Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Is the future Classified? And when will we know?

Posted by Matt | February 15, 2021 | 5 comments so far

Classified Smart Axle
An interesting bit of news came out this week that points to a possible future for MTB design.

Rose bikes announced a gravel bike. But not just any gravel, it was a version of their Backroad model with a rear Classified hub.

You will be forgiven for wondering what’s so important about the Rose Backroad Classified, especially since another Brexit bonus is we can no longer buy Rose bikes in the UK. Well, what’s interesting is the Classified hub.

You see, Classified hubs include a set of planetary gears that provides the equivalent of 2x gearing by replicating the kind of gearing step a front deraileur and double chainring might provide. For those of us with long memories this may well invoke – at the very least – a series of eyerolls.

Quite apart from long memories of Sturmey Archer three speeds, the patient zero of mainstream internal gearing, does anyone remember the Hammer Schmidt crankset for example? And more to the point, know anyone who had one?

So take this news with a large pinch of salt, in addition to which is the question – does it solve any actual known problem or simply create new ones?

As far as potential problem solving is concerned, I suppose it is worth observing in principle just how big our cassettes have grown over recent years. I have a new 1×12 Deore 10-51T cassette ready to go on my Aether 9 build and it is simply enormous (and heavy). How much bigger can we go in the search of wide-range gearing? With current derailleur tech, probably not an awful lot.

This pursuit of super-wide cassettes leads to issues with chainline, chain wear and shift quality, although to be fair modern designs seem to work better than they really have any right to. Then there’s the fact that super-wide cassettes ultimately affect how wide rear hub spacing can get, creating a design ceiling. Again, it’s moot over whether this is a real problem or not.

Classified handlebar unit

On the flipside, the Classified hub gears introduce one very obvious limitation. They are Bluetooth actuated. Yep, you need to charge your shifter for it to work. Hmmm, not sure that’s what I want from a bike to be honest.

I guess if Tony can accommodate wireless shifting on his road bikes, and the new Dura Ace/AXS/Super Record groupsets are all likely to be wireless only in short order it might be something we have to get our heads around. MIND you, Mondraker clearly see wireless and electronics as part of the future of MTB too, and e-bike integration is another driving factor here.

What’s significant about the Rose Bikes/Classified/gravel match up is a) it brings the price of Classified hub availability down to relatively sensible levels after they have been available for a little while on spendy Ridley bikes, and b) the gravel application is not a million miles away from XC MTB territory. We will soon see if the Classified tech stands up to the kind of abuse it will get from off-road riding.

What it offers potentially is wide range gearing with closer steps between cogs and greater freedom over chainline. Would a 2x hub with 7-speed close-ratio cassette work? At some point we may get to find out! And as an aside, what a source of regret that Rose Bikes no longer ship to the UK – I’d love to try the Backroad with or without a Classified hub.

Rose Bikes Backroad Classified

Filed under Mutterings in February 2021


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 5 comments on ‘Is the future Classified? And when will we know?’

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  1. Tony Gordon says:

    Well I sorta like the idea of a 2 speed hub if it is reliable, drag free and doesnt way a ton. None of which really describe a Sturmey Archer hub! A 7 speed cassette can have a great chain line, big sprockets and strong/wide chain, all surely positives. A bit like the Pace RC100 7speed retrobike in the garage!

  2. Elliot says:

    Canyon had a similar prototype 2 speed hub about 11 years ago, but it never made it to market. In fact there’s been disappointing progress all round on gearboxes and hubs. I still think something like a Pinion gearbox is the future, not derailleurs. This one looks interesting. Although it seems to require a special cassette?

    • Matt says:

      Fewer gears could also be the future if electric motors are everywhere because the torque spread can compensate for the gaps.

      Singlespeed/dinglespeed or close ratio cassettes might be of interest too for those using leg power. I am really enjoying my Trek townie singlespeed but a couple of extra gears would be welcome.

  3. Mark Chillingworth says:

    I guess a Brompton 6 speed is along similar lines, although a hub gear the classified element is on the outside and makes a 3 speed hub a 6 speed. Having owned 2 and rated it, the theory definitely work. Oh, and I completely agree, losing Rose is another kick in the….

  4. Related: Classified X Hunt gravel wheels announced - 2023, News - Muddymoles - mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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