The END of the oily bike chain: Dutch firm unveils prototype cycle driven by high-tech shaft that spins back wheel

  • New design from Danish company could consign the dreaded chain to history
  • System creates almost 50 per cent less friction than most conventional bikes
  • Cycling UK has said it is ‘skeptical’ about the efficiency of the new models

Grappling with an oily bicycle chain is never fun, especially for cyclists wanting to hit the open road to soak up the great British summer.

Cyclists need not despair any longer, as engineers have come up with a design that could consign the dreaded chain to the history books.

Danish-based company CeramicSpeed, has unveiled a revolutionary bike that uses a new type of drivetrain to take power from the pedals to the back wheel.

New bike is set to be revolutionary for the cycling industry with the pedal being fitted directly onto the back wheel

Danish company CeramicSpeed has said the chainless system is the most efficient to be seen in the industry 

It is claimed that the system creates almost 50 per cent less friction than the most efficient conventional bikes, making it far easier to pedal.

The system, called Driven, is one of a series of developments in recent years intended to find an alternative to the traditional chain.

A US-based start-up recently launched a new bike with the pedal fitted directly on to the back wheel. For decades, bikes have also been developed with automotive-style belts in place of the chain, the Times reported.

However, the company insisted that its chainless system is the most efficient to be seen in the industry.

The technology, which has been developed in a deal with the mechanical engineering department at the University of Colorado, was previewed at a recent trade show.

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The prototype uses a pedal to turn a horizontal shaft containing 21 bearings which in turn powers the back wheel. CeramicSpeed’s system is connected by a carbon-fibre shaft, which turns 90 degrees from the rear wheel and pedals.

The Driven drivetrain has no chain or derailleurs, making it more than 99 per cent efficient. This means almost none of the power generated by a rider’s legs is lost. 

A recent design was unveiled with a 13-gear system similar to a conventional bike. It was claimed that the design halved the amount of friction generated by normal chains by having fewer points of contact, making the bike far more efficient to ride.

The company said the design had extremely low rolling friction and longevity.

The system has yet to be converted into a production bike and it is likely that the idea will be sold to another company before it can be manufactured.

The move towards a chainless bike is seen as a worthy goal for bike manufacturers, given the problems many cyclists have with chains.

The new system has been criticised by cycling experts who have said the new bikes would be ‘impossible to retro-fit’

Chains require regular lubrication, cleaning and maintenance to perform well and also require regular replacement after stretching.

Sam Jones, senior campaigns officer at Cycling UK, said: ‘I’m sceptical about the efficiency claims of this bike.

‘Shaft-drive bikes have been around for over a century and never taken off because they’ve always been much less efficient than chain drives.

‘They’re more expensive too, because a non-standard frame design is required, and they’re impossible to retro-fit.’   

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