ProShift's Automatic Electronic Shift Assist - Interbike 2016

Sep 20, 2016
by Mike Levy  
Interbike 2016


Interbike 2016

ProShift's system, which has been in development for two years, ties into your electronic drivetrain and uses real-time power, cadence, speed, and heart rate data in order to decide when to shift gears for you. The company says that the system will ''keep you at your optimum performance level and within your optimal power band - continuously, accurately, imperceptibly.'' As of right now, ProShift is compatible with Campagnolo EPS, SRAM eTAP, and Shimano's Di2 road drivetrains, but the Texas company says that they're about three or four months out from a setup designed to work with Shimano's XTR and XT Di2 mountain bike drivetrains.

Will the future of electronic drivetrains be automatic?

ProShift Details

• Automatic shift system
• Compatible with eTAP, EPS, Di2
• Shimano XTR / XT Di2 version available soon
• Measures speed, cadence, power, heart rate and shifts for you
• ANT+
• Fifty-hour + battery life
• Weight: TBA
• MSRP: $799 USD

Interbike 2016
This is the ProShift 'brain' that does the thinking for you while also showing all the data. There's even a fuel gauge that gives you a theoretical estimate of where you're sitting energy-wise.

How does it work?

Riders don't have to modify their pricey electronic group at all. Think of the ProShift system as a brain that only tells your drivetrain when to shift and how many gears to shift, and it knows this thanks to power, cadence, heart rate and speed data that it takes in from sensors on the bike. This data comes in via ANT+ from any number of different devices (it's compatible with products from Stages, Garmin, SRM, Quarq, and a lot more), but the ProShift computer can also be taught that the rider prefers a certain pedaling style and adjusts for that. If you feel best in a tall gear and at a low cadence or vice versa, you can program this into the computer via the simple two button controls on the head unit.

The idea is two-fold; one, it's claimed to be able to keep the rider at his or her optimum cadence, which is ideal for energy management; and two, it removes having to think about shifting.

Laugh if you want, but getting into a rhythm and focusing only on turning the pedals over can be just the ticket for some types of road riding, especially when the rider is extremely fatigued to the point where they're making mistakes.

ProShift says that the system also makes sense for those who ride a hand-cycle where shifting gears can sometimes be an awkward job, or for other riders with a disability.
Interbike 2016
There are ProShift systems for both wired Di2 and wireless eTAP drivetrains, and a Di2 mountain-compatible version is in the works.

There are, however, a few more challenges involved when it comes to mountain biking, mainly the sudden and sometimes unexpected need to shift through the gear range when a rider makes a mistake and loses forward momentum, or how different cadences can suit different conditions. Regardless, ProShift says that a mountain bike-specific version to work with Shimano's XTR and XT Di2 drivetrains is only a few months out and that the system can shift as quickly as twice in a single second.

It's also important to note that the rider is also always able to shift as if their electronic drivetrain was completely manual - your shifters automatically override the ProShift's wishes - and your drivetrain will also revert to normal operation if the fifty-hour rechargeable battery does empty while you're out on your bike.


Interbike 2016
Interbike 2016
A Garmin heads-up display can show all of your data without you needing to look down.

Word is that representatives from both SRAM and Shimano who stopped in to take a look at the system were impressed, although I doubt very much that either company would ever endorse or go down the automatic transmission road.

There's much more pushback on electronic mountain bike drivetrains than there was from the road crowd, some of it for valid reasons, so I doubt very much that ProShift's automatic drivetrain will be widely accepted in mountain bike circles. After all, most people using Di2 groups are relatively capable riders who wouldn't want to give up control of when they shift. Regardless of if ProShift's off-road system dies on the vine, the road setup, which is already in production and selling, is clever enough that it's at least worth taking a look at.

We've come a long way from when indexed shift first came out in the late 1980s, haven't we?



