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TECH NEWS

Just In: check out Classified’s super-innovative Powershift drivetrain

…and take a look at our video of the Belgian brand – and all-round cycling legend Tom Boonen – explaining why you should be interested in this clever design

Like the idea of a 1x drivetrain, but worried about the lack of range and jumps between gears? Classified thinks that its new Powershift rear hub holds the answer, combining the ratios of a 2x system with the fast-shifting of hub gears and the clean design of a 1x setup – and we’ve had one in for review for the past few weeks.

What is Classified’s Powershift system?

Classified’s Powershift system was announced nearly two years ago and it has gradually been gaining momentum since then, specced by more brands all the time.

Check out our video (above) from the recent Sea Otter show to get a full rundown of the system from Classified and all-round cycling legend Tom Boonen, who is one of its backers. Skip to 7:58mins for all the Classified info.

The new Powershift hub uses a planetary 2x gear system that operates wirelessly and is powered by contactless energy transfer from the thru-axle. This effectively moves the functionality of the front derailleur into the rear hub. You still use a rear derailleur and a multi-speed cassette in the normal way, it’s just that there’s no need for two chainrings up front.

2022 Classified PowerShift - rear hub 2.jpg

Classified says that the Powershift hub offers faster shifting than a front derailleur, it’s maintenance-free use, and you get the gear ratios you’d find on a normal double chainring setup.

The Powershift hub can be broken down into two main parts. The simple hub shell is much like any other hub shell and this houses the Smart Hub where we find all of the clever stuff. Here, an electronically actuated clockwork-like mechanism shifts between two gears “within 150 milliseconds under full load”, according to Classified.

Is the front mech dead? Is there a future for the front derailleur on modern road bikes?

The system works in much the same way as other internal gears, with one of the gears acting as a simple direct drive and the other gear giving a reduction to 70% of that.

For example, if you’re used to running 52/36-tooth chainrings then Classified recommends that you pick a 52 tooth chainring for this setup. The gearing that you would have with the Powershift would be that 52-tooth, while the reduction gear would give you the 36-tooth (technically it’d be a 36.4, but who’s counting?).

The system is powered by a rechargeable battery housed within the thru-axle. Classified says that the “Contactless Energy Transfer (CET) Technology wirelessly transfers energy for actuation via induction coils,” so you’ll need to use the specific thru-axle or you won’t be able to shift.

2022 Classified PowerShift - cassette.jpg

Packing all of this tech into the rear hub has meant that the Classified hub requires a proprietary cassette. Classified says that its cassettes – machined from solid blocks of cromo steel – offer “increased durability and lighter weight” than standard options.
The cassettes come in 11-27, 11-30, 11-32 and 11-34-tooth versions which, with the 2-speed Powershift hub provide 358%, 398%, 424% and 451% gear ranges (the gear range describes the difference between the bottom gear and top gear).

What are the benefits of the Classified Powershift design? 

One of the main benefits of Powershift, Classified claims, is that it will shift “faster than anything on the market”. The shift takes just 0.15 seconds. On a double changing setup, shifting up into the big ring to attack – or bailing out into the little ring when you realise that the climb is pitching up again – takes longer than that.

2022 Classified PowerShift - shift button.jpg

You can also shift under load without the fear of dropping your chain. The only condition is that you’ll need to be doing less than 1,000 watts for shift to occur.

The durability and maintenance-free life of internal hub gears are two reasons why hub gears are so popular on utility and town bikes. Classified says that the Powershift hub “has an operational lifespan exceeding the lifespan of a bicycle’s internal systems, and it requires no maintenance.”

Classified doesn’t give an exact figure for the system’s battery life, stating that a fully charged thru-axle should give you three to six months of use. The thru-axle is rechargeable via a micro USB cable.

How much does Classified Powershift weigh?

Classified says that a Powershift-equipped bike is the same weight or lighter than a bike with a bike fitted with a 2x electronic groupset and a traditional reference hub such as a DT Swiss 350. 

“A bike equipped with Classified and 1x [Shimano] GRX Di2 weighs the same (+-10g) as a bike with a traditional 2x11 GRX Di2 groupset and a DT Swiss 350 hub,” says Classified.

2022 Classified PowerShift - rear wheel.jpg

“The weight of the replaced components (front derailleur, small chainring, traditional hub, thru axle and cassette) is approximately the same as the weight of the components offered by Classified.”

The expensive bit of the system can also, Classified claims, be swapped between different hub shells. In theory, that means that you could use one Powershift system in multiple wheelsets, provided they all have the Powershift hub shell.

Do I need a specific bike to use the Classified Powershift system?

In order to work with the Classified Powershift system your bike frame should have the following spec:

  • Rear hub width:142mm. Front hub width: 100mm.
  • Flatmount disc brakes of 140 or 160mm
  • 1x chainring

Classified cassettes are compatible with Shimano and SRAM 11-speed or 12-speed rear derailleurs, preferably with a clutch (ensure the maximum sprocket capacity of your rear derailleur covers the Classified cassette you’ve chosen, of course). 

