Review: Dynamic “Crosstown 7” Shaft-Drive Bicycle

Dynamic Crosstown 7
The good folks at Dynamic Bicycles offered their “Crosstown 7″ commuter bike to us for testing. In many respects, it is like so many other commuter-oriented bicycles on the market — TIG-welded aluminum frame, mounting points for fenders and rear rack, upright riding position. Where this bike differs, however, is how power gets from the pedals to the rear hub. This bike uses a very clever and deceptively simple shaft-drive. Yeah, that’s right — no greasy chain, no chainrings to chew up your pants. In fact, Dynamic takes things a step further by mounting the shaft-drive to a Shimano Nexus Inter-7 internal hub. So, no derailleurs either!

The heart of the Dynamic drivetrain — the shaft-drive assembly:
The shaft-drive assembly

Here’s some of the specs, straight from the manufacturer’s website:

    -7005 Aluminum Frame, butted for light weight
    -Aluminum front fork
    -Alex DA-16 High Profile Alloy Rims (28-38C tires)
    -Kenda EuroTour Tires, 700×35C, 50-85psi
    -Dynamic Street Shaft Drive
    -Shimano Nexus Inter-7 Gearing, All-internal (17-gear range)
    -Shimano Nexus 7-speed Twist Grip Shift
    -Tektro Quartz alloy brakes; front disc brake optional
    -Tektro 2-finger Alloy brake levers
    -Base price: $679.00

The frame for this bike is unique: a narrower-width bottom bracket (BB) shell that is also larger in diameter from a traditional BB and elevated chainstays that are welded to the base of the seat tube rather than to the back of the BB shell. The elevated chainstays give room to mount the shaft-drive assembly. The rear-facing “track style? forkends position the rear wheel in the frame and align the rear hub’s spiral bevel gear with the rest of the shaft-drive assembly. Obviously, retrofitting this shaft-drive assembly to a traditional bicycle frame is out of the question.

Details of the unique frame:
Elevated chainstays and big, narrow BB

Bottom bracket clearance to the ground with 700x35C tires is a whopping 10 inches! And this is pure clearance, too – there is no chainring to catch on obstacles if a rider should happen to find him- or herself hopping over a steep curb.

Did I mention the paint job on this bike? In low light, it appears to be a dull charcoal grey. In sunlight, however, it shines with pink and blue iridescence…every bit as flashy and sexy as a Japanese keirin bike! For folks who like to keep their bikes on the down-low, the frame decals are applied OVER the clearcoat and are easily removable.
Here’s a picture of the headtube and the glossy paintjob…the photo doesn’t do this color justice!

The frame feels stiff…jarringly so. To be fair, this is the first aluminum-framed bike I’ve ridden more than a couple miles – I don’t know if aluminum bikes always transmit this amount of shock. The Dynamic frame appears utterly flex-free, and with the beefy, ovalized down tube, aluminum forks and 36-spoked deep profile rims, the ride felt harsh. Over two miles of my round-trip commute is over cobblestones, and it was pretty punishing! Perhaps a carbon fork and a suspension seatpost would have improved the “seat feel? of this bike and taken some of the edge off?

The parts specifications for this bike have high and low points. Tektro Quartz linear pull brakes are about the best “off-brand? V brakes money can buy; easy to adjust and tremendous stopping power. The Nexus hub is superlative – smooth and easy to shift and virtually maintenance-free. The front hub is a sealed bearing model made by Access. I am unfamiliar with the brand, but the hub is beefy and smooth, and comes disc-ready (Dynamic offers a front-disc brake upgrade for an additional $60). The Alex DA-16 rims are tough – real pothole killers! The handlebars and stem are workmanlike…nothing fancy. The saddle and pedals? Well, they suck. Saddles are such a personal choice that I wholly expected this “Velo Plush? saddle to be a pain in the ass, and I was right! Also, the pedals that come with the bike should immediately be scrapped in favor of something a little bigger and with more traction. Even with lugged running shoes, my feet slipped off the pedals a couple times in the dampness that is summertime Florida. Since this bike is meant for urban commuting and getting around town, BMX-style platforms would be ideal – and wouldn’t require dedicated cycling shoes.

Over the past month, I have ridden this bike over 100 miles to and from work and on a number of recreational rides. While I don’t have any way to quantify (with cold, hard numbers – this ain’t a physics lab) just how much more efficient a shaft-drive is as compared to a traditional chain-driven bicycle, I can say with confidence that this shaft-drive feels s-m-o-o-t-h. In fact, it is so smooth that it feels oddly boneless; chain-driven bikes give the rider a lot of feedback in terms of friction as the chain wraps around cogs, chainrings and derailleur pulleys. When I rode the Dynamic, the only sensation was that I could very faintly feel the bevel gears meshing against each other – in fact, the more I rode it the more I noticed it. It is DEFINITELY different-feeling than a chain-driven bike! Another perceived benefit of this shaft-drive is there is no “gear lash? or lag when pedaling – pedaling force is instantly and seamlessly converted to forward motion. On a chain-drive bike, there is always a bit of lag as chain slack is taken up by the derailleur springs and as the freewheel/cassette pawls engage. Not so with the Crosstown 7 – you pedal and GO!!!

