New system brings electronic shifting to mechanical derailleurs

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The XShifter shifting modules, visible on the seat tube and seat stay(Credit: XShifter)

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Electronic gear-shifting for bicycles is becoming increasingly common, with big names like Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM all offering complete systems. However, what happens if you have a perfectly-good mechanical shifting setup that you don't want to replace, yet you still like the idea of crisp, precise electronic shifts? Well, you may soon be able to simply add the XShifter system to your bike.

Here's how it works …

Users start by removing their existing shifters and cables, but leaving the front and rear derailleurs in place (the make and model don't matter). They then zip-tie two electronic modules onto the frame – one on the seat tube above the front derailleur, and one on the seat stay above the rear derailleur. Short lengths of shifting cable run from those modules to each of the derailleurs.

When wirelessly activated by a handlebar-mounted remote, the modules will pull on or release those cables, moving the derailleurs in or out accordingly. Users initially configure the system using an iOS/Android app, which lets them precisely set the increments by which the derailleurs move with each shift.

While the current prototype allows the front and rear derailleurs to be activated separately using the one remote, there are also plans for a semi-automatic mode in which the two derailleurs will move together to avoid "cross chaining" – this means that riders won't end up in awkward gears where the chain is simultaneously on the outermost chainring and the innermost cassette sprocket, for example.

XShifter inventor Paul Gallagher tells us that although battery life varies greatly with the amount of shifting done, one charge of each module's removable battery should be good for between 5,000 and 15,000 shifts, or three months of standby time. The remote's battery life reportedly sits at around one year.

He will be launching a Kickstarter campaign for the product on Nov. 1st, which interested parties will be able to access via the link below. Pledges for a complete setup will start at US$199.

The system can be seen in action, in the following video.

Source: XShifter

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