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Microshift shows 'concept' electronic drivetrain

Published March 8, 2016

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — Taiwan's Microshift is getting into the electric-shifting game, at least conceptually. Microshift said its design is intended for the mid-priced market, not the upper-end market where other brands have introduced their electronic offerings.

The company showed off a prototype mountain bike rear derailleur and shifter at the Taipei Cycle Show last week.

The 11-speed eXCD system has a single wire connecting the shifter to the rear derailleur: there's no junction box or separate battery pack needed because the batteries are contained in the shifter body. The company said the drivetrain could be installed very easily on a standard frame.

The shifter uses two standard AA batteries, which Microshift's Jerry Lai said will last for about 1000 kilometers of riding, or 6,000 shifts. While that's a shorter battery life than other electric drivetrains, Lai said the upside is that the batteries are non-proprietary. A rider could bring a few spares along on a ride, or pick some up at a convenience store on the route if necessary.

The shifter has two thumb buttons, one for upshifts and one for down. It also has an LED to show the battery level and two small indexing adjustment buttons.

Lai said he feels mid-level or "general" riders, rather than more committed riders, are interested in an electric shift system because it's easy to use. For those riders, he said, affordability, simplicity and standard batteries are priorities.

The company said it has no specific time frame for bringing the drivetrain to the market. The system was set up for passersby to test during the show, and seemed to work consistently. But Lai emphasized that it was merely a concept, not even a prototype. He said Microshift is working to increase the shifting speed and reduce the size of the rear derailleur. It also is developing a front derailleur.

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