Having trouble shifting into low gear in time to climb those steep hills? Popping chains like bubblegum because you miss the shift? If you can relate, then an automatic shifting bicycle should be on your radar.
You may have heard local cyclists mention automatic shifting bicycles, or maybe you’ve noticed a model or two in your local cycling shop. While the concept of auto shifting is nothing new, shifting bicycles in general have really come a long way since the original idea hit a couple of decades back. What do automatic shifting bicycles offer, and are they more efficient to ride?
The Difference Between Automatic Shifting Bicycles and Manual Shift Models
The short answer is a resounding “yes.” Automatic shifting bicycles offer one thing for avid riders that manual shift models can’t touch: ease of riding virtually anywhere. Just hop on your bike, pedal and steer where you’re going.
Automatic shifting bicycles provide reliable shifting across a variety of terrains without the need for manual shifting. This allows cyclists can focus more on the ride than on working the gears. In addition, automatic shifting bikes offers shifting consistency that does not depend solely on regular maintenance. Therefore, you get the same results with every ride, whether you’re on familiar ground or cycling off the beaten path. As a bonus: no more greasy hands from stopping mid-ride to fix those popped chains.
Automatic shifting bicycles rely on a computer-assisted shift instead of a manual shift. The computerized unit, located on the handlebars, determines when and what gear you need to shift based on the conditions of the terrain and your current road speed. This results in optimum cadence without any forethought.
Some models even allow for overriding the auto-shift feature for pre-determined intervals for riders who sometimes wish to shift manually. Others remember shifting preferences for a customized ride.
May Not Be for Everyone…
The automatic shifting bicycle may not be for everyone. For some riders, one major shortcoming, that’s hard to get around, is its cost. The casual cyclist may find that automatic shifting bikes are a little pricey. Some may not find the added shifting assistance worthy of the inflated price point.
In addition, riders with a lot of experience may prefer a bike that lets them select their own gears. Auto shifting bicycles are generally targeted more towards the beginning or intermediate cyclist who is often wary of shifting or unsure of when to shift rather than the seasoned cyclist. Weekend warriors, this one is for you.
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Automatic shifting bicycles are not to be confused with their electronic shifting counterparts. An electronic shifting bicycle requires the rider to tap or press a button to activate a small on-board electric motor to do the shifting work for them. This can still be helpful when compared to mechanical shifting but is not an automated process. The rider must still know when to shift and decide when to hit the button.
The Future of Cycling
Whether you’re on board with automatic shifting bicycles or not, they are the wave of the future in cycling. The technology behind automatic shifting bikes is still evolving, so it remains to be seen just how intuitive these bikes stand to get. At any rate, high-end bikes are moving towards automatic shifting, so expect to see more models cropping up in your local bike shop in the months and years to come.