In the fast-evolving world of cycling technology where every year bike manufacturers boasts how much faster, lighter or more aero their latest models are, innovations that genuinely revolutionise the riding experience are actually a rarity. One such breakthrough however, arrived last year, courtesy of Belgian trailblazers Classified. We were immediately intrigued by some of the details shared within the cycling industry. We heard Classified’s unassuming wheels were equipped with an internal gearing system inside the rear hub. Classified was promising a paradigm shift in performance. It was decided. We had to try them ourselves. So now, after months of rigorous testing between my Deanima Custom Gravel and Titici Custom Road bike, I can confidently say, Classified has delivered on its audacious claims.
The Classified rear hub. Image: Alison McGregor
Unveiling the Power-Shift Technology:
At first glance, the Classified wheelset may seem like just another addition to the market. However, the real marvel lies within—an internal gearing system seamlessly integrated into the rear hub, aptly dubbed "power-shift technology." This Bluetooth-enabled shifting system transcends the conventional, eliminating the need for a front derailleur, cables, and left shifter. This isn't your everyday commuter gear; it's a game-changer for road and off road riders. If you need proof, read on and we’ll list a few incredible race achievements.
From the Saddle Perspective:
Bare with me road loyalists! The adventure on Classified’s began on my gravel bike, and so it makes sense to discuss the experience here first. As you will discover, the benefits on gravel are slightly different than those I experienced on the road. So even if the system is the same for both genre of riding, I’ll temporarily separate the two.
For a devoted gravel enthusiast like myself, the benefits of Classified's innovation were immediately apparent. The ability to mimic a 2x chainring setup without sacrificing the simplicity and reliability of a 1x is nothing short of a revelation. The result? A smoother, more controlled ride through even the most challenging terrains. With Bluetooth-enabled shifts, gear changes are not only lightning-quick, but they can be executed effortlessly, even under the heaviest load.
Putting the Classifed Gravel Wheels through muddy paces. I can vouch for the waterproof readiness of this wheelset. Image: Alison McGregor
Unearthing the Advantages:
Classified Wheels bring forth a plethora of advantages that extend beyond the surface. Here are a few key highlights:
Mechanical Elegance: The elimination of a front mech and chainring streamlines the setup, reducing potential mechanical mishaps while requiring minimal maintenance.
Lightning-Fast Shifting: Shifting to the metaphorical second chainring occurs in a mere 150 milliseconds, offering unrivaled responsiveness.
Shifting Under Load: Whether conquering a steep incline or pushing the limits, Classified's technology allows seamless shifts even when the pressure is at its peak.
Versatility in a Hub: With the ability to switch out hubs and cassettes, riders can effortlessly transition between road and gravel configurations, making it an ideal choice for the avid traveler or the one-bike-for-every-occasion enthusiast.
Aesthetic Excellence: The sleek, understated design with a transparent dark label overlay ensures that those in the know recognise the wheel's true prowess.
- Ease of charging: The Smart Thru Axle receives the wireless shift signal and triggers the hub to shift using contactless energy transfer.
If you’re not a tech person then do feel welcome to skip the next paragraph. It’s not too complex, but we don’t want to miss a deeper delve into why the Classified hubs may be your best upgrade investment.
Before Classified, my gravel setup involved a single 42 t chainring paired with an 11-42 cassette—an effective but not flawless system. My DtSwiss alloy rims were bulletproof, and believe me I gave them as good a thrashing without managing to damage them. However, the power-shift technology transformed my 42 t into the larger of the two, while introducing a "virtual" 29. The result? Magic. Seriously going through the gears after years oif grinding on the limited single chainring felt ridiculously like cheating. A game-changing 42/29 on the front, coupled with an 11-38 on the rear!? —an absolute revelation for conquering challenging gravel climbs.
I’ve since been testing a gravel e-bike and can’t help make comparisons. While I understand the immense benefits of pedal assist, especially found on hillier terrains, my Deanima with Classified Wheels competes incredibly. I’m not claiming to be a faster climber than an e-bike, but when it comes to fatigue point the Classified afford and extend the same energy as pedal assist. I think for those not yet ready to enter the e-bike market, but wanting that extra edge, Classified wheels are clearly the answer.
