The Art of MTB Drivetrains, According to a Product Designer

Have we reached peak drivetrain? Not according to John Calendrille, a product designer who has been dreaming up new and improved bike components for decades.

John Calendrille has spent decades designing and patenting everything from derailleurs and shifters to dropper posts and brake levers. He’s consulted for industry brands including TRP and Box, and now he’s got his own company, Vivo, that sells a customizable 12-speed shifter, the Vivo F3.

  • How did you first get into designing bike components?
  • What are some of the limitations of existing mechanic mountain biker shifters? What makes the Vivo F3 an improvement?
  • Have you found that many riders struggle with the ergonomics of off-the-shelf mechanical shifters?
  • One of the patents you hold is for a combination brake/shifter lever, a design that’s pretty much standard for gravel and road bikes today. Where did this idea come from?
  • Are bike cockpits becoming cluttered again with all the controls riders need for dropper posts, motors, etc.? 
  • With electronic drivetrains becoming more common, a lot of riders are wondering if mechanical systems will eventually go away. What’s your take?
  • Is there still room to improve mechanical derailleurs?
  • Do you think moving away from front derailleurs has been a positive development?
  • Is 12 (or 13) speeds enough? Are there technical issues that prevent us from going beyond 13 gears, or is it more of a practical consideration?
  • What makes (or made) derailleur hangers necessary?
  • Bikes have been around for more than 100 years and the basic form hasn’t changed a lot. Aside from e-bikes, is the pace of innovation in the bike world slowing or accelerating?
  • How important are patents in the bike industry? 
  • You’re manufacturing and assembling your Vivo F3 shifters in the USA. How’s that going? Do you foresee challenges with scaling domestic production?
  • What’s next for Vivo?

Learn more and connect with John at

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