Old technology re-engineered...
CeramicSpeed DrivEn fitted to a modified Cervelo P5 carbon Stealth bomber
The Columbia Chainless Safety Bicycle (1897)
CeramicSpeed claim the new Driven drivetrain is 99% efficient. Wonder what the tech specs of the old Columbia Chainless were...
The 1898 Columbia Chainless Model 51 featured a shaft drive. Benefits included no chain slack, less exposure to dirt and no chance of getting tangled in the chain (similar reasons for belt-drive), which was especially attractive to women, who were almost exclusively riding in skirts or dresses at the time.
It began with the penny farthing, where the only way to gear up in order to go faster was to ride a larger and larger wheel. In the mid 1880's there was the introduction of chain drive with the use of different sized sprockets to gear up and a reduction in the size of the wheel, the 'safety bicycle' was born. From solid rubber tyres to pneumatic ones for further safety and comfort. Innovations led to bicycles all looking very similar to one another (sound familiar?) so manufactures started looking for new ways to differentiate their bikes from the competition. Materials like bamboo, aluminium and wood were experimented with. Frame configurations also with curved seat tubes, split seat tubes, spring forks and suspension (all technologies that are still experimented and used today) The other area for development was the drivetrain... Curved cranks, oversized chainrings, shaft drive were all attempted. Now in 2018 rather than brand differentiation we have marginal gains - faster, stiffer, more efficient. The pursuit of scientific gains to get an edge over the competition.
The League Cycle Co. introduced shaft-driven bikes to the U.S. in 1894, but it was a small, under-funded company. The mammoth bike company at the time, Columbia (Equivalent of Shimano), purchased the design and introduced its own version for the 1898 model year. Model 51 is one of their first-year models. They sold well for the first couple of years, but sales slid until shaft-drive bikes were discontinued in 1920. The design was more expensive to produce, a crucial factor in a time of falling prices. Wheel removal was much more difficult in the event of (frequent) flat tires and, if the frame was damaged, the shaft would stop working. The innovation at the time didn't take off and we've had chain driven with the occasional belt drive, until now?
With so much of life we are influenced by the past with many believing that much of history just repeats itself in new ways. CeramicSpeed's new DrivEn system could be seen as an upgrade on an old drivetrain innovation/experiment. New scientifically developed technology, processes and materials - CNC machining, carbon fibre, ball bearings and gearing, combined with a forward thinking young company have brought an old drivetrain system back again.
Could this proposal by CeramicSpeed be a new era of drivetrains, resulting in a huge rethink for frame design? For more info and tech specs head over to CeramicSpeed