First Ride: Prototype Supre Drivetrain - Crankworx Whistler 2022

Aug 11, 2022 at 18:42
by Mike Levy  
Lal Bikes Supre Drive


We've already covered Lal Bikes' Supre drivetrain, including the First Look in November of last year, the results of their efficiency test, a deep dive into the patent, and a podcast with the man behind the design and prototype manufacturing, Cedric Eveleigh. Nicolai even debuted a production bike, the wild-looking Nucleon 16, equipped with the Supre drivetrain in June, but that German monster won't be available for months.

In the meantime, Cedric is at Crankworx with his own prototype, a steel hardtail to test the latest 12-speed version of the Supre drivetrain. Better yet, he lent the bike to me for a few hours so I could gather some early riding impressions.
Supre Drivetrain Details
• Uses standard hub, cranks, cassette, shifter, and chain
• 12-speed, 10-51T gear range
• Custom derailleur with large, single jockey wheel
• Generous ground clearance
• Frame offers derailleur protection
• Sprung, damped chain tensioner in downtube
• Approximate constant chain tension across all gears
• More info: lalbikes.com
• Instagram: @lal_bikes

Lal Bikes Supre Drive
The Supre drivetrain looks more complicated than what's currently on your bike, but it promises much better reliability, chain damping, and a lower unsprung mass.


What is the Supre drivetrain?

We've explained it a few times before, but here's a basic breakdown of what it is and why it exists. The Supre drivetrain splits the traditional derailleur's duties - shifting and providing chain tension - into two components that live in different places on the frame. First, the low-hanging derailleur that we're all used to seeing is gone, replaced in part by a mini-derailleur that's tucked up safely into the swingarm. You know, where it's far less likely to get ripped off or bent.

The other main component, the tensioner, rotates around the bottom bracket and does the job of the now missing derailleur cage - to add chain tension.


Lal Bikes Supre Drive
The proto mini-derailleur is 3D-printed out of polycarbonate and tucked up inside the frame for protection.
Lal Bikes Supre Drive
Looking from above shows how little the derailleur protrudes out from the frame.


Supre works with mostly conventional components, including a Super Boost hub, normal-ish T47 bottom bracket, cranks, cassette, chain, and shifter, but it does require a purpose-built full-suspension design that uses an idler pulley... Or a purpose-built hardtail in the case of my test bike. There's also a general DIY theme that underlines Eveleigh's approach to everything, from machining his own idler pulley wheels to 3D-printing his own mini-derailleur out of polycarbonate at his shop on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

He estimates that he's made thirty to forty prototype derailleurs at this point, and put in three and half years of full-time work, including a trip to Germany in order to lab-test the drivetrain's efficiency.


Lal Bikes Supre Drive
A large pulley wheel helps to reduce friction. Cedric says that his testing in Germany showed that Supre is on average 0.9-percent less efficient than a standard setup, which is probably far better than the worn-out and dry drivetrain you're currently using.


What's it like on the trail?

If I had never met Cedric, didn't know anything about the Supre drivetrain, and had only seen photos of his prototype hardtail, I'd probably tell you that it seems like nothing but trouble, to be honest. There's a whole lot of chain, an idler wheel, another pulley that's spring-loaded to act as the clutch, and a homemade derailleur that looks like it's missing some important pieces. None of that says smooth sailing and trouble-free to me, but that's exactly what Eveleigh is promising with Supre - durability, efficiency, chain damping, and a lower unsprung mass.

But once I was rolling to the trailhead and running through the gears, I realized that it felt and shifted surprisingly normal. His derailleur is proprietary, of course, but it's controlled by a normal 12-speed Shimano shifter, uses a Shimano chain and cassette, and shifts, well, very much like a Shimano drivetrain. Shift speed is on par as well, which makes sense given the chain and cassette, and it doesn't require any more (or less) force at the paddles than you'd expect. So far, so good.


Lal Bikes Supre Drive
That cable runs to the spring-loaded and hydraulically damped cartridge hidden in the downtube that controls the chain tensioner.
Lal Bikes Supre Drive
Cedric says the cartridge weighs about 100-grams and shouldn't ever need any attention, but also that it can be easily serviced at home if needed.

Lal Bikes Supre Drive
See that silver pin and clip just below it? That holds the spring-loaded tensioner in a forward position to give you chain slack when you need to remove your rear wheel, much like turning off your derailleur's clutch.
Lal Bikes Supre Drive
The drivetrain is interesting, but can we just take a moment to note how cool the DIY frame is on its own?


I usually try to avoid riding while blindfolded, but I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference in shift quality if I had hit the trails with my eyes covered. The same feedback applies to shifting under heavy load on tricky climbs, with the whole thing simply working well despite my best efforts to be a complete meathead.

I have a rollercoaster relationship with idler pulleys, including plenty of shit talk when they add obvious friction and I can easily feel them rumbling through my pedals, especially when they're covered in grimy mud. But I've also recently ridden a couple of bikes with well-thought-out designs that were essentially invisible when the drivetrain was clean and lubed. The key is to use as big of a pulley wheel as you can to limit friction, which is exactly what Cedric has done with his prototype. The result is surprisingly (to me) smooth action across all the gears, even when in the smallest or largest cogs when the chain is at the most angle coming off the idler pulley. Part of the reason for this, Cedric told me, also comes down to how far forward the idler sits relative to the chainring and derailleur which allows that angle to not be as drastic as it might be if the idler was in-line with the seat tube. The caveat here is that it's bone dry and dusty in Whistler, and I'd like to see how it feels when plastered in sticky mud and grit.


