Drive Shaft

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Trade offs

  1. size
  2. speed
  3. weight
  4. durability
  5. maintenance


  • 18” drive shaft
  • 3-speed
  • Weight: 1,120g


  • new low cost,
  • clever shifting,
  • improved efficiency
  • Since there is no chain
  • uses a hub transmission on the back wheel instead of a stack of different gears to "shift gears".
  • A good ol' standard bike chain can be more energy efficient if — big if — it is kept well-lubricated, aligned precisely, and fine-tuned with constant attention.
  • a modern sealed drive shaft beats the efficiency of the average neglected crusty chain
  • Getting rid of a chain removes the least stable part of a bike,
  • the item most likely to need adjustment or fail, and the dirtiest component.
  • Shifting is a breeze on these drive shafts; just click into discrete gears.
  • no grease
  • no ripped pants


  • Removing a rear wheel for repair or a flat *is* more of hassle with a drive shaft, but not unduly so.
  • There are some high-end custom versions of the chainless bike,
  • but they all use either of two drive shafts.
  • The bike I bought is a slightly clunky Taiwan-made $300 weekend bike outfitted with a Sussex drive shaft — the most popular type.
  • It connects to a Shimano Nexus non-cog gear hub.
  • I got a 7-speed version.
  • Mine is not a high-performance bike, but it has gotten me everywhere I've wanted to go — without the hassles of a chain.
  • This bike is no longer manufactured, but the Dekra Chainless is very similar, although it uses a different brand drive shaft (which I have not used).
  • Dynamic Chainless Bikes (which now owns Sussex) produces more sophisicated, higher quality, and more expensive ($600 plus) chainless bikes.
  • These slick bikes have a lighter second generation Sussex dive shaft, an 8-speed hub, and better components.
  • Dynamic makes chainless mountain bikes, which other Cool Tool readers have recommended, and I am tempted to try.
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