The first thing that pops into mind when you see the Chainless Bike might be: “That’s a repair shop’s worst nightmare and a pant leg’s best friend.” It looks bizarre and goes against everything you’ve ever believed when it comes to riding a bike.
Sean Chan — a Venice, Florida–based inventor — whipped up the chain-free bike to free cyclists from the tune-up-demanding, pant leg–snagging, oily hell that can be a bike chain. According to Chan, the Chainless Bike can be a commuter, trick bike, road, folder, cruiser, or swing bike even though it doesn’t fall into any category of bike types. “I wanted to create a bike that was very basic and has folding capabilities and is collapsible,” says Chan. “It was also important to build a bike that was not a lot of work and not a lot of maintenance for riders.”
The Chainless Bike operates with pedals that are attached to and crank the back wheel directly. Out went the old seat tube so the saddle sits directly over the rear wheel. To keep rider compatibility, the bike has an integrated sliding seat post and horizontal seat track so you can adjust the saddle up and down or front to back. The front wheel can be removed without tools, while the back wheel requires a 1/4 hex tool to remove (which is included with purchase of the bike). If you need to change wheels or fix a flat, Chan says that it should only take about a minute to remove both wheels.
It’s a fixed-gear bike, with the internal gear system also located inside the wheel to keep the space below the crossbar free. The tungsten gears aren’t as exposed as traditional gears — making them a little more rust-resistant and allowing them to outlast chains and cassettes. It weighs in at just 25 pounds and can be easily collapsed for storage or porting to and from any adventure or commute.
Despite the unique build, the Chainless Bike rides very similarly to its traditional, chained counterparts. “When riders first see the bike, they ask, ‘How does this operate?’ because they’ve never seen anything like it,” Chan says. “But everyone who has jumped on has said that it rides almost the exact same as a chain bike. Learning to ride the Chainless is easier than learning to ride a traditional bike — even if you haven’t ridden a bike in a couple of years you will be able to hop on and get it within a minute with no problems.” The bike utilizes sprocket wheels, so it coasts, and hand brakes that operate full-system disc brakes — so despite the strange seat positioning, the bike feels a lot less foreign than it looks.
The Chainless Bike loses a lot of traditional design parts — but the only thing Chan says riders might miss about their conventional cycles are the gears. “Because of the fixed-gear ratio, riders do lose the ability to control the bike with gears,” Chan says. Chan thought about that when designing the Chainless Bike and factored in a different method of control for the riders that he calls the Rapid Turning System (or RTS for short). RTS can be engaged when the rider pulls a lever to switch out of coast mode and allows you to make turns on a dime. “If you’re living in the city or you need to make quick turns downhill, you have a much quicker turning time despite the short wheel base,” Chan says. “This is possible because you have complete control of the back wheel through the pedals and gear to turn freely.”
The Chainless Bike comes in four standard colors (orange, green, yellow, and white) and is also available in special edition carbon fiber, matte gun metal, and matte black models — with prices starting at $800. You can purchase the bike here.