Last year, Ceramic Speed broke the internet with its radical 13-speed drivetrain solution, this year they’re back with a mountain bike version.
Ceramic Speed’s very novel 13-speed drivetrain from Eurobike 2018 was cool. It was unlike anything we had ever seen before. It used a prop fast and bearings instead of a chain and cassette, BUT it was just for road bikes.
At Eurobike 2019, Ceramic Speed has addressed that one major flaw and created a mountain bike specific version of its electronic drivetrain. The trade-off though is that it has to be fitted to a specific Canyon Prototype full suspension bike, and the sample they have on show doesn’t actually shift.
Still the concept is there, and apparently they have samples that are being used in the real world now and with good results.
The mountain bike, or should we say, full suspension version of the Ceramic Speed 13-speed drivetrain uses a telescopic carbon prop shaft to deal with ‘chain growth’.
Inside the shaft lives a rechargeable battery, and a motor with and wireless control that connects to a bar-mounted remote.
The system works by splitting the ball-bearing wearing drive unit at the cassette end so that half the drive shifts before the other half for a smooth and accurate shift.
An internal motor-driven worm gear does all the work internally. The prototype we see here is a 3D printed model that has actually been ridden, but final versions will be alloy.
Obviously I asked how the system deals with mud, grit, and sticks, and the Ceramic Speed guys have been thinking about it too. The current solution is to have an open cassette that allows small particles and debris to be ejected from the back of the unit, but for mountain biking, in UK climates they suggest a cover like the one shown here.
Ceramic Speed is currently on the lookout for brands interested in the development of the system, so it doesn’t sound like we will be seeing this come to market for a few years yet.