Continuously variable transmissions

The NuVinci CVT

Been hearing recently about CVT’s (continuously variable transmissions) for bicycles – from the ridiculous to the pretty cool (YouTube link).

But even the latter one is much more complicated than a footbike.

Kicking to work this morning into a 10-m.p.h. (16 k.p.h.) headwind, I realized my footbike had a continuously variable transmission – I could infinitely vary my kick’s length and frequency to deal with the wind, and fairly comfortably at that.

On my singlespeed bicycle in a strong headwind, I found myself standing and dancing on the pedals, like when I used to climb hills in bike races – less fun than a footbike in the same situation. And a derailleur or internally geared hub is more complication than I want to deal with.

My bicycle is less useful than the footbike in more and more instances, except speed- and luggage-wise. But, as Colin Fletcher once wrote, describing a friend who inadvertently left his long camera lenses home on a hike, he couldn’t change his lenses [when taking pictures] now, so he changed his head.

Advantage – footbike.


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