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Inspired by

Are there any electronic shifters that decide front/back for you?

and a near duplicate of

Is there such thing as an automatic transmission for bikes?

the difference being that here I'm asking about bleeding edge digital technology - sensors, machine learning, smartphone connectivity etcetera buzzwords.


I would like to ask the following. Are there shifters that operate similarly to a car's automatic transmission?

Modern cyclists use power meters, smartwatches with heart rate and blood oxygen saturation sensors, smartphones with accelerometers, gyros, magnetic field sensors, GPS. Surely those sensors are more than plenty to allow an algorithm chose the perfect front/rear gear!

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  • 2
    Good question - but possibly a duplicate of bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/10381/…
    – Criggie
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:11
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    @Criggie: most of the links and products from this page are dead — and the products they mentioned are discontinued, maybe better to mark it as obsolete?
    – Rеnаud
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:24
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    To avoid duplicating the existing question, perhaps a new aspect would be to ask WHY these systems have not been successful. What are the obstacles? My guess is that it's not the technology that is the problem, but psychology. Our muscles and nervous system have lots of control feedbacks and it probably feels very odd and disconcerting if the bike just changes gear unexpectedly.
    – uUnwY
    Feb 8, 2022 at 10:25
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    Moderators: The proposed duplicate question (yes, its technically a dupe) is extremely old and no new answers in the last 6 years. Given that we have seen a range of new technologies in this time I'd propose this question is allowed to remain
    – Andy P
    Feb 8, 2022 at 11:56
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    Switching the conventional chain-based gear requires more attention. You need to shift before the hill and not under load, you need to shift in to the gear you want to start from before you stop, you may need to vary the force on the pedals and do not attempt shifting in critical place where you suddenly may need strong traction. Something that just moves the derailleur at the worst moment would be an awful experience.
    – nightrider
    Feb 8, 2022 at 17:14

3 Answers 3

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Despite all of them introducing electronic groupsets over recent years, the major groupset manufacturers have not yet gone fully automatic.

However, according to this article; Campagnolo have submitted a patent for automatic shifting based on heart rate, cadence and power.

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Enviolo has a control module that you can add to their internal gear hubs (with continuous variation, no gears), called "Automatiq". In the settings (either app or through the e-bike's screens), you can decide your preferred cadence, and it does the rest.

To my knowledge, it is mostly found on upper versions of high-end urban and cargo e-bikes (Canyon Precede:ON 9, Tern HSD+) ...if it is being offered.

[EDIT] Among urban e-bikes from startups:

  • VanMoof offers a 4 speed automatic transmission (IGH) + front hub motor.
  • Cowboy doesn't have an automatic transmission per se (their bike meant to be a e-single gear), but the assistance is modulated depending on the speed/effort. It's a different approach, worth mentioning — and much simpler from a mechanical point of view.
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  • With the explosion of machine learning these days I'm surprised setting(instead of learning) optimal cadance is even an option.
    – Vorac
    Feb 8, 2022 at 11:49
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    @Vorac Looks like this technology is close to 10y old (called NuVinci Harmony before), and I've only started to see it coming recently — as if it needed the e-bikes to take-off. If it has been a niche product, I wouldn't be surprised that only iterative development happened in the last years.
    – Rеnаud
    Feb 8, 2022 at 13:32
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Shimano has announced automatic shifting but only for e-bikes. The price points are 1x10, 1x11 or 1x12 gears. New level of laziness unlocked!

pinkbike
shimano

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  • Di2 automatic shifting with STEPS has been available for years on the Alfine hubs (8 & 11)
    – Noise
    Jul 16, 2022 at 15:49

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