89 Comments

  • + 144
 Jesus nowadays we have bikes that pedal themselves, shift themselves, and adjust shock settings by themselves. Maybe we shouldn't have riders at all. Why don't we replace Aaron Gwin and Nino Schurter with a pro shift semi-fat ebike with autosag and name it Larry and have red bull sponsor it?
  • + 5
 There is a pretty big difference between autoshifting and auto riding. Although SRI and Yamaha had motorcycle driving robot that can compete with moto-gp guys.

newatlas.com/ces-2016-yamaha-sri-motobot/41251
  • + 3
 @the-vault: Had? According to that link they are aiming to have a robot that can autonomously navigate a course by next year and eventually beat humans... So... want.
  • + 7
 That's like any of my jobs in the past, I'd much rather a machine just did them all to be honest. You see those shows of machines packaging crackers 100000 boxes per hour, why should I diddle around with crackers?
  • + 3
 says the person riding a rigid single speed I'm sure.
  • + 9
 I wonder if this system delivers the same soul crushing 'thunk' and lifeless, joy sapping melancholy that you get with automatic cars? Should be good if stuck in traffic though!
  • + 7
 Go Larry!
  • + 4
 Bike gears will always be like cars, manual is always better.
  • + 2
 I suggest we call him Larry to neatly close this loop
  • + 4
 NO, just NO. I value my skill with a mountain bike and knowing when and how to shift is one of those skills. How about a chain that lasts longer and doesn't need to be lubed instead!
  • + 6
 Im a Larry and i approve this message.
  • + 1
 Now "riders" who haven't put in the time (years) learning to ride their bikes are gonna find themselves 20 miles from the nearest trail head, crash, and end up killed or maimed. Increasing the injury rate in cycling, especially mtb, isn't doing anybody any favors.

but I"m sure it will sell, so there's that.
  • + 4
 KEEP electronics off my bike.
  • + 1
 Reply
  • + 1
 @the-vault: The additional benefit realized by ProShift automatic shifting is that for long TRI/TT and Century races, being able to maintain a constant power load while at the cyclist’s optimum cadence will provide the best endurance – a task that gets increasingly difficult to do as the cyclist get tired.

Also as you get tired, hydration, nutrition and maintaining the shortest line of travel become more difficult. By knowing that you are “always in the right gear” takes some of the stress and burden away and you will be able to do better with the other tasks.

Every cyclist who competes in longer races has reinforced these benefits and resulted in better race times.


For ROAD RACERS, the strategy is a little different. While riding in the Peloton, the bike can be kept in Automatic Control and, by always being in the optimum gear, the racer knows that energy is being conserved.

When the time comes that the racer want to "break" or follow a breaking group, ProShift can be put on Manual Control (in 1 second) and ALL the normal gear shifting functions remain. The racer can shift gears as he normally would. At any time later, the bike can returned to Automatic Control - if desired.

Contrary to some of the posts included here, ProShift DOES NOT REPLACE the gear shifting judgement of the cyclist. It merely provides a way to optimize/minimize the energy used during certain portions of the race. With ProShift, you ALWAYS have control of the gears and the POWER you put out.


