1 Question - What's Keeping the Gearbox Down?

Jan 5, 2017
by Mike Levy  
1 Question
When it comes to things that seem to make sense but have yet to actually happen, a mass-produced downhill or all-mountain bike with an integrated gearbox is probably near the top of a lot of riders' list. After all, having your gears tucked away safely inside of a metal box seems like the ideal setup, doesn't it? But, for all intents and purposes, the concept has never gotten past the point of being a novelty.

Sure, there have been a few examples that have made production - GT's IT-1 downhill bike and those Lahar's that looked like they were lifted from a Ridley Scott movie come to mind - but saying that either was "commercially available" in any real quantities could be debated. These days, New Zealand's Zerode is leading the canned-gearing charge with their G2 downhill bike that employs a Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub as a gearbox, and the new Taniwha all-mountain rig with a carbon frame that's molded to work with a 12-speed Pinion transmission. Both bikes are also about as commonly seen as a giant squid.


Pinion gear transmission
Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com


A few boutique brands aside, you won't see a gearbox on any mass-produced mountain bike. So... why is that? If the idea makes so much sense, why don't we have a slew of Giant, Trek, and Specialized all-mountain and downhill bikes with gearboxes bolted to them to choose from?

The simplest reason might make the most sense: as cool as a gearbox bike might be, we don't actually need them. In a recent Pinkbike Poll questioning the reliability of derailleurs, over 6,500 of the 10,000 replies stated that it had either been more than two years since they broke a derailleur, they couldn't even remember the last time they broke one, or that they've never even had an issue. And over 9,000 readers also said that they rarely have issues at all, or that they're at least moderately happy with their current drivetrain.

Is it a case of the vocal minority, then? Because while there might be hundreds of comments begging for a gearbox on any article that even mentions the topic, it looks like the actual demand and numbers of people willing to spend money on such a bike is far, far smaller than it appears.


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Then again, maybe a lot of consumers are thinking wrong. ''If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,'' some apparently successful business guy named Henry Ford once said. And he was probably right. Innovative products, technology, and manufacturing methods are created not by the average consumer, but rather by visionaries who can, in a way, see the future, even if they are dreams driven by dollars and euros. Could Shimano, SRAM, Pinion and others solve the issues associated with gearboxes such as friction, weight, and how they attach? Maybe, but even if they could, would it make any business sense to do such a thing? If Honda couldn't justify it, the answer might be 'no.' Or is there really a conspiracy, as some seem to believe, to make sure we keep buying SLX and X01 derailleurs, or do gearboxes just not make any sense?

Below, I talk to some of the companies and people who have the ability to change the drivetrain landscape, and some of them are trying to do exactly that while others explain why a derailleur-based system is still the answer. - Mike Levy






Rob Metz - Zerode

If you want a gearbox bike these days, you'll likely be considering one of Metz's creations. His G1 and G2 downhill bikes have employed a frame-mounted Shimano Alfine hub as a gearbox for years, and his new Taniwha all-mountain design is built around a Pinion gearbox.
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Gearboxes are the obvious choice to address the issues of range, unsprung weight and durability that plague the standard MTB drivetrain. ''Innovations'' such as 50-tooth cogs, clutch derailleurs, and lightweight cassettes are all band-aids to a problem that has an ultimate solution in a gearbox.

It should be the norm, but it's not because it's hard to do right. Just ''putting a gearbox on a bike'' won't work; it needs careful consideration of materials, suspension design and geometry to get the bike and the gearbox to perform as one. Some gearbox bikes have been over complicated in the past; it's gone beyond the riding experience to become a design statement that's all about the gearbox and not about the riding experience. Often, adding a gearbox has been seen as a reason to push other boundaries on geometry or material. While these are still great bikes, the combination of so many new ideas in a single bike has overwhelmed the everyday rider.



Zerode Tanihwa 2016


When done well, simplicity is beautiful and powerful, but it's incredibly hard to achieve. To succeed, a gearbox bike needs to be simple, and it needs to start from a desire for a better riding experience rather than a desire ''to put a gearbox onto a bike.''

