There are those who enjoy cycling for it’s own sake. Those people who actually enjoy tweaking and upgrading their bikes the same way I would do with a PC. Then there are people like me. I’d cycle somewhere, possibly, given a clear day and lots of time but I don’t really want to give up the creature comforts.
The “Smover” concept from Shimano is marketed at the latter group. What they’ve done is taken a good look at the common components of a pushbike. Everything from the gearing mechanism right down to the saddle. Then, they redesigned them from the ground up. For comfort. And geekyness.
The two things that stand out for me: Computer controlled suspension and automatic gears!
What they’ve done is a pretty incredible job of miniturisation. The main component of the system is a computer that takes input from the power you put into the pedals, how fast you’re pedalling and the speed you’re travelling. This is then used to work out what gear you should be in. So obviously they then needed to work out a servo actuated gearshift mechanism so that the computer could shift gears itself.
Just like a car you’ve got “sports” and “economy” modes to change the way the gearing is controlled, and of course you’ve got push buttons to set the gears manually.
Then they looked at the suspension. With traditional rear suspension on pushbikes, some of your pedalling power goes to pushing the suspension down instead of pushing you forward, which is not what you want. Their solution? Make the suspension adjustable, so it’s rock solid at rest (putting the power into motion) and softens up to absorb bumps at speed.
Add some high powe LED lighting and disk brakes and you’re set. The power for all of this comes from a dynamo mounted on the front crank so there are no batteries to change.
They’re not selling the bike wholesale, it looks like they’re marketing the technology to other people. The smover website lists some models but they all seem to be available in the Netherlands only.
Whether it’ll come to other parts of the world or not I don’t know but I’d like to have a go on one!
The only (p)review I’ve been able to find