The rear spiral bevel gear of the shaft-drive system as attached to the Nexus hub:
Rear bevel gear attached to Nexus hub

Standing on the pedals to grunt up hills was when this system felt weirdest – and when the nearly frictionless drivetrain was most noticeable (and appreciated!). The system is silent – the only noise it makes is some occasional faint ticking in certain gears, and that can be attributed to the Nexus hub, not the shaft-drive. This bike is STEALTH all the way! Shifting is a breeze – the Nexus hub is spectacular. I found myself shifting more often because it was so easy and smooth, and I found the range of seven speeds to be more than adequate for my relatively flat commute. For people living in more hilly areas, an 8-speed Crosstown model is available from Dynamic.

How much does the shaft-drive system add in weight to a bicycle? The manufacturer claims that the system adds less than one pound as compared to a geared bicycle, and this makes sense…after all, the entire assembly consists of four chromoly spiral bevel gears, a shaft and an aluminum housing. I think most people can live with an extra pound…and for the real weight-weenies out there, a few judicious parts swaps could help lose some of that extra weight.

Maintenance is, for the most part, a non-issue with this bike. I rode this bike in two heavy Florida summer downpours with deep puddles almost up to the hubs, and I never had to worry about a rusty chain. Dynamic recommends adding a shot of grease to the drive every 600-1000 miles. The shaft-drive comes complete with a zerk-type grease gun fitting…just attach your grease gun and squirt a bit in there. The manufacturer recommends Finish Line’s Teflon grease. I couldn’t find my grease gun, so I used a 12cc syringe with a plastic “gastric tube lavage? tip to inject 4-6cc of grease into the shaft-drive after removing the zerk fitting with a 7mm box wrench. The Nexus hub needs occasional cable adjusting, which takes all of two minutes, and the brakes could use some occasional tweaking. Is it ever that simple on a gearie?

No grease gun? No problem, especially if you know a medical professional with access to syringes:
Syringe replaces the grease gun

Are there additional steps when changing a flat rear tire? Yes, but the process only takes an extra 30 seconds from a traditional bolted-on or QR wheel. With a screwdriver, remove the two screws that hold the black plastic rear hub cover on. Slide the cover off. Pull the shifter cable sharply downwards to release it from the hub’s cable guide and detach the leaded end from the hook on the hub. Unscrew the axle nuts with a 15mm wrench, taking care to keep the unique washers on each side of the hub in proper order. Change the flat and reverse the disassembly process. Those special washers realign the hub with the tail end of the shaft-drive, so no fiddling is required to get things running smoothly again. Hell, it takes longer to write it out than to actually do it!

The “track-style” rear forkends and plastic hub cover:
The back of the bike -- hub cover

Does the shaft-drive wear out? Well, yes…eventually. Patrick Perugini, the president of Dynamic, indicated that the shaft-drive is rated for 6000 to 10000 miles (depending on frequency of greasing) before it requires replacement. And, a replacement assembly with all bearings is only $89.00, available directly from Dynamic. Now, compare that to a traditional geared bike – can you get 10000 miles out of one set of chainrings, cassette cogs and a chain? I didn’t think so! Can you replace two (or three) chainrings, 8/9/10 cogs and a chain for less than $89.00? Only if you really, really shop around!

Two gripes stand out in my mind: the first is the riding position, which is VERY upright. While this position gives the rider a commanding view of the streets, there is no place to hide once stiff headwinds come into play. As configured, the Crosstown 7 is really not suitable for long-distance fast commuting. I would love to see a drop-bar option for this bike (or would consider one of the road-bike models Dynamic makes if a more aerodynamic position is desired).

The other gripe is that while Dynamic inexpensively offers accessories such as a rear rack and fenders, at this price point I expect to see both of those included as standard features. Most similarly-equipped bikes from other manufacturers (and here I mean geared commuter bikes) come standard with rack and full-coverage fenders.

Overall, I think Dynamic has a winner with their Crosstown 7. It appears (and rides) in every way like the around-town errand, commuting and recreation bike it was meant to be, and you just can’t beat its low-maintenance features. No more greasy chain tattoos, tattered pants cuffs or dirty hands from a mid-ride tire change!


    -low maintenance
    -smooth, effortless drivetrain and shifting system
    -sexy paintjob
    -lifetime frame warranty
    -perfectly suited for around-town cruising and medium-distance (5-12 miles) commuting
    -Dynamic’s sterling customer service – questions promptly answered and great website documentation for maintenance and service of these bikes.


    -Stiff and unforgiving ride
    -Saddle and pedals must be swapped out immediately!
    -Upright stance gives some aerodynamic issues in headwinds

Visit Dynamic’s website to learn more about the shaft-drive – there is a great “FAQ? on the site – and to see other models Dynamic manufactures.


  1. Nick July 26, 2007 6:51 pm 

    Wow; thorough review. This is something I’ve been honestly curious about, so it’s nice to have such a detailed account of how a shaft-drive bicycle feels.

  2. Ghost Rider July 26, 2007 7:40 pm 

    Thanks, Nick…the sensation IS hard to describe — weird comes to mind, but certainly not unpleasant. I guess it is the hard-wiring that 32 years of running chains has given my legs that makes it feel so alien, but smooth like a baby’s bottom!

    I can also safely say that I am no longer a skeptic about shaft-drives. This baby is well-thought-out from an engineering standpoint!!

  3. Priscilla July 26, 2007 9:47 pm 

    Wow. Great review! I was surprised to read that changing a flat on that bike would be so easy.

  4. RL Policar July 27, 2007 2:03 am 


    I think Nick James would agree with me that your review was a FACEMELTER! That’s Nick’s way of saying that it was really really good and thorough!

