Wireless automatic gear-changing for bikes: an incentive to pedal?

December 19, 2012 // By Julien Happich
Cambridge Consultants' latest design concept is what the company claims to be the world’s first wireless automatic gear-changing bicycle.

Able to control the gear shifters wirelessly through the use of a smartphone, an application on the smartphone runs a pedalling cadence program (based on training goals) or could simply shift gears pre-emptively then the phone’s GPS routing application would detect a climb ahead or a steep slope.

As explains Tim Ensor, business developer in the Wireless division at Cambridge Consultants, “We could incorporate GPS and map data into the application to make gear changes in anticipation of upcoming hills, for example, or include a heart-rate monitor and other measurement tools to help improve training.”

In designing the demonstration device, the experts at Cambridge Consultants took a standard bicycle – equipped with an electronic gear-changing system – and wirelessly linked the gears to both manual controls and a smartphone application mounted on the handlebars, along with information from sensors measuring rate of pedalling (cadence) and wheel speed. This combination of monitoring and control allows the system to make automatic gear changes under the control of a smart algorithm running on the smartphone. When a rider’s cadence rate slows, the application automatically sends a signal to shift into a lower gear. Bluetooth Smart – a low-energy version of Bluetooth – is used to wirelessly connect the system.

The wireless bicycle was initially designed as a training tool for competitive cyclists to help improve performance and technique. It would allow a rider in training to collect data and receive real-time coaching from the smart technology. The technology could also be used more broadly with any consumer bicycle to optimise performance and make it more user-friendly – it is designed to help avoid gear combinations that put too much pressure on the chain and increases safety by automatically shifting down gears when the rider brakes too fast.

Visit Cambridge Consultants at www.cambridgeconsultants.com