The number one reason why gearboxes have not become the norm is that people don't want to buy a gearbox - they want to buy a riding experience, and until now gearboxes bikes have been all about the gearbox. When you jump on a Taniwha, the first thing you notice is how nicely it rides, and only then do you realize it's got a gearbox. - Rob Metz







Joe Lawwill - Mountain Bike Marketing, Shimano

Lawwill spent well over a decade racing downhill at the highest level, and even collected a World Championship win as a Master in 2002. You're more likely to see him at an enduro race these days, however, and yes, he's still fast as hell.
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First, let me say I love the gearbox concept for bicycles. If I could snap my fingers and all bikes were magically transformed into gear box bikes that had a comparable amount of drag, similar overall weight, and a reasonable cost, the world would be a better place. Ditching a highly exposed derailleur and eliminating chain drops while having a stronger rear wheel with less unsprung weight and potentially a better working suspensions system is all music to my ears. But, there are some realities that can't be ignored. One of the biggest and most obvious is the fact that gears in a gearbox have significantly more drag than the chain system we are accustomed to. Back in the late 80's when my dad [Mert Lawwill - Ed.] was contemplating a rear suspension system, he knew given the limited power output of a human that pedaling efficiency would be paramount and that has not changed today, unless, of course, we are talking about e-bikes...

As far as I know, there is no gearbox tech that can match the efficiency of a chain system, even when bad chain lines are factored in. Pinion does, however, have an interesting system that has a nice solution for keeping friction to a minimum, and Zerode is releasing a really slick looking bike using the Pinion gearbox that I am very interested in trying. According to their specs, the weight for the frame is very competitive, but specific drag comparisons to a traditional chain and derailleur are not noted. The overall cost is a bit high, but hey, as long as the amount of drag is acceptable and it truly performs, then to me it may be worth it, but maybe not for everyone.



The setup w 11-36t cassette.


Aside from the drag issue, you have to consider what this means to the bike brands who have invested heavily in their current systems. Nothing they are making now is directly compatible with a gearbox, so this means re-developing, potentially from the ground up, and expensive carbon molds. So the short answer as to why you don't see gearbox bikes everywhere is it's a HUGE commitment by the bike brands to come to the market with a completely new bike that uses a less efficient system than we are accustomed to, and that doesn't have a high demand. My guess is no bike brand is getting an onslaught of letters demanding them to produce gear box bikes...

But, as we have learned with the variety of wheel sizes, geometries, and suspension travel, there is no perfect do-it-all setup. We have trade-offs everywhere we turn, so maybe giving up a little in the efficiency department is worth it. For some, it's not, and some just fear change so there is no guarantee that if a company rolled the dice that it would pay off. The overall bike industry is pretty soft, especially in the downhill segment, so asking brands to invest a lot of money in new designs to only sell a relatively small number of frames is not going to get the thumbs up from George in accounting, so there is a very real gamble that could literally bury a company. Also, you have to consider that bike shops across the land are not going to be carrying replacement parts right away, and they are not going to be trained on how to service the gearboxes either. Both fairly easy issues to solve, but they will require time and money, which would be a gamble for them as well.

Aside from the investment of bringing it to market, you have to think about the challenges of the gearbox itself. It has to be more durable, light enough, and cost effective for it to be welcomed. Overall bike costs for those carbon trail bikes and DH bikes we love so much are already so high, and asking people to pay more for a likely heavier bike that is harder to pedal may not appeal to the general consumer. So add that concern to the minds of a manufacturer and it's less and less of a mystery why you don't see gearbox bikes everywhere.

Our current drivetrains, and I don't mean just Shimano's, but any traditional drivetrain, is so exposed that it almost seems crazy that we consider this as acceptable, but the reality is it works pretty damn well. No, it's not perfect but it's damn good, and with it I am able to enjoy the great outdoors. I hear people get upset at Shimano for spending time making relatively minimal improvements to the derailleur while they think Shimano should be spending all of their time on gearboxes. I have read comments where people actually call Shimano stupid for trying to improve the derailleur, but these people might want to stop and realize for a moment that Shimano doesn't just have just a couple engineers. Time spent improving existing tech is not taking away from future tech. There is a full-time dedicated team constantly working on future technology.