Lal Bikes Supre Drive
Are you ready for something completely different?


That said, I did manage to derail the chain from both the 'ring and the lower spring-loaded pulley, but I had to engage full-on meathead mode to make it happen by shifting through eight or nine gears while back-pedaling like a complete goober. Without a guide of some sort to act as insurance while goobering, the chain finally came off. I'm not sure how fair that was - no drivetrain acts nice when you do that - but people do some strange things in the real world, including myself.

With more chain running so close to the bike's seatstay, I had expected to hear some rattling as I pinballed my way through minefields of pointy rocks on his hardtail, but that certainly wasn't the case. Instead, the bike was quieter than most of the full-suspension rigs I've ridden, despite it being a proof-of-concept prototype equipped with homemade components. It was covered in enough rubber to silence even the Grim Donut, though.


Lal Bikes Supre Drive
The prototype derailleur uses a single pulley wheel to move the chain across the cassette, and you can spot the two limit screws at the top of the knuckle.
Lal Bikes Supre Drive
The derailleur's cable clamp bolt is tucked up underneath where it won't be scraped across rocks.


Does all that mean I'm convinced?

I've probably written a few too many mean things over the years about gearboxes that shift comically bad and rough idler pulleys, but there's a good reason for that: I simply don't break many derailleurs, don't bend many hangers, and have generally had pretty good luck with the status quo. But I'm also aware that I'm often using fancy, expensive things, and that my test miles are usually spread out over many different bikes. Contrast my saddle time with many riders who are doing nothing but park laps on rocky trails, pedaling through rockier terrain than I see, possibly using less expensive and less reliable components, and also putting more time on a single drivetrain that needs to last a long time.

If the production version of the Supre drivetrain works as well as what I used today in Whistler, and if it proves to be trouble-free over multiple seasons of abuse, I can certainly see a place for it on some riders' bikes. Those who aren't mangling derailleurs on a semi-regular basis probably don't need to think about purchasing a new bike designed around a proprietary drivetrain, but there are definitely riders (and trails) for which the Supre drivetrain will make a lot of sense.

What's your take on Supre - is there room for another type of drivetrain, or is it trying to solve a problem that you don't have to deal with?


188 Comments

  • 144 1
 Is that a hardtail that looks like a full sus that looks like a hardtail that isn't a full sus?
  • 105 0
 yes that's a high pivot hardtail. the downcountry crowd's gonna go apeshit
  • 59 0
 it's called the "Supre-Hard"
  • 11 1
 @baca262: It's an Up-Country
  • 1 4
 Hahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahh well said, sir!!
  • 74 0
 Just read your comment to the tune of “Somebody Told Me” by The Killers…..
  • 8 0
 @Corinthian: absolutely! Then finish with "Maaaake that bike for meeee..."
  • 103 0
 A bit of context for those who are interested: The prototype Supre bike that was revealed in November was 11-speed, and it was around that time when I was designing a 12-speed version of the drivetrain. I had my friend Jakob Flansberry weld up this hardtail frame so that I could quickly test the 12-speed Supre Drive before bike companies went ahead with designing around it. The Nicolai Nucleon 16 is a full-suspension bike with the 12-speed Supre Drive. With all of that said, for hardtail riders who damage derailleurs, this bike makes sense. My buddy Simon baptized it the Supre Hard.
  • 5 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: excellent work sir
  • 5 2
 I always thought part of the appeal of a hardtail over full-sus was simplicity.
  • 5 0
 THAT I HAD IN FEB-RUARY OF LAST YEAR
  • 6 0
 Doesn't look like a session
  • 10 0
 @Corinthian: Its not confidential, the bikes got potential
  • 22 15
 @cedric-eveleigh: call me a pessimist, but how is this not the worst of gearboxes and traditional drivetrains combined?

You do not have the consistent chainline, kinematics of a gearbox or the sealed nature of the system to reduce wear. Nor the reduction of sprung weight by losing the cass/dr off the wheel.

Unlike traditional drivetrains you’re reliant on very obscure parts for servicing a multitude of critical systems, springs for tensioners, specialized gas shocks requiring holes to mount in the frame, proprietary derailleur. Lots of things shops cannot and will not stock. So you saved yourself a dr but have maybe lost weeks of time sorting out a replacement part.

Sure you avoid smashing a derailleur, or gain efficiency over a pinion gearbox, but you’re paying $8k usd as an opening price point from a boutique brand to do it.

What is the secret sauce I am missing here?
  • 6 4
 @usedbikestuff: This man gets it. Well said.
  • 5 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: rad stuff mate, keep it coming.
  • 1 0
 @Corinthian: what? Boys&Girls from Blur for sure
  • 1 0
 @miguelcurto: that was my second thought
  • 2 0
 @Corinthian: that was an awesome comment...huge Killers fan and now I can't stop laughing my ass off....thank you for that!
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: My buddy would still find a way to rip that derailleur off.
  • 13 6
 @usedbikestuff: Well said. Sledgehammer for a finishing nail. Kudos for the innovation, but where the innovation is happening drives me crazy.

Quick list of ideas for aspiring inventors/innovators, since nobody seems to be able to figure out what the real problems are (hint: the solutions are not AXS and flight attendant).

