3DP Applications

3D Printed Friction Shifter for your Bike

The method of transportation for many in this age of both booming personal and macro level sustainable economics is the humble bicycle. However, even though it is an invention dating back some 200 years, the modern approach for a bike often involves several high-tech parts and components. The desire for an increased number of gears in particular can often lead to problems with breaking parts, constant adjusting and so forth. Could 3D printing bring something to this table and take some of that (financial) strain off your shoulders?

At least if you follow Rich Olson’s example, you can give it a try. Rich, a pure blooded maker at heart, has created a gear shifter, which he designed, modelled and 3D printed out himself. The design is not a traditional ‘click-change’ – aka index shifter –  but rather that of a friction shifter. Basically friction shifters require a bit more practice compared with the novice-friendly index shifters due to the possibility of ‘half changes’, where the chain could be left between sprockets, resulting in unwanted gear changes and those terrifying rattling sounds indicating problems further up the road. However, when mastered, friction shifters also tend to last longer and not require as much tweaking – the main reasons why the traditional solution is still prefered by many experienced and long-distance cyclists.

As with most 3D printed mechanical complex parts, not everything can be – or at least not conveniently – made with a basic desktop machine. Nylon lock nuts, screws and washers still need to be bought from a hardware store to end up with a solution that’ll actually endure and last through the conquearable miles and miles. In Rich’s case the touchstone for his own 3D printed shifter will be a ride from Seattle to Portland, some 200 odd miles this month.

In the short video below Rich shows some parts of the process and demonstrates the shifter in action:

If you want to test out Rich’s shifter designs yourself, everything needed can be found at his page on Thingiverse and his other works by hitting the source link below.

Source: Nothing Labs

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