  5. Ghost Rider July 27, 2007 2:40 am 

    Ha ha! I was worried about getting a flat until I really read the directions…and removed the back wheel for a “dry run”. Much easier than it looks, and everything realigns itself as long as the strange washers go back in their proper places.

  6. Ralph July 27, 2007 8:17 am 

    I’m been riding a similar brand and style of chainless bike for commuting for over a year and love it. The maintenance and ridability are are so smooth, I’m kinda surprised that I’ve yet to see another one in this bike-friendly town of Bend, Oregon.

    Great review, Jack. Although I’m fine with the saddle (course, I haven’t tried others so don’t know what I’m missing), your pedal comments were right on. Cheapy nylon pedals were very surprising and should be changed out.

  7. Ghost Rider July 27, 2007 9:11 am 

    Ralph, are you riding an Incline? Tell us more about your chainless experiences!

    The pedals that came on this bike were alloy, “toothed” MTB pedals. Maybe they would have been better with Powergrips or toeclips, but I was horrified by how slick they were even with serrated cages!!

  8. Timbeaux July 27, 2007 2:39 pm 

    I’ve just ordered this bike from Dynamic. Based on your review, I had them trade the seat and pedals for a bike computer, and I’ll install a seat and pedals that I have already. I’m really looking forward to my new ride and will follow up with my impressions. I ride about 100km/week with a laptop in my backpack, so I need a solid mix of performance and comfort. I will not miss the chainring tattoos and grease stains in the back of my van…
    Thanks for the review.

  9. Ralph July 29, 2007 11:09 am 

    Incline Cross 7:

    Yep, I’m riding an Incline Cross 7. It’s similar in structure to the Dynamic bike you reviewed, but does have the front shocks. I’ve…
    – changed out the pedals for some shimano combo SPD
    – added a topeak rear rack and trunk bag with panniers.

    I went for this bike because I was new to bike riding and was impressed by the minimal-maintenance concepts, AND the novelty of the system.

    I haven’t been dissapointed. My first tire change from the fat street tires to MTB tires for winter riding was tough for me, since I have no bike mechanic experience. I was ready to bring my bike in pieces to the resident bike expert in our office. Fortunately, the moment of clarity hit the next morning and the bike was back in business. The next tire change back into a slimmer street tire this past Spring went much smoother.

    I’m interested in reviews of the chainless for mountain bike use. The only thing I see as a problem with the gears is something I notice when climbing a rather steep, short hill up to my office. I’m standing on the pedals sometime and can feel/hear the bevel gears slipping.

    However, the other 99% of my commute is perfect with this bike. I love being able to decide what gear I want to start with while stopped at the traffic light.

  10. Tim August 18, 2007 9:15 pm 

    I recently had to retire an old faithful commuter with something like 12k miles because it need about $400 worth of new drive train, wheel, hub, etc. :-[. However, that meant that it was time to check out the market and replace it with a new bike.
    I looked around at several options, and I ended up choosing the Dynamic Crosstown 7 over the Bianchi Milano, Bianchi Bergamo and the Breezer Uptown. This time around, I wanted reliability, low maintenance, and a good balance of cruising speed and comfort. I was sure I wanted to get an internally geared hub. I ended choosing the Crosstown 7, a shaft-drive bike with the Shimano Nexus 7 internal hub.
    I made my choice based on rides of the Bianchis at Ozone Bikes and reading the reviews of the Dynamic online. gave a good review [url][/url] on their site. Many of the people who write in to the Dynamic website are hard core year-rounders in the sticks of Maine who ride through snow and summer rain alike. I took that to be a pretty good endorsement. The shaft drive had strong appeal to me since I have long ago tired of sprocket tattoos, greasy fingers, chewed up pants legs, and expensive drive train replacements. The shaft drive has no exposed moving parts, does not need to be cleaned, and is an $89 part when and if I have to replace it. (Dynamic estimates its lifetime at about 10k miles.) How many chains, gearsets, and derailleurs have I been through on my previous bike in 12k miles? At least $300 worth… :-\ Daring to be a little different, I took the plunge.
    The buying experience was good overall. Since they are fairly small volume, there are not local dealers, and my order was over the phone but the sales rep was helpful, knowledgeable, and willing to customize the order. They swapped the cheapo pedals and seat for a good cycle computer, and I added fenders, too. With the added delivery charge, the total came to about $750, delivered to the door. Their website estimates 3-5 days delivery to Austin. I ordered late on Friday, and it took them until the following Wednesday to put it in the mail, and five [i]business[/i] days later (Monday) it arrived. From order to arrival was actually 10 days.
    Assembly was straightforward: the shaft drive poses no special difficulty, and I was eager to take it for a spin. I noticed right away that the shaft drive is not silent but growls a little bit, especially right before shifts. Otherwise everything felt good.
    Here are my impressions after a week’s worth of commutes (about 70 miles). In Re: the growling, it is not altogether unpleasant, and I have quickly tuned it out, but it is not IMHO the stealth bike some have made it out to be. The bevel gears and drive shaft add a very small amount of friction relative to a brand new chain, but I think this would reverse for an older chain, and I expect that the drive will get smoother with use. Already, I enjoy the lack of worry about pant cuffs, grease marks, and I rode through the rain a couple of times this week and have not at all missed needing to clean the chain and derailleurs, etc.
    I love the Nexus 7 hub, and highly recommend it: the shifts are precise and instantaneous. The gearing is well suited to my commute, which is moderately hilly (mostly along Shoal Creek from Anderson to campus). Anything hillier, and I’d recommend the 8-speed, whose extra gear is at the bottom of the range, for climbing. I’m struggling to reprogram my muscle memory since its grip shift is setup in the opposite sense from a derailleur’s. I.E. twist forward to shift down and backward to shift up. I’m sure I’ll adjust to this, but I still have to think about it sometimes. Regardless, I love the ability to shift without pedaling, a [i]huge[/i] help for hill starts.
    The geometry is, for me, the right compromise between being far enough forward for speed and power but upright enough not to stress my wrists and lower back (especially with a backpack; I prefer not to use a bike rack). I saw a complaint about the aluminum frame being too stiff, but I find it very comfortable and not too jarring, and I appreciate the lighter weight. In addition, the aluminum frame displays some beautifully well done MIG-welds, for those who appreciate that sort of thing.
    I do have two beefs, though, that are pretty much inexcusable for a bike of this cost. First, out of the box, the front wheel had a wobble large enough to brush the front brakes. >:( I cured this with a spoke wrench and wheel alignment rig, discovering in the process that three spokes were way loose. How this got past quality control, I have no idea, but this was a disappointment. ??? The other beef is that the crank was a little loose and creaks embarrassingly when I stand on the pedals. :-[ This has been largely resolved by using clipped pedals and shoes (no switching torque direction) and a quick tightening of the crank arms, but I would expect the cranks to be appropriately seated and tightened to avoid the noises. Again, this is minor and relatively easily fixed, but with no local dealer offering a free first tuneup, and for the price I paid, I would expect it to be ready to go straight out of the box. :(
    Overall, I’m pleased with the purchase and would characterize it with one word: smooth. I look forward to putting lots of miles on the bike. In general, the build quality and components are good (with the above noted exceptions), and the Nexus 7 really shines. The shaft drive is pretty transparent and noticeable only because of the annoyances it doesn’t give. I think I’ll appreciate it more after lots more miles when I don’t have to tune it, oil it, clean it, replace it, or hide my greasy pants legs. I hope that shaft drives become more accepted in the mainstream in the future. I think that would be well justified, especially among the bike-as-transportation community. ;D

