XShifter wireless electronic shifting for any derailleur and bicycle

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.”

XShifter wireless electronic shifting for any derailleur and bicycle

XShifter wireless electronic shifting for any derailleur and bicycle

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.

XShifter wireless electronic shifting for any derailleur and bicycle

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 wireless electronic shifting for any derailleur and bicycle

XShifter wireless electronic shifting for any derailleur and bicycle

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.

XShifter wireless electronic shifting for any derailleur and bicycle

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.

XShifter.com

62 COMMENTS

      • The cable ties worries my also. There is some load on the cable when you shift, and the it is the cable ties holding the gear in place. if that unit slides down the seatstay you will have a slacker cable and the chain will move to small cog. I would like it if they had a better way to make sure the unit is more secure on where mount it

    • Hi Longbeard, the super early bird price for single shifter is $199 and for dual shifter $249 (for shifting front and rear derailleur). Our Kickstarter campaign will launch on Nov 1st 🙂

  1. I don’t think I could get over the idea of two large black boxes zip tied to my frame. Also, if $200 is 40% off the eventual retail price, that means $500 each, or a grand for 2x setups. You will totally lose people at that price point, as you can find Ultegra di2 for close to that price if you look hard enough.

    • Nope. If 200$ is the retail price with a 40% discount, then the full price is 333$. You’re also trying to compare a (badly calculated) full price versus a discounted Ultegra Di2. As much as I hate electronic shifting, I’m sure there’s a good size market for XShifter at that price point.

    • Actually, if $200 is 40% discount off the eventual retail price, then the retail would be approximately $334 each which isn’t that bad (note: it’s 40% OFF, not 40% OF… big difference). I’m sure the finished product will look nicer than the prototypes, but I would probably end up waiting for the 2nd generation so that it’s even more refined in fit and finish.

  2. I had this idea few years ago but not skills to design it.
    Happy to see a functional prototype.
    This type of system can be use on all bikes, MTB, road, new one, very old one, children, tandem, recumbent, …..
    Design on Facebook is more advanced.

  3. Cool idea, though I question the purpose of the mod (other than saving weight), since part of the appeal of electronic groupsets is that motors actuate the derailleurs, allowing them to shift better under load. This doesn’t seem to address that (kinda) flaw of mechanical drive trains unless there’s something that I’m not understanding, which is totes possible.

      • right, and the cable connection introduces slop into the system. no way it could be nearly as accurate as a servo-controlled derailleur.

        that said, it might be plenty accurate enough for some applications. I just don’t think you could get anywhere close to di2 level performance.

        • But they’ve cut something like 80% of the cable length greatly reducing so-called slop or friction. It might still not be as accurate, but it should be pretty close in those terms. Not to mention cable maintenance is minimal.

          • Bingo. The shorter the cable, the less slop. Same reason downtube shifters always feel more crisp than STI, all else being equal. Also why bar end shifters always feel less crisp.

        • Cable driven mechanical stuff is very accurate now. with this, it can be assumed that the cable will be sealed and clean all the way to the (much cheaper) derailleur. This system frees you from very expensive Di2 derailleur replacement, gives you choice for replacement and presumably will offer similar / same program-ability.

          We’re seeing zip-ties and 3d printing so this doesn’t look as polished as a finished retail product will be.

          I think it has legs.

  4. This is why I don’t own a 3D printer. I would constantly be creating things like this that are either brilliant or stupid. I’m not sure which this is, but I lean towards the former.

  5. This is a great idea – especially if it can be adapted to work with internal gear hubs. I’ve got a bike with 8-speed Alfine that I really wanted to set up with drop bars but couldn’t as there’s no drop bar shifter for them, and all of the workarounds are just ugly. Simple and clever idea.

  6. @Tywin, yes there are Alfine/Nexus drop bar shifters. Shimano do a Di2 one, JTek do a bar end, and Sussex make the Versa VRS-8 shifter, which is alright but not brilliant.

    As for this, I love a good hack.

  7. Electronic gearing is so ridiculously expensive considering it’s plain linear motor woth some software and a battery. Less complex than mechanical and cheaper to make.

    Besides, what’s wrong with mechanical? Far more reliable and cheaper, especially for mtb where you have decent chance of slamming your RD into something.