Is Shimano developing a gearbox? I will neither confirm nor deny anything regarding that, but I can say that if Shimano were able to make something truly superior and had the major bike brands' commitment, it would be something we would push to make happen. Like it or not, the development of electronic shifting and e-bikes is actually going to help the realization of gearboxes. At least that is my prediction. Bike brands are already learning to build bikes around e-bike motors, and going to a gearbox design would not be too much a departure. What if frames were made so that you could have it interchangeable between a gearbox and an e-bike motor?

Let's hope getting gearboxes mainstream is not impossible, and one day, in the not so distant future, we see it happen. I for one am willing to compromise a little to get the benefits the gearboxes offer on some of my bikes, but on my XC race bikes I am not willing to give up any of my precious watts, and I don't think I am alone, so don't expect continued development of traditional derailleurs to stop anytime soon. - Joe Lawwill







Greg Minnaar - Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz Syndicate racer's resume is the stuff of legend: three-time World Champion, three World Cup overall titles, and the winningest male downhill racer of all-time. Oh, and he used to race for this little outfit called G-Cross Honda on the RN-01, a gearbox bike with Showa suspension.
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I think the gearbox was definitely something incredible, and Honda did a great job of coming up with their gearbox. It was very simple; it's very similar to what we use, traditionally, now as a drivetrain. There wasn't too much that was different, but it was just the way it was configured on the bike and the way it ran. The main reason for the gearbox, I think, was to hold the distributed weight of the drivetrain in one central place in the middle of the bike to try and make it handle better, and it worked really well. Keeping the weight centered over the bottom bracket was definitely one of the key factors to that bike handling so well.

I think that the challenges that come up now include drag. Running two chains in a gearbox is what we fought against a lot at Honda, and still having the bike coast as fast as possible, which was really tough. So the drag was kind of a big thing, and although we brought it down considerably, it still didn't coast as fast as a [bike with a] traditional drivetrain. Another thing that makes it tough is how it sits in the frame. You'd have every bike design having to be configured around a gearbox, but right now, with a traditional drivetrain it allows you to be a little more creative with frame design. Unless one of the bike brands went and designed their own gearbox, I don't see it working spread through a bunch of different bikes. I think trying to create a gearbox or internal gearing through a hub is kind of drawing away from the handling of the bike. To bring that up into the center of the frame is key, but at the same time, you're just creating drag.

So I think there are a few things that have stalled it out, one just being the design. If you had a gearbox you could buy, and you had to build a frame around it, I think it limits the design considerably. And you know, we're in an industry where consumers like to buy something different. If I go onto Pinkbike, I read all the comments about why a bike has got a certain leverage ratio and this or that, and this ''blogger,'' if that's the right term to call them, prefers a 62-degree head angle. It's quite technical and guys quite like to be different, as well as have a great acronym for their suspension design.

So I think that's what's really holding this back. But, at the same time, it's nice to have a variety of bikes. We've got a lot of different brands to choose from, and they all have something different to their suspension or in their frame design, and the gearbox would definitely hold that back a lot. - Greg Minnaar



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Wacek Kipszak - Opinionated Consumer

Better known as 'Waki Designs' here on Pinkbike, Kipszak is both one of our most prolific and eccentric commenters, as well as being a mountain biker and consumer with some strong opinions.
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For me, the gearbox is a no-brainer for DH bikes and maybe for trail bikes. Companies say that all they do is to push the boundaries of the bike design, and moving up to 400-grams from the unsprung mass to the place where weight matters the least sounds like the way to go. Even at the cost of a full kilogram added to a total weight of the bike. Two of the three suspension specialists I asked before writing this confirmed without much doubt that each bump shaves less speed off the bike, covering up for lesser pedaling efficiency with a surplus. The industry is boasting with enthusiasm about increasing rear wheel stiffness, and making the freehub much narrower to fit only one cog instead of a whole cassette would definitely improve that. The issue is that companies focus on safe ways of making 'gear bucks.'

The last time someone put their balls on the table was SRAM with their XX1, which instantly revolutionized the way we spin circles and keep chains on. Small companies naturally can, and must have, the courage, because there is no other way they can win against the big guns. It is easy to incorporate a standard drivetrain into the frame design - all you need is a derailleur hanger and cable guides. Drivetrain companies are reliable suppliers with a wide offering of products suiting budgets and needs of their clients. No matter what you get from whom, everything fits that bloody derailleur hanger. It's harder with the gearbox because different companies make gearboxes in different shapes, and there are different frame mounts. However, development of e-bikes shows that manufacturers can agree on a mounting standard for a large chunk of machinery in the BB area.

