Tiso, an Italian bicycle component manufacturer that’s represented by Albabici here in the states, had quite the gawker piece laying around: A prototype 12-speed electronic drivetrain that, despite the cables here, will be wireless when it debuts!
Details are scant, but the owner says it’s in development now with plans to be in production sometime in 2012. Of course, they’ll need to develop a 12-speed cassette and chain, but that shouldn’t be a problem…
Functionally, the derailleurs would work similar to other electronic systems by pushing an actuator against articulated arms. Oh, and about that wireless, they say they’re working on making it controllable via iPhone app, too. Go ahead, freak out. We’ll wait.
Tiso’s factory is basically a giant machine shop. They produce industrial parts for others, too, alongside a full range of standard drivetrain bits. The cassettes are available in 9, 10 and 11 speeds for Shimano and Campagnolo and weigh as little as 99g for an 11-21 10-speed Shimano road cassette. That’s with the first two cogs being steel, and the rest in ti. That makes them even lighter than the new KCNC ones we saw at Fair Wheel Bikes’ booth. The 10sp titanium cassettes range from $299 to $349. The largest steel one only weighs in at 158g for an 11-speed 12-29 campy model. This is why it shouldn’t be a problem making a 12-speed cassette, we’re just not sure where the chain’s going to come from.
The ti/ceramic pulley wheels are $250 retail. The alloy ones with ceramic bearings are $200. Albabici PR guy says he’s riding the alloy ones and there’s so little drag that when you back pedal it feels like there’s no chain on at all. Alloy ones are 24g with 11 teeth, presumably the titanium one is a hair lighter but we don’t have the exact number.