AutoBike—Advanced Technology Makes Cycling Simpler.
The new AutoBike Voyage is something that many bike riders have been waiting a long time for. With a NuVinci N360 Harmony drivetrain, a brain to control it and a generator front hub to supply the needed electrical power, this bike always picks the correct gear for your riding needs. If you are in love with shifting your bike then it might not be for you, but if knowing when and how to shift is not your idea of fun, then get ready to meet the future.
This bike makes riding fun again for the masses of recreational cyclists. It will also be more than welcome for the people who are rediscovering their love of riding in this modern age. Most of us grew up with single-speed bicycles that were simple and easy to ride. Yet when the hills reared ahead or the speeds grew faster, we all knew that a multi-speed bike was the next step. With that step came the need to understand and manipulate the gear shifters.
Maybe that was easy for some, but a lot of people find it uncomfortable and frustrating. Finding the perfect gear at each moment can be tough. Shifting to a low gear before a stop can be easily forgotten. Shifting without noise and chain jumping doesn’t always happen the way we want. When you are riding an AutoBike all that disappears in the distance as you just ride with a smile knowing the bike will do all the tough work in that department for you.
The heart of this AutoBike Voyage is the NuVinci N360 Harmony gear train. This is the rear hub of the bike and it offers continuously variable gear ratios with a servo to move the actuator. With no internal gears, the NuVinci drivetrain has a smooth and seamless feel as it changes gear ratios. With the Harmony addition, it requires no hand shifter to make those changes (in this particular application). Electricity does the job with the help of two other components.
One of those is the ’brain’, the electronic control unit that is tucked out of basic sight under the chain guard. It feeds off of speed sensors that can tell how fast you are pedaling and how fast the bike is traveling. It takes that encoded information and tells the hub exactly what gear ratio to set itself at. What is happening is that it sets just how hard and fast (pedal cadence) you are pushing the pedals and keeps it that way during your ride.
Connected to the brain is a set of push buttons mounted on the frame behind the handlebars that allow you to make a fine adjustment to these settings. A quick push or two on the plus and minus buttons tailor the hub’s ratio to your needs. Once you find the sweet spot here you rarely need to change it. Just getting on and riding with no adjustments is the thrill of the AutoBike.
The other piece of the workings of the auto shifting system is the front generator hub. This is an item you see on almost every bike in Europe. Normally used to power a bike lighting combo, on the AutoBike Voyage it makes and sends electricity to the brain and NuVinci Harmony to allow them to operate. It makes power with almost no drag, and requires no switching or thought as you ride.
The bike itself is high-quality and rides well. It has a very relaxed seating position and frame geometry. That means that you sit up-right, something I prefer and you might too. It also means your feet will reach the ground even while seated in the cushy saddle. The handlebars sweep back to meet your hands in a comfortable way. On the handlebars are only two brake levers and a pair of very swanky hand grips. Of course for my testing I added a headlight there and a blinking tail light on the seat post.
The AutoBike comes in a low-frame and standard model. The standard frame is pretty low in the middle anyway, so either style could fit a wide variety of people. You get a choice of several color options, mine came in the stealthy matte black. Fenders are part of the package along with a water bottle cage. The front fender is kind of skimpy, but the good folks at AutoBike have already responded to my suggestion to fit a longer one that will allow more protection from water and road grime.
The tires are Maxxis brand with flat protection. A lightweight kickstand is mounted up. In fact the whole bike feels very light and responsive. On the whole I think they did a great job on the bike and the auto-shifting system too. I have reported on the NuVinci N360 before, and the N360 Harmony on a Kalkhoff E-bike. I will include links to those articles at the bottom of this article along with a couple videos. One of those videos helps to show how the bike shifts itself.
I am hoping that the above text will clue you into what it’s like to ride the AutoBike Voyage. It starts out in an easy to pedal gear ratio, and then as your speed builds it gently up-shifts to what seems like the perfect spot. As you speed and slow, it continues to find the right gear and you don’t have to do anything to make it change other than ride. There is no noise, clunking, jumping or anything noticeable.
I have ridden and worked on automatic shifting bikes since the 90’s. They shifted, but did jump, bang, clunk and generally shifted at the wrong times for comfort. In fact if you were pushing hard on the pedals (like on a hill) it could almost throw you from the bike when it shifted. Plus these bikes required harder than normal work to make the needed adjustments as the months went by and parts could be tough to get if they wore out or broke. The AutoBike has none of these drawbacks and tons of big pluses. Hard to beat that.
Want your bike to shift for you? Try an AutoBike, Turbo Bob.
“The bicycle is a vehicle for revolution.”—Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles.
This is the link to AutoBike’s website and Facebook page
Check out the videos I posted on this AutoBike
Two articles I posted on the NuVinci N360. The second one is about the Harmony version I tested