Love for bikes

Classified Powershift, front derailleur killer ?

Everyone seems to have a problem with front derailleurs – SRAM swore to kill them with limited success. Now, Classified, a Belgian company tries something that is actually tried before. I’ve never seen any product they made before, and I highly doubt it’ s a bike component company. Rather, they seem like many companies come up with a good product and attract some funding. It’ s also a small company that looks to be growing. Frankly, I’m not interested in company stories, as they’ re stories after all, and I’ ve never been a fanboy of any company or any product.


SRAM DualDrive 3 pioneered the “front and rear shifting in one” paradigm decades ago, but it was heavy, came with ugly shifter and let’s face it; nobody loves gearhubs, except some tourers. Classified Powershift embraced the idea, and made a good product, albeit at a huge price. Like, 15 times more expensive!

Basically, Classified Powershift is a wireless -Bluetooth- operated, 2 speed gearhub without a freehub, instead, a proprietary cassette. Dubbed as “revolutionary” by bike media, it’s nowhere nearrevolutionary, as this was tried before, by a bigger and older company with a hate for front shifting, and guess who? SRAM, obviously: with the acquisition of Sachs, an old and established but unlucky component maker, SRAM decided to continue making their hubs, with a new branding, which is …SRAM. It was called Dual Drive.

DualDrive was a 3 speed gearhub. SRAM decided quit making them. As of 2022, nobody cares, as if it never existed.

I guess Sachs / SRAM Dual Drive existed nearly 25 years. It was over 900gr. Not particularly lightweight. Classified Powershift is about 450 grams. Many would see this as an abomination, I don’t: my tried and true Deore XT rear hubs are not lighter than that. Yes; it’s huge by road or even gravel standards, but it also dismiss front derailleur and additional chainring. Regarding weight, I think it’s pretty awesome.

Classified made deals with some racers, I don’t know them, but I’m not interested in bike race of any kind. This made people talk about them. They are also partnering with wheelmakers like Mavic, Boyd and DT Swiss to sell complete wheelsets with Classified Powershift integrated. If you want a “standalone” Classified Powershift kit, you need to pay 1400€. Kit includes the hub, thru axle which also doubles as Bluetooth, an odd looking button to shift your gears, and a cassette? Yes. Cassette. A proprietary one. Your cassette won’t fit to it. Even I don’t like the idea of having to buy a cassette from a single manufacturer with a proprietary design, it’ s the only way to save weight. Sachs / SRAM used a proper freehub instead, which resulted in excess weight.

How does Classified Powershift work ?

As a gearhub. It’s wireless, it has to be, because it’s not a complete groupset, so has to blend into an existing one. It’s made for brifters only for now (road and gravel), though they have plans to make it for MTB, Touring, etc. As with older Shimano Di2’s, there is a sender unit that goes into handlebars, and a wired button group you attach to your brifters. Not to mention you need a Shimano Di2 compatible handlebars. This unit works with a coin battery, CR1632.

The wireless connection of choice is Bluetooth, which sends the signal to the thru axle that comes with the kit. Receiver on the thru-axle doesn’t look very nice or streamlined, but that’s something all smaller scale companies suffer compared to behemoths like SRAM or Shimano, which is 100x of their size. Receiver sends shift signal to a motor or a selenoid inside the hub, and that’s basically it. Not to mention thru axle also contains a rechargeable battery to shift gears inside the hub.

No data about battery: no capacity, no number of shifts apart from “good for xx months”, no voltage data. No data on how to charge or charge period, too.

You bring your own crankset, your own chain, God knows how nice it would work with their proprietary cassette. You have 11 and 12 speed options on cassette, I didn’t look into boring specs, but I know it goes up to 40, and down to 11. And a 11-27 for men in bibs. They say it plays nice with 11 speed Shimano and 12 speed SRAM chains, and also KMC X11 and DLC11.

What does Classified Powershift claim to offer ?

When I go to their site, I’m immediately striken with 3 claims:

  • No small chainrings: Avoid 45% higher chain forces. Bigger is better.
  • No cross chaining. Increase efficiency by straighter chainlines.

