Before I made it to Tretta’s booth, we saw a LOT of people riding them around. Talking with a few of our industry friends, the general consensus was that they, and the idea in general, is interesting, but execution is key. It seems Tretta knows that, which I’ll explain further down. First, a wee bit of history. This isn’t the first all-wheel drive bicycle. Christini took the concept to production with a driveshaft variant that could even work with front suspension…before turning his attention to motocross.
Tretta’s incarnation doesn’t seem to work with suspension, but it offers a different approach to the concept. Using a secondary chain layout, it transfers motion from the rear wheel to the front. But how does it steer, you ask?
One large/long chain connects from the rear wheel to a smaller cog on the downtube. Colin rode one of these and noted that his jeans got snagged a bit at the left knee, so he had to pedal a bit bow-legged. He mentioned to them and they said they’re looking at a chain cover to make it safer.
From there, it drives a cog connected to an axle with a universal joint under the dust boot, then down the fork to the front wheel.
They had plenty of variants on display…like this city/path bike.
…and a mountain bike. There was also a beach cruiser with all wheel drive, which makes a bit of sense if you ride through soft sand all frequently. They also had one with studded winter tires, which perhaps makes the most sense if the chains could withstand the elements and seasonal road salt and other crud associated with winter riding.
The bikes are designed in Japan and launched there this year, now they’re trying to expand in the US.
Prices range from $1,000 to $1,600 depending on model. Surprisingly, they’re not as heavy as you might expect. They’re not light, but they won’t crush your soul either. Frames are chromoly steel.
Their reason for being at Interbike? To get rider feedback and see how the concept translates to the North American market. Got ideas? We know you do – keep it clean and leave ’em in the comments.