  11. AngelaBridget January 10, 2008 11:49 pm 

    Hola.! Feliz ano nuevo.!

  12. Keith April 16, 2008 6:31 pm 

    I just got me a Dekra Urban Voyager shaft-driven bike on Monday. I’m still getting the feel of it (I haven’t ridden a bike in at least 15 years), but it feels pretty smooth to me. I can’t go very fast, but that’s probably due to not having enough room to take off without getting on the road. I did get on the road for a small distance (uphill) today (despite my bicycle not meeting the legal requirements for a bicycle on the road; namely, it doesn’t have a bell), and I wasn’t disappointed by the speed, but I freaked out when I saw a truck coming behind me.

  13. antonis tsilialis July 8, 2008 12:07 am 

    in this shaft drive bike ,how can the rear wheel be removed?

  14. Ghost Rider July 8, 2008 3:58 am 

    Antonis, that information is covered in the article above (just under the photo with the syringe).

  15. dbr July 11, 2008 2:45 pm 

    I have ridden my Dynamic Crossroad 8 for roughly four months and one thousand miles, mostly for commuting. In the interest of sharing my experiences with this unique bicycle I made a website

    I thought there was too much information for a post here. In my experience, the shaft drive requires regular application of grease to the shaft drive gears to maintain smooth operation (this is especially true out of the box) and there are problems with the circlip that holds the bevel gear on the Shimano hub. In addition, I disagree with the components Dynamic has put on the bike as I believe their quality does not match the price tag.

    With some components and accessories I have added and a regular weekly shot of grease the bike has worked well for me. I want others who might be considering buying one of these to know what I’ve gone through to make it work for me.

  16. Mike in 94803 September 2, 2008 8:53 pm 

    There aren’t many reviews of these bikes, so here is my review of an ’05 Dynamic Outback bicycle:

    2 Sept.08

    After over 1500 miles commuting on an ’05 Dynamic Outback I deem it a quality bicycle. I had some initial problems that were mostly user caused and resolved satisfactorily. Concerns about weight and drivetrain inefficiency appear to be non-issues. The model has been upgraded by Dynamic since ’05. I would buy another Dynamic bicycle.

    About me – I’m relatively fit but am not a “biker”. I currently average 30 miles a week, mostly on the weekend, mostly road with a few percent on the dirt. I have enjoyed a couple of years when my riding was 100 miles per week and have at least 10K miles of sporadic riding experience over 30 years and six bikes. I rode in Massachusetts (including one winter in college), and the San Francisco Bay areas. I’m relatively well educated and like to tinker and repair as a hobby. I have put 1600 miles on my ’05 Dynamic Outback at the time of this writing, almost 1K in the past 6 months and I have kept a log since buying the bike.

    General, non-Dynamic comments about the bike – This is my first full-suspension bike, and first with a disk brake (front only). For my kind of riding, I don’t think I’m going back. The degree of comfort and control offered by the full suspension gives me more pleasure than the weight it suffers. As for the brake, it is a simple cable-operated unit and yet it is superior to any of the V-, cantilever or side pull brakes on any other bike I have ridden. I occasionally enjoy a thousand-foot descent, two thousand if I go pleasure riding, and I’d rather watch the disk glow at night than worry about popping a tire from the heat.

