Let me try and explain how the marvellous LandRider Auto Shift actually works.
The large round (solid steel) object protruding towards the viewer from the rear knuckle is a weight that is split into two halves. This weight spins on a spindle that runs through the knuckle and has a small v-belt pulley on the other end of it. This pulley is very near the spokes of the rear wheel. A plastic plate is fitted behind the freewheel, much like a conventional spoke protector. This plate, however, has a v-belt groove around its outer edge, and the v-belt runs from this groove over the small pulley on the derailleur.
As the rear wheel turns, the weight is spun at a ferocious speed. As the weight spins, the two halves move apart (due to the mythical ‘centrifugal force’) and - much like the governor on a Victorian steam engine - they operate the two steel arms running on either side of the rear knuckle. These arms, working against the parallelogram spring, drive the derailleur towards higher gears.
The faster the rear wheel turns, the more the derailleur moves to a higher gear. When the rear wheel stops the derailleur always moves to the low gear position. All this without any direct intervention by the rider.
The Allen bolt that is mounted on the top of the front knuckle controls the parallelogram spring tension. As you increase the tension you increase the speed required to move the derailleur - so it effectively tends to change up into any particular gear at a higher wheel speed.
The LandRider Auto Shift is clearly the same design as the AutoBike Smartshift 2000 - another few years - another company.
Unlike the AutoBike Smartshift 2000 (which does appear to have some kind of provision for the derailleur to operate, or be operated by, a cable) the LandRider Auto Shift has the relevant lumps on the casting for the rear knuckle but but they have not been drilled out. Also unlike the AutoBike Smartshift 2000, the the LandRider Auto Shift has a long pulley cage.
Whereas the AutoBike Smartshift 2000 seems to have generally been part of a six speed set-up, the LandRider Auto Shift seems to be usually specified as part of a 14 speed transmission - although I don’t think the derailleur design is specific to 6 or 7 speeds in either case. This highlights the fact that, just like the AutoBike Smartshift 2000, the strangest thing about this design is that it is not indexed in any way. When you are travelling at a speed that would naturally cause the derailleur to be between two gears - then the derailleur happily positions itself between the two gears. The one person who I have spoken to who has ridden this system extensively seemed unbothered by this - apparently you soon learn to tune your speed to suit. Somehow I can’t imagine this being easy when descending or climbing steep hills - exactly the time when I, as a not overly thin, not overly fit, person, seem to most need my gears to function accurately.
However, none of this seems to have bothered Pat and Catherine Patterson, who blithely rode 23,000 miles around the world on their LandRiders, Auto Shifting all the while. You can see a short video of their incredible jouney here.
This particular LandRider Auto Shift has a red label, , is stamped '2H0' on its inner parallelogram plate and has a slightly plainer inner pulley cage plate than my example with a blue label.
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