CeramicSpeed's chainless drivetrain makes a comeback at Eurobike
Driven Technologies, the CeramicSpeed spin-off that continues to advance the innovative drivetrain approach introduced in 2018, is showing at Eurobike its new direction focused on creating a fully integrated drivetrain system for electric bicycles.
CeramicSpeed's universal joint drive proposal is still alive
In 2018, when the Driven drivetrain prototype that CeramicSpeed had created was unveiled and broke with everything known so far in the world of cycling many wondered how far the brand specializing in extremely low friction bearings could go with this venture. Specialized even studied the possible scope of this design by creating a model of its Tarmac equipped with the Driven system.
A completely new design whose operation eliminated the chain in favor of a telescopic universal joint made of carbon fiber and the famous CeramicSpeed bearings that engaged in a sprocket. However, the excitement about the possibilities of this system soon faded as problems such as timing, which severely limited the ability to shift under load, or the complexity of the system itself, began to emerge.
As a result, CeramicSpeed gradually disassociated itself from the project until, in 2021, Jason Smith, creator of the Driven system, left the brand and created Driven Technologies, a company with which to continue with the project and which began to seek funding through a crowdfunding campaign.
Now, two years later, the Driven system is back in the limelight on the same stage where it was unveiled, the Eurobike fair being held these days in the German city of Frankfurt, with a concept that has changed radically from the revolutionary proposal we saw at the time, towards the search for a product with a more realistic short-term objective.
What could be seen at Eurobike is the new Orbit Drive drivetrain with which Driven Technologies wanted to take many of the concepts of its original idea to create a fully integrated drivetrain for city electric bikes.
This new system retains the idea of bringing the power of the cranks to the rear wheel through a universal joint system, also integrating the electric motor and a system of planetary gears in the bottom bracket, in the style of a car differential in order to adapt the rate of rotation of the legs, the engine and the rear wheel.
All this in a very low-maintenance system that, in principle, would only need to be checked every 15,000 kilometers or more.
For the moment this new Orbit Drive system is still a prototype, although due to its less ambitious concept than the original Driven, it is likely that within two or three years we will be able to start seeing bicycles equipped with it, as Jason Smith himself explained.