If you’re a Mountain Biker, sooner or later you realise that the holy grail in terms the ‘ideal bike’ is going to be something that:
- Doesn’t make any noise – no chain slap, no rattles, just straight forward stealthy motion
- Changes gear when you want it too, regardless of conditions
- Requires as little maintenance as possible
Many people have pondered this and ultimately come to the conclusion that some kind of gearbox driven bike would do the trick, with all the drive gubbins safely encased inside the frame. There’s rumoured to be Orange bikes in development using gearbox technology and of course there’s always Honda.
But now Pinkbike is reporting that Steve Millyard’s dad has engineered what appears to be a good step forward in achieving a practical solution that achieves a similar result using essentially a modified Shimano 8 speed gearbox. All the clever stuff is protected inside an aluminium casing down near the bottom bracket to keep the centre of gravity manageable and the chain is routed through the swingarm so there’s no chainsuck or chain slap to worry about.
The best bit is this particular design can be folded in half and chucked in the boot of a car.
OK, it’s a downhill machine so weight isn’t really an issue, but with the industry’s increasing competence with carbon fibre I’d guess it would be possible to build an All Mountain machine for a reasonable weight.
Throw in the idea of using drivebelts for the transmission and you’ve got the basis of a continuously variable, quiet, maintenance free gearset.
So the future’s coming that’s for sure. And I don’t think it includes derailleurs.
Here’s the link to Pinkbike for more information about the Millyard ‘gearbox’ bike.