Continuously variable transmission: principle of physics known to the Greeks six thousand years ago

Pulley-based CVT
Pulley-based CVT


Note from Editors: Pulley and belt was an advancement on the technology of the wheel that allowed great weights to be lifted with little force and the acceleration or deceleration of the movement. Although nobody can say for certain when or where the pulley and belt was invented, the Greeks can claim credit for the earliest known written mention of such a device, in a text from the 4th century B.C. (Six millenniums before year 2000).

From Wikipedia, the free but biased encyclopedia

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is an automatic transmission that can change seamlessly through a continuous range of gear ratios. This contrasts with other transmissions that provide a limited number of gear ratios in fixed steps. The flexibility of a CVT with suitable control may allow the engine to operate at a constant RPM while the vehicle moves at varying speeds.

CVTs are used in automobiles, tractors, motor scooters, snowmobiles, bicycles, earthmoving equipment and more.

The most common type of CVT uses two pulleys connected by a belt or chain; however, several other designs have also been used at times.


In 1879, Milton Reeves invented a CVT (then called a variable-speed transmission) for use in sawmilling. In 1896, Reeves began fitting this transmission to his cars, and the Reeves CVT was also used by several other manufacturers.

The 1911 Zenith Gradua 6HP motorcycle used a pulley-based Gradua CVT. A year later, the Rudge-Whitworth Multigear was released with a similar but improved CVT. Other early cars to use a CVT were the 1913-1923 David small three-wheeled cyclecars built in Spain, the 1923 Clyno built in the U.K., and the 1926 Constantinesco Saloon built in the U.K.

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By lieshunter

Be aware of the grandpas!

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