About 14 months after CeramicSpeed unveiled their radical drivetrain concept that they said would reduce the large amounts of friction in drivetrains, they have made a rideable version that shifts. And it’s possibly even better than they expected.
CeramicSpeed are pretty much the company devoted to marginal gains. Having spent time on their bearings in bottom brackets, wheels and jockey wheels, it is clear that their level of quality and precision is really high. Even if you don’t want to invest in their products (and they do cost a lot!) you should read some of their articles. The post on 10 ways to reduce drivetrain friction is a must-read, as is the chain lube comparison – time to buy some extra virgin olive oil!
All this is looking at small savings. 0.3 of a watt, or maybe 5 watts. But the Driven drivetrain is said to be 99% efficient, so you get out 99% of what you put in.
The concept shown at Eurobike in 2018 could not be ridden, or shift gears. It was a concept. But now CeramicSpeed have made it rideable, and shiftable.
What is Driven anyway?
There is still a cassette, and still a chain ring – but not as you know it. The cassette is machined to have recesses that the rollers turn. The same thing is going on at the cranks for the chainring, although there is not a shifting component at that end.
Its by moving for and aft at the back that the pinion allows shifting. The unit slides along the section of custom frame. It is wireless electronic – and patented.
“The rear split-pinion is a novel method of changing gears, even under rider load. The pinion is split down the middle, in an axial manner, creating two halves. Each half of the pinion can move independently to complete a shift. The pinion doesn’t have to ‘wait’ for a radially aligned shift channel to arrive. With the use of the self-aligning Torque Decoupler, the pinion can shift anywhere on the rear cog. A shift occurs very quickly, within one rotation of the driveshaft. With this rear split-pinion, shift speed has the potential to outperform a traditional electronic drivetrain.” said Jason Smith, the project lead.
To break that down, you have a very fast shifting system which is wireless, and that runs at an incredibly high efficiency. It sounds like a dream for any bike racer.
CeramicSpeed’s Executive Vice President, Martin Banke, says, “We have proven that Driven is viable as a replacement for the traditional chain and derailleur drivetrain. It has the potential to revolutionize the industry. In my opinion, the only thing that now prevents Driven from becoming available to the masses, is resource and development capital. We are now actively pursuing development and manufacturing conversations with interested parties and welcome a partnership that would make Driven the drivetrain of the future.”
So when can I buy a CeramicSpeed Driven drive system?
Hold on, take a closer look at that Canyon Lux that has been fitted with a CeramicSpeed Driven drive system. It has a totally custom swing arm.
For the CeramicSpeed Driven drive system to become available, we will need to see market adoption. This might remain the domain of custom frame builders at first, but all it will take will be a major manufacturer or two making the leap of faith to offer the system on a model of bike or two.
It is easy to say that this system will be fine for their testing grounds, which was on a velodrome, as there are so many variables in the off-road world of mountain biking. But we all know how vulnerable a derailleur and even chain are. This system takes them out of the equation.
Mud and dirt should be forced out from where the rollers are in conract with the cassette. As the cassette is flat, it may well lead to rear hubs having a wider body, creating a stronger rear wheel to. The system will be lighter as well, a bonus for overall bike weight, but also the rear of the bike will have less weight, improving handling and suspension performance.
None of this means it is ready to go, but in 14 months CeramicSpeed have delivered a rideable model, with a Canyon Lux MTB and a Specialized Tarmac on display at Eurobike. This is an exciting development and true innovation in drivetrain technology. We are keen to see where this ends up!