Ever since Gwin’s legendary chainless run, separating suspension action from chain forces has become the goal of engineers in the mountain biking world. We’ve seen some simple solutions such as Gee Atherton’s neutral gear and some more complex like the O-Chain chainring spider. Perhaps the most promising was Canyon’s DisConnect system that was first previewed at Eurobike in 2016.
The bike’s modified hub is home to a DT Swiss Star Ratchet clutch, and the two Star Ratchet wheels are moved apart by a complicated system of three movable pawls that extend outward from within the special axle. Once the thumb paddle is pushed, the Star Ratchet wheels separate and the freehub and drivetrain have zero influence on the bike’s suspension. Of course, this means pedaling will also result in nothing; it’s as if there’s no chain on the bike at all.
Four years and a new iteration of the Sender later, there has been no further news on the system so we’re assuming it has been shelved at this point.
Scurra’s Linkage Enduro Bike
Move over Structure Cycle Works, move over Cannondale, move over any brand that has designed a mullet bike, Austria’s Scurra was arguably well ahead of the curve when it brought its wild 2 Enduro bike to Eurobike in 2017.
The 170mm Trelever linkage fork is driven by a Magura shock and then directly behind that is another shock that drives the 200mm of rear travel. Other cool features about this bike were a 29″ wheel up front with a 27.5″ wheel out back and geometry that’s adjustable without removing a bolt. This frame would have set you back €5,000 (including both shocks) but unfortunately it looks like Scurra has closed its doors for now, with no updates on the bike and no posts on social media since 2018.
We’ve seen plenty of linkage bikes down the years and there’s yet to have been one that’s really stuck. We’ve definitely found some interesting results whenever we’ve tested these wild-looking machines and would have loved to have given this one a go too.
Marzocchi’s Espresso Dropper Post
In 2014, we were given a sneak peek at a dropper post that was in the works for Marzocchi. Aimed to be OE only, we saw two 150mm models with internal and external cable options. The ‘Espresso’ name came from Marzocchi’s Kashima-esque coating, which was also featured on its forks and shocks at the time.
We saw the post again at Sea Otter and Core Bike in the next six months, but in July of 2105 Marzocchi shut its doors before being bought by Fox in October. When the brand resurfaced, it came back with a new look, new products, and no Espresso dropper. It wasn’t until 2018 that the Italian marque would release a dropper and that was called the Transfer, which turned out to be pretty much identical to its Fox Performance cousin.
Remember Nitro Shox? It’s probably hard not to given that we’ve written three articles on it at various trade shows since 2015. At Eurobike 2015, we saw its first-ever shock and we’ve been getting a slow tease of it ever since.
The Nitro Shox works on the same oleo design as the Millyard Shock that has also been in and around the mountain bike scene for a number of years. It’s a design that’s carried over from airplane landing gear and is claimed to offer performance benefits without any of the adjustments needed that are found on traditional mountain bike shocks. There’s a more in-depth look at how it works, here.
We saw an updated version of the shock at Sea Otter in 2017 and haven’t really had any updates since. The company is still active, but a production version of the shock still doesn’t exist. We’ll continue to watch both Nitro Shox and Millyard’s progress to see if anything ever hits the market.
Update: Nitro Shox have been in touch and are hoping to begin production in the next few months. We’ll update you with more news when we have it
CeramicSpeed’s Chainless Shaft Drivetrain
A genuine innovation or just a way to get journalists to visit your stand and take lots of pictures? We’re still unsure as to whether CeramicSpeed has any serious intentions of developing this shaft drive concept, but there’s no doubt it’s an interesting idea.
Instead of a chain, the Driven drivetrain uses a shaft with a roller pinion on each end to transfer the power from the chainring to the cassette. To make it work on a full suspension bike, CeramicSpeed had to make it telescoping to cope with axle paths and changing chainstay lengths of a full-suspension mountain bike. Canyon also had to build CeramicSpeed a special frame with an elevated chainstay to accommodate the telescoping shaft.
When we saw it last year, the concept was nowhere near production. The shaft could only travel a small distance, but CeramicSpeed claimed that there was theoretically no travel length that would be too long. The main drawback here is that the system will only work on a bike where the pivot is above the axle, so on something like a Horst link bike this simply wouldn’t be possible. CeramicSpeed and Canyon also had to redesign the rear triangle of the bike to make the system fit, something that would have to be considered on most bikes if the product ever came to market.
It’s only a year old but we’d be very surprised if we see an update to this project any time soon.
Brakeforce One’s H2O brakes
Brakeforce One has been floating around since 2010 and we reviewed a pair of its regular brakes in 2014 but it really caught our attention in 2015 when we spotted these brakes that use H2O (and anti-freeze) instead of traditional brake fluid.
Why use water? Well, BF1’s engineers say that the only reason we use DOT or mineral oil is because of old technology taken from the automotive where fluid temperatures can get much higher than on mountain bikes, and that water is actually more heat resistant than a hydraulic fluid with two times higher heat capacity, five times better heat transportation and less heat elongation. It also has the benefit of being more environmentally friendly and sustainable than using oil. Still, given that the boiling point of water is 100° C, and the boiling point of DOT fluid is 260° C, it’s east to understand why DOT fluid is the more common choice.
BF1 still makes the brakes and they can be bought for €594.00 but they’re an extremely rare sight and DOT and mineral oil still reign supreme.