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Cable drive transmission

Some of you may recognize this chainless bicycle design. The bike received a lot of press coverage when it was new in the early 80s and was even featured on Good Morning America at one point. The bike’s designer, Steven Tidcomb, sent me a link to a page on his website, which provides some historical background on the design. I also want to share a bit of additional background about the bike from his message:

“It was in limited production in 1982-1983 and manufactured by Creative Motion Industries Inc, of Danvers MA. Only about 60 were sold commercially nationwide before the company closed in 1983. Beyond those 60, I was only able to rescue 8 from the assembly line before the remaining 1500 uncompleted samples were destroyed. I also rescued production quantities of most of it’s components and spare parts.

This is a very rare bike. I know of no other available samples of this bicycle beyond the few that I own and the 60 that were sold across the country. Our very first pre-production prototype was actually stolen from our exhibit booth just before our first trade show debut in Boston, in 1982. A $10,000 reward for its return for was posted in the Boston Globe but no one came forward with any information. As you can imagine, it was a significant setback for the company in terms of time, prototype expense, and lost opportunities. There are no other specimens that I can find on display in any bicycle collection or for sale.

Steven’s website also mentions a few other possible applications for his cable drive transmission. Out of the ones he mentions, I think the wheelchair or handcycle application has the most potential. Of course, some of you may have other ideas. Steven points out that the US and foreign patents have all expired, so these ideas are now free for anyone to use.

“Perhaps they will inspire other inventors to explore how this technology may be improved and utilized for creations beyond my own.”

Great! Sharing ideas is what this blog is about, so I am happy to point you all to the information about his cable drive transmission. Thanks for sharing it Steven.

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7 Responses

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  1. thePig says

    Thanks for pointing out the cable drive site. Was very interesting reading. I particularly liked the cheesy 80s advertising.

    It seems to me that designing a ‘greasless’ bicycle will do a lot to encourage more bicycle commuting. I always hear people complaining about the dirt.

  2. Fritz says

    I totally dig the compactness of this thing too, especially now that my mixed mode commute is becoming so crowded. It even looks fairly lightweight and looks like something people might try these days.

  3. Ron says

    I certainly dont want to pour hot water over the idea but here’s what I was thinking :

    1. Its basically like a pulley and cable system, akin to the swing lever drives of that time minus the chain. I certainly have seen more cables breaking before chains. I think you can design around that my playing around with the cross sectional area.He does mention 7×19 cable though but how often will you need to replace them?

    2. Because the pedaling is a linear asynchronized leg motion, there are plenty of accelerations and decelerations at the knee joint instead of a more fluid circular pedaling style. Combined with the thrusting you have to do at the handlebars, there may be more energy lost over time.

    3. As far as power output, this is good for short term cycling but I don’t see the benefits coming in a long 20 mile ride at a good pace.

    Certainly like you all mentioned, its a fun bike to have and tinker around with. Thanks for the post.

  4. Anonymous says

    Good morning,
    The other cable drive system of the time that I know about is the Allenax. I did considerable sketching and fantasizing about improving the design and now have an embodiment that would use only chains and eliminate the springs. I’ll see if I can do a sketchup drawing and post it. However, I’m putting more of my time and construction effort into an enclosed drive recumbent which I’ve actually prototyped (roughly). You can see the photos on my website by googling “nick hein hpv”. Go to the “Post Express” picture/link. I’ve since completed the (rideable, single-speed) mockup and started on the prototype. I encourage you to steal/copy/plagiarize this design all you want. I’m not in a position to build it at the moment.

    Nick Hein
    Morgantown, WV

  5. James says

    I knew that someone would bring up the Allenax. That lever driven design was one on the ones that used cables and chains as Ron pointed out. The advantage I see with the cable system is the ability to hide the transmission in the tubing. That is a big reason why I think this idea has more merit as a potential wheelchair or handcycle design. With a hand driven design, cable breakage should be less of an issue, right?

    Nick, thanks for sharing the designs on your site too. Looks like some interesting stuff.

  6. Summer Ridge View says

    See the Stepster scooter bike at inventist.com.

    Doesn't seem to be on sale, but the video makes it look like a cable system.

  7. dave says

    I am aware of the existence of several of these cable cm1000 bikes. I can be contacted at| daveosquires@yahoo.com



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