What cyclist hasn’t pinched their fingers while replacing a bike chain? Or had their leg pants dirtied and caught up in the chain? Or had to spend hours cleaning a rusty chain and chain ring?
The promise of shaft drive technology and the “chainless bicycle” eliminates these complaints forever.
Simply put, when you pedal, you turn a drive shaft (enclosed inside a sealed aluminum or steel case) that turns a bevel gear which turns your rear wheel to move forward. No chain required. No derailer required. Gearing tucked away.
After watching videos and reading customer reviews, it appears you don’t see, hear, or feel parts moving. You experience a surreal sense of gliding.
We’ve never had a customer bring us a chainless bike for inspection, service or maintenance yet. But we know there is a consumer market for shaft drive bicycles on a wide range of frames (city/hybrid, cruiser, mountain bike, folding).
A small number of bike companies have been manufacturing and selling chainless bikes direct online for years, such as Dynamic Bicycles, Beixo, Biomega, and BRIK. Applying the shaft drive technology to electric bikes is being led by Protanium and Mando Footloose. All the companies are growing their markets, while refining and improving their shaft and gear design systems to be more efficient and aesthetically pleasing.
When I’m visiting my favorite bicycling forums, I have encountered chainless bike discussions. Opinions are mixed. I don’t think old-school opponents should dismiss these bikes as a joke simply because they don’t live up to world class bike manufacturing standards. They’re missing the point. None of the companies mentioned are claiming to outperform a $3,000+ bike for the serious, advanced cyclist. These companies are targeting a casual rider willing to pay $800 to $1,200 for a new bike.
So is chainless bicycling a trend that will motivate the major bike companies to rethink traditional bike design? Will owning a chainless bicycle powered by a drive shaft prove to more fun, quieter, cleaner, and easier than a chain bike? How will shaft drive technology be used in future applications?
Let me know your thoughts because I’m open minded to the ongoing debate.