THE SUPRE DRIVE
The world’s toughest derailleur.
advantages of derailleur drivetrains
reliability of a gearbox
The efficiency and low weight of a derailleur drivetrain...
...without the broken derailleurs.
Advantages of the Supre Drive
1. Ultra durable
No more broken derailleurs because the derailleur has two mount points, it’s protected by the frame, and it stays far from the ground.
More efficient than a gearbox, and more efficient than other high pivot bikes because of the large pulleys and a constant chain tension system that reduces drag.
While 100–200g heavier than conventional derailleur drivetrains, it’s much lighter than gearboxes. The system also reduces unsprung mass (by around 130g compared to XT) because the derailleur weighs less and because there’s less chain near the cassette.
4. Well damped
Speed-sensitive tensioner damping outperforms any derailleur clutch on the market.
How does it work?
Conventional derailleurs have two functions: (1) they shift the chain across cassette sprockets, and (2) they tension the chain. These two functions are separated in the Supre Drive, with the shifting remaining with the derailleur and the chain tensioning moved to a chain tensioner at the middle of the bike.
The following image shows how the Supre Drive works. The blue line represents the chain in the lowest gear, and the red line represents the chain in the highest gear. When shifting from a high gear to a low gear, the chain tensioner arm pivots counter-clockwise around the bottom bracket axis.
The derailleur has a gear shifting mechanism like that of conventional derailleurs, but there is only one pulley and no tensioner arm. The task of tensioning the chain is moved to the middle of the bike while the derailleur is focused solely on shifting. This enables the drivetrain to have more ground clearance, as shown in the following comparison with a conventional derailleur.
There’s no derailleur hanger and no B-limit, making the derailleur easier to adjust.
The Supre Drive is compatible with off-the-shelf hubs, bottom brackets, cranks, chains, shifters, and cassettes. Three specific requirements are a 52mm chainline, Super Boost rear hub, and T47 bottom bracket. The latest version of the Supre Drive works with a Shimano 12-speed, 10-51t cassette (although the prototype bike shown here has an 11-speed, 10-45t cassette). Shifting performance is the same as a full Shimano drivetrain.
The tensioner arm is connected by a cable to a cartridge that contains a spring and a damper. The cartridge is inside the down tube. Whereas conventional derailleurs produce increasing chain tension in the low gears, the tensioner system of the Supre Drive produces near-constant chain tension across all gears. This is achieved by decreasing the leverage of the cable on the tensioner arm as the tensioner arm rotates back during shifts to lower gears. This decrease in leverage compensates for the increase in force from the spring. The near-constant chain tension improves the efficiency of the Supre Drive. Additionally, the large size of the pulleys also improves the efficiency of the Supre Drive.
The damper is hydraulic and works far better than current derailleur clutches. It’s speed-sensitive, meaning that there’s a lot of force when the tensioner arm rotates fast (which occurs while riding over rough stuff) and there’s less force when the tensioner arm rotates slowly (which occurs while shifting).
According to our measurements, the Supre Drive is more efficient than other drivetrains with an idler pulley. In other words, it’s more efficient than other high pivot bike drivetrains. You can learn more about the efficiency of the Supre Drive in this article in our technical journal.
The Supre Drive is different enough that bike frames must be designed specifically for it. We’re currently collaborating with bike companies for them to offer frames equipped with the Supre Drive.
About the project
The Supre Drive is born out of a desire to solve a problem and make mountain bikes better. Everyone at Lal is driven by their love for the sport. There’s no prioritization of profit above principles, just an honest and ambitious push to make mountain bikes more awesome.
We manufacture our drivetrain parts here in Canada. We’re building a company that not only makes mountain bikes better but also cares about people and the environment. Manufacturing locally is the best way to achieve this. Our goal is to create an efficient, large-scale manufacturing operation for our prices to be competitive with overseas manufacturing.
We manufacture the derailleur, chain tensioner, and idler pulley, and we sell these parts to bike companies with Supre-equipped bikes. We’re happy to work with any bike company to help them design frames for the Supre Drive. A first production bike was revealed by Nicolai at Eurobike 2022. This bike is called Nicolai Nucleon 16. More information can be found at this page on our website.
The Supre Drive is patented in the United States and patent pending internationally.
Lal is named after Pierre Lallement, who possibly invented the bicycle. Before him, all bikes were push bikes, and he added a pedal crank. We have a ton of respect for Pierre Lallement and all other inventors whose shoulders we stand on.
Supre means above in the Esperanto language. This refers to the Supre Drive being above other drivetrains, both physically and performance-wise.