What troubles me most is riders buying into this game. Eagle and Di2 are the evolution of the drivetrain, and yes, shifting quality goes up, but who on earth negotiates rocks on a steep climb at a high pulse rate, or tries to fit a few pedal strokes down a gnarly track - you know, doing mountain biking - and thinks: ''I wish my drivetrain shifted smoother! Those big gaps between gears are soooo annoying! I haven't readjusted my rear mech for eight months and it shifts badly!'' Of course, if you ride on a fire road for a few hours, first world problems find their way into your thoughts, things like how a gearbox is up to 10-percent less efficient. Good, I say, as my ride will be five minutes longer, but I wish I were home, eating snacks and watching cat videos on my phone! Even the large portion of the downhill crowd is on the derailed bus: ''Aaaaaaaah, I put a total of one-hundred pedal strokes through a whole weekend of park riding, but with a gearbox I would need to make ten more to be just as fast! Whoops, there goes my X01 DH derailleur.''

So while I find it understandable why we see so few gearboxes on bikes, it is always a good time to make that huge step and increase bio-diversity of bicycle design and put these gearboxes on DH bikes. If companies are really into gaining seconds, they should put the money where their mouth is and make gearboxes a reality. SRAM and Shimano can make a gearbox better and more reliable than Pinion; I have no doubt about it. Another thing I think about as an architect and aesthetics snob is the fact that gearbox'd bikes used to be rather ugly or just not mainstream enough. But the beautiful and exciting Zerode Taniwha seems to be a great candidate to change the image of a gearbox bike being a weirdo. - Wacek Kipszak







Richard Cunningham - Tech Editor, Pinkbike

RC has probably forgotten more about bikes than most of us will ever know, thanks to decades in the cycling industry as a designer, frame builder, and journalist.
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Widespread acceptance of a geared transmission is farther off the horizon now than it was only a handful of years ago, in spite of the fact that a number of promising examples have been put into production. SRAM's successful campaign to ditch the front derailleur is the primary reason. The most compelling arguments for a gearbox versus the existing derailleur have been: simplified, one-lever shifting; evenly spaced gear selections with no overlaps; sealed, lubricated, all-weather reliability with fewer exposed parts to break; and one precise sprocket location to stabilize rear-suspension kinematics. SRAM's 11-speed one-by derailleur transmission, and its more recent Eagle 12-speed system, covered most of those bases. Simple, one-lever shifting - check. Fewer exposed parts to break - check. Chainring diameters stabilized around 32 teeth - check. Evenly spaced gear selections with no overlaps - not perfect, but pretty close.

Presently, if one assumes that price, weight, and efficiency are equal, only two arguments remain in favor of the gearbox: It can be lubricated and sealed against the elements, and its gears can be arranged to provide exact and evenly spaced selections between shifts. Without belaboring the point, the reason a chain and sprocket cannot provide even steps across a cassette is because all of the sprocket teeth are constrained by the chain to a half-inch pitch; SRAM's designers can't have a perfect 13-percent step between gears. Instead, they must choose the sprockets that best match and live with the result. Look at the inside of the Pinion gearbox and you may notice that the gears use a wide variety of tooth profiles. They altered the pitch of the teeth to achieve nearly perfect jumps across the entire range of the transmission.

Before I move to a final analysis, there is a big equalizer - the elephant in the room - that must be addressed before any arguments for or against the rear derailleur can be posed. If bike makers switched to gearboxes today, the two weakest links of the present system would still remain on most mountain bikes. The vision of the ultimate gearbox bike - the sleek unencumbered profile, the all-weather Gates Carbon belt drive, paired with the integrated gearbox - is a hardtail, and most of us ride full-suspension bikes. So, the final drive of most production gearbox bikes would most likely be a roller chain and, because of the variable chain lengths created by the most-wanted suspension designs, there is going to be a chain tensioner (like the jockey cage that hangs below a rear derailleur) at the rear axle to compensate for that, probably with a clutch mechanism. Presently then, the viability of a mass-produced all-mountain gearbox bike hinges on whether evenly spaced shifts and a sealed, long-wearing transmission are compelling enough reasons for bike makers to risk making them, and tempting enough to send customers rushing to buy them. I doubt either will happen in the near future.