    No front derailleur. Significantly reduce aero drag

I cannot comment on “aero drag” as I have no degree in aerospace engineering, or any wind tunnel tests. Smaller chainrings are less efficient, but I don’t believe they’re 45% inefficient. If that was so, we probably never had double or triple cranksets from the start. Is that what they’ re try to mean? What is “chain force” anyway? Bigger is better? How big? Bigger chainrings means bigger weight. Also, aero drag, remember?

No cross chaining? This is a 1x system, actually, with single chainring, so yes, we have cross chaining here!

Classified Powershift cassette has no spider as we know it – it attaches directly to gearhub.

Then we learn why we need to upgrade, if we scroll the page further:

I cannot comment on shift speeds. 150ms is like 1/7 of a second. This is awesome. I don’t believe any front derailleur can do better, if that’s right.

Ultimate gear coverage, at 530%? With which cassette? In their own claims, rear gearhub have 1:1 and 0.67 ratio, which makes this a road double. So it’s nothing superior to a road double in this sense. Nothing ultimate here. Good old road double ratios.

Shifting under 1000w of power probably doesn’t concern anyone. I believe there are not more than few hundreds of racers that can output such power for more than a few seconds – and under such effort, they probably don’t have enough blood flow to brain to signal them a gear change. Average racer on Tour de France outputs 250-300 watts. I only know one such discipline, that racers output incredible power, which is track racing. Pity the bikes are single speed.

I don’t know what ultimate efficiency stands for: they say it’s very efficient. SRAM, 20 years ago, claimed SRAM DualDrive 3 is %94 efficient. Chain drive is probably %96-97 efficient. Is it more efficient than that? Probably not. We all know gearboxes are less efficient than chain drive. Waterproof? Of course. Have you seen any bike that breaks under rain, because the drivetrain is damaged by rain?

It also says “Equally light or lighter than a traditional electronic groupset” – problem is, this is not an electronic groupset. In fact, Classified Powershift is not a groupset – and it does not have electronic groupset functions, except changing “front gears” electronically. No syncro shift, no rear shift.

What I personally liked about Classified Powershift

I obviously didn’t use Classified Powershift, as I don’t have that kind of money to shell out to a gearhub. For me, it’s insanely expensive.

What I liked about it is, getting rid of front shifting, and almost without extra weight. Looks neat, and I know gearhubs shifts fast, and without having to pedal. I’m not the one that whines about front shifting all the time, but I’d like to have this opportunity at a fair price. 1400€ is obviously not that fair price.

Hub itself looks very well made and compact.

And I believe it should be very quiet, if that is so, a great asset.

What I’m curious about Classified Powershift

Surprisingly, only one thing, maybe just because I have a mechanic background.

Classified says Powershift is maintenance-free. No. Nothing is maintenance free. You’ll know if you have an automatic transmission car, and transmission breaks because you never changed oil. Yes, that’s maintenance free too, unless you didn’t pass the “manufacturer limit”, which is sometimes as low as 200.000 kms. Gearboxes of all kind have and need lubrication, and lubricants goes bad in time. So does the gears, bushings, shafts, too.

Whole system costs 1400€, more than a Rohloff gearhub…

So we have another Rohloff situation here: if it breaks, you have to ship it to the manufacturer, and you’ll have a surprise bill and repair time, if it’s even possible. That’s why I’ll never buy a Rohloff, or an electronic groupset, just because I don’t want to shell $$$, just because a 0.09$ toy gear breaks in the rear derailleur.

Why I’m not convinced about Classified Powershift ?

Unlike most, I’m very open to trying new companies, new products, even new paradigms.

Thing is, when I go to Classified website, I’m greeted by marketing language. In excess. Even, they have such claims that it simply defeats the purpose of having the product in the first place, advertised as a novel feature.

I know people in spandex look silly, but bike riders are not necessarily dumb. I expect to be informed well, not stuffed with contradicting assertions. Am I being too touchy, being irritated by the language? I believe, no. If I didn’t even visit the site, and the price was right for me, I’d probably buy it without reading any “review”. I was expecting to see some videos on how it works, some detailed photos, and a neutral, professional language. (Yet the FAQ part is top notch)


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