1. Frames with headtubes that grow in a manner that bears a passing resemblance to reach.
1A. A bar with one up compliance and more than 35mm of rise (vibrocore honorable mention)
1B. A quality stem with positive rise that costs less than an I9 stem.
2. Brakes with pistons that always retract evenly, every single f'ing time.
2B. Pads and rotors that never make a peep no matter the number of dusty bike park laps (admit MTX pretty darn close)
3. Rear air shocks that are dependable.
3. Rear derailleur clutches that don't suck.
4. A bikeyoke revive quality post over 200mm with one up overall length and shimmable drop.
5. High quality bearings with mtb optimized seals.
6. Tires with Maxxis rubber and tread patterns that have don't develop wobbles (and still have reasonable weights).
7. A selection of bars with different backsweeps.
8. Quality, resolable shoes with stealth rubber.
9. Tannis tubeless inserts that don't squeak in 2.3 tires.
10. Spoke nipples that satisfy the weight weenies but don't seize up.

There are so many real world problems that need to be addressed.
  • 19 1
 @usedbikestuff: I think healthy skepticism is warranted, but I’ve owned a gearbox bike, 3 high pivot bikes and countless conventional drivetrain bikes. The Pinion gearbox was objectively worse in almost every way than a derailleur (and I’m not a lover of derailleurs). The only advantage it really had was being able to shift without pedaling (the corresponding disadvantage was that it sucked at shifting under any load at all). I’ve also broken dozens of derailleurs and hangers, worn out plenty more and had the clutch eventually die one way or another on every clutch derailleur I’ve owned. With that in mind, looking at the list of disadvantages you’ve put forward, none of them are anything I find particularly off putting. Springs don’t fail often, the damper unit is the same as a clutch (if it fails, it doesn’t ruin your riding holiday), it’s a whole system that the frame design has to accommodate anyway (and almost certainly easier for a frame mfg to make cross compatible with a conventional drivetrain than a gearbox). Every frame has proprietary parts (eg pivot axles) and if you’re extremely unlikely to damage them (like the derailleur in this case), who cares? As far as I can tell it’s more like the best of both the derailleur (low drag, lower overall weight, no proprietary cranks - the pinion ones are easily damaged) and the gearbox (no derailleur to smash). I’m all in favour of this one.
  • 3 0
 @dancingwithmyself: how about more bar options for backsweep and upsweep? Seems like except for a couple of notable exceptions every single bar manufacturer offers the same combos. How can this possibly be ok for everybody?

And while we're at it how about an objective flex measurement for bars. The same bar will flex differently at different widths under different sized riders. Oh a oneup bar dampens vibration. But what if I'm 230lbs will it still work or will it be a noodle? Or if I'm a 110lb woman will it work at all? I guess we'll never know.
  • 2 0
 @dancingwithmyself:

6. Even better if tire compound would work also below 5 C/41 F. Maxxis rubber doesn't.
  • 2 0
 @dancingwithmyself:
1B. Funn Equalizer?
7. SQLab?
  • 2 0
 @dancingwithmyself: I like all these, but you missed the big one for me...... forks /rear shocks with 200hr service intervals . I bought brand new forks in January, barely rode till March due to trail care duties ....... I'm now on my 2nd service of the year , yes I ride a lot, usually 4x a week , but I'm literally having to service the forks every 16 weeks - about 3x a year
  • 1 0
 @JAK79: That's a good one! Live in a warm climate so I missed it.
  • 1 0
 @alexsin: Kinda had different backsweeps, but agree. The objective measurement would be awesome.
  • 1 0
 @forkbrayker: Wow. I'm going to jinx myself, but I've always experienced and mainly heard about issues with shocks (putting aside out of the box bushing issues). What make and model?

I left out creeking crowns because smaller brands have solved the issue.
  • 2 0
 @boozed: Good point on Funn. SQ Lab is kinda doing it, but I think rise is limited, think a lot of the bars don't come in 800, and 12 is too much for me. Would be interested in trying a 10.
  • 4 2
 @usedbikestuff: Nearly all new inventions start out as ideas, then make it to prototypes, then maybe make it to low production number boutique levels, then if the invention is actually a great one it will likely become mainstream, cheap, and easily available/serviceable. So your complaint is that this new drivetrain didn't go straight from a prototype in Cedric's garage to full scale SRAM/Shimano level production numbers and availability overnight? Calm down, give it some time. Those darn automobiles will never catch on either because there is only one in the world made by Karl Benz and he doesn't even have any spare parts, I'm sticking with my horse.
  • 1 0
 What do you mean, "you people"?
  • 1 0
 @robw515:
I agree with what you are saying, except
Cheap,easily available and serviceable.

The first two no longer exist and the third is debatable.
  • 1 0
 @Corinthian: mixing into Bella Lugosi.
  • 1 0
 @JAK79: in some regions thats not a Problem, around here this and the wobble has put me off Maxxis.
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff: I guess riders with more downward time than upward time can expect a huge benefit. The issue of less unsprung weight and a more restrained chain is bigger than most people think. If priority 1 is not maintenance but pure fun on the trail of course.

1. RD weight: The biggest "wft"- moment is comparing a X01 mechanical RD (or even the DH RDs and cassette) to a AXS RD. I love this "F1" type shifting BUT it feels like you mount a brick to your hanger. I guess a lot of people feel the same if their rear wheel gets a view 100g lighter. So if the supre RD get´s lighter than a standard mech RD, I can see a more responsive rear end again. I think I read something like that as well in a pinion complete bike review, that they experience the same.

