Classified, makers of the Powershift two-speed hub system, looks set to unveil its first complete groupset offering. Seemingly not content having its front derailleur-killing two-speed hub merely being tacked on to Shimano and SRAM groupsets, photos emerging on social media indicate the Belgian brand has partnered with TRP (Tektro Racing Products) to develop a complete – and properly integrated – road and gravel groupset, including rear derailleur, disc brakes, cranks, and shifters.
Given Classified’s Powershift hub is all about replacing the front derailleur, the groupset is unsurprisingly a dedicated 1x offering with no front derailleur option. For those new to Classified, the Powershift hub incorporates an internal planetary gear system with 1:1 and 1:0.7 gear ratios, all inside the oversized hub shell. This essentially allows the Powershift system to mimic a conventional 2x drivetrain, but with a single chainring and without a front derailleur. According to Classified, Powershift offers single-ring cleanliness and aero gains without the hassle or dropped chains associated with conventional front derailleurs. For more details, check out our very own Dave Rome’s long-term review of the Powershift.
Update: Classified has responded with a statement that refutes some things written in this article. This can be found at the end of the article
Little is known of the new groupset right now, aside from it being both electronic and wireless. Classified already has its own cassette for the Powershift hub system, while a matching front hub is also seen in the photos.
Isn’t the groupset market tied up, and doesn’t TRP already make its own groupsets? Why would Classified want to dive into such a competitive (and dominated) market? The answer is relatively simple. As neat as the Classified system is, the inability to integrate it into competing systems and the requirement for an additional shifter button on the handlebars has been one of the biggest drawbacks. In addition, since the Classified Powershift concept threatens to upend the legacy designs of the major component players – namely Shimano and SRAM – neither understandably feels much motivation to work with Classified to physically incorporate Powershift into their groupsets. It just isn’t going to happen.
But in developing its own groupset, Classified can get around the issue entirely and finally produce the integrated system Powershift users have been asking for. The levers shown feature Di2-esque shifter buttons on each side, with the right presumably operating the new derailleur, and the left buttons controlling the Powershift hub (or some presumably customizable combination). It’s clean and tidy, and looks the way you’d want something with this level of cost and technical sophistication. And, voila, extra button redundant, groupset market shook!
Most commentators, ourselves included, initially presumed Classified’s goal was to be acquired by one of the big groupset players – certainly the more straightforward strategy. But if Classified has proved anything, it’s that it isn’t scared of a challenge, and so perhaps we should have expected the Belgian brand to take on such a massive project, especially given the brand has had as many new and high-profile investors in the past two years as I’ve had haircuts. Reports suggest Classified has raised over €22 million so far, and while that still doesn’t technically put Classified beyond acquisition, it certainly dramatically raises the price tag. And again, would one of the major component brands acquiring Classified even make sense now?
It seems clear Classified is preparing itself to become a player in the groupset market.
Hiding in plain sight
While Classified has been busy unveiling road, mtb, gravel, and triathlon Powershift hub offerings in recent years – and with an urban offering expected soon – it’s what’s going on behind the scenes that first alerted us to Classified’s plans for the groupset market.
A patent published by Classified CEO, Roëll Marie van Druten, just over a year ago, describes a “control device for a bicycle” – otherwise known as shifters to you and me. Others describe a “bicycle driveline system” and a “hybrid drive system for a bicycle,” and even a “continuously variable transmission unit (CVT), preferably for a bicycle.”
Of course, not all patents result in products reaching the market, but clearly, Classified has ambitions well beyond the Powershift hub system, and based on the finished-looking appearance of these leaked photos, it seems we may be finding out more about those ambitions sooner than later.
Classified has since replied to Escape Collective’s request for comment on the new components with the following statement:
“The next step in Classified’s journey is integration with existing groupset suppliers. Classified has an open-minded and inclusive integration policy and continuously strives for the best rider experience. Classified does not offer complete groupsets and is a supplier of Powershift hub sets and premium wheels.”
What did you think of this story?