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:
And this kind of looks like an ordinary crank spider:
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.