2. Chain damper: If you´ve ever changed from a RD without a damper to one with a damper or the other way around, you´ll know how much more solid your bike feels on the trail. If you watch the huck to flat videos you see how much energy there is on the chain. Even with current state dampers the chain may be slammed on the ground on your bike. Every device that can handle that a little bit better, would be a big selling point for me, cause the current state of dampers is not enough for me personal.

But for your Nicolai point, you are right. I wouldn´t change my whole platform just for this new tech. But if you could get a cheaper frameset or your bike is run over by a truck why not.
  • 1 0
 @dancingwithmyself: you might get like the 10°/5° bars with decent rise from PNW. At 800mm it does start to affect reach fyi
  • 1 0
 @hg604: Agree 100%. I'm pro
  • 3 0
 @yannickbisson: Thx. I'll take a look. Definitely sensitive to reach. Ideally shops would have a stem and bar library for testing like some shops for saddles and roadies. But not sure the market would support it. Think bars may be the most overlooked component on a bike by intermediate and even advanced riders.
  • 94 0
 Hopefully Mike corrects this in the article soon: I didn't weld this hardtail prototype frame; I designed it and my friend Jakob Flansberry welded it. I welded my first two (full-suspension) prototype frames, but for this one, I had Jakob weld it to help me focus on the drivetrain. Jakob's an awesome unicycle and bicycle frame builder.
  • 16 1
 ..isnt a unicycle just a fork?

(im really stoked that your bike is getting some exposure by the way, and props to Jakob for the awesome welding!!)
  • 4 0
 Jakob's awesome! He repaired my 15 yo 7005 frame. Initially planned to putt around town with it, but then the pandemic hit, my plans for a new-to-me bike shifted and I ended up riding that thing proper for another 2.5 years. Now that bike is with a family member who's also getting back into riding. He brought that bike back from it's death bed and I was able to get back into my favorite pastime.
  • 1 0
 @rallyimprezive: A fork with a seat instead of just a seatpost Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @rallyimprezive: I'd like to see a unicycle built with a MTB fork. Lock it out for climbs to get your consistent pedaling height, and open it up on the downhills to get some traction.
  • 50 0
 this is some exciting innovation, and I think a lot of people are glad to hear that it works.
  • 26 0
 I'm cheering really hard for Cedric. I can't wait to get my own bike with supre drive.
  • 10 0
 Thanks!!
  • 23 0
 Proprietary parts aside, it's nice to see a David making some headway in a world of Goliath's.
  • 4 0
 Giants, you might say
  • 9 0
 @AndrewHornor: They might be
  • 17 1
 This really depends on the terrain that you ride. In Eastern Canada, as we all witnessed at the MSA WC last weekend, it is rocky and rough as shit here. Most of my riding friends go through multiple derailleurs per year, and covid shortages have been especially rough for some. The advent of 12spd cassettes makes it more difficult to bend your derailleur back into shape, since more precision is required. I hope to see the Supre option available with more bikes on offerings that aren't cost prohibitive.
  • 6 2
 That won’t happen. If nicolai is the only people doing it, it’s never coming to a trek price point. No big manufacturer is going to cut up their bikes to support this and lock themselves into a drivetrain.
  • 1 1
 @usedbikestuff:
I was planning to buy Trek Top fuel frame set. Al version was 2700 and cf over 4500 euros!!! (In the States al $2300 and cf $3700 plus taxes if I checked right).
  • 2 0
 @usedbikestuff: Lal has announced that they have a deal with a large manufacturer. Nicolai was just a quick unplanned project.
  • 11 0
 This is awesome. When riding in rock gardens, part of my thinking on line choice is on protecting my derailleur, and it has become second nature. It would be great to be free of that limitation. Despite my efforts, my mech has shiny scuff marks all over it and my DAG 2.2 pays for itself.
  • 2 0
 Glad someone pointed this out. I haven't had many issues breaking derailleurs over the years but that's certainly because I have learned to ride in a way the instinctively protects the dangling appendage. Unfortunately it seems like at least with this prototype I would still be able to do some significant damage to the derailleur if I stopped riding to protect it.
  • 1 2
 @livinglegend87: I feel like if your level pedals clear an obstacle, this derailleur should too, easily. But I don't ride enough rocky gnar to say that with 100% certainty.
  • 2 0
 @AndrewHornor: I ride left foot back and at least for me there is plenty of opportunity to clear a rock with my pedal and still hit the derailleur.
  • 10 0
 Glad to see this given a fair shake. Knock on wood, I haven't had toooo much trouble with regular drivetrains, but if this gets picked up by someone and proves to be a nice way to sort things out, I won't complain about added durability. I seem to remember a PB poll asking folks how much weight they would add to their bike to have it bomb-proof. Most folks were OK with 2kg or more. This seems like a step in that direction.
  • 7 0
 Remember that it's designed for high-pivot bikes, compared to which it shouldn't add much (if any) weight at all.
  • 18 0
 Compared to a high pivot drivetrain with a Shimano XT derailleur, the Supre Drive adds around 100-200g. It's far from the roughly 1.5kg (notice the k) that one adds by switching to a Pinion gearbox. I'm happy to hear that you approve of the added durability of the Supre Drive!
  • 9 2
 OK, let's wait for the Nicolai monster. Without rear suspension it makes little sense. IMO this seems to be the shifting answer for all gravity oriented bikes. Derailleurs are such a flimsy part on bikes compared to any other component.
  • 1 0
 I can't wait to see more on this. Not every solution has to solve every problem we've ever had. This goes a long way to solving a bunch of big ones at once.
  • 6 0
 I think it’s fantastic that this exists, hope it gains enough momentum & users to remain viable into the future.
Choices are nice; would I want this for an XC or fast trail bike? From what I’ve read, probably not. But I can certainly see the appeal in having this for a heavy duty trail / park bike. Having a large degree of drive parts commonality certainly helps steer that choice.
That recent Nicolai looked smart, it’ll be interesting to see who else releases their own take on the design.
  • 1 0
 But do you really need multiple gears in a park bike where all the climbs will be lift assisted. I understand racing DH riders want to be able to smash the pedals amd gain extra tenths of a second at every opportunity but us "enthusiasts" we are just fine coasting most of the time.
  • 9 3
 This seems like ALOT of effort to protect the derailleur. I ride in very rough terrain and haven't ripped a derailleur off in two seasons. How many extra pulleys & chain & guides are needed in order to solve this bi annual problem ? is it worth it ?
  • 20 1
 There's the same number of pulleys as other high pivot bikes like the Norco Range. I just relocated one of the derailleur pulleys to a chain tensioner at the middle of the bike, where it's protected. The Supre derailleur has only one pulley.
  • 2 0
 @cedric-eveleigh:
Question.
From the pictures on this bike and the one fron Nicolai it is clearly visible that both the derailleur and the cable still stick out.
So in a crash it can still be damaged like any other derailleur based system.

