Classified, the Belgian brand behind the two-speed rear hub dubbed by many as the 'front derailleur killer', has this week announced a partnership with a host of established wheel brands as it looks to expand its market reach.
Previously, consumers could either buy the Classified hub on a small selection of complete bikes, or one of Classified's four proprietary wheelset options, and in our review of the Classified Powershift CF 30 wheels, we described the technology as 'absolutely groundbreaking', but that it was begging for better wheel options.
This week's announcement tackles that problem head-on, and opens up the Classified Powershift technology to a much greater audience with a wider set of wheelset choices from seven established brands.
The brands in question are DT Swiss, Mavic, Fast Forward, Enve, Reynolds, Boyd Cycling and Spinergy. Classified is also selling the Powershift hub as a standalone unit, meaning it can be bought and laced to a rider's rim of choice.
What is Classified?
Classified's technology, known as the Powershift Hub, essentially places a two-speed gearbox inside the rear hub and works alongside traditional derailleur-and-cassette drivetrains. The first gear works in a 1:1 ratio, while the second reduces the ratio to 1:0.686. This is a similar ratio to the difference between a 50t and 34t chainring, and mimics the action of shifting into the 'little ring'.
The added weight is claimed to be equivalent to that lost by removing the front derailleur and switching to a single chainring, and the benefits are said to be in both groupset function and rider performance. First, by removing the 2X chainset, there is a reduced risk of dropping the chain when shifting between the two, while also improving the aerodynamics of the bike. In addition, the shifting action is immediate, and can be performed both when under severe load, meaning a rider doesn't have to adjust their pedal stroke. It can also shift without pedalling at all, making it useful for riders about to hit a sharp ascent or looking to restart after a crash.
Shifting is performed either via a button affixed to a Bluetooth transmitter on the rider's handlebars, or the transmitter can be wired into a bike's existing electronic shifters, such as Shimano Di2, SRAM eTap or Campagnolo EPS. The transmitter then sends a signal to a smart thru-axle, which performs the dual duty of keeping the wheel in place and receiving the signal bound for the internals inside.
The hub is designed in such a way that it can easily be removed from its shell, essentially allowing a rider to have two Classified-compatible wheelsets, without needing to buy two of the gearbox hubs. This means a rider can have a Classified equipped bike with multiple different wheelsets - a shallow climbing wheel and a deep aero wheel, for example.
"There was a big request coming from the industry and riders around the world to make Powershift more accessible," explained Classified CEO, Mathias Plouvier. "This broad adoption of Powershift underlines the market’s recognition that our innovative shifting system is well and truly accepted within the cycling ecosystem.”
There's not yet any information as to which of the seven brands' wheels the Powershift will be applied to, and nor therefore is there any pricing information, besides Classified's statement that "they will be competitively priced in line with the current partner wheels."
When sold as a standalone unit, buyers will get the shifting system, the smart thru-axle, the handlebar module and the buyer's cassette of choice, which range from 11-27 to 11-40 in either 11- or 12-speed configurations.
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