Has anyone ever designed or manufactured an automatic transmission (or automatic shifter?) for cycling?

I imagine such a device would automatically change the gearing to allow the rider to maintain constant cadence or constant torque on the cranks.

I used to daydream about the existence of such a system many years ago when riding my first (battered, second hand) racer as it was such an ordeal to change gears.

  • 1
    Wondering about that, and about what you said you wondered, I think the act of shifting is the problem, but the right to choose the exact gear you want, and the time of shifting, that is invaluable (imagine the bike "arbitrarily shifting" when you don't expect or don't want). Regarding that, shifting systems have become more and more ergonomic, and there are some good attempts to build CVT transmission for bikes, for example the NuVinci hub. Jul 17, 2012 at 23:09
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    Automatic gearboxes tend to be heavier and have more friction (i.e. you would have to peddle harder to get the same result), which is why they're never used in cars when performance is important. Since peddling a bicycle is bloody hard work as it is, I don't think automatic transmissions are a good idea. The in-hub gears in my bicycle are pretty damn close to automatic however. Jul 18, 2012 at 7:29
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    These aren't as valuable as they are on cars. You already have a pretty wide range of gears, and shifting is easy (no clutch, just throw a lever).
    – Batman
    Jul 31, 2015 at 16:57
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    Reading the answers I get the impression we have multiple poor descriptions of only two, perhaps three, different products. This really needs to be tidied up.
    – Móż
    Mar 21, 2016 at 23:12
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    I have one bike, a noodley steel road bike that loves to auto ghost-shift by itself especially when pushing up a hill. Does that count ?
    – Criggie
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:14

13 Answers 13


http://www.landriderbikes.com They were very heavily advertised several years ago but currently they seem to show up more on craigslist than on TV.

landrider website screenshot

  • Lol. I had to laugh at the video on the site. But I do indeed see how they could be useful for older people who do not want to deal with shifting gears.
    – Sponge Bob
    Jul 17, 2012 at 22:51
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    I knew someone that has one of these, they have hard time with it since you have to keep pedaling to keep the right gear. Jul 18, 2012 at 17:11
  • Would you consider adding a summary about the hub system you're referring to and how it works?
    – amcnabb
    Mar 29, 2013 at 18:17

I have ridden one - it used weights thrown out by centrifugal force and springs to move the derailleur in and out. Horrible is all I can say. Maybe it was me not being used to it, but things like not being in the gear you left it in, and less than smooth changes - which you have not idea when they are going to happen, especially under power. The only redeeming feature was it was a borrowed bike I could give back at the end of the weekend holiday.

That said, for cruising around a by someone who otherwise would not ride, and only on flat, even ground), its would do the job.

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    sounds terrible, I guess on 'flat, even ground' there is no need to change gears, so the problems go away? :-)
    – Ken
    Jul 19, 2012 at 17:14
  • I assume that there are a variety of designs that provide automatic gearing--do you remember which particular type you tried?
    – amcnabb
    Mar 29, 2013 at 18:16
  • @amcnabb - sorry no, it was a long time ago when I was ignorant of basic bicycle components and construction.
    – mattnz
    Apr 1, 2013 at 6:20

Trek had a bicycle a few years ago named "Lime" which had 3 speed automatic gearing. I don't think it sold well. It used a gearing system called "Coasting" that was created by Shimano and actually controlled by a computer chip from signals from the front hub.

Trek Lime promo image

"A dynamo is fitted on the front hub that gauges the revolutions of the wheel. It sends this information to a computer chip housed near the pedals on most of the bikes.

From there, the chip, which controls the planetary gears located on the back hub, determines whether to shift up or down. All the chip needs to make its determination is for a rider to pedal four or five times, according to Shannon Bryant, Coasting project coordinator for Shimano."


There's the Nuvinci Harmony.

It uses the Nuvinci N360 CVP hub, which is a continuously variable transmission, meaning there are no shift points. The Harmony controller changes the ratio based on cadence, or it can be adjusted manually.

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    Would you consider expanding your answer to give a brief summary of how this hub works?
    – amcnabb
    Mar 29, 2013 at 18:06
  • Any idea on what the efficiency of this N360 is? Or what equivalent cog tooth range you are getting? I can't figure this out from all of the tech data they publish on their site.
    – Michael
    Oct 25, 2014 at 5:13
  • The Tern HSD S+ electric cargo bike comes with an Enviolo stepless hub, configured for automatic transmission. It is integrated with the Bosch ebike system, the controller of which is used to configure the hub's target cadence. The system adjusts the gearing based on whether the rider is pedaling above or below the target cadence. Here is a link to the product page for the bike itself: ternbicycles.com/us/bikes/471/hsd-s
    – Bicifriend
    Feb 9, 2022 at 3:02

As the Nuvinci system has been mentioned in other answers, I'll mention one more.

SRAM makes the Automatix hub now. It's a 2 speed system (ratios 1:1, 1:1.37) with a centrifugal clutch. There's no manual shifting possible and no cables involved.