Have you thought about using some kind of bash guard on side of the frame to protect the derailleur? Maybe like a sturdy piece of plastic like chainring bash guards.
  • 3 1
 @OneTrustMan: You're right that the derailleur can still receive impacts, even though they're much less likely. The derailleur is small and rigidly supported at two points, so it can handle hits. A derailleur guard would take space and it risks getting in the way if it gets deformed.
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: I understand, (also great work , this isn't a knock on the innovation) but I also question the validity of adding all that a high pivot bike requires , for the benefit it provides (rearward axle path) . I don't think using high pivot bikes as the baseline for bike drivetrain complexity is really appropriate.
  • 13 1
 @cedric-eveleigh: I'm interested in this as a concept. If you have any need for prototypes going forward send me a message. I have a 4 axis CNC milling center, CNC Lathe and a Desktop Metal Shop 3D printer for any parts you need printed out of 99.5% dense stainless steel.

No charge. Just have some spare capacity and want to help a fellow Canadian innovator.
  • 2 0
 @cueTIP: Awesome, thanks. I'll send you a message.
  • 9 4
 For me it fails to address the main issue of current drivetrains - the mass of the cassette at the rear wheel.

Why not go the Honda mech / cassette in a box route. Clean and simple.
  • 6 0
 have you checked out trinity's drivetrain development? frame mounted cassette on a linear actuator (ie, NO derailleur used); very cool stuff. www.instagram.com/trinity_mtb
  • 1 0
 Have you had a opportunity to own or ride a full suspension bike with a derailleur/cassette alternative? I’m under the impression that the suspension works noticeably better but have never had a chance to test it.
  • 1 0
 @xy9ine: I've seen their bikes and listened to a podcast with them but hadn't seen their latest drivetrain. Now that is something I would buy. Thanks for the link.

@twonsarelli - I haven't ridden a gearbox bike but have also heard very good things about how the suspension performs. I'm waiting for Paul Aston to review the Starling Spur he has which looks very nice.
  • 8 0
 The Honda only had to deal with a very small gear range. Try holding a 500% range cassette and derailleur to your bike and see how much space you have left for a downtube, let alone a water-bottle.
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: wrp has a better vid of the gearbox operation: www.instagram.com/williamsracingproducts
  • 1 0
 Yup. Nigh on 20 years old, and a more elegant solution.
  • 6 4
 You couldn't be more right ! I don't have many problems with my derailleurs most of the time but if I could transfer 700gr from my back wheel to my main frame and improve my sprung/unsprung ratio that would make me very happy, which this transmission doesn't do, it is interesting but it is still a derailleur ... with extra steps.

