HXR Components are a French company, from the Rhone Alpes region (that contains many of the best lift-accessed spots in Europe) and have created Easy Shift in order to allow shifting when not pedaling. This means that you can shift into the right gear ready to sprint out of a corner, or when pedal strikes are a concern in a narrow, rocky trail. This is achieved by adding a freewheel to the crankset and using a fixed gear hub so that the chain is turning at all times, whether pedaling or coasting
If you are running a DT-Swiss star ratchet hub, such as the 350 or 240, turning it into a fixed gear can easily be done using HXR's special kit. There are also replacement pawls that create a fixed freehub body for a range of hubs including Mavic. (€18 or €12 respectively), or you can buy HXR's own hub for €269. Other requirements to use the crankset as it's intended are a narrow wide chainring, which most riders will have already, and chain guide.
HXR Easy Shift Details
Intended use: Shifting without pedaling
Compatibility: Fits all BB shells and Boost and non-Boost spacing
Requirements: freewheel blocking pawls/fixed gear hub, narrow wide chainring and chain guide
Crank lengths: 165 and 170mm (DH), 170 and 175mm (enduro)
Weight: 942 g (arms, axle, chainring, BB, actual
MSRP: €449 EURhxr-components.com
In Europe, the crankset is available for €449, with the Enduro model for 73mm wide bottom brackets being offered in 170mm or 175mm crank lengths and the DH model for 83mm wide B.B. in a 165mm length. Installation
Fitting the HXR kit was similar to any other crank. I used a threaded BSA 73mm bottom bracket and it came with a tool and a bunch of thin plastic washers to fine tune things. Once the BB was in, place the chainring and 'freewheel' on to the driveside splines and install this side of the crank. Finally, add the non-driveside arm and torque it up. Performance and Thoughts
Does the system work? That's obviously the first question and yes, it does. I could change gears at any time the rear wheel was turning, but it took a few rides for me to relearn when to shift so that I could benefit from being in the correct gear. I soon started to shift going into corners and even in them so that I could pedal out on exit, preventing those useless pedal strokes when you're in too low a gear to add any meaningful speed. It was also useful for shifting in preparation for a sudden climb following a rough descent or vice-versa.
I did wonder, with the chain constantly moving, does the drivetrain wear faster? I reached out to Romain, who owns HXR, who said that because there is no tension on the chain it won't wear too much. However, as I see it, this extra movement must increase wear to some extent, but not as much as from pedaling. Related to the additional wear is the increased friction from the drivetrain when coasting. I don't know if this makes a significant difference in the real world, but there will always be more drag from the system than a traditional setup.
The overlying fear of mine with the system is what would happen if a stick were to get caught in the wheel? At high-speed, I don't know if I could stop quickly enough to prevent the chain and derailleur from getting ripped off. Also, what would happen if the chain were to jam when riding something technical? The rear wheel would stop turning and could even cause a crash. Even if the narrow wide chainring and chain guide do their job's perfectly, something as simple as tagging the rear mech on a rock and bending the mech hanger could cause a crash. Luckily, none of the above happened, but they were on my mind.
I'm not really concerned about the additional weight of the extra freewheel system, although that's certainly going to be a dealbreaker for some riders, but carrying a second freewheel mechanism which is blocked seems to be waste to me. This would happen even if you spent the money on HXR's fixed gear hub, as it is convertible between a fixed gear hub or normal freehub. I would be interested to try the blocking pawls on an eMTB hub, which might be useful for technical hill climbs as you could change gear in time with pedal pauses around or on to obstacles.Pinkbike's Take