Lal Bikes Supre Drive – A Better Derailleur Solution?

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Is this the week when all the stupid annoying bits of mountain bike tech are finally going to be fixed? We’ve already seen two takes on improving the infinitely annoying Presta valve, and now we have a new take on the rear derailleur. Will the Lal Bikes Supre Drive eliminate rock bashing woe? Will our derailleurs no longer dangle, tangle and bend? Let us see…

The inventor of the Supre Drive is Cedric Eveleigh, a mechanical engineer and mountain biker, operating from his parent’s basement in Quebec, Canada. His company, Lal Bikes, is named after Pierre Lallement, who is considered by some to have invented the bicycle. Eveleigh first built his prototype in 2019, and today he’s releasing the idea on the world. (Thanks to Tom Howard for the eagle eyed tip off!)

Lal Bikes will manufacture the derailleur, chain tensioner, and idler pulley in Canada (and maybe also in Europe later on). These parts will be sold to bike companies that spec the Supre Drive, and also directly to mountain bikers, etc. Lal Bikes collaborates with mountain bike companies in the development of frames equipped with the Supre Drive.

Cedric Eveleigh – Lal Bikes
Lal Bikes Supre Drive

During its development, he’s been posting on Instagram, indicating that that a bike company was interested in his design, but that it needs frames designed specifically for the Supre Drive:

The Supre Drive is different enough that it requires frames to be designed around it. This past summer, I was put in touch with a major mountain bike company. After seeing my second prototype bike on a video call, they covered my flight so that they could test ride it. The test rides were fun and they were stoked. I’m now collaborating with them while they develop a prototype frame of their own that’ll use the Supre Drive. This is a photo from when my dad dropped me off at the airport for this trip in August. No, the bike company isn’t Norco. I just like that t-shirt. It’s from when I used to wrench in a bike shop that sold Norcos. This collaboration with a bike company is exciting, and I plan to collaborate with many others while I focus on the drivetrain parts.

Cedric Eveleigh
Lal Bikes Supre Drive

Who might he be collaborating with, then? Knolly, or Banshee? Forbidden already plays in the idler world, and Guerilla Gravity is into doing things differently. It will certainly be interesting to see – and to see whether the Supre Drive idea takes off or joins the ranks of inventions that never quite made it.

Lal Bikes Supre Drive

This all hints at a drivetrain built into the frame. Another earlier Instagram post said ‘A cassette and no derailleur to be seen, but I can assure you that this bike has a functioning drivetrain’. Combined with his reference to the chain tensioner and idler pully, it sounds rather like what Chris Porter says he would do if he had a pile of money to sink into a project – except Chris talks of gearboxes:

If I found a couple of hundred grand down the back of the sofa tomorrow, I’d make a linkage fork gearbox bike with a transferable drive where the drive is moveable – you can move the drive point in relation to the pivot, up and down, so that you could make it squat or not – with a seat post on a four bar linkage, and I’d do all of that with recycled steel tubes. That would be amazing, to be able to use old bicycle tubes to make the most technologically advanced bicycle but without actually having a single patentable or technologically advanced process, just brazed steel tubes. That would be amazing.

Chris Porter

A further clue lay in the name: Supre, which means ‘above’ in Esperanto. Given Eveleigh says he’s trying to solve the problem of bent and broken mechs, it seemed likely that he was somehow turning the whole thing upside down, with a derailleur above the cassette – and perhaps idler pulley to make the elevated chainline work?

Apparently we won’t have long to wait – he’s going to reveal it at some point today. But feel free to speculate wildly until we have some hard facts. We’ll update this story when all is revealed!

And Here It Is…

Eveleigh has now released details of his new design:

Lal Bikes Supre Drive: How does it work?

Lal bikes Supre Drive

The derailleur has no cage, clutch, or torsion spring. The equivalent of these parts is transferred to a chain tensioner at the middle of the bike. The tensioner arm pivots around the bottom bracket axis.

Lal bikes Supre Drive

The blue line represents the chain in the lowest gear, and the red line represents the chain in the highest gear. Shifting to lower gears makes the tensioner arm pivot backward, and shifting to higher gears makes the tensioner arm pivot forward.

There’s no derailleur hanger and no B screw, but it has high and low limit screws. The derailleur is rigidly mounted to the frame at two points, making it well-braced and capable of withstanding impacts. However, impacts are unlikely because of the ground clearance.

Supre drive Lal bikes Supre Drive

The Supre Drive moves the task of tensioning the chain to the middle of the bike and lets
the derailleur focus solely on shifting. The tensioner arm is connected by a cable to a cartridge that contains a spring and a damper. This cartridge is inside the down tube. Whereas conventional derailleurs produce increasing chain tension in the low gears, the tensioner system of the Supre Drive produces approximately constant chain tension across all gears. This is achieved by decreasing the leverage of the cable on the tensioner arm as the tensioner arm rotates back during shifts to lower gears. This decrease in leverage compensates for the increase in force from the spring. The approximately constant chain tension improves the efficiency of the Supre Drive. Additionally, the large size of the pulleys also improves the efficiency of the Supre Drive. The damper is hydraulic. It’s speed-sensitive, meaning that there’s a lot of force when the tensioner arm rotates fast (which occurs while riding over rough stuff) and there’s less force when the tensioner arm rotates slowly (which occurs while shifting).

