Synchrobox takes the guesswork out of shifting bicycle gears


May 7, 2014

The Synchrobox has an integrated front derailleur, and mounts at the bottom of the seat tube

The Synchrobox has an integrated front derailleur, and mounts at the bottom of the seat tube

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Judging by the increasing popularity of 1x11 drivetrains and hub transmissions, a lot of cyclists are evidently getting tired of shifting between multiple chainrings. Indeed, it can get confusing trying to figure out if your gearing needs are best met by shifting to a bigger ring in front, a smaller sprocket in back, or what. IXOW's new Synchrobox is designed to address that conundrum – it uses one shifter to automatically adjust both derailleurs, in order to attain the rider's desired gear ratio.

The shifter takes the form of a handlebar grip, that users simply twist forward or backward to shift gears up or down. Two cables run from it down to the mechanical synchronization box itself, which incorporates a proprietary front derailleur. That derailleur shifts the chain between the chainrings, while a third cable runs from the box back to the existing rear derailleur, shifting it accordingly.

Depending on the rider-requested gearing, "commands" from the shifter may result in an adjustment of both derailleurs, or they may simply be relayed straight on through to the rear derailleur, with the front one staying put.

The system will only select chainring/sprocket combos that don't result in chain crossing, a situation in which the chain is stressed by being placed at too much of a lateral angle (such as if it were running from the outermost chainring to the innermost sprocket, as an extreme example).

The company tells us that Synchrobox works with Shimano-based drivetrains, in 3x7, 3x8 and 3x9 configurations. It's being launched at the Eurobike trade show in August, and will be priced at €89.90 (US$125).

... and if getting the system installed on your existing bike sounds like too much of a hassle, you might instead want to just start from scratch with something like the Autobike.

Source: IXOW

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Clever system. Anything to make cycling simpler (apart from those one-gear-that's-it terrors we used to see) should get people back to riding and good health. I hope they sell many, many versions as the market learns about them.

The Skud

This actually isn't a new idea. The EGS SynchroShift (no longer in production) does (or did) exactly the same thing, eliminating redundant (or nearly redundant) ratios. The advantage to the EGS design is that it uses the stock front and rear derailleurs. Works great... I have two.

Craig Walker

10 yrs ago, i put an sram 7 spd hub on and have never looked back. Plenty of ratios to choose from. Plus, it gives your rear wheel a symmetrical dish. Way better all around.

Al Dutcher

@Al Dutcher: A 7 speed hub is fine for most commuting and the like, but it is certainly not "Way better all around". If one rides in situations where either a large gearing range is called for, due to terrain, and/or small gear spacing due to high demand for efficiency under max power input the 7 speeds isn't sufficient. On top of that internal gear are relatively heavy and bring a higher amount of energy loss than well maintained open gears.

Now on the Synchrobox. I see it it as yet another product which makes things complicated without offering any real advantage. If shifting with open gears is "guesswork" then I suspect something like getting lost due to confusion should be much higher on ones agenda than easier gear change :-)

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