Domahidy Designs Titanium All-Mountain Pinion Hardtail 2016


The gearbox reality check is that they are substantially heavier and more expensive than a derailleur transmission and, in the best case scenario, fall significantly short of its efficiency. And bike makers must be brave enough sell a design that looks different - and to dedicate their frame designs to one specific gearbox, knowing that there will be no alternative should a problem arise, or another maker shows up with a more appealing transmission. The very existence of all-mountain and downhill bikes, however, proves that price, weight, and efficiency are not paramount concerns for customers, and bike makers' recent rush to build dedicated frames for e-motors has proven that the Specializeds and Treks of the world would build gearbox bikes in a heartbeat - but not unless it was a sure bet. Say what you will, it's a rare moment in history when a major bike brand has the courage to stand alone (Cannondale comes to mind) and market a truly innovative or even a significantly different looking product. They may put a bike length ahead of the peloton, but if nobody follows, the ''innovators'' quickly fade back into the safety of the pack.

In the end, riders will decide if the gearbox is important enough to succeed. The sport is maturing, which creates customers who are more inclined to purchase a sure bet, keep it for a few years, and then buy a new, improved version. If they push the paddles and the transmission always shifts - which is most often the case - then I doubt today's enthusiasts will find cause to make a dynamic move to a gearbox bike.

I am far from a hater. The gearbox concept, in some form, is arguably the next step for the market's elite, long-travel segment, and should a major player muster the courage to commit to the concept (along with the cash to successfully market it), I have no doubt that their followers will rush in to claim ownership of the trend. It's what we do best. - Richard Cunningham







David Roumeas - Effigear

Roumeas is one of the men behind Effigear, a French company who have designed their own sealed gearbox. And if that wasn't enough, he and Guy Cavalerie went on to create their own bike brand, Cavalerie, to mount their gearboxes to.
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First, the gearbox has a bad reputation. We’ve seen a lot of projects being a big failure and enforcing the idea of “gearbox is heavy.” It’s not the case anymore; of course, gearbox bikes aren’t the lightest on the market, but you can easily build a ready to shred enduro bike under 13.5kg (29lbs) with an aluminum frame. The most important thing isn’t the bike’s weight, but it’s the weight in the position on the bike.

Second, a gearbox bike is more expensive because fewer units are made. On a bike's lifetime, the gearbox will be cheaper on maintenance than a traditional drivetrain which at the end makes the gearbox bike cheaper than a regular one. This is feedback from users who are bored of maintenance on their drivetrains. Even if current drivetrains become much more reliable than they are, after a year you have to change parts (cassette, chain, etc) if you’re lucky and haven't crashed it during this first year of riding. For example, our gearbox has a five-year of warranty, so you only have to change the secondary transmission every two years with a belt drive.



Falcon 27.5 16.58kg as show without pedal


Third, it's a new standard. You can’t place a gearbox on a regular bike. So it looks bad at first look but, regarding bike design, it gives more opportunities in term of frame design and kinematic optimization (higher swing arm pivot, no kickback effect, stiffness and symmetry of the rear arm, etc.) I’ve been in discussion with a few designers from big bike companies, but most of them want to try a gearbox “on an existing bike” which has been developed and optimized for a derailleur; the chain line will be slightly different and the bike won’t work properly with that.

Maybe it doesn’t have to become the norm. I think it’s more an alternative for riders who don’t want to use their bike as a ready to trash product that they change every year and want to spend less time on maintaining their bike. E-bikes are also a good opportunity for us. A gearbox can provide a good solution to difficulties that derailleur meets with electrical motors. We are actually working on this.- David Roumeas







Joe Graney - CEO, Santa Cruz Bicycles

Graney is one of the main men behind Santa Cruz's Nomad and 5010c designs and, more recently, has transitioned into the company's Chief Operating Officer. Don't let that title fool you - he's still the same straight-talking Joe.
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The main reason that gearboxes aren't becoming the norm is pretty simple. The dream (low maintenance, less damage) hasn't been fully delivered to have them meet reality yet. In reality, the biggest problem is cost and availability. The cost of a currently commercially available gearbox would increase bike cost by a few grand, and it's unclear if anybody really has enough issues with damaged derailleurs and worn cassettes to pay that much for a bike. And if we designed a frame around a gearbox, it's unclear if the manufacturer would support that transmission with spare parts to fulfill the promise of durability. The bike industry doesn't have a great track record on this, so confidence is understandably low that a new ''gearbox hub standard'' won't get super-Boosted and have three different axles shortly after the first one is introduced.

