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March 29, 2007

Di Vinci's bicycle

Di Vinci's original transmission, and the nuvinci version

History of technology junkies know that every bicycle carries a little bit of Leonardo Di Vinci in it. Back in 1493 Di Vinci came up with a chain-based way to transmit power, a design that looks remarkably similar to the chain drive in virtually every bicycle.

Now you have the opportunity to put another piece of Di Vinci tech to work on your bicycle. A company called Fallbrook Technologies has made a continuously variable transmission based on a design that Di Vinci knocked out six hundred years ago. The transmission, which they're calling the NuVinci, can be infinitely adjusted, letting you dial in the precise gear ratio for any riding condition. No more being trapped between a gear that is too easy and one that's too hard.

A bike company called Ellsworth is going to start making a high-end cruiser bike using the NuVinci later this year. The bike, called The Ride, ain't cheap ($3,000!) but they look totally bad-ass.

For more on the bike transmission itself, check out Fallbrook's video demo of the tranmission in action.

CORRECTION: I originally wrote that the transmission on the Ellsworth bike automatically shifts to match changing road conditions. That's not true. The Ellsworth has a continuously variable shifter that let's you infinitely adjust the gear, but it doesn't do it for you (though there have been some other comtinuously variable transmissions that also featured automatic shifting). Thanks to Flounder for pointing out the error!

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at March 29, 2007 03:10 PM