    Cost/value – Dynamic is not any more expensive than bike-store bikes and not much more than Internet bikes. If you get on the ‘Net and price bikes with similar components, the Dynamic bikes seem about 10% more expensive. I guess that is what you are paying for not having to hassle with a chain anymore, and note that if the drivetrain lasts as long as they say, you’ll more than make up the price difference by 10K miles from not having to buy a couple sets of chains and sprockets during that time. Sometimes Dynamic has bikes on sale, and then they look equivalently priced with the competition. As for shaft-drive competition, there are but few other shaft-drive bike manufacturers out there. I found a low-end looking brand from the East, a more expensive and apparently small volume, made-to-order one from Canada, a post-moderne design from Holland that must be targeting the cafe’ market, and Dynamic. Dynamic seems to be targeting the all-weather commuter, the weekend rider that wants a dependable, low-maintenance bike, and maybe the techie-type who wants something different, like the guy I bought my bike from. My impression of the company, after interacting with them and riding their bike, is that they are enthusiasts who want to promote bicycling, by bringing a quality product to market that offers some advantages to people, and make a fair buck while they are at it. The information they provide on their website has of course a positive spin (it’s advertisement after all), but honest and so far complete.

    Weight – Yes, the shaft drive is heavier than a chain drive; they say by a pound and that seems about right. Dynamic says 34# and mine weighs in at 35# with my tool kit. So is it too heavy? It feels as heavy as the other full-suspension bikes in the bike store. Since it doesn’t have filthy chain grease all over one side, I’m encouraged to hold it close and use my body to lift it, not out at arms length, and it thus feels lighter to lift than my old hardtail Fisher (but not my old Cannondale VX900 – now _that_ was a light bike, made of beercans or something!). At this price range, <$1K, none of the competition is particularly lightweight.

    Efficiency – Some on the Net have opined that the shaft drive is not as efficient as a chain, but guesstimates vary. I don’t notice any particular inefficiencies with the drive. My impression is that it is the same as the clean and lubricated chains that I had on my previous bikes. Any loss in efficiency must be less than what I feel from low tire pressure, the compressing suspension or mountain versus road bikes in general. (My bike doesn’t have a lock-out shock or forks, but I notice the new model from Dynamic does). Compared with other riders and bikes that I have passed or passed me, my mountain bike is as fast as the road bikes when coasting downhill (which I attribute to my road tires and a suspension that reduces unsprung weight relative to their bikes), and I climb as well as the other mountain bikers at my fitness level. Yes, the fit road bikers leave me behind on the climbs, but they do no matter what mountain bike I’m riding; road bikes in general climb roads faster than mountain bikes. Again, for me so far it’s the rider, not the drive train.

    Durability – The frame seems rock-solid and shows no sign of creaks or cracks so far. The components are mid-grade or commuter level, not useless junk but not high end either, and typical for a bike in this price range. Dynamic has made improvements to the front and rear shocks, brakes and shifter since my vintage bike, keeping up with the market. At 1500 miles the bike seems tough enough for my on and off road commuting and the rare extremes of my riding: urban assault (hopping curbs, hitting potholes, riding down inconsiderately placed steps), and trail, single track or technical mountain biking (but nothing extreme (no trials, jumps, tossing bike off cliffs, etc.). Typical for bikes in its price range.

    Internal gear 8-speed hub versus 20-something gears – The gearing with the Shimano-8 is purported to span most of the range of the average 24 speed bike, since there is a lot of overlap in the standard mix-and-match front and rear chainwheel and sprocket sets. The eight gears are certainly sufficient for my needs: my bike has the “sport” or low-ratio shaft and it goes just about as fast in 8th as I care to go (~30 mph with my quickest cadence), and still lets me climb the steepest hills I can find around Berkeley, which has some hella-steep, “Yikes, my house slid down the hill” hills. Yes, the lowest gear is not as low as the lowest gear on my old bike, but I stopped using that gear anyway once I got into shape. If you need to use that lunch plate sized rear granny cog they put on the beginner mountain bikes, then you’ll just have to get off and walk on a Dynamic until you get into better shape. Typically when faced with a really steep hill I UPshift and get off the seat to pump with a slower cadence, and then I’m in at least second or third gear. If I have to get off the seat in first gear, then it’s time to get off and walk. Off-road, the lowest gear takes me to the limit of of my traction skills. In short, I’m not limited by the gearing but by the rider. If I had one of their road bike models with the bigger wheels, I would still get the “sport” or low-ratio shaft. If you’re a real biker in good condition, or likeyou’ll probably prefer to ride with the higher ratio street shaft. Of note, the feel of the Inter-8 is different than a deraileur system. It reminds me of the transmission in my motorcycle: preload the shifter a little while backing off on the power and snick, it snaps into the next gear. Upshifts are quicker than my old rear XT deraileur (downshifts are similar), and up and down shifts are quicker than a front deraileur. Sometimes I get a mis-shift but less and less as the system wears in, and all together less mis-shifts than with a deraileur system.

    It has been said that, “All of the benefits of a shaft drive can be realized with an enclosing chain guard and an internal gear hub” – If I could find such a bike, I might get one, but all such that I can find are big, heavy cruisers. Certainly no mountain bikes have enclosed chain guards, mounting for such a guard or internal gear hubs. One could custom make such a bike, but probably not for what Dynamic charges.

