Like its inventor and namesake, artist Leonardo DaVinci, a Yukon's company, NuVinci, wants to change the way the world looks at "making things move." The company's revolutionary technology, a continuously variable transmission, is changing the world of biking – forever.
Tony Jungel, Edmond resident and NuVinci's Senior Engineer, says, "The reason we call it NuVinci is because Leonard DaVinci is given the credit for coming up with the concept of a continuously variable transmission. We've come a long way since his initial concept, but we give him credit for it with our name."
The engineers at NuVinci, a subsidiary of Aftermarket Technology Corporation, spend every day thinking about how to make vehicles – from light, electric vehicles and riding lawn mowers to trucks and light, agricultural vehicles – run better, faster, and more efficiently. And, tired of talking the talk, the company is taking its innovative product to market and walking the walk.
Walking, however, is not the best way to describe their aggressive application of this new and innovative transmission technology. Biking best describes it. In an effort to demonstrate its groundbreaking transmissions, NuVinci is starting small with the bicycle market. But they're already seeing evidence that they're going to hit it big.
In a nutshell, the technology replaces bike gears with spheres and a set of two contact plates. The NuVinci bicycle transmission distinguishes itself from conventional gear-based bicycles by using a set of rotating spheres to transfer torque from the pedals to the road. Tilting the spheres changes their contact diameters on the plates, permitting an infinite progression of speed ratios.
But Jungel doesn't want the average rider to worry about how the transmission works. Leave that to the engineers and physicists.
"This is very hi-tech," notes Jungel, "but the user interface masks the technology from the user. It's like a black box and the technology is all inside the box. You don't have to worry about how it works. The user interface just makes it easy for cyclists to use it. The technology actually raises it to a level where it simplifies riding for the biker."
With a variable transmission, riders never again have to worry about a chain missing a gear. They don't have to remember what gear they're in and how to get to the next one. They don't have to worry about breakdowns caused by inclement weather, dirt or mud. A simple feedback monitor on the handlebar tells riders everything they need to know – from high-gear to low-gear, and everything in between. The special transmission offers more riding options than a gear-based bike with more than twenty gears. And it's as easy to use as a radio's volume control.
The NuVinci transmission, which is already available in the European consumer market, is fantastically popular. Last year a Betavus bicycle fitted with NuVinci's transmission netted the coveted Bike of Year Award at Europe's FietsVak Bicycle show. At the same show, it also won the Technology Innovation of the Year Award. The European orders are pouring in and show no sign of stopping soon.
"We're close to seeing some of the domestic manufacturers come on board," says Jungel, "Most of them are planning products that incorporate the transmission. It'll be middle of the summer, into fall, and definitely next year when you'll be seeing them in the States."
Domestic costs of these bikes will range from $600 – $1,000, but it's easy for regular cyclists or even motorists to recover that cost and more by biking as often as they can instead of driving.
Jungel can barely contain his excitement about the prospect of changing the cycling world. "This is an industry that hasn't had anything new in it since 100 years ago. The industry is slow to accept new technology, but the European market has really embraced it. We expect the same thing to happen here in the US."