Monday, October 22, 2007

Infinity and Beyond!

Late Friday night I took the plunge and ordered a Nuvinci hub from the US. It offers the fascinating prospect of continuously variable transmission, rather than the stepped gear ratios on most bicycles. Not only does this offer experienced cyclists an optimum ratio for their pedaling power and the road steepness, but it should be much easier for new cyclists to pick up. (A couple of years ago I was out with a friend who hadn't ridden for a while, and they kept switching the wrong set of gears or in the wrong direction. Nothing like making things harder just when you need them to ease up to ruin your day.) The shifter comes with a cleverly designed indicator which is reported to be very intuitive.

At the moment you can only get these hubs on certain upmarket new bikes, or from two US distributors who don't seem to have established connections to NZ. Conveniently, QBP seems to have recently made their catalogue available for retailers to put on their websites and a couple have realised the opportunity in shipping internationally. The famous Sheldon Brown has it up on the Harris Cyclery site, but Alfred E. Bike seems to have tacked on a smaller margin (and cheaper indicative postal rates, which have yet to be confirmed for my order) and thus won my business. Once the hub arrives, I have arranged for it to be built into a wheel by Bruce at Adventure Cycles, then I can finally try it out.

Hopefully buying the hub contributes to them becoming more widely available. I'm sure that the price would drop if they were turned out in the millions. Maybe when my parents retire back to NZ (in a few years?) I'll be able to afford a couple of these on the basic old bikes I would hope to hook them up with. They ought to work well with electric motors, too, which would gladden my Mother's heart and extend my ambitions as to what I can carry on a bike.

For now we wait. The big question is: "How robust is it?" I'll be sure to post on how things turn out, but for now leave you one of the official promo videos:

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