Ceramic Speed’s Wacky Yet Damn Cool DRIVEN Chainless Drivetrain System Jul 9, 2018

Trust me when I say that we get a lot of kooky – and not the good kinda kooky – tech pieces emailed to us over here. From “innovative” saddle designs, to e-conversions, to surfing paddle bikes but every once in a while, something that can only be described as so damn cool, stumbles into our scope of what we call the cycling industry. Imagine if drivetrains, as we know them, could be redesigned, knocking down all recent frame design with one fell swoop. That’s what Ceramic Speed’s new DRIVEN system is proposing. You can get the gist here, but if you’d like more techy bits of info, head to Ceramic Speed.

  • Rider_X

    This thing is genius, especially the rear “cassette.” Open to sealed bearings is an obvious change, but I wonder about drive shaft wind-up and frame flex tolerances. I hope the design gets to see light of day.

    • I’d love to see more urban / commuter bikes using this. It sucks they used a speed dork bike to display it first, when the practicality of those “ride share” bikes seems way more fitting. But then again, speed dork sells.

      • Steve Fuller

        I was actually thinking the same thing. If they could get the bearings sealed well, this could be really cool in a fleet of ride share bikes.

      • Rider_X

        I suspect the carbon drive shaft is key (which puts it outside commuter and ride share). Shaft driven bike on the market use steel shafts and planetary gears, and pedal like %^$*. Any slightly spirited riding and you can feel a ton of shaft wind-up (after getting over the inefficiencies of the gear interface). We produce a lot of torque for a bike sized drive shaft.

        • Donald Stevenson

          Torque was my first thought, which led to my looking forward to seeing how this thing will tend to break, not to be a jerk, but just to understand the dynamics involved, and as you say, the carbon component seems to be key. The beauty of a chainring or cog is how much area the stress is spread out over, yet how precisely aligned with the direction you want to go. Compared to even an 11-tooth cog, their interface seems small.

      • Jose Arce
  • Donald Stevenson

    Time trial bikes are already pretty weird so this kinda is a similar type of weird. Would be really cool if they could figure out an interface like a CVT—seems like it could be possible. Trying to improve on 98% efficiency, though! God bless’em.

  • Nicholas Petersen

    I wanna see it shift.

  • I want to see continued development of this. This first real change in bicycle drivetrain in what, a 100 years? Speed dork concept or not, this is feckin cool.

  • Brian Simon

    Mind blown. I wanna see it work!

  • Brian Simon

    From Ceramic Speed:
    “[W]e have created a drive shaft concept that utilises 21 CeramicSpeed Bearings” in pursuit of the question “how do we sell more bearings?”

  • this makes me high.

    • Chris Valente

      now that is saying something.

  • A good video explanation by ceramicspeed from eurobike: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-9gQ1KRhesM

    • Rider_X

      The amount of brain power that went into this is crazy.

  • Nick Keating

    The bicycle history geek in me has a fun sidebar. During the late 1890’s, several European bicycle manufacturers began playing around with chainless designs that incorporated a bevel gear drive. Around 1897 Pope Mfg. (Columbia) purchased the patents and took them state-side where the novel design became the latest sensation. Not much unlike today’s MTB suspension designs, Pope charged a licensing fee to any manufacturer wanting in on the new tech. The gears were extremely difficult and expensive to make, but leading up to the 1900’s, it was of the thought that if you did’t purchase a license and start building chainless bicycles, you would be left behind.

    The fact that CeramicSpeed has packed 13 gears into this blows my mind. That cassette is incredibly novel in its simplicity. Inspiration leads to innovation, and I think that has certainly rung true for the bicycle industry.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d758f949e056a39fa6fa581fce4d0eccbe57f315714f084dacf341a66cd82439.jpg

  • Chris Leydig

    The next biggest thing to drive bearing sales since fidget spinners

  • Tim Guarente

    I like this level of experimentation. I don’t expect this to catch on, but it’s cool.

    I know this doesn’t shift yet, but indexing will be difficult to achieve for multiple ranges because there is a minimum increase between gears to make room for the bearings on the shaft. Maybe it’ll be close enough to be comfy, but it looks like big steps between gears.

  • Noah Behnke
  • Chris

    Cool, but I’m still waiting for someone to explain how this is better than simple bevel gears which are ubiquitous in other applications of transferring torque 90 degrees

    • A bevel gear shaft drive on a bicycle requires a hub gear to be able to shift. That leaves you with a very limited gear range that is extremely inefficient for racing. It’s also very heavy. This design gives you the gear range versatility of a derailleur drivetrain and then some. It’s also likely lighter than a derailleur setup and certainly lighter than a bevel gear shaft by a very wide margin. The focus of this drivetrain shouldn’t be the drive shaft as much as it should be the ‘cassette’ and how it shifts. That’s where the real innovation is here. Coupled with the fact that it will be electronically controlled, and you have a vastly different drivetrain from a basic bevel gear shaft. There are certainly some issues that the engineers will have to work out, no doubt about it. But quite frankly, if you spend more than a few seconds thinking about it, it should be pretty obvious how this is better. In fact, the two aren’t even in the same league.