Contrary to popular belief, there is much more to a bicycle than simply pushing your legs to make the wheels go round. Take for example the bike’s drivetrain, which transfers all your leg power to the drive wheels. While there are a ton of variations, most drivetrains consist of a front wheel, chain, and rear wheel which allow you to change gears depending on the terrain.
One of the most significant problems the system faces is friction. When you’re pumping your legs to the point where they feel like jelly, transferring the energy into the wheels takes its toll on the drivetrain. To make matters worse, an inefficient drivetrain can actually make your bike go slower than it’s supposed to by converting the power into friction instead.
Driven, a concept Drivetrain developed by bearing and chain company CeramicSpeed, is supposed to fix these problems by delivering a 99% frictionless system. Created by chief technology officer Jason Smith and CeramicSpeed’s USA office in collaboration with the University of Colorado Boulder’s Mechanical Engineering Department, Driven consists of a carbon fiber drive shaft, roller pinions, and two toothed cogs.
The rear cog is what will capture your attention from the get-go. While the front cog consists of 90-degree angled teeth, the 13-speed rear cog does away with gears entirely – instead opting for a single metal plate which looks like the toothy inside of a shark’s mouth. This monstrous plate looks to be the secret to a relatively frictionless drivetrain – as rows of teeth line the rear cog, allowing the bike to switch speeds without hitting any points of friction.
The drivetrain itself isn’t entirely of CeramicSpeed’s own making. It uses Shimano’s Dura Ace chain and derailleur drivetrain combined with CeramicSpeed’s Oversized Pulley Wheel System and UFO chain. Since the Dura Ace Drivetrain only has a 97% frictionless efficiency, the added CeramicSpeed parts up it to 99%.
It may not seem like much, but the extra decrease in friction is something bike aficionados definitely look for when they’re trying to outrace speeding cars. The project is still a concept, as CeramicSpeed is unsure how to turn this relatively frictionless system into a fully functioning one.
You can find out more about the Driven on CeramicSpeed’s webpage. For a more in-depth look, Bicycling.com actually has an article which talks about the Driven and its parts, so be sure to check it out if you love speeding down hills as much as the next guy.