  8. Really like the simplicity. They say it will work on any bike but that shifter will not integrate very well with road bike STi’s and drop bars. I would like to see what solution they have. If this can be configured to switch between 8,9,10,11 spd and double/triple drivetrains via software then you have a potentially great product.

  9. So all this, to go electronic but STILL HAVE cables to the mechs? How on earth is this progress at any level? We replace one (reliable, cheap, easy to replace) long cable with a shorter one and in the middle add some electronic stuff and motors and batteries.

    Seriously folks?

    Look, progress is cool. eTap is a game changer but doing something because you *can* is just not a good enough reason. There has to be a tangible benefit, that’s what good design/innovation is.

    If you really need electronic shifting (for whatever reason), do what your parents used to do and save up for the real thing…

  10. Hi everybody, thank you for the great article and all your comments. We will launch the Kickstarter campaign very soon. For more updates you can subscribe to our newsletter at bit.ly/xshifter. Cheers!

  11. I would call this a solution in search of a problem, but I have a tandem, and the shifting isn’t perfect since the cables are so long. I’m seriously considering backing the kickstarter when it happens. I’ve never done that before.

    • Which is it then? I also have tandems, and I am considering linked recumbent delta trikes for which I would need to control the shifting of both. I don’t consider this project ‘a solution in search of a problem’, at all.

  12. Worth trying in my opinion. Fraction of cable length and housing squish could make shifting really good if not 100% as good as servo motors. For triathlon this is really interesting. Double controls for mechanical would be unique as would ‘electronic’ option for clutch 1x rear derailleur. Cool. I want it to be really good.

  13. I like the concept.

    Maybe they could make this work with Rohloff Speedhubs? One knock against drop-bar IGH bikes like the Shand Stoater is that Rohloff hubs use only a grip shifter. With a little more tweakery, this could be a way to more seamlessly integrate a Speedhub into a drop-bar bike.

  14. Regardless of an opinion on electronic shifting, innovation, price, etc. What we have is universal e-shifting. It works on darn near everything (or at least that is the goal). You don’t have to have $400+ worth of derailleurs or shifters hanging out waiting to be broken and replaced. E-shift with a $20 derailleur. That’s a bit extreme, but it does give you options.
    Sure, a Di2, ETap, and EPS, gruppo will perform better, but I don’t think this is meant to compete at that level. As an upgrade for tandems, LWB recumbents, or adaptive bicycles, this would be a great alternative. I am interested in how it will stay in place as it’s being fastened with zip-ties (and presumably rubber shims) over numerous shifts.

  15. I never new shifting gears was a problem until somebody invented electronic shifting. I still don’t see the point. You move a finger either way to accomplish a task.

    Now if they go Clint Eastwood from the movie Firefox and I only have to think about changing gears at that point by all means let me know.

    This is like having electric flush on a toilet, BFD.

    • Yeah, but then why do we “need” disc brakes, or even hydro disc brakes, when rim brakes work very well, especially dual pivot. Tech will always progress, even if we think it’s unnecessary. If I ever go with electronic shifting, it will purely be for the novelty of it…I don’t have any issues shifting mechanically.

  16. To retrofit this to a Pinion Gearbox, the design would need to be different since this is a single direction cable pull. For the pinion Paul will need to add an internal pulley to work with the servo so the pulley can manage two cables. Or….use two units…one for each cable and make them communicate to pull and release the cables in harmony.

      • The XShifter can drive every derailleurs and InternalGearHub and more, that’s why I like this idea.

        – Alfine & Nexus have 1 cable and external indexing -> easy.
        – Effigear have 2 cable and external indexing -> need 2 XShifter or 1 XShifter + 1 spring.
        – Pinion & Rohloff have 2 cable and internal indexing -> need 2 XShifter well synchronized or 1 XShifter well synchronized + 1 hard long spring. Internal indexing may be a problem and it’s better to keep it. It can work. On Rohloff it would be better to have 1 electric box on external gear mech. Somebody have ever made it, DIY version.