Now can we talk about how hypocritical it is from the author to give a pass to a transmission that is 0.9% less efficient than "your grimmy and dry transmission" but will ultimately meet the same fate as it is using a chain and is exposed, while he keeps on whining about gearboxes that are barely more inefficient but will offer the exact same efficiency throughout their life and no matter the conditions. I don't understand why gearbox manufacturers don't do some efficiency tests before and after a ride, before and after 5 rides with no maintenance, etc, this would put a definite end to this debate and show how superior is a GB compared to any derailleur type of transmission. That is a GB transmission using a belt of course.
  • 3 1
 @G-Sport: I would argue you don't really need 500% range. I'm never in my tallest (small) gears when on the trail.
  • 2 0
 Tirinity bikes could be the answer
  • 1 0
 @haen: You don't need that range, I've got one bike with 11 speed 10 42 set up and I can get up most stuff with it, but I've got other bikes with 11 speed 11 51 and it's nice to have that easier gear on long steep sections or if I'm tired.
  • 1 0
 @commental: every time I reach for a lower gear and land on the 50/51/52, I feel guilty and chuck it back on the 42 haha. I try to save that final gear for a climb near the end of the ride or something like that. Don’t wanna grow too weak on easy ratios!
  • 2 0
 @commental: really depends where you live. When I used to live in Ireland even a 32/11-36 was fine most of the time with 27.5 wheels. In les Vosges a 28/9-42 with 29 wheels is also fine, but when I got to the Alps and decide to pedal (silly, I know) I definitely need something easier to not spend my life pushing the bike.
  • 1 0
 @Balgaroth: i used to ride 36/11-36 on 26 wheels and never thought anything of it but now i feel like a weenie when i'm climbing in any gear easier than 1:1 with a 32T chainring. i have to remind myself that a 29 wheel is a bigger gear than a 26 by default, so i should try to make peace with rolling on the 36, 42 and 50/52. plus, no one has ever called me out for using a gear that's 'too easy'
  • 2 0
 @Balgaroth: Agree 100% on matching gear range to terrain. Even agree that for some applications, a gearbox may make sense. For 100% lift served riding on super rocky terrain in terrible weather, it would be very interesting to test a GB vs a DH derailleur setup. That said, the reason GB producers haven't made efficiency a talking point in their advertising (and the reason top WC DH racers are not using them), is because testing has shown them to be 5-6% less efficient: www.cyclingabout.com/speed-difference-testing-gearbox-systems As for going 5 rides without cleaning or lubing your chain, it's hard to imagine the group or riders willing to neglect a conventional drivetrain like that overlaps with the group willing and able to spend Pinion-gearbox-money on a new frame.
  • 2 0
 @DustOnCrust: waxed chains help out a lot with the daily maintenance. I can clean off my bike in half the time because the wax lasts for 5-10 rides. Also keeps a lot of dirt away which should, in theory, prolong the lifespan of all those wear items.
  • 1 0
 An ultrasonically cleaned and any waxed* chain also doubles the longevity of your groupset.
buying a high end parts, proper ultrasonic cleaner , cleaning solutions and wax is cheaper and quicker than buying 2x high end parts and normal lube.

* excludes Wend wax @twonsarelli:

zerofrictioncycling.com.au
Silca ultrasonic cleaner recommendation
youtu.be/ka0DLKBrhB4
  • 1 0
 Cleaning a waxed chain only requires hot water and a microfibre cloth. It is as quick as adding normal lube between rides.
Ultrasonic Cleaning and re-waxing chain is much quicker than normal cleaning and wet lubing a chain. than@DustOnCrust:
  • 2 0
 @gcrider: yeah waxed chains are all good and stuff as long as you ride in fair weather. I was tempted to try it at some point but all the articles I could find all said it is pointless if you ride shit conditions and once you go wax you can't alternate with oil so this isn't adapted for my conditions and riding habits.
  • 1 0
 I think silca wax is good in rough conditions.
Used and recommended by mr friction facts
it also has compatible liquid lube top up called super secret drip lube

zerofrictioncycling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Lubricant-detail-review-Silca-Hot-Melt-v1.2-converted.pdf

Its a very easy read

@Balgaroth:
  • 1 0
 @G-Sport: the gearbox doesn't need to use a standard cassette or mtb chain. It could be much smaller as it's protected from damage / dirt.
  • 2 0
 @haen: I would settle with 350-400% and 6-8 gears.
  • 1 0
 @haen: Totally agree. I run a 9-42 and the 9 is a bit marginal so 467% and much smaller. Still a long way off fitting inside the frame with a suitably sized derailleur.
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: Good point, but you still need it to have the load capacity so it can't get a lot smaller.
  • 4 0
 @Balgaroth: maybe you should buy a gearbox bike. I’ve owned one, the drag is way more noticeable than just a high pivot/idler/derailleur. Then you have the weight, cost, poor shifting, poor ergonomics and fragility of the Pinions (eg the covers that keep falling off, the oil leaks, the weak proprietary cranks), the need for an extra tensioner, and the fact that when you go to sell the bike, nobody wants to buy it…
  • 6 3
 how many mechs do you have to break before you break even (pun intended) with the additional cost of a nicolai over a normal bike?

how many chains do you have to buy each time you need to change a chain?

what happens when you're in the alps on holiday and your proprietary mech gives up the ghost and none of the shops stock a spare?

what happens if you snap a frame and can't afford a direct replacement to transfer your fancy drivetrain over to?



I'm out.
  • 5 3
 1. Some people go through a few a year, every year.

2. Going to depend on the bike design. But sure you want to hear 2, so let’s say that.

3. Bring spare of your own. No different than bringing an idler for a Forbidden or whatever. Some people bring enough tools and spares that a local bike shop isn’t needed.

4. Warranty the frame?

It’s not that hard being a responsible adult, I promise.
  • 3 3
 @somebody-else: I respected all of your statements until the last one. Sounds like you need to learn to be a responsible adult and not be rude to people.
  • 3 1
 @freeriderayward: If you think that’s rude, you should head over to mtbr…
  • 2 0
 @somebody-else: Re 1.