The first prototype

Supre Drive Specifications

  • Compared to other high pivot bikes with an XT derailleur, the Supre Drive has around 130g less unsprung weight but 100–200g more total weight. This extra weight is sprung weight at the middle of the bike. In other words, the Supre Drive increases the sprung to unsprung weight ratio.
  • Compatible with off-the-shelf hubs, bottom brackets, cranks, chains, shifters, and cassettes. Two specific requirements are a 52mm chainline and a T47 bottom bracket.
  • The frame must be designed around the Supre Drive.
  • The latest version works with a 10-51t Shimano cassette (although the prototype bike shown here has a 10-45t cassette).
  • Adjustment is the same process as conventional derailleurs except easier because there’s no B-limit, setting the chain length is simpler, and there’s no derailleur hanger alignment.
Lal bikes Supre Drive

I designed and built two prototype bikes with the Supre Drive. In this announcement, I’m showing the second prototype bike. It has a steel frame and high pivot suspension. I designed and built all of the unique parts, including the derailleur, chain tensioner, idler pulley, and frame. I machined the pulleys and several other parts, I 3D printed many of the derailleur and tensioner parts, and I welded the frame.

Cedric Eveleigh

Now you can see more, what do you think? Will this make Cedric’s fortune and it’s the drivetrain of the future? Or will the laws of unintended consequences kick in and we’ll find some other problem that renders this another interesting historical curiosity in the history of drivetrain innovation?

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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Viewing 14 posts - 41 through 54 (of 54 total)
  • Lal Bikes Supre Drive – A Better Derailleur Solution?
  • paton
    Free Member
    Full Member

    Not really

    Still has a dangling mech when in the smaller sprockets. And more idlers. And, well, look at it.

    Free Member

    It’s not a revolutionary game changer but it’s nice to have options.

    Full Member

    if this is successful or not this chap has gone and got himself a patent on a new invention, realised that invention, and built two bikes to test it. and started a company to exploit it. and got another bike company interested in it. at 26. this may not be ‘it’ for him, and it may not be your idea of a better mousetrap, but i’d put money on him doing very well indeed with something. congratulations Cedric.

    Free Member

    @ayjaydoubleyou The former is correct.

    Free Member

    @shermer75 For the Supre Drive, taking the wheel out and changing the chain aren’t any harder than on regular bikes. On the chain tensioner, there’s a position lock feature that locks the position of the tensioner arm in a way that gives chain slack and makes it easy to get the wheel on and off. I didn’t have this on the first prototype bike and that was a pain, but the second prototype bike has it and it’s great. This feature also makes it easy to change the chain.

    Free Member

    @Del has it.

    The inertia in the bike industry is incredible.

    Everything has to be compatible with everything else, look at where the gear hanger still is to this day, surely not the best position is it.

    It may not be next year but at some point bike drivetrains will look completely different.

    At that point if they look like this then this guy will be cashing in.

    He might sell a few bikes in the interim.

    This actually looks nicely resolved, and extra idlers are now mainstream on high pivot bikes.

    The only question I’d have is where do I get a rear mech in 5 years time if things don’t work out…

    If no one tried this stuff we’d still be riding what were effectively road bikes offroad like we were in the 90s.

    Full Member

    I’ve spannered 3 mechs in 20+ years. One onf those on the road bike. And amother one of those was actually my mate running into the back of me and using my mech as a instant stopping device.

    Shimano told us about 10 years ago they’d solved the rear mech vulnerability with the ‘shadow’ mech design.

    Full Member

    @cedrico – congrats on making it this far and hope you get it nailed down into production.

    I’ve been convinced that a high pivot / gearbox / alternative drive train solution is the direction for mountain bikes to go. Ive tried a lot of them over the years and some have come close but this looks on paper that it is a a very neat package. Can’t wait to try it at some point, when you get out into the wild.

    Full Member

    I like this idea and wish cedrico all the best. I’ve 3 xt mechs on the bench awaiting repair / canabalising so this can’t come soon enough.

    Full Member

    +1 on Del’s comments.

    Congratulations @Cedrico it’s an awesome achievement & I wish you every success with it.

    I’m no mech breaker (don’t think I’ve broken a single one in 30+ years of MTBing but then I’m pretty careful on line choice and very mechanically sympathetic) but I can definitely see the benefit of this. I despair when I see mechs dangling down at rim level on MTBs just to get the 5x range needed in modern drivetrains, it’s just asking for trouble.

    I do wish it solved the unsprung weight issue as it’s still beholden to the massive cassette and all the weight that adds but a frame mounted gearbox would add a bucket load of drag so swings and roundabouts.


    The inertia in the bike industry is incredible.

    Everything has to be compatible with everything else

    Except when it doesn’t – I don’t see this being significantly different to 15mm axles or “Boost” or “SuperBoost” or any other new standard that’s designed to solve 1 single problem but consigns all the old stuff to history. It’s fine for those that replace whole bikes but for this of us that develop their bikes along the lines of triggers broom it sucks.

    This is definitely a new bike worthy development and for that should be applauded.

    Full Member


    Ta Da!*

    (* Out of stock/probably not enough range/probably not quite what you had in mind).

    That’s what I’m adding to my retro gravel bike to give enough range for an old frail person like myself to ride offroad and Rough Stuff in the Highlands, so surely it’s enough for all the superbly honed hard riding heroes of STW? :).

    Cedric is to be congratulated. He looks to have overcome most of the disadvantages of the derailleur while maintaining its main advantage, efficiency compared to other gear systems.

    There’s just one more thing needed.

    Full enclosure so that the transmission lasts the life of the bike. That requires a quick detach wheel that leaves the freehub and cassette attached to the frame.

    Free Member

    There’s just one more thing needed

    That’d be the Millyard DH bike then. Shame more wasn’t made of that.

    Full Member


    And is exactly how the 2 and 6 speed Bromptons shift between their rear cogs today.

    Have you seen the new 4 speed Brompton derailleur system – one jockey wheel mech and separate tensioner- unfortunately does not appear retrofitted to ordinary Bromptons

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