Is Ford about to reinvent the bicycle derailleur?

The car manufacturer has registered a patent for a radical new derailleur that uses an electric current to heat up and move mouldable wires

Ford derailleur
(Image credit: United States Patent)

Ford Motor Company appears to have designs on the cycle industry - quite literally - when it registered a US patent for an electronic derailleur that’s unlike any front derailleur we’ve ever seen before: it has neither a cable nor a Di2-style servo to actuate it.

Uncovered by, the patent - which has already been granted - is for a “bicycle derailleur apparatus for controlling bicycle speed.” Ford’s design uses two mouldable wires made from Nitinol, a nickel titanium alloy which changes shape when an electric current is applied to it. When the wires change shape they move a chain guide, which moves the chain from one chainring to another.

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Simon Smythe

Simon Smythe is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.