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  1. #1
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    Shaft drive, anyone have one?

    Hi all, I ran across this web page, http://www.commuterbicycle.com and it has some interesting information about commuter bikes. I am now 51 and weigh 250. Currently I ride a trek 7500 and like it but this idea of a shaft drive bike sounds interesting. I just took a job that is 6 miles to work each way and am seriously wanting to bike commute as much as possible. The trek obviously will work and I think probably one of the better bikes for it with a few mods such as better lights "fredy fenders" and probably some new tires since it hasn't had any in several years. I guess I just saw this shaft drive and want to try it, the price is very good, around $600, and was just wondering if any one had any experiance with any of the brand listed. The author mentioned one that is only sold in England and a sent them and e-mail but no response at this time.

    any comments are appreciated, thanks for your help

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    It may be sold in the UK, but I have never seen one. Stick with technology that works and is tried and tested.

  3. #3
    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Shaft drives are very old technology. I have a history of bicycles picture book, and it is shown in there way back!
    Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone

  4. #4
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Bicycle riders generally can output about 1/4 horsepower. (I know, everyone here can do more that that, but we're far better than average... stick with me and you'll see the point) Chain drives can be well over 98% efficient. Shaft drives are doing well to be 85% efficient.

    So with only 1/4 horsepower, can you really afford to lose 12-15% of your output to an ineffecient drivetrain? People spend an enormous amount of time and money trying to overcome even 1% of other losses like rolling resistance and wind resistance, 12-15% is quite a bit if you put it in perspective.

    And then there's weight. Shaft drives are heavy.

    Az

  5. #5
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    I had read about it being old technology, I thought weight must be an issue as the site does not list the weight of the bikes in their spec sheet. Now their claim on being efficient is almost the opposite of what you just listed. I tend to belive your objective opinion more than a site that is selling a product. Thanks for the input, still hoping to find someone that has ridden one of these.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I don't understand the ongoing fascination that newbies seem to have with two bits of nicheware, those being shaft drive and automatic shifting.

    The problem with shaft drive efficiency is that you have to redirect the power by 90 degrees, twice. With unavoidable losses each time. You also have to support the drive shaft, which means more bearings and housings. All the shaft drives I've seen use hub gears, which are less efficient too. There's just no way a shaft can match the efficiency of a chain. Shaft drive might be great for motorcycles, which can always make up for efficiency losses by using bigger engines; but unlike them we don't have the luxury of swapping out for a more powerful motor.

  7. #7
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Az B
    Bicycle riders generally can output about 1/4 horsepower. (I know, everyone here can do more that that, but we're far better than average... stick with me and you'll see the point) Chain drives can be well over 98% efficient. Shaft drives are doing well to be 85% efficient.

    So with only 1/4 horsepower, can you really afford to lose 12-15% of your output to an ineffecient drivetrain? People spend an enormous amount of time and money trying to overcome even 1% of other losses like rolling resistance and wind resistance, 12-15% is quite a bit if you put it in perspective.

    And then there's weight. Shaft drives are heavy.

    Az
    In addition to all that, one is limited to an internally geared hub to have more than one gear. That adds all the friction loss, and weight,of the hub on top of all that!

    I have seen shaft drive bikes, they are available in the US. Just do some more searching.

  8. #8
    Jim Shapiro
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    Quote Originally Posted by jshultz
    Hi all, I ran across this web page, http://www.commuterbicycle.com and it has some interesting information about commuter bikes. I am now 51 and weigh 250. Currently I ride a trek 7500 and like it but this idea of a shaft drive bike sounds interesting. I just took a job that is 6 miles to work each way and am seriously wanting to bike commute as much as possible. The trek obviously will work and I think probably one of the better bikes for it with a few mods such as better lights "fredy fenders" and probably some new tires since it hasn't had any in several years. I guess I just saw this shaft drive and want to try it, the price is very good, around $600, and was just wondering if any one had any experiance with any of the brand listed. The author mentioned one that is only sold in England and a sent them and e-mail but no response at this time.

    any comments are appreciated, thanks for your help
    I traded a folding Peugeot for a shaft drive Fendt bicycle last year, mostly out of curiosity. Here's my take:

    Good:

    1. Everything's internal, even the shaft being enclosed, so weather exposure is not a big problem.
    2. You'll get plenty of exercise.
    3. Everyone will notice your bike.
    4. Relatively trouble-free, compared with a derailleur type bike.

    Bad:

    1. The bike is heavy.
    2. Only 3 speeds (not an issue with me, but might be with others).
    3. To change the back tire you have to practically disassemble the bike (I've not done it).
    4. The "Cardano" shaft drive, I think it's called, is not as efficient as a chain.
    5. You'll be asked to work hard for your kilometers.
    6. Everyone will notice your bike.

    My Fendt is mostly a conversation piece. In fact, it's at a local bike shop.

    Jim
    Last edited by jimshapiro; 10-11-05 at 10:01 PM.

  9. #9
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimshapiro
    I traded a folding Peugeot for a shaft drive Fendt bicycle last year, mostly out of curiosity. Here's my take:

    Good:

    1. Everything's internal, even the chain being enclosed, so weather exposure is not a big problem.
    I'm confused. Your shaft drive bike has an enclosed chain?

    Az

  10. #10
    Jim Shapiro
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    Quote Originally Posted by Az B
    I'm confused. Your shaft drive bike has an enclosed chain?

