Potential new drivetrain

I am currently designing a new drivetrain with a team of engineers, what features would you like in the groupset? the drivetrains will use electronic shifting. we plan to produce a rim and disk version, both with electronic shifting. what gear ratios would you like to see? would you rather see a 11, 12, or 13 speed drivetrain? would you prefer 1x or 2x? would you prefer a larger or smaller spindle diameter for the crankset? let me know if you have any other cool ideas that would set our drivetain apart from other the rest of the drivetrains.
-thanks for your help

If you are a small company, I’d keep it as simple as possible. Rotor brought a 1x13 speed drivetrain to market in disc brake only. Rim brakes are on their way out for pretty much all types of bikes, so I don’t think it is wise to spend engineering resources on designing for disc and rim brake bikes.

Also, if you are small, I’d focus on 1x. And then you need as many gears as possible. I’d also try to use a 12-speed chain so that you don’t have to design your own chain. As far as electronic drive trains go, I’d also go wireless, because all consumer computing devices have gone wireless. We are not plugging cables into our cell phones, tablets and laptops to connect to the internet.

The rear mech should have a clutch.

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Epic! Are you designing this with plans on bringing it to market, or as a “science project”? Does it need to respect existing patents, or is this green field?

Personally, I’d love to see a modular derailleur design that supports a range of “speeds”… one could have 10sp, 11sp, 12sp (and higher)… programmable simply by telling the derailleur what X, Y, Z coordinates it needs to move to for each cog-jump. The modularity is required in the sense that cages (both FD and RD) and jockey wheels (RD) would be swappable to align with the ring/sprocket combination chosen.

If you design it to conform to cassette offerings already out there (Campy, Shimano, SRAM, and others) then you’ll increase your relevance and avoid needing to make your own cassettes.

A semi-wireless setup would be great: wireless shifters, with derailleurs wired to a single battery.

Would need to be usable on all frames, including those not specifically “drilled” for Di2 (or which are currently only supporting mechanical drivetrains).

Please support both disc and rim.

Crankset should be designed with the ability to use special chainrings (1x, 2x) that conform to the chainline required for the braking system of choice, and the number of sprockets (and rings) being run.

Please make it out of aluminium, because it’s recyclable unlike carbon fibre!

That’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll have other ideas!


This raises a red flag for me. Engineers should be able to figure this one out for themselves.

How do you plan to manufacture your components?

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I fail to see the benefit: you are losing the option of a fail-over battery (with SRAM eTap, you can swap batteries), frames will need holes for the front and rear derailleur battery cables, these cables (and their plugs) need to be maintained, the battery will still be in an awkward spot (most likely the seat post) …

Minimize proprietary things. Things like cassettes and cranks fitting a standard (Well at least one of the 20 existing standards)


Nice try, Shimano


We plan to 3d print what we can and get the rest machined at a machine shop

I will post updates as we get more details figured out. we are still in the brainstorming phase, we plan to take this protect to market in a year or 2, once we feel it is market ready. thanks for your input.

I appreciate your concern about my question, we would like to see what peoples opinions are regarding different designs, a smaller spindle can be made lighter, a larger one can be made stiffer, a better question probably would have been would you prefer a lighter crank or a stiffer one. we would like to design a drivetrain that has the consumers in mind. currently we don’t plan to use carbon fiber due to the complexity of it’s manufacturing, we will mostly use aluminum, titanium, and steel.


OK, here’s my wish list - as you requested. I can foresee that some of this might be forthcoming from Shimano and SRAM and maybe you guys too as these ideas are pretty brilliant :boom: at least in my mind. Hold on, here we go… Automatic gear shifting (like an automatic transmission in automobiles) that can be specifically and independently tuned/configured/programmed for the individual’s riding style or requirements (crit gearing, time trial gearing, hill climbs, touring, commuting, etc. and taking a person’s physical limitations and/or age into account and that can also be put into full manual mode instantly on the fly along with taking into account watts being expended, a “look forward” in regards to GPS elevation routes and forthcoming watts that will be required, and one’s FTP, cadence, TSS, IF, etc. Naturally all powered by wireless technology, with light weight batteries with low battery drain, a small “solar square” or solar cells built into the frame layup for automatic charging of the battery that is inconspicuous on a bike frame, All light weight and miniaturized. Also a cog-less chain wheel and cog-less cassette that are driven by an electro-magnetic drive (No chain, belt, or any type of mechanical connection needed) and where the chain wheel and cassette are only as big as the axles for the crank axle and rear wheel axle (and maybe the front wheel axle too).