    It has also been said that, “The rear wheel is a pain to remove if you have to repair a flat”. If one only needs to pull the tube out to patch a leak then there is no need to remove the wheel. But yes, removing the rear wheel requires one to remove 2 screws and unbolt the axle — about 30 seconds more than removing a quick-release wheel, so count up how often you’ll have to pull the rear wheel to swap inner tubes or compact the bike to fit in the trunk of your Miata (with the quick-release front wheel off it fits fine in my old Z-car, my wife’s Eclipse and a friend’s Prius). Commuters will likely ride with puncture-resistant tires, tubes or liners, or stay away from the curb.


    I had some early problems but note that my bike is an older-generation Outback and appears to have been re-designed since. The first problem was that despite torquing to what seemed a proper amount (around 50 ft-lb), the rear axle nuts would loosen up, the axle would shift and then the bevel gear would pop past the retaining circlip and grind away at the gear-change mechanism. Surprisingly, the drive still works when this happens, and I would only notice trouble shifting and later a wobble out back. I replaced the circlip with a stiffer one from the hardware store, and strung lock-washers on the axle bolts. Problem solved, but note to secure the axle Tightly on this bike. In hindsight, the loosening might also have been caused by the Shimano hub loosening up on the inside and thus allowing the axle some freedom to loosen up, so make sure you service and re-assemble that hub properly.

    Second problem was that my shaft broke at around 800 miles, but was immediately replaced by Dynamic for free, even though it was by then past the 2 year warranty. They said there was a bad batch of shafts in some of the ’05 models. Fair enough, and certainly kudos to Dynamic for standing behind their product no matter what. Swapping drives was easy, especially if one has pulled cranks before, and of note, they even sent me a crank-puller tool with the new shaft!

    The third problem was with my Shimano Inter-8 hub, specifically the innards (ball bearings, retainer cage, coaster-clickers and springs), came loose and jammed the gears, but I traced this to my (and the previous owner or his bike shop), ignorance in reassembling the hub properly. This hub must be bolted together tightly (to the point where it just starts to show resistance to turning), and lock-nutted tightly or it will unravel. Despite all this abuse, the gears look fine and run great now that I’ve cleaned the shrapnel out. I could whine a little about the twist-grip shifter and how it detracts from positive indexing of the gears, but I notice that the new Outbacks come with Shimano’s newer rapid-fire trigger shifter. Of note, there exists the mythical Rolhoff Speedhub, with 14 internally-indexed gears spanning over a 500% range, supposedly the most fantastic internal-gear hub on the planet. Well, next time I have an extra $1400, I’ll ask Dynamic to build me a bike with one! (Send contributions to…)

    Maintenance – MY particular bike was rather high-maintenance in the beginning, but mostly due to my own cat-killing-curiosity and/or incompetence. If one just leaves the darned thing alone, it is a low-maintenance bike after the initial break-in. That said, even with remote help from Dynamic, for service new owners should either have access to a good bike mechanic or plan on becoming one themselves. Since Dynamic bikes are bought on the Net and not from a bike shop, that service will not be free.

    Suggestions to Dynamic:

    Keep up the integrity and customer satisfaction. That makes me a repeat customer.

    Offer a little “tool kit” as an Option, you know, with a stubby screwdriver, allen set and a wrench for the rear axle.

    I suspect with your relatively low volume that you can and sometimes do a little customization of bike orders (seats, bars, pedals, lights, panniers, helmets, whatever), so mention this or make it more obvious on your website. Last time I bought a bike at a bike shop they offered to swap out or add on anything in the store that could be made to fit (adjusting the price of course). Since your customers are buying online they have more limited options. Maybe you can get a link with an online bike accessory supplier.

    As a wacky idea, somebody should ponder the Scion business model and offer totally customizable bikes, from fork spring rate to Bling clipless shoe light LED color, for sale online and delivered right to your door.

  17. vaccinefiend November 8, 2008 6:40 pm 

    I owned a Dynamic Bicycles shaft drive bicycle. The Sussex shaft drive was not built to specifications that could handle the torque generated when pedaling uphill, or pedaling hard on level ground. The result was that the shaft drive was not maintenance free–in fact, it broke. I replaced it with a new shaft drive sent by Dynamic Bicycles. The new one began to break and I was told by their Production Manager that I was exceeding the specifications of the shaft drive. I received a verbal agreement from him to refund the purchase price of the bicycle. Dynamic Bicycles even took care of the return shipping for the bicycle.

    Once they received it, however, the president of Dynamic Bicycles told me that I had owned the bicycle longer than 30 days, so the satisfaction guarantee no longer applied. I was given the option of having my bicycle returned to me with a tightened bolt and new grease, which would supposedly fix the problem, or receiving a refund minus the cost of shipping and a 15% restocking fee. Despite phone conversations, emails and then a complaint process with the Better Business Bureau In Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont (t, the president of the company would not uphold a verbal agreement stated twice and acknowledged by email. Because I do not live in Massachusetts, the state where Dynamic Bicycles is located, it made no sense for me to pursue a mediation or claim in small claims court, which would have required my presence. I will never do business with Dynamic Bicycles again, nor would I recommend doing business with Dynamic Bicycles. I am also weary of bicycles sold with shaft drives built by Sussex.

