HXR Easy Shift: The Future Of Drivetrains?

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Not everything you see at Eurobike is being exhibited on a stand, sometimes you just bump into people. One such encounter was with HXR Components, who showed us something that, while not completely new, is new to us at least. It looks like an ordinary crankset:

HXR Components Easy Shift
HXR’s Easy Shift crankset doesn’t look particularly unusual.

And this kind of looks like an ordinary crank spider:

HXR Components Easy Shift
The crank spider also conceals a freehub though.

It actually has a freehub in it though, and is designed to work with a fixed rear hub. What that means is that you can change gear without pedalling, as demonstrated in this video:

[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/HxRComponents/videos/1313455225346311/” width=”650" height=”400" onlyvideo=”1"]
(No video? Here’s a link)

Some of the obvious advantages are lower unsprung mass in the rear wheel (and with fixed cassette mounts, any company that puts enough engineering work in could probably come up with some really interesting lightweight hub designs), and not having to get pedal strokes in to change gear while descending or getting your pedals over anything technical (of course, it still doesn’t get rid of the need to ease off the power if you’re changing down while climbing). Less time thinking about changing gear means more time focussed on the trail ahead, which is probably why they’re focussed on enduro racing (we did also wonder at first if this works like Canyon’s Dis/Connect to isolate the cranks from feedback, but of course simply moving the freehub doesn’t achieve that).

For completely understandable reasons, Easy Shift is only 1x compatible and has to be run with a chainguide. Otherwise, in the event of a chain dropping, the fixed rear hub would probably have all kinds of fun spitting chain and bits of derailleur everywhere.

HXR are a bit spare on detail when it comes to the innards, but freehubs are not particularly mystical and you get a glimpse inside during this video:


(Can’t see the video? Try this link).

Of course, being the bike industry, this isn’t the first time something like this has been developed. The Honda RN-01 downhill bike introduced in 2004 had a freehub at the gearbox instead of the rear wheel, but it was almost entirely made of proprietary bits, never available to non-pros, and Honda were extremely secretive about it.

HXR Easy Shift is available to mere mortals though. The price is around €450 for the crankset, though that excludes the fixed rear hub, which HXR do for another €269 – €279. You can find out more on their website.

HXR Components Easy Shift
Externally, it looks pretty normal.

Comments (21)

  1. Can’t quite put my finger on why it makes me feel anxious, but the thought of the chain and chainset wheel whizzing round on a 30 mph + descent between my stationary feet scares me!

  2. Hmm, whilst changing gear without pedalling sounds good, that’s mainly because I think of changing gear whilst stationary, this wouldn’t give you this, the rear wheel still needs to be moving.

    Other than moving unsprung weigh I can’t see an advantage, and having a constantly moving drivechain is surely going to add wear.

  3. Sounds great until you get the chain get caught between the cassette/spokes, chainsuck or twigs/branches get caught up in the drivetrain, anything where you’d normally feel something isn’t right and stop the pedals moving won’t be possible with this.

  4. Isn’t this going to cause a serious amount of drivetrain wear?

  5. Stray shoelace gets dragged into the chainring, anyone? Not a big deal on a normal bike, but I would imagine it’s trouser-explodingly terrifying on this.

  6. I like this, but as has been pointed out it has built in ability to turn minor issue into major calamity.

  7. anyone else notice that they have laser etched ‘peddling device’ onto the cranks arms? who wants to tell them that ‘peddling’ isn’t the same as ‘pedaling’….?

  8. Front freewheels were tried and abandoned by Shimano in the 1970s. In keeping with Shimano’s fondness for TLAs and calling things systems it was dubbed Front Freewheel System, which appropriately abbreviates to FFS.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOyiDEFjE5w

    Sheldon Brown called it a solution in search of a problem, and he wasn’t wrong.

  9. sorry – they etched ‘peddling mechanism’ ;o)

  10. Nicolai had something similar with their bike that had a Rohloff hub integrated into the frame, meaning the chain to the rear wheel moved continuously.

  11. So people haven’t been whining about their q factor enough with boost….

    …introducing Easy Shift. For all your joint discomfort needs

  12. I was was worried enough about a shoelace flipping out and killing me with furiously spinning ninja death—but if they can’t spell, then I’m *definitely* out.

  13. Oh, a linguistic comment in which I wrote “was” twice. I’m off to loosen my shoelaces and go for a ride 🙁

  14. A nice idea and for once, it has a simple implementation. But yes I can imagine it being a bit hairy for something to get caught in it.

    However it would probably allow for much smaller sprockets? 9T? 8T?

  15. Shimano would probably put a big sticker on: VELCRO SHOES ONLY

  16. Run DMC would totally rock it.

  17. Terrible idea. Many twig – drivetrain type incidents which currently are solved by backpedalling a little or at worst stopping to pull the twig out would turn into mech destroying chain bending disasters.

  18. Something like this would be useful on ebike to transfer energy from the moving bike back to the motor when we move to regenerative braking. It would only work for the rear wheel though maybe a Santini style mechanism to recover energy from the front too?

  19. Sitting with a chainsaw at ankle height? : s

  20. Additional wear caused by continual movement under no load would I suspect be slight compared to trying to go down nine or ten gears under load after an unexpected rise or corner overshoot. Having said that if you want to change gear under any circumstances and have low drivetrain wear a Zerode does that for about the same price as a high end bike plus this drivetrain.

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