Classified Powershift Review
Classified Powershift is a wireless shifting technology that allows you to shift gears instantly and under full load.
Does the Classified Powershift hub signal the end of the front mech? We took up Handsling Bike’s offer to test out the hub on one of their bikes. A few facts about the system first. Powershift is a rear hub based gear system that replaces your front mech. The shift happens when you send a signal from the handlebar remote. This is received by the thru-axle, which contains the battery that operates the shift. This can be done under load, takes 150 milliseconds to happen and the gear range is up to 530%.
It takes time to recalibrate what you expect to happen when shifting with the Classified system. The speed of shifting from high to low gear is so fast compared to a traditional derailleur that your brain doesn’t seem to keep up with it. You expect a slight delay and some chain noise when changing gear, but with the Classified it’s instantaneous and silent. Initially, I eased off when shifting as I would on a “normal” groupset, but later in the test that changed. I started to trust that no matter how much I pushed when shifting, the system wasn’t going to miss a beat. Classified say that you can shift under full load up to 1000 watts (which I wasn’t troubling) and the hub will change almost instantly.
My chosen route for the test was a mix of fast flowing roads, sharp climbs and rough potholed country lanes, a typical UK weekend ride. The system performed faultlessly all day and after a short time to acclimatise the senses, started to become second nature. Chain noise was quiet and the freehub was silent, which certainly can feel strange when freehubs that sound like a hornets nest are the norm. The hub gears were operated by a button on the inside of the bars, near where your thumb would rest. This was the biggest thing to get used to and I felt needed a bit of refinement. However it’s my understanding it can be programmed to the Shimano shifters (not currently with Sram) which would solve this completely.
Removing the front mech makes life easier for most casual and experienced riders alike. The increased clearance and reduction in parts makes cleaning and maintenance easier. Hiding the gearing in the hub, away from all the grit and grime makes a whole lot of sense: especially useful in the UK. I’d seriously consider running this system on a new winter bike: should funds allow in the future! That’s purely due to the amount of salt and road grime that seems to eat away at all the expensive components throughout the colder months.
In a world where ‘Aero is King’ and riders turn up to club rides wearing aerosocks and deep section wheels, the classified system has to be a consideration. Removing the front derailleur and gaining aerodynamic efficiency without any of the 1x drawbacks seems like a no brainer.
Classified test-bike set-up
The test bike set up with this system was a Handsling A1R0evo running Ultegra R8100 Di2 and an Alugear 52t Aero chainring, which I found suited my riding style. The Classified gear ratios of 1 and 0.7 gave a very similar setup to Shimano’s 50/36t chainrings. This would be great for most road riding and Classified say the minimum advised front chainring size is 40t. Weight seemed very much the same as a similarly spec’d 2x Ultegra system. This seems to add up with the claims of a 493g system weight and the removal of the mech and standard hub etc.
+ Instantaneous and silent shifting from the hub gears.
+ For 1x users, it eradicates the big jumps between gears.
+ Cleaner looking bike without the front derailleur and more aero.
+ Full load shifting
+ Less maintenance and easier to clean making it ideal for winter riding.
+ No weight penalty
+ Almost silent freehub (some may prefer more than others)
– Needs some refinement with ergonomics but this can be solved with lever integration.
– At the extremities of the cassette chain noise increased.