The Bicycle With a Car Transmission

If your bike drove as reliably as your car, would you ride to work?

Edwin1

If you said that WANTED has been a little obsessed with bikes lately, you might be right. But the NuVinci bicycle transmission isn't really about bikes: it's about the automobile.

The NuVinci N360 is a car transmission packed into the hub of the rear wheel of a bicycle, which in the photo above happens to be the bamboo Edwin by Organic Bikes (though the NuVinci could be used on any bike). This hub is a small-scale version of a "planetary" (or automatic) transmission, the same kind used on motor vehicles. NuVinci's version is unique because of an elegantly designed interior gearing, which the parent company says is also used in motorcycles, cars, trucks, electric vehicles and wind turbines. Explains the technical documentation:

The NuVinci transmission uses a set of rotating and tilting balls positioned between the input and output components of a transmission that tilt to vary the speed of the transmission. 

The benefit of a hub like this is that there are no gears. You can switch gears without pedaling, and there's no opportunity for mashing the chain and gears — click the shifter, and the gear changes in an instant.

Screen shot 2010-10-21 at 10.25.10 PM

Bike transmissions have existed for quite some time, but the NuVinci is one of the first to be light and cheap enough for practical use. If you're wondering what the commuter-bike revolution might look like, look no further than a cutaway of the NuVinci hub (above).

Available now via bicycle retailers. Price: $399 USD.

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