Both mechanical and electronic rear derailleurs are compatible with Classified cassettes.

A whole section of Classified’s website is devoted to compatibility so we’d suggest you head over there for more details. 

How much does Classified Powershift cost?

Classified offers the Powershift system on three different wheelsets

  • Classified CF R50 – aero road
  • Classified CF R35 – road
  • Classified CF G30 – gravel
2022 Classified PowerShift - rim 2.jpg

Each includes a Classified handlebar unit and a satellite shift button for operating the system, and a cassette. Sprockets Cycles, for example, has them for sale at £2,299.99

What’s next?

Now that we have the G30 wheel installed and have been getting the miles in, we’ll soon be releasing a video giving our initial thoughts on Classified Powershift. A full review will follow too.

classified.com
 

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27 comments

Avatar
matthewn5 | 1 year ago
1 like

I was with this up to the moment they mentioned proprietary cassettes. Forget that hostage to fortune!

Internal gear hubs are fine, and they historically last years without maintenance, but they are never as efficient as a chain drive.

Avatar
Pilot Pete | 2 years ago
3 likes

How about an 18spd Pinion gearbox with a Gates Carbon belt drive, coupled to this rear hub combo? That would give 36 speeds, virtually silent, maintenance free and the rear dropout width could be reduced, the hub shell redesigned to give similar wheel dish on drive as well as non-drive sides making a really strong wheel?

https://pinion.eu/en/p-line/

PP

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to Pilot Pete | 2 years ago
2 likes

Why not combine the Pinion with a 14 speed Rohloff and just have all the gears?

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
0 likes

Or couple said Pinion to an Enviolo for a wide CVT and efficiencies suitable for heavy training...

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wtjs replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
1 like

Interesting- I hadn't heard of the Enviolo before, but the absence of any efficiency information in the Technical Manual confirms your implication that it's no use for man-powered transport. My view is that 2 x 9 is a cheap, wear-and-nasty-conditions-tolerant excellent option where you can get 15,000 miles out of a cassette, 4 chains and a 30 small ring (wish they'd make them out of steel)

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to wtjs | 2 years ago
0 likes

wtjs wrote:

Interesting- I hadn't heard of the Enviolo before, but the absence of any efficiency information in the Technical Manual confirms your implication that it's no use for man-powered transport. My view is that 2 x 9 is a cheap, wear-and-nasty-conditions-tolerant excellent option where you can get 15,000 miles out of a cassette, 4 chains and a 30 small ring (wish they'd make them out of steel)

Trade-offs and "it's the system".  Many people (most?) do less maintenance than they think they will.  Depending on where you are a deraillieur and exposed chain system will lose some efficiency pretty quickly like that.  (Of course if you don't bother inflating your tyres either...)  If you're not striving for watts the extra weight and losses of e.g. an internally geared system might not be a big deal as a trade-off for no maintenance.  And parts last longer.

A fixie would be the lightest and most efficient - but then your legs won't be...

I can't see me getting an Enviolo but on an eBike though it could make sense.  Certainly Tern think so with their GSD etc.  I think the Pinion is really cool as a "thing" but I don't have the cash.  Plus you need a specific frame.  Word is the Rohloff is overall more efficient and you can put that on most bikes.  However that means it can be removed easily too...

Avatar
wtjs replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
0 likes

Word is the Rohloff is overall more efficient and you can put that on most bikes

I have a Rohloff on a SJS custom bike (sadly bought before cable discs and better braking) and it's excellent- but the advantges of the discs, the 2 x 9 Sora and the drop bars on the Vitus steel have made that my preferred bike for the last 2 1/2 years

Avatar
janusz0 replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
0 likes

@Rich_cb: Because you'd still have large jumps between the ratios?

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chrisonabike replied to janusz0 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Rohloff has 14% steps if I recall and the flagship 18 ratio Pinion 11.5%.  Then due to overlap you'd likely have some narrower steps within the overall range.  (alas Sheldon's gear calculator has both "hubs" but doesn't allow you to dial in this combo).  You'd have to find these ratios though... so just add in two coordinated electronic shifters and a master control and you're away!

Now your cadence is really fine-tuned but your wrist / fingers will expire after 20km from the shifting.

Avatar
fenix | 2 years ago
1 like

I really like the look of this. How many times do you forget to change down for a junction or traffic lights and have to set off in too big a gear ? Those problems will be a thing of the past.

It's a wee bit pricey though. I hope it comes down in price and someone licenses it for just the back wheel.

Avatar
Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
7 likes

I know this sounds so shallow, but from the aesthetic perspective I dislike the small chainring and dinner plate cassette setup of 1x systems. This still looks like a bicycle drivetrain should look.

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ChasP replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
3 likes

Apart from the look and gaps it's the cost of a dinner plate cassette that puts me off 1x. This would have some appeal if it took a standard cassette.

