Classified Hubs | SRAM wireless Rival AXS
There are two pieces of interesting news I wanted to share today, coincidentally both are about road bike gearing.
Like Shimano, SRAM makes groupsets, meaning ‘all the bits directly associated with the mechanics of a moving chain’.
Starting at the Pro end, Shimano has the DuraAce – Ultegra and 105 ranges of SENSIBLY COMPETITIVE groupsets.
The equivalents for SRAM are RED, FORCE and Rival.
Whilst SRAM now has a 12-speed offering in all those ranges, Shimano is stuck on 11-speed although it is strongly suspected to be on the verge of changing that very soon.
Both SRAM and Shimano have electronic shifting. For Shimano, the electronic version is known as Di2 and for SRAM it is eTap. SRAM seems to be leading the way here with a wireless-electronic offering, whereas Shimano’s Di2 is wired-electronic and that WILL change to include a wireless option later in 2021.
Until today, both vendors kept the cheaper, thrid tier offerings (105 and Rival) as mechanical only.
Today’s news is that SRAM now offers an electronic 3rd tier option with RIVAL. Whilst I always thought Shimano would trickle down Di2 to 105, most of the rest of the industry thought the opposite. I guess with this announcement from SRAM, it’s more likely that Shimano MIGHT be pushed into following suit.
PowerShift Hub by “Classified”
This is some very cool mechcanical+electronical tech here that I suspect is sadly destined to eventually go nowhere.
In a nutshell: The appearance is of a 1×11 geared system but which is cleverly made into 2×11 by the addition of an extra gear inside the hub on the rear wheel.
I have heard of similar solutions before but Classified seems to have nailed the various design and usage elements that make this appear to be a great overall solution for many kinds of riders and for many subtle and detailed reasons. I don’t want to write an essay on this so here are some bullet points.
- The internal gear within the hub changes the gear ratio. It has two settings and so your normal visible 11 gears become 2×11=22.
- There is no need at all for two rings and a front derailleur. Though I guess you could have a front derailleur and introduce some very interesting gear combos if you did! ie 2×22=44 gears
- The internal Classified gear is electronic. Its movement is initiated electronically with a wireless Bluetooth signal but then the physical movement of the wheel shifts the internal gear. Hence I assume the power consumption is very low.
- The internal electronic gear is powered by a rechargeable battery integrated into the custom thru-axle which also doubles-up as a BLE receiver. (I thought that was clever!)
- Your regular derailleur can be either mechanical or electronic with the usual lever or shifter of your choice. However, the internal Classified gear is triggered electronically with a Bluetooth satellite shifter switch (I assume a Di2 sprint switch)
- The rear cassette is super lightweight because it is cast as one piece and requires no internal spider, this is made possible by the completely redesigned Classified hub.
- The system is compatible with MANY frames that have rear disc brakes. This is a new announcement by the company and one which gives it a degree of commercial credibility. ie the potential for aftermarket sales is significantly increased by this compatibility. Previously the Classified system was only available on selected new bike brands.
- The internal gear shift is reported to be super-super-quick AND ALSO easily possible when pedalling under load.
- The internal gear system can easily be swapped between compatible wheels
- The overall system weight is increased slightly but my understanding is that the increase is small as many other parts are ‘lost’ eg front derailleur.
- In the spinnier internal gear a fraction of 1% of power is lost (I couldn’t get a figure), there is ‘no’ loss in the regular internal gear.
Hopefully, that summarised the more interesting points of the system. I think many of the points are cool but then just shrug my shoulders and happily go for a ride on my 2x setup. I’m not entirely sure what problem this is trying to solve
- aesthetics – yeah maybe a 1x setup looks nicer.
- quick shifting under load – yeah but that’s mostly for high-level riders who probably won’t countenance the slight loss of power in the spinnier gears. Even then it’s only quickly shifting one gear…only useful for going up a hill rather than the home straight of a sprint.
- gravel? maybe, I guess.
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