Gregory Zielinski, a Polish mountain biker, was never full satisfied with his bicycle. There was the time his chain snapped as he led a race, costing him the chance to win a car. Or the endless races in which his bike’s drivetrain ended covered in mud and grime that made riding difficult.
In 2007 he decided to do something about this. His idea was to envelop the gears and chain in a protective casing.
“Today’s bikes — some of them are really nice but they’re mostly based on uncovered drivetrains,” said Zielinski, who has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the bike, called the Nuseti. “It gets stuck in mud easily. You can damage the derailleur.”
Mountain bikers ride on treacherous terrain, so there’s no telling what they might run over and what might damage their gears or chain. In a best-case scenario the bike survives intact, but a rider will still need to clean his or her bike to keep it in working order.
“We’re making this to minimize the maintenance as much as possible,” said Zielinski, who is now based in London. “If you ride 10,000 kilometers, you’ll need to service it maybe once a year. It’s not like every ride.”
While some models of bikes have an internal hub, where gears are protected, the chain remains out in the open and vulnerable to damage. Zielinski’s bike is unique in that he’s also protected the chain.
“Your drivetrain is in some ways the most sensitive part of your bike,” said Dave Ferraro, the president of the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts, a mountain biking organization. “That derailleur and chain is muddy and can get gunked up and stop performing.” Ultimately, for Ferraro, having an internal drive chain wouldn’t be a game-changer. He views the best mountain bike for a rider being one that fits them well and delivers a high comfort level. That’s why he’s continuing to ride a steel frame even as lighter carbon frame have become increasingly affordable and popular.
Zielinski’s carbon-framed bike with the inner drivetrain system will cost interested riders about $6,320. He’s raced only twice this year in order to focus on the 16-grear Nuseti. So far the project hasn’t received much traction — raising only 1.3 percent of its goal as of late Tuesday — but 23 days remain in the campaign.