Of course this is all copyrighted. If you implement any of this I get a 20% cut. And yes, you’re welcome.


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Something that fits into a threaded BB…! not sure what the standards are these days in the ever expanding BB standard jungle.

Also this would be really cool.

Basically something with a high degree of compatibility/customisation … oh and low maintenance is always a plus :grin:

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Yeah give us ERG-mode for outside!

This would be really interesting. I don’t know how well you could actually get the thing to function, but it would certainly generate hype!

One thing that would make this more complex is the need to integrate other sensors with the drivetrain. For sure it would need bike speed and cadence. I guess that would add maybe $100 to retail price.

But once you have electronic shifting, and inputs like speed and cadence, in theory you could develop something like this. I’d bet Shimano and SRAM are working on this to see if it’s possible.

To get meaningful input here, I think it would be helpful to ask people what riding discipline - mountain, road, gravel, type of riding (eg maybe 1x on the road OK for crits, less so for hilly routes?).

Or is riding discipline that you’ll design the drivetrain for still a decision you are looking to make?

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As someone who demos product and marketing for a living, I advise you to determine what your point of differentiation will be vs. the market.

Asking a forum for what they want will rarely give you the insight you need for a successful product. You’ll get people’s opinion of what they want, but not what you need as a supplier to succeed.

What is your reason to exist? This category is dominated by major players and trying to crack into it is massive task. You need a breakthrough product, not refinement. Offering 12 or 13 speeds is NOT the answer (or just about any of the other questions addressed in this thread.). What is your “A-HA!!” Insight, your reason to exist? If you can’t answer that in a single sentence, you need to reassess the project.

I can’t emphasize enough how difficult it is to develop a new drivetrain system…just working around the existing patents is overwhelming. I hope you have a good patent attorney and engineer to review your designs.

I don’t mean to throw cold water on your enthusiasm, but you need to be aware of the challenges of such a project.


A couple of pieces of advice:

Keep in mind that it will probably take 3 years to really be ready to sell it and you are trying to compete in an established market, so you have to have compelling advantages over what will be on the market 3 years from now, not what is out there today. The competition will come out with new stuff by then and you don’t want to be viewed as having old features when you launch. So think about the current trends in consumer preferences.

What people say they want and what they ultimately buy are often two different things. Think for yourself critically about what you think the market needs and people will be willing to take a risk on by buying your product instead of the tried and true.

Be realistic about the business case. It’s incredibly hard to get OEM business because the big bike makers buy entire packages of parts (drivetrain, brakes and usually one or more of wheels, fork/shock or cockpit) from Shimano or SRAM. Lately Shimano has been pushing their PRO cockpit parts and Fox combined Easton/Race Face to better compete in the OEM parts package business. The small bike brands use Shimano and SRAM because they don’t want to give people a reason not to buy their bike. So at first you will have to survive on sales to people that are building their own bikes from a frame set (very small market) or upgrading an older bike (bigger market).

Based on the above, maybe you should start with offering things the big guys won’t, not because people don’t want it but because it would hurt their profit margins. For example, the big guys force you to upgrade your entire drivetrain, including shifters, just to add one more gear because they keep changing the gear spacing and cable pull to derailleur movement ratio. If you made a “future proof” shifter that could be adjusted or cheaply upgraded to change that when someone wants to upgrade their bike, it could have good appeal.

Also, SRAM 12 speed gravel gearing is so disappointing because they only offer a few cassette sizes 10-33 and 10-50. How about a 10-38 or 42 to not have such big jumps between gears?


we have chosen to start with the drivetrain for road, but we plan to expand it to other disciplines after we produce a prototype.

There’s a lot of 2x options already in the market.

So maybe make an affordable 1x for road, targeting riders who ride in flatter areas, or ride crits where a big range isn’t needed.

Maybe make an affordable 1x crit-specific drivetrain, simple, low risk of chain drop (either go narrow-wide chainring or clutch derailleur)?

I get from the questions that the inputs are requested to feed a brainstorm process, not necessarily to drive a product strategy.

This said, I like the concept of using electronic shifting to make manufacturer- and configuration-agnostic derailleurs and shifters. Nothing (except cage length) could perhaps prevent someone from making an RD that can cover any cassette config from any manufacturer. That’s something the big guys won’t be interested in doing.