Bioshift promises automatic gears for your bike

New technology claims to be able to keep your bike in the right gear no matter where you are or what you're doing

Bioshift is an intelligent, automatic gear-changing system that claims it can keep your bike in the most efficient gear at all times.

We could think of several useful applications for this kind of tech, so to find out more, we posed some questions to Armando Mastracci, one of the founding members of Baron Biosystems, the company behind Bioshift.

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CW: How does it work?

Armando Mastracci: “Bioshift collects data from the available sensors and, based upon your own specific configuration, establishes which cadence is most efficient for you based on the current cycling demands.  It then determines which gear of the available gears should be used and if the gears need to be changed, can instruct a electronic shifting system to change gears.”

“In fact, Bioshift will change gears to a more efficient gear before one realises that the gears need to be changed, always keeping you in the most efficient gear.  After using it for a while, you forget that it’s working for you since you never feel like you’re in the wrong gear.”

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What happens when you get out the saddle? Will you just spin? How easy is to override, but then re-enable?

“Bioshift’s been engineered to work transparently so that the shifters continue to work as they normally do.  You can override the current gear at any time and the duration of how long the override will stay in place is configurable – typically 5 to 10 seconds.”

“Enabling and disabling the automatic shifting can be controlled with a button or with the left shifter lever (of the ring you’re currently on).  So if you’re in the big ring, pressing and holding the big-ring shifter will toggle automatic shifting on and off.”

“The system can also modify the optimal cadence algorithm for when you’re standing.  This can be accomplished with a right-shifter multi-shift up.  A right-shifter multi-shift down returns it back to sitting mode.  The system also smart enough to disable any automatic shifting of the front derailleur when in standing mode.”

Some riders prefer a cadence of 80 rpm, others prefer 100. Can it be tuned to the rider?

“The proper RPM for a rider depends on a number of parameters and the real-time data collected from the sensors.  This is essentially what Bioshift calculates.  It is completely tuneable to the rider and to the demands of the event.  If the rider is most efficient at 80 rpm for a given demand, Bioshift will give them the gear that comes closest to 80 rpm.  Studies have shown that riders will prefer the cadence that is most efficient so their ‘preference’ and the ‘optimal’ coincide, but this is constantly changing based on the demands.”

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When will the first production units be available?

“We are targeting the summer of 2015 for availability.”

Will it just be compatible with Shimano, or will it work SRAM and Campag?

“We expect to eventually support all platforms.”

How much is the system likely to cost?

“We have not yet announced pricing.”

Who do you imagine will benefit most from this product?

“Everyone that rides a bike will benefit to some degree since the choice of using it is optional and can be enabled/disabled at any time.  Sometimes it will used for convenience.  Other times it will be used to optimise performance (as in a TT or triathlon).  Beginners will enjoy it since getting to the right gear when you have anywhere from 20 to 33 gears to choose from is a bit difficult at first.  Para/disabled athletes will probably see the most benefit.  I rode with it the other day in 0ºC weather with big, lobster-claw gloves on and didn’t have to worry about shifting gears with them on.

“Also, since the system provides for a variety of training modes, cyclists that are training and have specific workouts they need to complete will benefit since they can use the system to help them meet their workout goals.

“Interestingly, we consider the North American market likely to benefit more as there is less overall familiarity with gearing in general, particularly with new cyclists.  Most people in North America drive automatic cars for this same reason.  We are projecting that local bike shops in North America will see marginal increases in electronic shifting bike sales as a result and will want to carry our product.”