Back in early September, a few weeks before cycling’s biggest new product introduction every year at the Interbike International Expo, I wrote, “As we do every fall before the show, John Marsh and I have been predicting what we might see, and a funny thing happened. We both expressed concern that it might be an uninspiring show, like the last couple we’ve attended.”
This proved to be the case. While we found plenty to write about, we didn’t spot any game-changing new must-have products. So our interest was piqued by a recent email from Paul Gallagher, inventor of the Xshifter. It turns out that it was shown at Interbike. We just missed it.
Paul calls the Xshifter “the world’s first wireless shifting system, crowdfunded in only two days on Kickstarter and compatible with road, mountain, tandem and recumbent bicycles.” Plus, it only runs about $339 (for a road bike Dual setup – and down to about $200 for other bikes).
The Xshifter is available as a Dual unit with both front and rear wireless shifting, and a Solo that provides rear wireless shifting for single-chainring drivetrains. The Xshifter system uses “actuators,” mechanisms that attach near the front and rear derailleurs.
The actuators are made of tough reinforced nylon and are waterproof. Ingeniously, they operate with standard derailleur cables, which lets the system work just like with standard lever and cable shifting to change the front and rear gears. The shifting is done by pressing buttons on the “Xremote,” which mounts beneath the right brake lever (there’s a different Xremote shifter for flat bars).
The Xremote wirelessly sends signals to the actuators to shift. The system runs on batteries inside the actuators that can be charged while on the bike through their USB ports. Should you ride on and off road, Xshifter can even be used to operate a dropper seatpost wirelessly. The system is light, too, at only 110 grams for two actuators and the Xremote.
You can also program the shifting timing and how many gears each press shifts. By holding a button it will shift across the entire cassette, too. And the derailleurs also auto-trim to prevent chain rub and will avoid cross-chain shifting, saving wear and tear on the drivetrain components.
Overall, Xshifter looks like an ingenious alternative to the much more pricey mainstream wireless systems. It’s especially clever how it uses your existing derailleurs and cables. And because it’s compatible with all types of bicycles and components, there’s no need for anything but the Xshifter kit. We’ve requested a product sample and hope to try it ourselves sometime soon so we can tell you more.
In the meantime, here’s the link to the Kickstarter page where you can see the Xshifter in action and learn more.
Jim Langley is RBR's Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his "cycling aficionado" website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim's full bio.