Please see our website www.ProShiftRacing.com for additional articles related to cycling optimization.
  • + 42
 I'm looking forward to the day when my bike will just take itself for a ride and I can stay at home and drink beer.
  • - 1
 I wish i could have gave you a 100 props! well said. Just like driverless cars...dumb
  • + 3
 Or that the bike will take itself on a ride with you on it. just like tesla driver assist.
  • + 3
 @RecklessJack: does it run your skull into the side of a truck or is that an optional feature?
  • + 2
 haha, and come home with it's gopro footage to show you
  • + 1
 @atrokz: Well that's where the problems start. people don't have to think for themselves anymore.
  • + 14
 This is officially stupid. A bicycle is a human powered machine by definition, a perfect machine.. why do you have to go f@cking it up with electronics and computers for? I picture a squirrel on a miniature pony saying onward buttercup there is f*ckery to spread with his rapier held high. Enough said
  • + 15
 NOOOOO STOP WHY CAN'T YOU KEEP BIKES SIMPLE?! 100% MAN POWERED?
  • + 12
 In a few years we're gonna be like fatties from W.A.L.L.E. becuz bikes are gonna end up like that
  • + 2
 That's it, automation makes a lazy nation. I've heard some texters get something called texting thumb arthritis?? Imagine if they had to dial an actual phone! Too many things that used to be everyday occurances are not being done today, and too many things are trying to be politically correct so everyone has a chance to do everything... I'm sure someone is working in an aircraft that can safely take someone to the top of Everest. Are there that many people that don't want to challenge themselves to earn certain milestones, must we have a shortcut?
  • + 5
 IKR! 100% accurate statement.
Further proof that the bicycle industry is being taken over by complete non riders. Sure they may "own" a bike or bikes. But they're not riders in any sense of the word!
  • + 8
 Navigating more difficult terrain most efficiently usually involves many instances of choosing a slightly higher or lower gear to maintain traction or clear trail features than what algorithms might calculate to be "optimal". I think having motors change gears seems like a nice option (almost everyone who uses Di2 including MTB pros seems positive), but only when I press a button to make it happen. Having the choice made for me doesn't seem cool, other than perhaps climbing a fireroad but I think I can manage that fine myself too. This is for road bikes primarily I guess, but even on the road I don't think I'd like it.
  • + 7
 That used to be true with automatic transmission as well, but now they're almost eerily psychic. Obviously obstacles of mtbing add an additional variable into the mix, but I could imagine a scenario where the computer outperforms the rider. Rolls Royce transmissions now use gps guidance to anticipate road features. Imagine if your bike could learn the trails and optimize for them. I will admit though that seems more intriguing as an engineering problem rather than an actual mtb feature.
  • + 3
 I have yet to drive an automatic car (of course I have only ever driven mass market, lower end models) that I feel shifts really well. So I guess I have my doubts about this tech as demanding as applying power is in techy climbing situations.
  • + 5
 @SoDiezl350: There's no way GPS location or mapping is going to assist with features as small as those encountered on a trail. Roadways sure, trails no. Trail surfaces change from ride to ride, decisions and line choices just a few inches difference may lead to an entirely different decision about whether to shift up or down a gear, not to mention a rider's current physical condition. Whether I want to or am capable of putting in a couple of big pedal strokes at any given moment can't be ascertained from something as simple as reading my heart rate or other simple physical measures. Besides, who wants a situation where you've set up for an obstacle in a certain way including your gearing, and your bike suddenly shifts automatically? Sounds wildly dangerous. Mountain biking isn't a constant effort or output activity.
  • - 1
 @pcmxa: I've been a manual guy my whole life and was never too enamored with the smgs, dsgs, etc... transmissions. However the new zf 8 speed autos made me forgo the manual for the first time. The Porsche pdk is on another level entirely.
  • + 2
 @Ginsu2000: the idea wouldn't be to map all the shift points for the entire trail, but rather use past data to assist in adding robustness to the algorithm.

Road conditions, driver intent, and other variables also vary significantly with each instance, but there's no way that having the gps data available inhibits performance.

As for being unable to evaluate your physical capability, I think you grossly underestimate what the current tech is capable of.

For me the highest perceived value of this would be for frequently alternating climbs and descents. With gps data and heart rate monitoring, it doesn't seem far fetched that your smart could accurately determine if you're riding more or less vigorously than past rides, and similarly compare you're energy outputs as that particular ride has progressed.

if that sounds too intrusive maybe you'd be open to having integrated gps track where you usually like to retract/extend your dropper and automate that =P
  • + 4
 @Ginsu2000: I'm biking for fun, don't really care too much if I go fast or slow. If I wanted to do efficient boring things I'd get a road bike.
  • + 2
 @SoDiezl350: Might very well be true. I'm sure the auto's in top end cars are amazing, but are they really that much better than a person, a clutch, and five gears? There is something to be said for dead simplicity. I'm not arguing against automation, as long as the manual option i s available. I'm just one of those people who thinks that self opening mini-van doors, auto-transmisions, and yes, even electric windows aren't worth it. Basically I think all of our conveniences are killing us, though I succumb to far too many.
  • + 1
 @SoDiezl350: what car have you driven that has such an awesome psychic automatic?
  • + 1
 I never got along with automatic gear shift in cars. They just don't shift the way I want them to and as such distract me even more than a manual transmission. As for the bike, I don't get it either. Maybe modern derailleur systems are different (mine are from 2007 or so) but usually you can't just shift and keep hammering as if you're not shifting. You need to ease off the pressure a little but keep pedaling. And of course you can't backpedal. I think this system would make me mad if it would shift right when I backpedal.
  • + 1
 @acali: pretty much any car with a double clutch gear box

@pcmxa at the end of the day it comes down to what you want from your car, if you want maximum involvement you have a manual, if you want the fastest car possible you have an automatic gearbox there is a reason all supercars have them
  • + 1
 I agree this could work well on the road with constant pedalling and maintaining power outputs, but as many have alread mentioned, there is a good degree of anticipation in mtb, which this will be unable to ever deal with.

There's a large step in a short climb coming up, the step saps you of 95% of your speed so you need to downshift to have the correct gear ready to pedal out of it. An automatic system would never be able to account for this.

Even if it can detect a stall and react in realtime, the current drive systems (casette and derailier) require you to be pedalling to change gear, so the system would just result in snapped chains, stalls, walking or all of the above.

