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.