Specific to the gravel rider here are a few benefits Ive experienced on the trails:
- Ability to shift under heaviest torque, including over the steepest of hills.
- Gaining gears without the need of a second front chainring
- Less mechanical mishaps (dropped chain, cleaning, replacements, wear)
- Smoother more refined shifting when needed
- Reliable and instant gear change with the touch of a button
Classified Wheelset installed on a Titici Custom Reilli. Image: Alison McGregor
Classified Wheelset installed on a Deanima Soul. Image: Alison McGregor
Empowering Road Riders: A Quantum Leap in Performance
For road riders seeking the next level of performance, the Classified Wheels with the internal system hub is nothing short of a revelation. Having extensively tested this innovative technology on my Titici custom road bike, the transformation replicates the extraordinary feelings of magic experienced on my gravel bike, but with slightly different results.
The Big Ring to Small Ring Sensation:
Let’s dive straight in to the different sensations experienced on the road. The true magic of Classified's power-shift technology comes to life when transitioning from the metaphorical big ring to the smaller ring. This shift unleashes a surge of momentum, propelling the bike forward with a newfound feeling of vigor. It's a game-changer during climbs and sprints, offering riders a tangible edge to stay ahead of the competition. In my experience, adding a Classified power-shift rear hub to a single chainring setup is perhaps the most dramatic upgrade one can make.
The Classified wheelset being tested on my Titici Road bike. Image: Alison McGregor
Unlocking the Full Gear Spectrum:
One of the standout advantages of the Classified system is the utilisation of the entire gearing range. In contrast, a 2x chainring setup with conventional gearing often suffers from cross-chaining issues, rendering several gears unusable. With Classified, riders can enjoy smoother, more reliable shifting and tap into a wider gear ratio, especially crucial in extreme conditions.
Reduced Wear and Tear:
A subtle but critical benefit of Classified's power-shift technology lies in the reduced strain on components. Riders frequently bring their bikes to workshops due to premature wear and chain damage caused by the improper use of certain gears. With Classified, the risk of inadvertently pushing components past their limits diminishes, thanks to the refined shifting process.
Personalisation is key, and the Classified system caters to individual rider preferences. The ability to reposition the shift button on the handlebars ensures that riders can fine-tune their setup for maximum comfort and efficiency. This attention to detail further solidifies Classified's commitment to optimising the riding experience.
Shift button placement is personal. Thanks also to Burgh bar tape. Image: Alison McGregor
Simplicity in Execution:
The push-button activation of the Bluetooth gear system is as seamless as it is immediate. This intuitive interface streamlines the riding experience, allowing for swift and precise gear changes without the need for multiple levers or complicated manoeuvres. The absence of a front derailleur simplifies the control setup, reducing the potential for mechanical mishaps.
A Cleaner, Leaner Ride:
The Classified system translates to fewer parts to maintain and wash. The absence of a front derailleur not only streamlines the aesthetic but also reduces the mechanical complexity of the bike. This means less time spent on maintenance and more time doing what riders love most—hitting the open road.
In my extensive experience, the Classified Wheels with the internal system hub stands as a pinnacle of cycling innovation. For road riders seeking an unparalleled advantage in climbs, sprints, and overall performance, this technology is nothing short of transformative. The benefits extend beyond the immediate gains, offering a holistic enhancement to the cycling experience. Without hesitation I would say embrace the future of cycling—embrace Classified.
After seven months of rigorous testing across an array of terrains, from mud-caked trails to unforgiving ascents, it's evident where the Classified Wheels truly shine—on steep climbs and during those crucial moments requiring seamless adjustments. For the discerning Australian rider seeking to elevate their performance, Classified Wheels with internal system hubs are a revelation. Say goodbye to compromises, and embrace the unseen power that will redefine your cycling experience. In the words of a converted rider, as said with electronic group sets and disc brakes, there's simply no turning back.
*To note: Classified offer a number of wheel partnerships making installation of the Classified hub on your favoured wheels a definite possibility. Check with us for the compatibility of the Classified hub wheel build.