Concept Bike Loses The Chain, Uses Cables
Before I start this piece off, a moment of honesty: I don't entirely understand how the concept works, so my explanation may just convey such. In fact, even the sources I'm using don't seem 100 percent clear on how this works. So instead of just quoting and regurgitating a bunch of words, I thought I'd point out the fact that I comprehend the basic idea but not necessarily the entire mechanical structure that supports it.
What I do understand about this concept is that it uses a pair of cables in place of a chain. No one really likes that big, greasy hunk of links that much anyway; it's just the best way that we have to spin bike tires (unless you prefer a giant wheel with pedals mounted to it). A cable seems like it'd be much cleaner and smaller.
What doesn't seem that much cleaner and smaller is the rest of the drivetrain. The funky, kidney-bean discs attached to either pedal are replacing the front gears. Different sized discs can be installed for different ride dynamics. The two swingarms next to the discs seem to serve the same function as the derailleurs on a traditional bike. The swingarms move, which results in tautening or loosening the cables and essentially "changing gears." The gear changer is a slider system that lets the rider lower or raise the swingarms, presumably using a handlebar-mounted switch.
That's about as much as I understand of it.
What I wonder is if this really improves anything. It seems to be one of those great solutions to a problem that doesn't exist. Bikes aren't perfect, but they work just fine the way they are. While it would theoretically be easier to carry a replacement cable on a ride than a replacement chain, I'd think that a snapped chain is much easier to fix then a snapped cable. And all the other parts seem like they'd add more metal, more weight and more intricately designed proprietary pieces that are difficult to repair.
More than just a fantasy of a free-thinking designer, the new design comes from Schwinn Csepel Zrt, which is the Hungarian arm of the world-famous bike manufacturer. Some advantages that are pointed out include no chain slippage, a common problem with bicycles, a cleaner system without the greasy parts of traditional drivetrains, easier rear-wheel removal and possibly more durability in components.
I don't think we're looking at the next evolutinary step of the bike, but who knows? You can see a demonstration of the drivetrain in the clip below.