  18. Patrick Perugini November 20, 2008 9:56 am 

    I am offended at Vaccinefiend’s misleading and shameless posting above. So let’s set the record straight. This customer owned his Dynamic Bicycle for nearly a year. He called us and claimed that his shaft drive was broken and asked for a refund. Even though his bicycle was 9 months beyond the normal return period, we offered a refund in good faith that it was actually broken. When the bicycle was returned to us, it did not have the problem he claimed — the shaft drive was perfectly fine. His bike only needed some adjustments and it was as good as new. When we called him to tell him his bike did not have the problem he thought and that it was running great, we thought he would be pleased. He wasn’t. We did the service at no charge and even offered to ship the bicycle back to him at our expense. He refused. At Dynamic Bicycles, we have a great reputation for our excellent customer service. But even we have to draw the line when we think we are being taken advantage of. This customer clearly was trying to take advantage of us. He thought he could claim to have a problem and send a bike back after riding it extensively for nearly a year and get a full refund. This is incredulous. Yet despite his attitude, we still gave him a generous refund – his entire initial purchase price less 15% plus shipping – quite a deal for using the bike for nearly an entire year. Then he goes onto blogs and posts his drama for the world to see. We regret that this customer had difficulty with his bike, but we stand behind our bikes and our efforts to serve him. He clearly had no interest in resolving the problem with his bike. He just wanted a free ride.

  19. AB December 10, 2008 1:57 pm 

    I was suspect when reading the positive blogs as if the company itself were writing them, i.e., no complaints. That is until vaccinefiend wrote followed by Perugini’s remarks. So there are unhappy customers out there, albeit, vaccinefiend’s unhappiness could be attributed to his own actions rather than the product. This increases my confidence that the company is honest and not just stuffing the blogs with positive comments in order to promote their products. This then leads me to believe the above positive blogs are probably genuine. I’m now giving the company serious consideration for my business.

  20. Ghost Rider December 10, 2008 3:40 pm 


    Patrick and the entire staff at Dynamic has been tremendously helpful in all our dealings with us…and I’m not just saying that because he let us borrow a bike to review.

    In a day and age when customer service is a dying art, Dynamic is getting it right. As for the above poster, he has put this comment on any blog that even vaguely references the Dynamic bicycle line.

    Of course, there are always two sides to every story, and it was great that Patrick came and let us know his side of things…

  21. AB January 3, 2009 12:36 am 

    The good news: Dynamic ships internationally. The bad news: They do not ship to the country that I live in (Hungary). Even worse news: Even if they did ship here, the $479 shipping cost is nearly as much as any bicycle that I might purchase from them effectively doubling the cost of puchasing one.

    Through no fault of Dynamic, this American ex-pat will not be able to purchase a bicycle from them. That’s too bad. I would have liked to.

  22. RB February 16, 2009 7:43 am 

    It has been interesting to read all the comments, thanks!
    I have owned two of the older Sussex model bikes over the past ~8-9 years. I have done over 5000 miles on each before selling them, still in working order.
    I cannot say either bike survived that long without some repair work, but lucky for me nothing I could not fix myself.
    As they were old models, they do not compare to the current range.
    Overall I have been very happy with the bikes, they have made for great trouble free commuting, and even have worked well towing my daughter in a trailer!
    I’m currently looking into purchasing one of the new models to replace the last bike I sold, and can;t wait to get on it.

  23. john March 23, 2009 5:40 am 

    I purchased a “Tempo” model from Dynamic Bicycles in May of 2008. I’ve been very happy. Originally, I did have some problems with the gear mounted to the rear hub that connects to the shaft drive. Under heavy load the circlip tended to pop up allowing the gear to wobble. However, the company sent me a replacement gear with set screws which prevent the circlip from lifting. I have not had a problem since. I rode all this past winter without any problems. As I am a heavy man (210 lbs) who lives in a hilly area, I use more grease than recommended by Dynamic. However, blasting a gear with a shot of grease is a lot easier than cleaning and caring for a chain, sprockets, and derailleur on the dirty salty streets of Boston.

  24. Paul June 7, 2009 6:41 am 

    Great to see innovation happening again in the bicycling world. I suspect it is the start of a new golden age in bicycles! (I hope!)

  25. Georgianne Chitty February 27, 2010 12:19 pm 

    Bring your own lunch! That’s what I do. More wearing a backpack to carry it adds strength training booster.

  26. rt September 14, 2010 1:25 am 

    Review on Dynamics bike chainless shaft drive

    There is a lot of discussion over chainless shaft drive vs traditional chain bike. To me, it is just a simple trade-off. You give up a few % of efficiency in exchange for less frequent maintenance and chain hassle free. Just google or wiki it, you will get the answers.

    The fact is that there is no such good manufacturer who can produce quality chainless bike. Small manufacturers such as Dynamics make poor quality bike. Famous bike manufacturers with good production techniques and skills are reluctant to make chainless bikes, or just testing it a little by little.

    I bought a Dynamics Sidekick 8 shaft drive bike in Feb 2010. Till now it is about half a year. Total mileage is about 2000km. All rides are on nicely paved roads and I am about 72 kg only. Last week, I was totally astonished by the poor bike quality. The bike frame was broken. It is a folding bike, but don’t think that the breakage point is at the folding joint. The actual breakage point is at the bottom bracket which is the most unacceptable location to have frame breakage. You can estimate how poor their manufacturing work is.

    Check the photos.

    So, don’t buy it.

  27. Patrick Perugini July 14, 2011 11:49 am 

    As an update, RT above (Richard) was sent a brand new bike in exchange for his original bike at our expense. Our frames come with a lifetime warranty, so we replaced his bike with our apologies. We have also since changed the frame design and manufacturing for the Sidekick to reinforce the frame and welds, and improve the durability of the frame under more stressful situations.

