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Patent Patrol: Campagnolo’s Wide-Range Bent Derailleur, 13-Speed Cassettes, EPS Buttons, and More!

We’ve been hearing rumors and seeing patents suggesting that Campagnolo is working on a 13-speed transmission.

We’ve been hearing rumors and seeing patents suggesting that Campagnolo is working on a 13-speed transmission. Now, a new batch of four European patents suggests that they have some very advanced ideas. They range from a derailleur with a non-linear travel of the upper pulley to a smoother shifting cassette, as well as a more versatile EPS electronic shifting design. All patent drawings and information contained herein have been found on the European Patent Office search site, EPO.org. Seriously, EPO.org. I’ll let you absorb that for a moment. And now, onto the technology…

Adjustable and Wide-Range Campagnolo Rear Derailleur

If this design idea comes to fruition, it will be absolutely revolutionary for two reasons: Adjustment of the derailleur based on the cassette A curved and non-linear path of movement for the upper pulley

Let’s start with the latter. Look at your cassette, especially your wide-range cassette. While the old 11-23 road cassettes formed a nice cone from the large to the small cog, modern cassettes are very different. Most maintain narrow jumps of 1 tooth for the four or five lower cogs, and then progressively increase in steps of 2, 3, and sometimes even 6 teeth. This wider gear range introduces a funnel-shaped profile, but derailleurs still move their parallelogram (and thus, the pulley cage) in a straight line between the ends of the cassette. The curved travel of this derailleur allows the upper pulley to closely follow the profile of the cassette, keeping it equidistant from each cog. If you’ve ever tightened the B screw too much and moved the upper pulley too far from the cogs, you know how much it affects shifting quality. Now that the pulley can stay closer to each cog, the shifting performance in the middle of the cassette (you know, the gears we use the most) should be much better. Note that they don’t do this by moving the upper pulley away from the axis of rotation of the derailleur cage, which is what SRAM and Shimano (with great effect, of course) do in the rear derailleurs of their mountain bikes. Here’s how they do it… The patent describes a set of non-circular gears, with one toothed sector that rotates the B nut (pink), and the other that rotates with the pin connecting the main part of the derailleur parallelogram. When you shift gears, both pieces rotate and allow for a complex, multi-plane motion pattern for the parallelogram and ultimately, for the pulley cage. And you can adjust it… Customize the pulley path for different cassettes This graph shows the standard path of the upper pulley (Prior Art) and the potential path of this new invention. It would be reversed from what actually happens on the bike, as the upper pulley would closely follow the arc of the cassette profile. But let’s say you have an 11-28 to ride in Florida, but you’re heading to the mountains and installing an 11-42 for climbing. If the derailleur is adjusted to fit the curve of an 11-30 cassette, how could it work with a more pronounced curve? Simple, adjust it. Changing the orientation of the main pivot (116) and its set of teeth (purple) allows the rider to adjust the path of the upper pulley. Externally, it is shown as Low (191) and High (192), so you know what type of cassette your derailleur is tuned for. The patent presentation suggests that it only switches between these two settings without intermediate steps, but we’ll see. There are slight differences in the approach to derailleur adjustment depending on whether it is a mechanical unit or an EPS electronic unit, but the end result is the same. And the clutch? Well, the word “clutch” doesn’t appear in this patent application. But there is an “anti-impact spring” (25) that surrounds the main pivot point where the derailleur attaches to the dropout. Its purpose is to absorb the forces of an impact, helping the derailleur live to shift another day.

13-Speed Campagnolo Cassette Concept

Let’s get to the point: The illustration of this cassette shows 13 cogs. We’ve highlighted it, no need to count them. Oh, and the smallest gear has only 9 teeth. This particular group is a 9-10-11-12-13-14-16-18-21-25-30-36-42, giving you a 467% range with just the cassette. Do you think that’s enough for a 1x gravel bike? Great, but what’s the point of this patent? Filed in January 2020 and published in May, their patent for a “Bicycle Sprocket and Set of Sprockets Comprising Said Sprocket” (seriously) is actually about tooth shapes. Specifically, how they can stabilize the chain and maximize tooth engagement during shifts. While some cassettes simply remove one tooth to give the chain a bit of space to slide into position, Campy’s patent says that removes some crucial support. Their solution? Spurs. Spurs (50) are smaller teeth. They are shorter, both circumferentially and radially. The idea is that on any cog with more than 18 teeth, they could be used to give the chain more grip when sliding over that cog. And especially when the outer link plates try to engage the shifting tooth. But they are small enough to not slow down the shift. Next, each cog is divided into two groups of teeth… the “Shifting Teeth” (5), which are thicker, and the shifting teeth (40), which have the shape. The first tooth (10) is preceded by a shift ramp (41, below, and shown in color in a previous image) that helps pull the chain up from the smaller cog. The other end of the Shifting Teeth section is ramped to facilitate a downshift to an easier cog. It works well that the thicker teeth are the ones pulling the chain up to a larger cog. Campy points out that having multiple teeth, including the straight tooth, in the shifting zone reduces the load on a single tooth. This not only increases durability but ensures strong and crisp shifts in both directions. They also say it helps keep the chain on the desired cog when pedaling backward. Some other wide-range cassettes we’ve backpedaled on tend to drop the chain onto a small cog (or two), so this would be a welcome improvement. It’s not exactly revolutionary, but in combination with the rear derailleur design, Campagnolo could soon have the most refined wide-range road (gravel) shifting. Based on previous patents (and that 9-tooth cog), we assume these wider-range cassettes will use a new mounting interface, and possibly even a new attachment method. Take a look at the possible future Campy cassettes and hope that your favorite wheel brand offers freehubs for them.

EPS Shifters Add Buttons… and a Display?

If you’ve ridden Campy’s EPS system, you’ve probably readjusted your hands from time to time to avoid accidental shifts on the inner levers. We love them, and they work great, but they take some getting used to if you’re coming from Shimano or SRAM. In this patent application, they show what could be a drastically aerodynamic button instead of a small lever, but they leave the option open for both. And more importantly, they add the possibility of having additional buttons located on the front bump. They mention some ways to use them: an electric propulsion actuator (e-bike assistance levels) a saddle setup adjuster (dropper post) a damper setup adjuster (suspension lockout) a direction indicator (turn signal) They have left and…



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