|Dpardo "sickle" cranks: a fairly recent reboot of an old, thoroughly de-bunked concept . . .|
|Lever-drive, or treadle-drives have been tried again and again - like this Alenax in the 1980s. Another idea that actually dates back to before the safety bicycle.|
|Oval or elliptical chainrings are another questionable attempt to get "free" power and eliminate "dead spots" in the pedaling motion. Some people swear by them, but actual scientific evidence of their effectiveness is lacking. And again, they're nothing new . . .|
|. . . The Durham elliptical sprocket made similar promises - but also made front shifting impossible. And like other "innovations," they were actually an old idea by the 1970s.|
|One recent company took the route of altering the pedals instead of the crank itself. The CrankTip pedals move in an elliptical path as a rider turns the cranks, supposedly giving a variable effective crank length - and increasing torque on the downstroke.|
Now there's another entry in the crazy cranks lineup that might actually be something no one has ever seen before - the Cyfly drive system. This thing is probably hands-down the most complex crank unit I've seen. Combining a special gearbox, a pair of multi-link crank arms, and an elliptical (almost rectangular) chainring, the Cyfly mechanism causes the crank arm length to change dramatically throughout the pedaling motion. The company boasts 33% more torque at the same pedaling effort.
|The Cyfly crank was introduced at this year's Eurobike, in conjunction with the German bicycle brand, Moeve. The crankarms change in length by about 20mm throughout their stroke.|
|As the pedals turn, those multi-linked crankarms chug back and forth, constantly changing --lengthening and shortening, and supposedly increasing torque during the "power stroke."|
If you're thinking that such an unusual new crank design would be interesting to try, allow me to mention that the Cyfly is not something a person can just install onto their existing bike. The system's oversized gearbox, which is needed to keep the crankarms chugging in proper synchronization, requires a specially-built frame.
One thing that doesn't get mentioned anywhere is the width of such an unusual crank. There are no measurements given anywhere, but just from the look of it, with its extra linkages and everything, I'd say it's a safe bet that this thing would make a person pedal like a duck - putting the "Quack" in "Q-factor."
The system also adds a good bit of weight, too. The version shown above is listed at about 2kg (a little over 4 lbs!). I guess that's a big improvement over the earlier prototypes, though, because I read in BikeRumor that the first version weighed nearly 15 pounds!
|Evolution of the idea. Looking at that first one, it's no surprise the thing weighed 15 lbs.|