Classified has released a new version of its Powershift two-speed rear hub which seeks to offer the security and running simplicity of 1X with the gear range of a double. While other brands have dabbled with two-speed planetary gears in the past, most notably Truvativ's crank-based HammerSchmidt, Classified's system is considerably more advanced with wireless electrical shifting.
Classified's move into mountain biking has been on our radar for a while now, we first saw a working prototype last summer on the Classified Eurobike stand and since then have been waiting in anticipation.
If you’ve missed it on the road, Classified’s gear system is based around a two-speed rear hub that takes a claimed 150 milliseconds (we've not timed it but definitely it's very rapid) to shift from the standard 1:1 drive to a 0.7 reducer ratio. Depending on the cassette that’s equivalent to two or three rear derailleur shifts, but much quicker. Because it uses planetary gears it can shift under full load up to 1000 watts or when you’re not even pedaling.
The hub is controlled by a fully enclosed rechargeable ring shifter, that’s ambidextrous and works with a pull or push action to fire a Bluetooth signal to the rear hub.
The bespoke large-bodied hub also has its own distinct freehub standard. This carries Classified’s monoblock steel 11 or 12-speed 11- 40 tooth cassettes which are matched to the two-speed hub that gives a 530 percent spread across 16 distinct gears with an average 10 percent gap compared to an average 16 percent gap compared to a 1 x 12 system. The 11-40 block only weighs 248g too, offsetting the increased weight of the hub and its internals. Because the cassette is smaller it has less influence on the suspension in the lowest gears.
The shift to MTB doesn’t just involve widening the hubs to 148mm Boost width. The hub internals is also strengthened to handle the higher torque loads and the hubs is e-bike approved too. There are two versions available – a 28-hole for straight pull spokes with a centerlock rotor mount, and a 32-hole J bend spoke version with a six-bolt rotor mount.
As well as making the hubs available for other wheel brands such as Enve, Mavic, DT Swiss, Reynolds, and Hunt to build around, they’re also producing their own wheelset. This will be based on a 30mm internal carbon rim drilled specifically for the flatter hub angle with a claimed weight of 1365g before you add the hub internals.
We’re currently waiting on a test set of wheels at Bike Perfect to give them a suitable workout ahead of a full review. Colleagues on MBR, who’ve used the system briefly, have been very impressed so far with the immediacy and cleanliness of the shift. The fact it can be done under full power or when coasting can be super useful once you’re used to it. Drag and noise in the lower gear are apparently unobtrusive when riding and shifting across the cassette is OK, if not as slick and quick as the latest SRAM and Shimano options.
However well they work it’ll be interesting to see how much demand there is for the Classified Powershift hubs in MTB purely because it’s a very different transmission landscape. They’ve certainly already caused a stir on the road and gravel where they represent a neat alternative to the still dominant twin-ring chainset and front shifter setup. Off-road though most riders have gotten used to a single chaining setup with 11 or 12 gears. Wider gaps between gears can sometimes even be an advantage on rapidly changing gradients and surfaces. Aspects like shifting without pedaling and being able to change at full power are even more of a win off-road than on though. Having that ‘second chainring’ effect without affecting tire clearance, chain security, or the wider pivot/frame stances allowed by a single chainring definitely has some compelling aspects for riders who do want more ratio changes.
When I spoke to the Classified team at Bike Connection in Italy, they were also hinting at other transmission projects that didn’t involve the hub gear, so those developments are definitely going to be worth looking out for.
For now, Classified wheels and other brands using the Classified Powershift hub should be appearing shortly if you can’t wait to try them yourself. As soon as I’ve put worthwhile time into a test set I’ll be coming back with a full review of how this radical tech works and whether Classified’s “you’ve tried 1 by, now try 1 better” slogan is true on the trail.