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KDee | 2 years ago
1 like

Out of curiousity...why does it matter what the front hub width is?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to KDee | 2 years ago
1 like

KDee wrote:

Out of curiousity...why does it matter what the front hub width is?

It doesn't matter for the system but they only seem to sell complete wheelsets, not just the rear wheel alone, so you need a matching front hub width unless you're willing to pay for a front wheel that you can't use.

Avatar
KDee replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
2 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

KDee wrote:

Out of curiousity...why does it matter what the front hub width is?

It doesn't matter for the system but they only seem to sell complete wheelsets, not just the rear wheel alone, so you need a matching front hub width unless you're willing to pay for a front wheel that you can't use.

Ah, of course. Was too early in the morning...need more coffee.

Avatar
henryb | 2 years ago
27 likes

Quote:

The only condition is that you’ll need to be doing less than 1,000 watts for shift to occur

I knew there was going to be a flaw that would make this impractical for daily use

 

Avatar
Steve K replied to henryb | 2 years ago
4 likes

I knew someone would beat me to that joke.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Steve K | 2 years ago
3 likes

I think henryb is MdvP in disguise.

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LastBoyScout | 2 years ago
4 likes

Occurs to me that if you used this AND a 2x up front, you'd effectively have 4 chainrings and a spectacular range of gears on your bike!

Avatar
John Stevenson replied to LastBoyScout | 2 years ago
2 likes

LastBoyScout wrote:

Occurs to me that if you used this AND a 2x up front, you'd effectively have 4 chainrings and a spectacular range of gears on your bike!

Or you just fit a triple with a Mountain Tamer Quad — if you can find one.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to John Stevenson | 2 years ago
7 likes

I used to run the analog version of this - the Sram Dual Drive (3 speed hub with 8 speed Freewheel attached) on my folder.

I always joked about adding a dual chain ring and front mech up front plus a Schlumpf Speed drive (2x gear hub inside a Bottom Bracket) for a ludicrous number of gears.  Looks like they have updated their product line since last I looked.

http://www.schlumpfdrive.com/index.php/speed-drive.html

Avatar
John Stevenson replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
2 likes

I always wondered why the Dual Drive wasn't more popular. It'd suit a big range of applications, and they could make it now in mechanical two-speed form with a big 11-speed cassette for a hell of a lot less than Classified's system.

Canyon showed a similar three-speed-hub-plus-sprockets at Eurobike, but I don't think enything ever came of it.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to John Stevenson | 2 years ago
1 like

Me neither apart from having a soft spot for the old Sachs (working Grip shifts and this) it was absolutely bullet proof for thousands of commutting miles getting thrown on and off a train twice a day.

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chrisonabike replied to John Stevenson | 2 years ago
0 likes

It did find frequent use for recumbents and possibly tandems.  The USP there was good - you can dump a bunch of gear inches without needing to move the chain / pedals.  That's required because trying to lift your drive wheel and rotate pedals is more fiddly or (for recumbents) going to be a serious core strength / yoga / balance exercise.  Not something to attempt in front of twitchy motorists.  Plus you are more likely to be in really high gears (especially for non-superheros) for either because aerodynamics.

For other applications - not such a clear win.  "too heavy" or "not efficient" for the racers (debatable for some!).  Maybe over-engineered / too expensive for many commuter applications.  For "city bike" / "practical bicycle"?  It's competing with either "cheap deraillieur and sending it to the bike shop" or "no deraillieur" (e.g. hub gears and possibly fully enclosed chain).  Not sure which 3 speed hubs they used but apparently they weren't quite as reliable as you'd expect.  So probably still too expensive / maintenance intensive for that.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
2 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Not sure which 3 speed hubs they used but apparently they weren't quite as reliable as you'd expect.  So probably still too expensive / maintenance intensive for that.

It was Sachs own design before SRAM Borged them.

I had no issues and Sheldon rated them: 

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/sachs-internal.html

 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to LastBoyScout | 2 years ago
1 like

EDIT sorry everyone else got there first...

Other "popular" combos (in the niches of e.g. recumbent trikes / handcycles) for silly amounts of gears - likely with lots of overlap - are triple + SRAM dual drive at the back or (slightly less wacky) replacing the front double / triple with e.g. a Schlumpf mountain drive.

Just waiting to see the Pinion + 5-gang chainring adaptor + mid-gear system ... feeding a Rohloff Speedhub.  All the gears you need - if only you could find them.

Avatar
armb replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
2 likes

I've seen a tandem fitted with both Rohloff and Schlumpf advertised. The Schlumpf was operated by the stoker, I think it was more of a "do we want the hill range today or the flat" setting than extended range while riding.

An Efneo would give you a cable changed three speed bottom bracket.

Sheldon Brown had a 63 speed bike with triple chainrings and a homemade 7-speed cassette on 3-speed SA hub at the back. https://www.sheldonbrown.com/org/otb.html

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