Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes without chains are gaining popularity these days. Not so many people understand the mechanism that transmits torque in these bicycle models. They use a system known as propshaft universal joint. Because propshaft are under a lot of stress they need to be made of high quality materials like steel. Precision laser cutting steel is to create the propshaft perfectly.

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How Have Shaft-Driven Bikes Evolved?

The first bicycles to use drive shaft were invented in the early 1900s during the velocipedes era. They were more convenient those days because people used to wear wide clothing. The clothes could easily be tangled up between chains. As such, chain bicycles were considered inferior. However, shaft-driven bikes were more expensive to produce. Only the army used them because they were durable, maintenance-friendly and more reliable.

For over 50 years, shaft-driven bikes disappeared from the market. It was until the end of the 1980s that a smooth transmission technique for the prop shaft evolved. Then the shaft-driven bikes were reborn. By mid-2000s, models comprising of 3 gears and a folding setup emerged. These were followed by more advanced bikes with 7 to 8-speed gears in 2009.

How Does Propshaft Universal Joint Work In a Bike?

A propeller shaft or drive shaft is basically a mechanical system that conveys power, through a series of gears and bearings, from pedals to rear wheels. The system components are enclosed in an aluminium casing that protects them from weather elements.

The most noticeable feature of the propshaft universal joint is a big bevel gear. This element is found at the same place the traditional chain ring rests. It appears on the right, next to the treadle and perpendicular to the gear and axle. It works in tandem with another bevel gear, near the rear wheel at the end of the axle. The second set of gears brings torque to the hub. The hub then propels the wheel to make turns. Everything is held in a prop shaft setup, allowing for easier maintenance. Normally, mountain bikers are overwhelmed with mechanical issues when using regular chain bicycles. As such, the drive shaft makes everything so much easier.

Shaft Driven Bike vs. Chain Bike: Which is Better?

Drive shaft mechanism does not make as much noise as a typical chain. The gear shifting is smoother and more durable. For this matter, riders using the propeller shaft love the consistency in performance and efficiency of their bikes. No doubt, they need not worry about rusting, pant clips or greasy surfaces. But, bicycles with chains require regular cleaning and lubrication so they can work optimally. This becomes even tedious if the user rides in tough terrain or during bad weather.

On the other hand, shaft gears are pricier due to their complex nature. This is one of the reasons they are few in the market. Manufacturers want to keep the production cost as low as possible. Notably, a shaft-driven bike is bulkier than a traditional chain bike. The frame itself must be heavier so it can transmit torque. Moreover, high-end gears are required for proper operations. 

People who love bikes with few maintenance requirements should consider prop shaft bicycles. They are not only perfect for mountain biking but for commuting as well. It's more exciting to hop on a bike and start riding without making constant check-ups. Shaft-drive bicycles are expected to pop up more in the streets. Even though they have not taken over the conventional chain bikes, they have a big place in the world of biking.