  17. Like someone above, this is exactly what I have been wanted for several years (but not have skills to create it).
    Someone claims that this is creating non existing problem, but I don’t think so. Like me, old cyclist sometimes ride with old component bike… 5, 6, or 7 speed derailleurs and “analogue shift”. In this case, obviously I can’t use electric shift or wireless shift. Even if I have old Shimano 7 speed SIS, it does not fit with my Suntour 7 speed Winner Pro sprockets. This thing may solve all of this kind of compatibility issues.
    I know, this kind of trick is not the best way to have optimized pedaling experience, but you know, this IS bicycle hobby and I love this product. Really want to have one (or two).

    • Hi Domitarou, thanks for your comment. Happy that our product suits your needs 🙂 We will be available on Kickstarter soon, for more updates and to not miss the early deals you can subscribe to our newsletter at bit.ly/xshifter.

  18. Looks like a great option for recumbents. Cable routing and slop can be PITA with those.
    Will be even better if an option with remote buttons (like Sram TT) is available.

    I wonder how does it keep the cable in place against the spring tension, though? Since the system is fully configureable, there should not be any mechanical catches, and if the motors stay powered, it should drain the battery in much less than 3 month.

  19. I think this is great. Its a solution for everyone who wants electronic shifting, but does not want to spend a fortune getting it.
    As for the finishing of the components – come on, this is a prototype version, not the final retail version.
    As for the concerns of the cable building up slop and being less crispy compared to di2 or etap because of the cable… why not just replace the cable with another set of non-stretchable cables (different material, etc. there should be something out there on the market that can solve this issue, especially since the necessary length of the cable is much shorter and has to go through significantly less “bends” compared to a conventional cable actuated setup).
    Good work, and great work on REALIZING the idea and actually building a prototype for product launch.

  20. A number of people mentioned “I wonder how it stays in place with zip ties and rubber shins”.

    Doesn’t matter. It uses full length casing from the derailleur to the box. You could theoretically have the box hanging off the casing and it would still shift. The cable ties don’t carry any load other than the weight of the box.

    And I think this is brilliant. A really neat solution, at a very respectable price. I don’t get why so many people are bashing it. Let’s wait and see what the finished product looks like – but I can get behind this for my 1×11 dual suspension mountain bike. No cable management required – it would tuck inside the chain stay out of the way – looks awesome to me.

  21. I can see an enormous potential on this. It would be great if it could be tucked inside the frame. But then, where could the micro USB charging port be placed? Drilling a hole in the frame, a la Campagnolo EPS, doesn’t seem to be a good idea at all. Other thing that can be problematic is the use of Bluetooth, which makes me wonder if someone is able to hijack the frequency…

    • Great ideas! Yes, Bluetooth can theoretically be hacked, along with every other wireless system on the market. But its not easy, and you need to be within the very short range of the system. There are way easier ways to cheat.

  22. We know a lot of our sales came from subscribers here. I want to personally thank everyone that made a pledge on Kickstarter, and those of you that are supporting this project. We smashed our goal in only 2 days and continuing to grow. We are so excited that this product will become a reality. There has been such an overwhelming response to this product, and we’ve received so much feedback. This has given us direction to really improve the product in many ways.

    With your feedback we have already:
    1, Developed the remote control for Road bikes.
    2. Developed a modular mounting system that really cleans up the appearance and robustness.
    3. Proposed many new smart functions for the APP.
    4. Configured dropper post actuation.
    5. Working on new remotes for MTB and TT

    We are working on stretch goals for the campaign to really round out the product line.
    Thanks so much to all the people that have provided their input, it’s given me ideas way beyond what I had envisioned.

    This is only the beginning for this company. Dedicated servos for suspension and dropper lockout are being developed. Very soon we will have a system that wirelessly and seamlessly connects all these functions in one remote control.

  23. Interesting that they don’t quote a weight for the system. Assume this is because production weight is not yet known … yet they quote a weight saving when replacing a mechanical setup …

  24. Paul, it is always better to underpromise and over deliver unless you are just in the business of just collecting cash. You recently promised updates and blog etc but all hear is crickets.
    He has take probably over 200 thousand dollars in sales so far with not one delivery yet.
    My advice is to not buy until units are out and they have been tested. Better to spend a little more once they are refined than to throw away money on a promise that is looking less promising all the time.
    Hey I think it is a great idea but I have been burned too many times being a early adopter.

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