NuVinci N360 Harmony Electronically Thinks, Shifts For You

Nuvinci N360 Harmony electronic autoshift internal hub bicycle drivetrain

NuVinci’s new N360 Harmony is an electronically controlled, auto shifting internally geared hub that gives you two modes of control.

Unlike Shimano’s Alfine Di2, the NuVinci system “shifts” for you to keep your cadence at a preset RPM. And, because their hubs are a type of planetary gear, there’s no actual stepped gears, so it feels seamless. It’s called Cadence Control and it’s rather unique.

Set your cadence and as you pedal harder or softer, it changes the gear ratio to keep your cadence the same. The cadence range is from about 60 and 85 rpm, but it depends on front and rear gear sizes, and OEM brands can specify tooth counts and program the desired cadence spread.

I rode it around and it feels as uncanny as the concept sounds. Pedal a bit harder and it shifts imperceptibly and all of a sudden you’re going faster without really pedaling any harder or faster. It’s strange, but it works.

Nuvinci N360 Harmony electronic autoshift internal hub bicycle drivetrain

The advanced rider controller is shown here and lets you adjust through a range of cadence speeds.

If that’s not your bag, switch modes and you can simply shift electronically. This essentially gives you electronic shifting, but without the stepped gears of Shimano’s Alfine Di2. NuVinci’s planetary assembly runs from hardest to easiest with an infinite range between them because it leverages different diameters of balls by moving the axle path they rotate on.

This system is only available to OEM customers now. All of the electronics are inside the small box outside of the hub, so the system can be retrofittable to existing N360 hubs. They plan on offering it aftermarket next year. As is, it’s designed to pull power from an e-bike’s battery, but for regular pedal bikes, they see a small Di2-like battery that’s recharged by a hub dynamo.

There’s also a basic model that will have just three buttons for cadence speed options and no fancy display on the shifter.

Comments

Gary - 07/14/12 - 1:50pm

If companies can bring this to a $500 price point bike, this would be the best thing for casual cyclists since sliced bread. Maybe someday.

harro - 07/14/12 - 3:51pm

CVT for bikes

royalewithcheese - 07/14/12 - 8:10pm

Genius, especially the option to set your preferred cadence, or adjust on the fly with the advanced one. That being said, I’m pretty sure those hubs are made of dark matter, they’re unfathomably heavy, probably not a big deal on a recreational bike, but some people have upstairs apartments.

JoeKing - 07/15/12 - 11:57pm

The problem with a CVT whose “gears” are shifted by either a power senser or in this case an rpm senser is the nature of the motor.

Humans, unlike internal combustion engines or electric motors don’t put out the same horsepower at the same rpm consistently; one moment you feel strong..the next you don’t. What you’ll end up doing here is constantly shifting the rpm setting based on the rider’s percieved exersion, defeating the automatic function.

Further, these will nicely function as boat anchors (5 lbs. approx) limiting them to the commuter-tourist market.
Fallbrook introduced the basic unit 5 years ago. I haven’t seen them gain a foothold eventhough they are a well-funded enterprise with scores of patents of the most minute details of it.

Steve M - 07/16/12 - 10:37am

If it makes ice cream then I am in!

Dave R - 07/16/12 - 12:35pm

JoeKing-
I got to ride a Harmony bike last year at Interbike (Fallbrook had it on a trainer for anyone at the show to try) and I think your description is slightly off. I found that I set the RPM setting to something that was comfortable for me and then I took it out for a spin. My perceived exertion stayed the same for the entire ride as I spun at my preset/ preferred cadence the entire time, while the Harmony system shifted the hub for me. I admit, there were times I did not realize the system was working, but I think that was due to the nature of the seamless shifting of the hub itself, thus, the system was constantly fine tuning the ride for me to maintain my desired cadence. It was really cool and will go great on my commuter/ touring bike.

You really need to try it if you get the chance. It will change the way you think about what it means to ride this type of a setup.

Julien M. - 09/21/12 - 10:45am

Brilliant, but I hope they don’t make the mistake of retailing it exclusively through enthusiast bike shops, thereby preventing it from reaching the target market (non-cyclists) like what happened for Shimano’s “coasting” system (essentially the same principle but with 3 speeds): http://yannigroth.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/what-caused-shimanos-coasting-program-fail/

Jeremy - 09/23/12 - 3:33am

DAF Variomatic for bikes – never worked in the sixties either

Visiobike - 01/24/13 - 3:47am

Hi, we at the Visiobike think that for electric bicycles with central mounted motor NuVinci is the best options because it has one big advantage – shifting under load! Situation with several other internal gear hub is that you have to stop pedaling for a moment in order to shift the gear which sort of ruins the thrill of riding, don’t you think?

Matt - 03/06/13 - 8:37am

The comment above about bike shops is spot on. One very large bike shop near DC had a Nuvinci bike on display, and the owner spent a bit of time describing how ineffcient it was and making fun of any recreational riders that would use it.

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