Powershift replaces a bike's front derailleur with a 2-speed hub
The elimination of the front derailleur on many bikes has made cycling simpler, but reduced the number of available gear ratios. That's where the Powershift hub comes in, as it essentially replaces the front derailleur, allowing for more gears on 1x (single-derailleur) drivetrains.
Manufactured by Belgium's Classified Cycling, the Powershift was first announced last year, but gained new attention when it recently won a Gold award at the Eurobike 2021 trade show. It consists of four main parts: a handlebar-mounted remote, a "smart" electronic thru-axle, the 2-speed hub itself, and a system-specific 11-sprocket cassette.
In the setup's direct-drive mode, the bike's existing single chainring plays the role of the big chainring on a 2x (two-chainring), front-derailleur-equipped drivetrain. This means that all of the gear ratios are relatively high.
However, pressing a button on the remote wirelessly activates the thru-axle, which in turn triggers a clockwork mechanism inside the hub. That mechanism reduces the drive ratio, essentially turning the existing chainring into what the company describes as a "virtual small chainring." As a result, all of the gear ratios – still utilizing the same chainring and cassette as before – are now lower.
While most 1x drivetrains already offer a fairly wide gear range, the idea behind the Powershift is that it will add a choice of more gears within that range … without the hassle of shifting the chain back and forth between two physical chainrings. Additionally, the shifts take place within 150 milliseconds, plus they can be made while the drivetrain is under full load.
The whole system is reportedly weatherproof, weighs no more than a Shimano Di2 electronic 2x setup, and should be good for over 10,000 shifts per USB charge of the thru-axle's battery.
Classified Cycling is currently offering the Powershift hub already built into three of its house-brand wheelsets, which are respectively aimed at road, gravel/road and aerodynamic road riding. They're all priced at €2,399 (about US$2,774).
Source: Classified Cycling