Some people should learn riding a bike instead of lloking for technical solutions to overcome how bad they ride.
  • 1 0
 @opignonlibre: let’s grab our hardtail bikes and go!
  • 2 0
 Looks interesting but probably wont ever get to try it out since it requires a frame designed around it. I wont rule it out if a mainstream manufacturer builds a frame that uses it. One thing I'd be worried about is rubbing my calf on that idler. Theres evidence that I occasionally rub my calf on the rocker 'link of my bike and that idler looks to be in about the same location
  • 5 0
 For someone who "[taught] himself how to weld for this project", Cedric's welds look super tidy in the photos.
  • 7 0
 I liked that bit too; "a purpose-built hardtail in the case of my test bike that Eveleigh made after teaching himself how to weld for this project". Some people go out and actually do things and innovate, some hang out in the comments section. I'm speaking as the latter.
  • 16 0
 Like I said in another comment, it's actually my friend Jakob Flansberry who welded this frame. I welded my first two prototype frames but I had Jakob do this one so I could focus on the drivetrain. I wish I could weld as nicely as him.
  • 4 0
 This system looks neat, but I really like my pinion drive-train. Can't argue that more options isn't better, but this seems like a step sideways rather than forward.
  • 2 0
 éltembe ekkor egy seggfej kritikus csávot meg nem olvasatm illetve hallottam mit ez a levy gyerek eza srac egy szuper jo kis bicajt csinált le a kalappal elötte ..ennek a levinek ide kéne költözni magyarba aztán tesztellhetné a tnyabike okat falun kb az lenne valo neki
  • 2 0
 While I think this system is a half measure to a full gearbox. It's actually a great idea because all it replaces is your derailleur. Basically everything else is standard components so it should really come down to do you like the frame this system is used on or not. You don't need to buy it cause you break derailleurs every week. I would be curious if it increases or decreases wear in drivetrain components because of the separation of the derailleur and tensioner
  • 2 0
 Good points, I think the future success of this system in part depends upon the future of high pivot designs. If somebody makes a breakthrough in high pivot technology that makes it clearly superior to low pivot bikes, then this could take over. I'm surprised more brands using the high pivot idler design aren't interested in this. I'm also curious about the drivetrain wear question. Not having your derailleur as close to the ground is going to reduce the the amount of dust and water that gets into your chain. The increased chain overlap on the cassette should also be a good thing. Also seems like the drivetrain would retain lubrication better without the rear derailleur whipping around as much, and your derailleur is obviously going to last longer and the pivots shouldn't wear out as quickly.
  • 2 0
 I just don't really understand that real advantage. Sure you minimize unsprung weight, but you add a lot of weight overall and decrease chain efficiency. Doesn't seem like it's really worth the extra moving parts and extra driveline friction.
  • 2 0
 Frustrating to read another SupreDrive article and comments that don’t quite get the point. 1. This is a hardtail ONLY to act as a prototype for the drivetrain. 2. If you’re interested in a high pivot bike, THEN SupreDrive should interest you since it potentially could be the best and most efficient design for a HP bike. 3. SupreDrive uses hydraulic damping on tensioner rather than the kludgey friction damper on your derailleur; and moves that mass away from rear axle. 4. As a side benefit to all the above, derailleur is well protected. But this is not the main advantage of SupreDrive
  • 4 0
 “0.9- percent less efficient, but you don’t take care of your shit anyway so this is obviously better”
  • 2 0
 But I did say it nicer than that haha
  • 1 0
 This tech would be awesome for touring bikes etc, where you cant carry around all the spares, with the it placed here you dont have to worry about that. I dont tour but I can defo see this being a selling point to those who do.
  • 1 0
 This is cool, but a much easier way to avoid broken derailleurs is to switch to a Shimano 45t cassette and their medium cage gs derailleur. I ride rocky rough east coast trails and haven’t lost a derailleur since I did that.
  • 1 0
 It's good that the Pinkbike comments about this are largely positive, but for the life of me, I don't know why. Yes, it's different, yes it's innovative, but does it really solve an issue? I've ripped off derailleurs, but that's the cost of doing business. What happens when you need the replace the parts of this drivetrain? I get maybe two years out of a bike drivetrain with sparse but routine service. How much would a new groupset for this thing be?! Would parts be readily available? I just don't think this will provide the shifting salvation that people think it will.
  • 4 0
 Add at least two more pulleys and I might think about it.
  • 3 0
 and another few feet of chain
  • 1 0
 I don't think I've ever bent a hanger or derailleur, in 15+ years of riding... I wish Cedric had a good idea for moving the whole gearchange system off the rear axle instead of this!
  • 3 3
 Gearbox
  • 1 1
 I broke 3 rear derailleurs just this year on my DH bike. I got so good at riding out the remainder of the day with a single speed, I decided to do away with the derailleur entirely and convert to single speed.
  • 3 3
 Cool concept. The problem this is intended to solve (tearing off the derailleur) is kind of niche, though. There's a modest reduction in unsprung weight (or at least the weight moves further forward), but probably not enough to impact suspension response (in future full-squish guise) relative to other bikes with idlers.

It's not an easy path forward. He'll need a brand to go all-in to build a run of frames, and a manufacturing partner to build the derailleurs and various small parts (which hopefully don't infringe on existing patents). I think it's a tough sell at the likely sales volume for this, but wish him all the best.
  • 4 0
 The bike is free. The proprietary chain lube is $12,000.
  • 2 0
 This is still very much in proof of concept stage, but if it gets refined I'd be in. Not tagging another derailleur would be great!!
  • 1 0
 "He estimates that he's made thirty to forty prototype derailleurs at this point, and put in three and half years of full-time work, including a trip to Germany in order to lab-test the drivetrain's efficiency."

