Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hydraulic Shifters, The Wave of the Future?

   Get it? Wave? Hydraulic? Liquid? nevermind...

   I suppose it was just a matter of time. We have been seeing hydraulic brakes creeping into the road market, as shown here. It makes sense that we'd start to see more innovation with hydraulic technology. Enter A-GE, a company that is making some bad-ass derailleurs that are, you guessed it hydraulic.

   Here are a couple shots of the parts. If you love finely machined parts, you are in luck:


   The shifter is a one lever, push-pull design.

Rear derailleur

Front Derailleur

   If this system is anything like the electronic shifting, it will deliver a smooth, nearly effortless experience! There are two hydraulic lines, one for each direction of shifting, that means no spring in the derailleur.

  • No cables to stretch
  • Same shifting resistance through all gears (no spring, no resistance increase)
  • (claimed) Weight savings due to lack of springs and parts
  • Silky smooth shifting
  • Price, nearly $2k for the full shifter set
   These are a lot like the electronic shifters, in that they are the adoption of existing mechanics into a new source of power. I had a chance to ask Leonard Zinn once why we weren't seeing new derailleur designs now that electronics and hydraulics remove cable pull restrictions. He replied that the existing technology was well tested, and that one change at a time was enough. Makes sense, but I'd still like to see some shifting that takes advantage of the increased power provided by electronics and hydraulic systems.

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