What if you could turn your current bike into one with wireless electronic shifting without having to change any of your drivetrain parts or derailleurs?
That’s what inventor Paul Gallagher asked. “It was one of those crazy ideas. I wanted to put wireless shifting on my mountain bike, but it wasn’t available. So I made it.”
“I’ve been in manufacturing and engineering since the 70’s, and have worked for Hayes (developed the current braking system used on Harley Davidson motorcycles) and then at SRAM (developed the Guide Ultimate’s caliper and other parts of that brake). I started working on XShifter on April 26th, so less than five months, and it’s come a long way very quickly.”
The system uses a servo driven motor with a 450mA battery that’s micro USB rechargeable. It works on anything that pulls a cable, so it could be put inline with a gear box or internally geared hub, too, or even on lower end parts like the Shimano Acera parts on this demo bike. It’s shown here on a mountain bike, but a road bike version is in the works with a triathlon model likely following.
It’ll be available as a separated, two unit system with two distinct front and rear shifter units plus the remote (as shown here), or a single unit that runs two cables out of it plus the remote. There may be even be a choice of single-unit designs that either run both cables out one side, or each cable out of opposite sides, giving you more flexibility in mounting positions depending on your setup.
As shown, it’s about 200g with cable – only 60-70g per single servo / battery unit. That’s down from 370g with traditional shifters and full length cables, standard housing, etc. That saves about 170g, and he says the system can easily be lighter than eTap.
XShifter gives you front and rear shifting from a single thumb pad. The rear shifts up or down using the right side, front shifting on the left side. Using their iPhone app, set your zero point on the smallest cog, jog it up to the largest cog, then tell it how many gears there are and it figures out how much cable to pull for each cog in between. Individual cog adjustments can also be made to fine tune the shifting as necessary.
All of the parts are paired via Bluetooth thru the app, which also lets you customize button function. You could even opt for sequential shifting so you only need to worry about up and down, like on Shimano’s mountain bike 2x Di2. A planned drop down list of components will also offer even quicker setup in the future.
The battery is removable. They’ve gotten about 10,000 shifts per charge, and they have a three month standby before you’ll need to recharge from disuse.
This demo shows them running through the gears slowly at first, then rapidly up and down, then up and down through the front three gears.
This 3D printed demo unit worked well on a short test ride around the parking lot. Cable pull felt strong, and would likely have snappier shifts on higher end drivetrains. That said, it never missed a shift on this Acera-level 3x setup. Gallagher says he’ll likely speed up the servo motor about 20%. We’re thinking this could be used for some very clever custom builds and breath new life into existing parts. It could also be a great solution for folks with physical limitations, amputees and others that need alternatives to levers and twisters. And getting rid of cables and wires on the front of a TT/triathlon bike for a fraction of the cost of complete electronic systems could make triathlete’s lives much easier when packing and unpacking a bike for travel.
XShifter will launch on Kickstarter in October, offering it at $199 for a single unit and shifter (for 1x drive trains), which is probably about a 40% discount off eventual retail.