carried a wee mention of the WickWorks front derailleur in our Interbike coverage but company owner and chief designer Chris Wickliffe has now confirmed he'll be seeking European distribution for his innovative transmission system.

US light-touch front mech seeks Euro distribution

The WickWerks SG derailleur will go into production in April, with US distribution by QBP.

Does the world need a more precise, less clunky front mech? Chris Wickliffe from Utah thinks so.

"The WickWerks SG derailleur shifts the chain with a minimum of contact between the chain and the inner and outer chainguide unlike the current front derailleur design. When upshifting with the old-style front derailleur it moves the chain straight over to the side by pressing against one side of the chain with a wide inner guide and smashing the other side of the chain against the chainring it’s climbing onto.

"You’re literally pinching the chain on every upshift and hoping the chain will grab a ramp and pin as it drags its way up the side and hops onto the chainring.

"It’s easy to feel the drag even under just a little load while shifting."

However, says Wickliffe, his front derailleur system is not so aggressive, and is more accurate.

"During upshifts the WickWerks SG barely touches the inside corner of the chain with a very small amount of contact from the inner guide. The chain never gets smashed against the chainring it’s shifting onto, instead it gets guided right up and onto the bigger chainring making a positive engagement every time. It does this by guiding the chain right where it needs to go to be able to lock onto the teeth and ring with a minimum of drag and delay on every shift.

"The downshift is on the WickWerks SG is different and better as well. On the old style of front derailleur the chain can just hang onto the big chainring after you’ve down shifted and by the time it’s peeled off the big ring and onto the middle ring you’ve lost your momentum up the hill. The WickWerks [mech] controls the movement of the chain and when a rider downshifts the chain is moved directly at an angle down and onto the next smaller chainring.

"The chain has no choice, it’s directly guided down and onto the next chainring with

very little contact. My goal was to have a front derailleur that didn’t operate on the old smash, drag and lift method of operation."

What benefits does this all bring?

"You have a very precise and controlled movement of the chain on every shift, up or down, with very little delay and almost no drag. This means faster pedaling during shifting. You’ll be able to carry more speed into the hill and ride the big chainring further into the hill before quickly downshifting without losing your momentum," says the WickWerks website.

The WickWorks system consists of a front derailleur ($109.95 at retail), a shifter ($49.95) and an outer 44t chainring ($59.95) and, in the US, can be ordered in late March with shipping to begin at the back-end of April. A bashguard – to prevent over-shifting – is also required. The first system will be for MTBs. A road version is in development.

In other news...

Challenge Tires increases support to UK cyclocross leagues

Challenge Tires, handmade manufacturers of cyclocross, gravel and road tyres, alongside UK distributor Upgrade Bikes …