the Core.

  29. Ec

    It is interesting that this product is not available, but it is the only trainer listed on their site.
    I hope that means an early fall release rather than late.
    I also think this is the trainer that the Zwift bike should have launched with. If the Wahoo did HR pass though, I would have bought the zwift ride already, I have learned the hard way, never buy something based off a “coming soon” feature.