Cool idea, but not applicable to mountain biking.
  • + 5
 We've hit bottom. There's nothing more we can "improve", so let's dump millions and design something that will never find its way to its market.
Really though? Bunch of engineers and techs, this is inovation? Kind of cool, but impossibly wrong.
  • + 3
 Agree 100%. Stop wasting time and put money and labor towards a retrofitting gearbox that is lighter, and with less drag than what is currently on the market. Manuel shifting was never a problem and I don't believe the average rudder weeks benefit
  • + 2
 Engineering progress, just like hydraulic forks and brakes, rear suspension, indexed shifting, 11 speed, varying wheelsize, tubeless tyres, multi-duro rubber, etc, etc. All things that assist the rider in riding the terrain under their own power. Good luck to em in their field of specialty. I just wish their specialty was internal cvt gearbox.
  • + 6
 If the future is automatic, then I want a chain luber and a taint warmer.
  • + 4
 Hahahaha,the bicycle industry....never stops being stupid! Always trying to "answer" questions that NO ONE is ever asking.
  • + 1
 I have the same opinion... But a lot of videos with good reviews about DI2 have already appeared on youtube. Have no idea why people even consider to buy such stuff. Crazy.
  • + 1
 I think the bike industry in general, should focus on making things more reliable as they used to be in the past. Not saying they are bad, but there's definitely room for improvement, specially for things like dropper posts and brakes. Enough innovation for now.
  • + 2
 Cool let me add 10lbs of crap to my bike, only to smash it during my next wreck... which would be sooner rather than later wearing those ridiculous looking glasses!! What's next, bike charging stations?
  • + 2
 I like to shift my shifters, I like to choose my speed by myself, I like to pedal, I like to sweat, I like to do sport. But what a heck I even like the pain in my calf after riding. Well maybe I just like to rideSmile
  • + 1
 Just the next step of humans trying to make humans obsolete....riding a bike is exhausting, you get dirty, sometimes you crash and hurt yourself - that how it is or at least, thats how it alway´s has been. Dealing with trail and weather conditions, with your own weakness and sometimes acknowledge that the trail has beaten you is all part of the game - and there is joy to be found in that. It builds mental strength and character or at least makes you humble in the knowing that Nature will always be greater than you. There is a thin line of inventing stuff that makes sense and things easier and things that just make us think less, exercise less and care less....
There may be a good intention behind these things but when you´re to fatigued to shift properly you may should stop and have a break!
But in the end - if you don´t like it don´t buy it! When there is no market for stuff like that it will vanish. In my opinion mountain bikes should stay as simple as possible. ( By the way...simple does not mean "No technology " but well developed, sturdy bikes with a clean design for a reasonable price ). The ability to have fun out on the trail is not a question of latest technology!
  • + 1
 I don't see the need but thinking waaay outside the box it could be useable, Honda's automatic transmission for the Africa twin works great on the dirt from what I hear but that means you don't have to move your toes and fingers to shift as opposed to a tiny thumb movement on a mtb
  • + 1
 Since my fingers are already so close to the shifters I just shift when I need to. Now back to a previous image I had in my head a few years ago. Some guy riding around with an AWACS antenna on his helmet jamming the signals and forcing all of his competitors to ride in impossibly hard gears. Climbing in 38/11 and descending in 26/34. I assume some people still ride 2x or 3x.
  • + 1
 This system is messing up my ride. When I increased my cadence to build momentum in preparation for a climb, it shifted to a harder gear. And when I slow down my pace in preparation for a downhill, it shifts to a lower gear first, but I wanted to shift to a harder gear when going downhill. Please fix this!
  • + 5
 Fucking stupid!
  • + 2
 Holy hell this is awesome!!! This is the kind of stuff no one ever thinks of but suddenly can't live without it!! I'm a buyer plz.
  • + 4
 The market seems to be shifting more and more towards electronics.
  • + 3
 90% of places I ride are "No Motorized Vehicles Allowed" I seriously hope this applies to any variation of e-bike
  • + 1
 I want to hate this as personally it's not for me, but for people with disabilities this is genius, so I guess it has its place. Otherwise I feel it's more for roadies where there is fewer variables...
  • + 3
 Sometimes... all I want is a fully rigid 26" with cantilevers just so I don't have to worry about any of this..
  • + 3
 I want shorts that automatically adjust my balls and wipe my ass. Just too hard to do myself anymore.
  • + 1
 "We've come a long way from when indexed shift first came out in the late 1980s, haven't we?" - well, not in user interface designs. Who decided on those fonts and colours!?
  • + 4
 Boring, electronic junk.
  • + 1
 What happens when your bike shifts right as you stand up to put the power down? I've crashed because of a chain skip before, can see that happening here
  • + 1
 For those 1x converts who claim front derailleurs make riding too complicated this is will let you turn off your brain completely while riding
  • + 2
 ok I know you said all the inovation was already shown at eurobike but this is just silly.
  • + 3
 There's somethings that would be cool on a bike. This is not
  • + 3
 Why bother pedaling at all, just go buy a scooter with CVT transmission.
  • + 1
 Are you that desperate to report something of interest at Interbike? I know you can get Di2 for mtb, but really, this is a road bike component feature
  • + 2
 And I just perfected my rear-shift-cable tune. Sort of.
  • + 1
 The heads up display is so cringy and disgusting, a mtb is not a fighter jet.
  • + 3
 no thank you
  • + 2
 In answer to your question "Fu## No ! "
  • + 3
 lol seriously?
  • + 3
 Just plane dumb
  • + 2
 And the heads up display isn't that noticeable...
  • + 1
 Basically trying to replicate the constant speed propeller principle...?
  • + 1
 This is just playing into Skynet's plans to eradicate humanity...
  • + 1
 -this is BS!
- "oh you are against progress!"
-Yeah and FU!
  • + 1
 Just wait ABS cant be that far off.
  • + 1
 that heads up display doesn't look very aero
  • + 0
 Cvt transmission.
Hello!
Does it have an app for my i phone?
I jest.
This is great for newbies on E bikes.
  • + 2
 Nah. Just nah
  • + 2
 Throw saltwater on it.
  • + 1
 And rear brake will be a button.
  • + 2
 We never asked.
  • + 1
 assist for pedaling??? Big Grin
  • + 1
 Only ANT+??? Come on, it´s 2016, Bluetooth please.
  • + 0
 Bring it on, lets see in rise and see what it can do!
  • + 0
 Half man half machine .

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