, Part 2

A routine check of the U.S. Patent Service's files found yet another patent filed by Campagnolo for an electronic shifting system.  When this will show up in your club ride paceline is anyone's guess, but it's clear that this is an idea Campy intends to pursue (click here to see installment 1 of our Campy Zap series) . . . 

Campy's latest system does Mavic's electronic system one better, shifting both the front and rear derailleurs, and doing so automatically.  Basically, the system has an "upshift" and "downshift" control.  The computer built into the system selects the combination of chainring and cog to shift in exact steps up or down (depending on your gear setup, if you want to from one gear combination to the next easier or harder combination, it's usually necessary to shift from one chainring to the other, and at least one or two cogs).

Guess who's listed as inventor?  Valentino Campagnolo, son of Tullio and head of the company . . .

Here's how the patent describes the system:

An electronically controlled speed change device for bicycles has an automatic mode of operation in which, at the request of the cyclist for increase or decrease of the speed ratio, the system itself automatically provides to select the pair front crown wheel-rear sprocket which is most suitable to provide a progressive increase, or respectively a decrease, of the distance covered by the bicycle at each turn of the pedals.

Here are two excerpts from the eight-page patent document.  To see the entire patent, go to http://patent.womplex.ibm.com/details?pn=US05865454__

Click to see a larger version.
An overview of the system.
Click to see a larger version.
This diagram shows the "logic" used by the system to select a gear combination.

Now, of course it's possible to come up with all sorts of interesting outgrowths of this system.  How about combining this electronic system with ErgoBrain and adding the ability to "read" terrain.  What if the system were able to measure the rider's power output? 

What if it recognized a "wrong" gear change (for instance, shifting to a higher gear while going slowly uphill)?  Would the bike refuse to shift?  Would Marco Pantani have a "2001-Space Odyssey"-like experience?

"Hal, I'd like a taller gear, please." 

"I'm sorry, Marco, but I can't do that.  You're too tired."

"But I want to sprint!!"

"Marco, I'm shifting down.  Your heart rate is dangerously high . . ."


What do you think about this system?  Write to us!

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