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TPE16: MicroSHIFT shocks us with new 11-speed electronic drivetrain for mountain bikes

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Microshift P1100086

Trying to develop a drivetrain is no easy feat when you consider all the patents you have to work around. Add to that the electronic drivetrains are even harder to manage because even the path the electronics operate in are patented. Even SRAM admitted it was one of the biggest challenges they faced when developing eTap. Well, microSHIFT figured it out and wired their Taipei Cycle Show booth with this functioning motorized system…

Microshift P1100072

Microshift has been a smaller but well received brand helping out the OE market by supplying entry to mid-level road bikes with dependable, low price-point drivetrains. So we weren’t expecting to step into the microSHIFT booth and hear that distinct bzzzt bzzzt bzzzt sound. Though the 11-speed eXCD shifter and derailleur are prototypes still under development and a bit slow, they shifted perfectly without missing a beat shift.

Microshift P1100074

Using a “clutch”, the 11-speed derailleur can handle up to a 42 tooth cassette, so it sounds like they’re on the right track with current standards. The motor wasn’t as fast as others on the market, but so far this is only the second electronic drivetrain we’ve seen designed for mountain bikes and they were pretty clear that it was still under development.

2016-03-02 P1100088

One unique feature is that the the “standard” rechargeable batteries and electronics are all contained within the eXCD shifter. Good for 6,000 shifts (~1,000+ km), the shifter has an on/off button to save power and a visible LED indicator to keep you aware of the battery’s charge. With only a rear shifter and derailleur, it’s clearly aimed at a 1×11 set up, which should work just fine with their wide-range cassettes they showed off last year, though, presumably, it’ll be coupled with an even bigger 11-42 11-speed cassette.

Despite their excusing it as very early in testing, it was pretty impressive to see such a smooth functioning prototype. No word on price, but we suspect this could be a viable option for the less than uber-boutique bike customer.

Microshift P1100084

microSHIFT.com

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24 Comments
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Mike
Mike
6 years ago

This is awesome, and I’m excited to see others in this space. I do look askance at this though: “Good for 6,000 shifts (~1,000+ km)”. Who only shifts 6 times per km? That seems optimistic in the dirt. Anyone have any figures on shifting frequency?

Tomi
Tomi
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike

@Mike Because of bigger gaps in the cassette I think we tend to shift less with single ring setup. That’s definitely my experience. On the other hand I live in the mountain so we have lots of long sutained climbs where you don’t shift that often.

Chefdog
Chefdog
6 years ago

Mike, I was thinking the exact same thing. I think those are Road Bike numbers and sound right, but I would guess shifting on dirt or trails to be way, way higher.

Brett
Brett
6 years ago

Nice work microshift!

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
6 years ago

I’m guessing they stuck with road numbers too and forgot to negate that there won’t be any shifting up front

gr36
6 years ago

The same inner geek that is so mad that I can’t seem to see BikeRumor comments is super happy that they just announce that this is based upon a standard 14500 battery, and don’t apparently price gouge on that!

Willis24
Willis24
6 years ago
Reply to  gr36

They just might take over if they develop single cable shift systems that do not require a barrel type shifter.

Me
Me
6 years ago

Gearboxes will take over the market in no time for all cycling disciplines. Sorry for the news.

PFS
PFS
6 years ago
Reply to  Me

I doubt it. Gear boxes are cool but they are quite heavy and expensive and they limit frame design a lot. As much as I would like to see it happen, I think we would need a serious jump in technology to see something viable on a large scale.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
6 years ago
Reply to  PFS

Yup, until we can have composite gears that handle load and friction for thousands of miles, these things will only get so light. I actually like the idea and it has a future but it won’t take over without massive changes in materials. Aluminum won’t cut it. It wears too quickly for this kind of system and still won’t be very light, just lighter

Luiggi
Luiggi
6 years ago
Reply to  PFS

The biggest obstacle in gearbox design and implementation is the same one keeping the statu quo in regular derailleur: patents. When Hayes Bicycle Group bought the ones of a simple and affordable design and threw them into oblivion, and when Honda did the same with the developments they created for the RN-01 the gearbox concept got stuck to heavy designs such as the V-Boxx and other similar ones.

Tim
Tim
6 years ago
Reply to  Luiggi

Tell us more about these bought-and-discarded lightweight gearbox designs- is there any website out there with information on this kind of technology, a site with not just links to patents, but analysis of who they work?

Tim
Tim
6 years ago
Reply to  Luiggi

Looked into it, and apparently the one Hayes Group bought in 2004 or so was simply a derailleur system with a cassette housed inside a spacious bb shell.
There might be some promise in making the gears inside gearboxes from ceramic- that might be lighter than steel.

Me
Me
6 years ago
Reply to  PFS

Bet you Shimano is working on this on some top secret bunker somewhere. If they standardize the dimensions and installation procedure of the gearboxes we should see everybody making theses frames….just like everybody makes frames for cranksets today. Pinion for example still doesn’t sell to the end customer, just for a limited amount of frame maker, mainly in Europe. I relay hope they can start selling for everyone to see effects in the industry.

Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen
6 years ago
Reply to  Me

I’d be OK with that. Go buy an old SA equipped wheel at your co-op. Take it apart and rebuild it with instructions from the Internet. Rebuild your mower’s Peerless transmission. Congratulations, you now have the basic knowledge to rebuild any bike transmission.

But, you can absolutely electronically shift a gearbox. In fact, I am building such a wheel today.

Eric
6 years ago

Wonder if the parts are still warm from the 3D printer?
Glad to see a little guy still in the market.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

While I personally have no wires, batteries, or electronics on my mtb, simply because I want to enjoy where I ride (regardless of how fast or furious the ride may be), I still think all this electronic shiz is great, even if it sets up new barriers to entry into the industry.
You cannot stop the market for this stuff, but at least there will be non-infringing alternatives to the big 3.

dG
dG
6 years ago

microshift might as well throw a wrench in the eletronic wars, prob sooner than later. after sram blew the doors off the wireless transmission, microshift might be next. they have been flying under the radar for years. i happen to own the mechanical 10-spd version with internal cables, and it works *very* well. how come this is not out there for everyone to see is beyond me. but looks like this is their warning shot. wouldn’t be surprised if jelly belly shows up in the spring with their bikes fitted w some sort of electronic shifting for cheapo, that works just as well.

anonymous
anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  dG

Microshift was very slow on releasing their internal cable parts, and they came out heavier than their old parts.

Tommy Rodgers
6 years ago

Here’s my comment…

Why the HECK don’t the comments ever show up for me anymore? I can’t see them!

Of course, maybe no one will see this, either!

JP
JP
6 years ago

Aw yeah. Any idea what the price will be?

Dan
Dan
6 years ago

Why would anyone mount a electronic driven 11speed derailleur that is only good for 1 chainring, is heavier than regular pull cable shifting, needs to be charged every other shift and look bulky to boot?
Electronic gearshifting IMO make only sense if you are running more than one chainring and then for people who have trouble with shifting chainrings and cassette at the same time.

On the other hand: When finally everything on a bike is electrified, you’ll just select your trail, pick the rough line and and hold onto the bike: Steering, driving, shifting, braking, suspension, lights,… everything is motor driven and you can basically ride the bike remote controlled from your sofa with your iPad 5 or so.

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