  28. John W. February 17, 2012 4:01 pm 

    Very good review of the Dynamic chainless bicycle. The company seems to be excellent in the customer service department from all the reviews I have read. They really stand behind their product by replacing parts, and even entire bikes. I am very impressed and considering purchasing one of their models.

    I am sure they have learned from past mistakes and the 2012 models are probably much approved since this review in 2007. Does anyone have a 2011 model and would care to comment on it? Also I was wondering if Dynamic is thinking of offering a model with the Shimano Alfine 11 IGH? From everything I have read the Alfine 11 is a great IGH and would offer a fantastic gear range.

  29. Ken March 14, 2012 12:05 am 

    Yes I too would like to hear some updates on these bikes using the Alfine 11 speed hubs and using the bikes for touring

  30. Bruce Rogers May 12, 2012 8:28 pm 

    I bought the seven speed runabout shaft drive bicycle. I have put a little over 250 miles on the bicycle with no problem occurring. The bicycle is about a month old.
    After riding the bicycle 55 miles on a weekend when I got the bike home I noticed the pedals felt very rough when I turned them by hand. the gears that turn the shaft feel very rough can anybody help me diagnosing the problem?
    I bought the bicycle new and assembled the bicycle and had a professional bicycle shop inspect the bike before I rode it and they said the bicycle was fine.
    All of the gears shift fine.

  31. Hubby June 7, 2012 2:15 pm 

    Bruce Rogers, as a first step, have you tried adding some grease to the shaft drive, to see if that is the cause of the roughness?

    (See for a how-to video.)

  32. Cycleme July 31, 2012 7:05 pm 

    I spoke to this rude guy at Dynamic today and he would not help me with a reference from my state. I want to see one before I buy it. He offered their complete satisfaction policy as follows: if you don’t like it return it within 30 days and pay 20% restocking fee ($160) and freight both ways ($120). Nice policy for Dynamic but not for someone not convinced he will keep it and who cannot get even one reference from the seller. No thanks.

  33. Mike August 11, 2014 6:44 pm 

    Well, here is another, independent, review of the Dynamic Sidekick:

    Summary: The Sidekick is a sturdy and well build little bike that is quick and easy to fold and unfold. It is very resistant to the elements and easy to clean. It is slow for a bike, and even slow for a folding bike. It is VERY low maintenance, and I would recommend it for foldable/stowable bike in a salty, sandy or rainy environment that would be hard on a standard chain drivetrain. I would not recommend it for performance riding.

    I bought the bike barely used and think it is a 2013 model. It had a not-quite-run in feel to the drivetrain, so I’m guessing it had around 100 miles on it, and not-a-scratch. It came with a little rear rack, which seemed useless for more than a U-lock and a newspaper, so I removed it since I carry my backpack anyway. I kept the sturdy fenders. I tossed the “wide-load” seat and mounted Brooks’ “butt-in-a-sling” saddle, which I find very comfortable. I put a dab of white-grease on all the levers and hinges to fold up the bike. Substantially exceeding the suggested maintenance amounts, I half-packed the crankcase and the front of the rear transfer case with grease, and think it will now go several thousands of miles (or years) before needing more or any further service there. That along with those thicker inner-tubes means my weekly maintenance is but one pump of air into each of the tires.

    The good:
    The build and finish look quite good and the bike feels sturdy and well put together, suggesting build-pride and quality. The drive train is practically weatherproof and dirt-proof, and it doesn’t appreciably leak any greases or oils. The fenders really work, well-covering the spray off the little wheels. It folds down small enough to fit into a Sebring convertible trunk, which may be bigger than a Miata’s, but not by much. It takes 10 seconds to fold or unfold, super easy, just like the video on Youtube. It is not a light bike (~30#), but light enough and easy to manage when compacted. Unfolded, it is easy to carry up and down stairs and such since this reinforcing brace between the downtube and seat tube is right at the center of mass and convenient to hold. The handling is fairly nimble at slow speeds, what with the 20-inch wheels and a short wheelbase. It is easy to negotiate sidewalks, curb-cuts and even the curbs themselves; with hyperbole I could describe it as a gangly BMX bike. I find the gear range low, but acceptable in that I can get up the hills I typically encounter in coastal California, and top gear is enough to maintain speed on the flats. This bike maxxes out at around 15 mph, about as fast as it feels comfortable to go, even downhill I wouldn’t want to take it over 20 mph, where it gets a little flighty.

    The not-so-good:
    This bike is slow. Compared to a drop-bar racer, there is heavy commuter bike slow, then knobbly mountain bike slow, then recumbent slow, then ballon-tire tandem-cruiser “ding-ding” bell slow, and then there is this bike, ok, but before the training-wheel bikes and the BigWheels. Don’t get me wrong, it is still fun, good exercise and sure beats walking, but the sum of little inefficiencies of the small wheels, the shaft drive, the hub gears and the crank-forward geometry all make this bike just… plain… slow. I feel like I’m a whole chain-ring slower than my mountain bike, as if I couldn’t shift up to the “big ring”. Apples to apples would be to compare this folder with chain-drive folders, and it still comes up a cog slower. So if you wanted a folder but didn’t need or want the low-maintenance, the weather, salt, sand and dirt resistance, or the cleanliness of the drivetrain, then I’d get a standard chain and sprocket, folding bike.

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