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    And as far as I’ve heard it works quite well. It would be my first choice for a semi-singlespeed if I’d ever need a citybike. All the advantages of a singlespeed and two gears are much better than one.
    – Michael
    Jul 31, 2015 at 19:57

There have been attempts over the years, but never particularly successful. One I recall used a 5-speed rear hub that was shifted by weights on the spokes, similar to a centrifugal governor.

I expect that, with the new electric shifters, there will be some new attempts at it in the next year or two. With a computer it should be possible to be reasonably "smart", especially if mated to some sort of torque meter.


I know Im a little late for this posting but this is the first time I came across such question. I do own a Trek Lime, purchased back in 2007. This is a fully automatic bicycle. It has 3 speeds a front hub dynamo (speed sensor), a shifter module-solenoid (computer) under the center frame, and the 3 speed auto-shifter hub in the rear wheel. As far as I know there has always been autoshifting bikes out there, they're rare and not very cheap, but a joy to ride.

  • I do not know what brand my brother rides, relatively cheap buy from a chain store, but he has always been happy about the automatic gear change.
    – Willeke
    Jul 31, 2015 at 15:55

This post would deserve to marked as outdated or having a fresh start (or a clean up), as most of the answers are now outdated or redundant, and the accepted answer is a dead link.

As of August 2023, I'm aware of the following automatic transmissions for bikes, in practice limited to e-bikes (probably because of the weight of most systems and the lesser efficiency — in the case of Shimano and the derailleurs, the explanation given is to have the possibility to lower the torque when changing gears):

  • Enviolo hubs with Automatiq module: mentioned several time on this page, under different names (NuVinci Harmony), rebranding happens. CVT hubs to which an module can be added to have an automatic shift.
  • Shimano Nexus Di2: internally geared hub, 5 speed. Automatic gear changes available when connected to some recent Shimano motors (EP6, EP800, but better to check compatibility charts as it is something being developed)
  • Selected Shimano Di2 rear derailleurs (RD-M8150-11/RD-M8150-12, the ones in the CUES range): automatic features when connected to the most recent Shimano motors EP6, EP801, again will probably change in the future). Note that Shimano has 2 "modes": Autoshift, automatic changes when pedalling, and Freeshift, automatic changes when coasting. The latter requires a Linkglide transmission (CUES or RD-M8150-11 but not RD-M8150-12 that Hyperglide+).
  • Some brands are proposing a proprietary system, such as VanMoof (rear wheel IGH combined with a front hub motor).
  • Some brands are proposing a variable assist system (e-bikes typically have the assist expressed in % that depends on the chosen mode, but here the assist in % depends on the speed, slope, wind,...), that can be assimilated to an automatic transmission. An example of such brand is Cowboy, on a single speed e-bike with rear hub motor.
  • Pinion has released a combined unit consisting of a motor and a gearbox, with limited automatic capabilities (mostly limited to changing the gears when coasting or at full stop to ensure to be in the "good gear" when resuming pedaling).

I have one with an automatic, its a six speed.

It works really well actually, you just pedal nice and it does a real nice up/down shift in the gears; its not a hard riding bike, it's a nice causal ride, great for me and the dog, but it will up shift and down shift on its own. It seems to be an older bike.

I picked it up at a garage sale for ten bucks; it has 3 weights on the back wheel that have the name dad on the and small piece of plastic the size of a dime that rides in a groove. If I'm not riding it wont shift.

The only stickers on the bike are ones that say metro and automatic.

I have searched the web for about three years and find nothing of the likes of it.

  • 4
    Can you add a photo to your post? That sounds interesting.
    – Móż
    Mar 21, 2016 at 23:08
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    This sounds similar to a bike I saw once, probably 20-25 years ago. Feb 6, 2017 at 2:00

Check out the new Autobike http://www.autobike.tv. It uses a CVT.

Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobike

  • 4
    In its current form your answer doesn't really comply with the Q&A format of this site as we are trying to collect the relevant information here and don't want to have just a collection of links to other sites. Also it looks a lot like some commercial without disclosure. Maybe you want to elaborate a bit more about the linked bike? Oct 5, 2013 at 17:05

Enviolo stepless hub (formerly marketed under the NuVinci brand) comes either with either automatic or manual shifting. But in most offerings I have seen it pre-installed, it is a manual shifting (TR). You probably need to get it separately and install yourself if you are after experimenting with the latest greatest technology.

These hubs allow shifting while standing and also under load. This reduces the need of planning in advance: shift before the hill and not under load, shift into gear you want to start from before you stop, ease the load on pedals while shifting, etc. Usual chain based transmission likely would not be convenient if the automatics just moves the derailleur in an unpredictable and probably unsuitable moment.


Not really, the one from Nu Vinci is closest but

  1. Has manual shift

  2. the weight factor is an issue.

The major problem in developing is the input power is too low for a fully mechanical system to respond smoothly and if you include electronics it becomes too complex. But I believe some solution is possible.

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    Welcome to Bicycles @Sanjoy. Since space is not an issue on the WWW, could you avoid text language? Not everyone enjoys it :-)
    – andy256
    Sep 24, 2014 at 1:24

I don't know much about it and it doesn't seem to be publicly available yet but Bioshift is the most recent variant I know of.

It basically seems to be an extension for Di2 electronic shifting.


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