Is this the 'world's fastest drivetrain' for competitive cycling?

The radical design halves the number of teeth on the sprockets and doubles the links of the chain, all to minimize drivetrain losses

New Motion Labs chainrings
(Image credit: New Motion Labs)

The radical new track drivetrain design by New Motion Labs - which uses a wider tooth profile and a sprocket with half as many teeth in order to improve efficiency and reduce wear - didn't make it to the Izu Velodrome for the Tokyo Olympics, but it is now fitted to a bike and on show at Eurobike. 

Creators New Motion Labs are calling the system the 'world's fastest cycle drivetrain' for competitive cycling, they're showing off both the Evolve Track and Evolve Track 8mm drivetrains at the trade show in Friedrichshafen, as well as an e-cargo bike version designed to meet the very different needs of utility riders.

Back in April, we thought we were going to see British engineering company, New Motion Labs’ radical new sprocket design in use at the Tokyo Olympics.

However, whilst British Cycling's riders were able to roll out on 10mm pitch chains, the UCI rule which meant equipment had to be available for purchase pre-January 2021 put pay to New Motion Labs' Olympic appearance. 

Now, the wait to see the system is finally over, as a fully built up Cervélo T4 track bike has been brought to Friedrichshafen for Eurobike 2021.

New Motion Labs Cervelo track bike

(Image credit: New Motion Labs)

New Motion Labs has worked to redesign the tooth profiles, with sprockets featuring half the number of teeth as you’d typically see. The result is minimises the losses a conventional drivetrain suffers when the chain’s rollers move around the gullies between the teeth.

With the New Motion Labs design, the chain is locked into place on the sprocket, preventing the rollers from moving and incurring those frictional losses. This has the effect of improving the drivetrain’s efficiency, as well as decreasing the level of wear on the components.

These sprockets with half the number of teeth can be used with standard bicycle chains to deliver an improvement in efficiency. But there are further gains to be had from moving to a smaller pitch chain.

By making each link in the chain a little smaller, and thereby increasing the number of links in the chain, each link doesn’t have to rotate as much as it wraps around the sprocket. With each link not having to rotate as much, the frictional losses are again further decreased.

Looking closely at the Cervélo T4, the increased number of chain links is quite apparent.

New Motion Labs small pitch

(Image credit: New Motion Labs)

The efficiency gains New Motion Labs claims are relatively modest, at one per cent. But with top track sprinters able to put out over 2,000 watts, the potential savings equate to around 20 watts.

The greatest performance improvements the redesigned sprockets and chains offer relate to the wear rate, with a claimed 30 per cent increase in drivetrain lifetime. This is of lesser importance in relation to the chasing of split seconds on the Velodrome boards, but does have some pretty big implications for cargo bikes. 

New Motion Labs cargo bike

(Image credit: New Motion Labs)

With cargo e-bikes becoming increasingly larger and more powerful as they develop to provide an alternative means of couriering in an urban environment, more durable components will become of greater importance.

The Enduo Evolve Super Cargo chain and sprockets are much beefier than a typical single speed chain, with a width of 14.5mm compared to approximately 10mm. This, together with the sprocket design gives the Super Cargo system an estimated lifetime of between 15,000 and 30,000km, which compares to between 1,000 and 5,000 from a conventional system.

More information can be found on New Motion Labs' website. 

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Stefan Abram
Tech features editor

After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back. 

Since then, he’s earnt his 2ⁿᵈ cat racing licence in his first season racing as a third, completed the South Downs Double in under 20 hours and Everested in under 12.

But his favourite rides are multiday bikepacking trips, with all the huge amount of cycling tech and long days spent exploring new roads and trails - as well as histories and cultures. Most recently, he’s spent two weeks riding from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia

Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg