You may have noticed some of the oversized jockey wheels in transition areas lately. These are the wheels that attach to the rear derailleur of the bike where the chain runs a bit of a zigzag through the mechanism. It is little surprise that this can be an area of considerable friction given how many parts the chain is connected to and how direct the effect is on the drivetrain if we create more or less resistance through this aspect of the bike. This is the problem/solution recognised by a company called SLF Motion in the USA. SLF is an acronym for Smoother Faster Lighter and these words form the overall premise behind their design and build concepts – the best known at this stage being the Hyper Speed System (oversized jockey wheels). SLF Motion is in fact currently a one-man-band and all parts have been designed, engineered, packaged, shipped and marketed by hand by Blake Young.
Blake has a background in professional and competitive amateur level BMX, motocross, road and mountain bike racing and is currently a 3D Industrial Product Designer by trade (yes that is right, SLF Motion is done after normal business hours!). When you have an enquiry about SLF Motion, you will get an email straight back from Blake himself. His customer service focus is on another level.
Anyway, back to the HSS product. I had my first race on the HSS at Challenge Shepparton in November (fastest bike split despite racing very fatigued as part of my Ironman Western Australia build) then a couple weeks later at IMWA (second fastest bike split in a measured and controlled ride). I also chose to couple the new HSS with an Ice Friction chain (which can also be purchased through Blake) and the drive train in race week felt extraordinary. It was almost like there was no chain at all; such was the noticeably lower level of resistance through the drivetrain. I knew instantly that I had just made a considerable saving on overall pedalling efficiency (less power and more speed).
The trick to the power savings is in the high quality materials used and the attention to detail in the design and build process. The system is comprised of CNC machined titanium oversize wheels, full ceramic Si3N4 bearings, CNC machined 7075 aluminium cage plates, and a combination of Titanium and Stainless Steel hardware throughout. The larger wheels used in the HSS create a fuller circumference for the chain to move around, enabling the same mechanical outcomes for a drastically lower energy cost (resistance). The highest quality materials used also produce better durability, meaning the performance benefits are built to last. I am using my HSS system with Sram eTap, which to be fair is already a good quality system, but it is made to look and feel pretty ordinary when compared directly against an installed SLF Motion HSS.
While Blake is not in the business of worrying what other brands are doing, it must be noted how competitive his products are when compared with the more globally recognised brand CeramicSpeed. When the original (11 tooth) SLF Motion jockey wheel system was compared independently in a lab setting by Friction Facts in Boulder, Colorado, it was proven to produce 48% less friction than CeramicSpeed (note the new SLF Motion HSS is considered to produce even less resistance!). Not only this but with the equivalent Ceramic Speed system currently retailing for $2100 NZD, the SLF Motion HSS is considerably cheaper at around $620 NZD. For me, the better performance data coupled with the cheaper price point made my decision to support SLF Motion pretty simple.
To find out more get in touch with me or visit Blake’s website: www.slfmotion.com