Wow.
  • 3 0
 The Supre-Drive solves a problem that I don't have, but I'm glad that it exists.
  • 2 1
 Man after building and riding hardtails I would say the geo on this bike is terrible just looking at it. I would hate to do a long ride that was not straight up and down on this thing.
  • 1 1
 you know what id buy instead of worrying about anther Shimano derailleur falling off my bike?
a strong frame. Something that i can buy and not worry about breaking on me or being manufactured wrong....

but no, we are out here trying to move the derailleur. - not a hit out at Lal bikes, the guys doing what he loves and i like it.

There is some seriously good steel bikes around now... can someone mass produce these please?
  • 1 0
 Something completely different would be a singlespeed velcro drive. Some velcro- glued to the 'ring' and 'cog' and a sturdy velcro+ belt. It'll even make loud noise, like other high zoot hubs.
  • 1 0
 It's a great idea for abusive riders, you know who I speak of, we have all ridden with them at one time. If you're a fluid rider that can choose the right line, then there's no need.
  • 1 0
 Looks very interesting, great to see this kind of innovation. Can you confirm if the drivetrain efficiency is 0.9% lower than a traditional drivetrain, or 0.9 percentage points lower?
  • 2 0
 That's what I measured, 0.9 percentage points lower than a conventional derailleur drivetrain with no idler pulley. To put that into perspective, shifting from the high gears to low gears of a wide range cassette causes more difference in efficiency. You can find out more here: lalbikes.com/efficiency
  • 2 0
 It's fun and interesting to experiment with different ideas. Time to go try another one Smile
  • 2 0
 Why? Why?
Because we f*cking can. Because we F*cking can, and if we can we do.
  • 1 0
 Really like the idea but just a quick question. When the pedal is in the rearward position, does the riders heel hit the mech body in higher gears?
  • 2 0
 Nope, there's a lot of clearance between foot and derailleur even for folks with big feet and when in the high gears.
  • 1 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: nice! Thanks for the reply.
  • 1 0
 @acdhrider: For sure, you're welcome.
  • 4 2
 Damn, talk about re-inventing and over-engineering a hardtail that was already efficient without extra pivots and guides.
  • 1 0
 Why even mention "dropping" the chain while backpedaling? That would happen to _anything_. Literally absolutely pointless to include.
  • 2 0
 Backpedaling and shifting that is. Again simply pointless to include that detail.
  • 3 0
 @justinfoil: Disagree on that one - I can do that on (some) other bikes and the chain will fall down the cassette to the smaller cogs, not come off the chainring.
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: so it's like some, and unlike some, in that it gets more or less messed up when used incorrectly. Applies to literally everything. You gonna start grossly misusing all drivetrains in first rides and reviews and see how they all handle it? Seems like a pointless thing to include if not.
  • 6 0
 @justinfoil: You're 100% correct, no one ever misuses their drivetrain or anything they own. Aside from that, part of my point with mentioning that it came off is to underline how poorly I had to treat it for anything to go wrong. It works great, and I literally had to "grossly misuse" the drivetrain for it to have a hiccup of any kind. That's pretty impressive for a prototype that's still going to evolve.

But yeah, I can certainly see your point as well. That's not how it was intended to come off, though.
  • 1 1
 That BB is so low you’d not need that stick to stand it up, just point the pedal down and lean


Also


Pinkbike , ffs move the logout button !!!!!!
  • 2 1
 Cool to see people doing different things but this is a solution looking to solve a problem that doesn't really exist.
  • 5 4
 All the drawbacks of highpivot without any of the benefits of full suspension.
  • 12 0
 This hardtail is a prototype created specifically to demonstrate the concept of the drivetrain. The drivetrain's primary intention is to go on full suspension bikes.
  • 3 1
 I love this, but I also average two mangled derailleurs a year.
  • 1 1
 I can't understand the riders who say they don't destroy rear mechs and hangers. I mash them up on a regular basis! Probably due to the terrain more than my crap riding.
  • 1 0
 Salut Cedric.
Pierre-Yves t’as donné mon numéro de téléphone.
chu a Gibsons.appeles-moi
JF
  • 3 0
 Fugly as Eff
  • 2 1
 The frame looks good, I’ve seen worse & the drivetrain is truly a novel bit of engineering
  • 1 0
 Drivetrains are becoming like the inner workings of a complex clock with gears everywhere.
  • 5 8
 The concept is good, but the systen is too complicate, still have to be developed so It can fit almost any bike. I think It would be quite easier to develop a deraileur to put It on the upper side of the cassette, just simetrical to the current design, more or less...
  • 3 0
 The shifting has to happen as the chain enters the cassette, which occurs at the bottom.
  • 1 0
 @TakeADeepBrett: The only exception I can think of is the Campagnolo Cambio Corsa system, which shifted above the freewheel and while pedaling backwards--which I suppose could be the exception that proves the rule.
  • 3 3
 Three chainrings! I just spent the last two decades reducing to one! I want to see the e bike version.
  • 1 0
 Really needs a chain guard.
  • 1 0
 let put this energy into making gearboxes a thing!
  • 5 5
 Anything to not look like a #Ebike
  • 1 0
 uh…pass
  • 3 4
 i'm sorry but...what a load of bollocks
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