Monotorque’s patented 8-speed automatic gear was developed by a 31-year old publicity-shy Israeli inventor.
It is being brought to market by Eran Jonathan Kali, co-founder of Israeli IT firm Wizcom Technologies, maker of the Quicktionary scanning pens.
According to Globe, an Israeli business website, Kali was instrumental in gaining seed funding for Monotorque via the Kinarot-Jordan Valley Technological Incubator. Monotorque received $250,000 from Kinarot and another $50,000 from tank-fitter AOB Technologies.
Kali knows there are other automatic gears for bicycles on the market.
"The problem is that these mechanisms are heavy, complex and expensive."
Monotorque – which was displayed at the recent Interbike – will be lightweight and retail for under $400.
Kali says Monotorque could become a company selling $10m per year – "Less than that is not worth the effort." – but he wouldn’t be averse to a takeover bid from Shimano, which has bought many competing technologies over the years.
"We wouldnt mind becoming one of [Shimano’s] suppliers. Truthfully, we probably wouldnt object if a company like that were to acquire us, and convert us into its R&D centre in Israel."
If neither Shimano or SRAM makes a bid for Monotorque, Kali says the company will go it alone.
"The advantage of this component is that it is easy to install on bicycles. It is fully compatible with all existing gear mechanisms, and any bicycle shop can do it. A quarter of the bicycle components market is after-market."
Monotorque could get more business angel funding:
"We brought [a top-end bike] to our meeting with our investors. [This] bicycle cost about $2500. We lifted it up and put it on the investor’s table and said, ‘This isnt a transportation vehicle; it’s a sex symbol.’"