Shaft drive

Are there any shaft-drive bicycles on the market today? I know several types were developed and sold in the 1890s and 1900s.

John Marter

Shaft-drive bicycles live! There are several makes on the market, all of which use the basic layout of a bevel gear that turns drive through 90 degrees at each end of a drive shaft. Claims by manufacturers that such drives can match the efficiency of a chain are implausible, since each set of bevel gears absorbs a significant amount of power. The advantages of low maintenance and cleanliness are, for most applications, outweighed by considerations of power loss, weight and complexity. They also hinder rear wheel removal and require the use of hub or singlespeed gearing, but in some purely utilitarian applications they work well.

Richard Hallett

​Cycle's Technical Editor

First published in Cycle magazine February/March 2016 issue.

This Q&A was published in 'Cycle' the magazine for members of Cycling UK. To contact the experts, email your technical, health, legal or policy questions to or write to Cycle Q&A, PO Box 313, ScarboroughYO12 6WZ