    Az
    Oops, no chain, of course. I meant to say that the complete drive train, shaft, bearings, etc., is enclosed.
    Last edited by jimshapiro; 10-11-05 at 10:01 PM.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the information. The bike I am looking at is by Dynamic and has an 8 speed internal drive. As for the weight I have learned it is around 32 lb. As to why us newbies always seem to be interested in things like this, why not? My experiance with derailurs have been, the things are greasy fussy require constant maintenance, and costly to replace chains and gears as needed.

    So all is a trade off. I'm willing to work a bit more for a commuter bike that is easier to maintaing and depend on for day to day short , 10 mile round trip, commute.

    Granted I'll keep my Trek 7500 for longer rides, and buy a true road bike when I am ready to go on truly long rides. I was just wanting to know what those that had em thought of em. The shaft drive bike that is.

  12. #12
    On Your Left
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    I say drive your shaft as long as you can

  13. #13
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    LOL, words to live by my friend, words to live by.

  14. #14
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  15. #15
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    Thats the site I have been looking at. Wished there was a dealer closer so I could try one out.

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    Here are two others.

    http://www.webbicycle.com/about.php

    http://oxfordchainless.com/

    Some claim that power is more direct with a chain since there are no angles as in a shaft drive. But, if you don't keep your chain clean you lose power, and since the shaft drive is sealed dirt and grit are not big factors. The shaft and casing weigh 3-4 pounds, an extra load.
    If you need to repair your shaft bike beyond the normal and you are not mechanically oriented, you might have a problem. Also changing rear flats could prove to be a little difficult.
    However, a shaft driven bike with an internal hub would be a very low maintenance bicycle.

    Some discussions here:

    Shaft driven bicycle

    http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/27053

  17. #17
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimshapiro
    I traded a folding Peugeot for a shaft drive Fendt bicycle last year, mostly out of curiosity. Here's my take:Jim
    You don't know how many threads of speculation and opinion one has to read before finding someone who's actually owned or ridden a shft drive.
    R

  18. #18
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    I think shaft drive will catch on and claim a big chunk of the market. Three pounds extra weight is a trivial amount unless you're racing, and even then mainly for hills. The real questions are: is shaft drive efficient, and does the gear ratio suit the rider and conditions? Shaft didn't catch on 100 years ago because hub gears weren't very good, and only had 3 speeds max. Now there are 7 and 8 speed hubs, and maybe some with even more gears, made with much better material (obviously) than in 1900. If the shaft drive sellers are correct, and power transfer efficiency is comparable to chain drive, and if the gears are optimized for non-racing conditions, then I think a lot of commuters and recreational riders will accept an extra three pound of weight in exchange for durability, reliability, ground clearance, the ability to change gears when stopped, and (especially) cleanliness.

    Robert

  19. #19
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    Thanks for the input. I'm thinking along your lines, and looking at the shaft drive for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I've always been a bit of an early adopter of things, but not the bleeding edge. I just don't have the money for a mistake at this time.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the lead to the other threads, i'll check them out.

  21. #21
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Odd that I don't have a shaft drive, given that I have been GIVEN the shaft many times. Now there's a mystery to contemplate while I ride this morning!
    Visit my blog! The Leadership Almanac
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  22. #22
    Senior Member ron521's Avatar
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    Here's a bit on my Fendt shaft drive bicycle....

    http://ron521.homestead.com/FendtShaftDrive.html

  23. #23
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    Incidentally, the great American pro track champion of the turn of the 20th century, Major Taylor, rode a shaft-drive track bike for a while. He must have won sprints with it, which probably tells you more about just how strong he was than about how efficient the system was. (Evidently it was good for long, steady high-gear motor-paced events, but not so good for short sprints, probably because the system's mass made fast accelerations more difficult.) Here's a link to a fascinating discussion of "chainless" bikes, well worth reading as there are quotes from books both historical and examining the history of bikes of this period:
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/archive...76353-p-2.html

    Luis

  24. #24
    tcs
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    1910 Pierce Arrow chainless w/ f&r suspension.

    tcs
    "When man first set woman on two wheels with a pair of pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had rent the veil of the harem in twain? A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Typewriter Girl, 1899.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    I think shaft drive will catch on and claim a big chunk of the market. Three pounds extra weight is a trivial amount unless you're racing, and even then mainly for hills. The real questions are: is shaft drive efficient, and does the gear ratio suit the rider and conditions? Shaft didn't catch on 100 years ago because hub gears weren't very good, and only had 3 speeds max. Now there are 7 and 8 speed hubs, and maybe some with even more gears, made with much better material (obviously) than in 1900. If the shaft drive sellers are correct, and power transfer efficiency is comparable to chain drive, and if the gears are optimized for non-racing conditions, then I think a lot of commuters and recreational riders will accept an extra three pound of weight in exchange for durability, reliability, ground clearance, the ability to change gears when stopped, and (especially) cleanliness.
    Robert
    I don't think they'll 'catch on' if they're anything like the test shaftie I took a spin on? My local bike shop had one with a shaft and an automatic-shifting enclosed rear hub, so I tried it out.

    And I was completely unnerved by the disconnected free-wheeling that occurred prior to every 'automatic' downshift! I would NEVER own a bike where there was so often such a loss of pedal control!
    Although I often suspect that 7 speeds might possibly be quite adequate for my usage, I'll still stick with my lovely inexpensive Trek 7000 with it's standard 21 speeds, excellent handling, and no free-wheeling surprises, thank you!

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