Shift Drive is a new e-bike belt drive that can shift gears

In the world of electric bicycles (ebikes), belt drives represent a modern, maintenance-free alternative to traditional chains. However, a new innovation promises to bring even bigger changes to the industry. We’re talking about a variable speed drive system, a technology capable of switching between two speeds that can also be mounted on an unmodified bicycle frame. This advancement is currently the focus of the Start Engine campaign, which seeks investment for its development and commercialization.

Origin and Innovation

Shift Drive was developed by California belt drive manufacturer Veer and is based on the company’s existing Split Belt. Unlike traditional closed pre-formed hoop belts, the Split Belt starts out as a long strip that is riveted at both ends to form a complete belt after being installed with the rest of the Veer drivetrain on the bike.

Main advantages

The main advantage of this system is the ease of replacement. Unlike pre-formed straps that require a removable part of the bike frame for installation, Veer’s split straps can be easily removed and replaced when worn. This represents a significant advancement in maintenance and ease of use.

In addition, traditional belt drives provide a single ratio due to the inability to incorporate transmissions. To change speed, a gearbox needs to be added to the hub or bottom bracket, which adds weight, complexity and cost to the assembly.

How the shift drive works

Shift Drive overcomes these limitations with a rear sprocket that integrates multiple toothed elements arranged side by side to form a ring. Each element can be independently rotated 180 degrees, allowing you to alternate between two different tooth heights and thus two different gear ratios.

The change in ratio is achieved by sequentially rotating all elements in the same direction, thereby changing the effective diameter of the pinion in contact with the belt. A spring-loaded clutch tensioner located below the sprocket automatically adjusts belt tension as needed.

The operation of the system, while complex to describe, is clearly illustrated in the video at the end of the original article, showing the transition between the two speeds.

Innovation and compatibility

Gear changes are initiated by electronic microservos, but effective movement is achieved through the rotation of the wheel hub. Shifts can be initiated manually via the handlebar remote control or automatically via the pedal torque sensor.

Additionally, the shift drive system is compatible with any third-party gear hub with a standard 9-spline flywheel body, potentially doubling the number of available gears. Veer plans to add more gears to the Shift Drive system in the future.

Future and availability

Veer founder Sean Hacking expects the technology to start being used in the production of e-bikes and possibly other lightweight electric vehicles starting next summer (in the northern hemisphere). Interested business partners can contact him through the Start Engine or the event on the company website.

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