Not only is cost a significant barrier, but the complaints about downhill drivetrains that were valid ten years ago have been greatly improved upon in recent years as well. With 1x (and 1x7 for downhill), we've gotten rid of the negative attributes of old drivetrains that I think are in people's minds who are in favor of gearboxes. We now have chainrings that don't drop the chain as easily, gear ranges equaling multi-ring setups of old, and we've created clearance near the crank to allow for more design freedom on the frame. Everything works really well, is light, and you have forward and backward compatibility.


2017 Santa Cruz Models


There are a number of technical reasons that explain why gearboxes haven't gotten traction commercially, despite the populist outlook either. Those include weight, packaging difficulties (how to get geometry, shock fitting, etc..), efficiency loss, gear range and adjustability, compatibility with existing components, as well as testing and support at a World Cup racing level that needs financial backing from drivetrain makers. And that's without getting into the specific challenges they pose to suspension design - which is non-trivial. But those problems are solvable if the right solution came along with the support of riders to give something new a try.

As if that wasn't enough, a final blow: for Santa Cruz, we believe in providing long-term support on our bikes, so if a gearbox failed and the manufacturer stopped producing that particular model or went out of business, and there wasn't a competitor that could replace it, we risk having a rider who has one of our bikes with no ability to find a transmission to make it go. No matter how annoying derailleurs are, they're interchangeable, which gives you the option to take one off and find another to bolt on. Losing that is unacceptable to us. We're open to the concept but have a pragmatic stance - we don't want any rides missed based on decisions we made. - Joe Graney






Christoph Lermen - Pinion Co-Founder, Engineer

Seen a gearbox on a mountain bike? There's a good chance Lermen had something to do with it. He's also one of the minds behind Pinion's C1.12 gearbox that will appear on trail bikes costing around $3,000.
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There were several failed attempts over the past few years to develop a central gearbox, but Pinion was the first company to offer a genuine alternative with many advantages over conventional derailleur-based systems. This is demonstrated by more than seventy OEMs [original equipment spec - Ed.] and many thousands of satisfied customers. We believe that after decades on the market there is no further innovative power that can be seen for derailleur systems other than cosmetic improvements. However, there will be plenty to see in the coming years for gearboxes, with our Pinion technology being just at its beginning.


Pinion gear transmission


There are many small and medium-sized OEMs already using Pinion gearboxes successfully in enduro and downhill, including Nicolai, Zerode, Viral, Ventana, and others, but large OEMs have been reluctant to invest in this technology. This is due to the relatively high cost of gearboxes, and the resultant low number of parts in the absolute premium range. But now, with our C-line gearbox, Pinion presents a corresponding solution to this problem. It is now up to these large OEMs to follow the example of companies like Nicolai and Zerode and employ a gearbox in their designs. We're in contact with a number of well-known OEMs, and it has become exciting to see who is a technology leader and will be using our revolutionary drive technology as the first gearbox bike in their catalog. - Christoph Lermen






Chris Hilton - External Drivetrain Product Manager, SRAM

Hilton is the man in charge of SRAM's external drivetrain team, and it's his group that has delivered the company's massively sucsessful single-ring transmissions.
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I'm putting ''gearbox'' in air quotes because it can be a vague or misunderstood term, although the word itself possibly best describes the situation. In the most basic sense, a gearbox is simply a multi-speed transmission of some sort, contained within an enclosure. Where that enclosure is, what's inside the enclosure, and how it works are all open to interpretation.

To discuss where things are going in the future, you could possibly start by going back in time first. Let's shift the gearbox into ''R'' and see what's back there... Generally speaking, gearboxes for bicycles were first produced a few years before 1900, depending on where you lived, who you believe, and how you look at historical information. I'm not a detailed historian, so don't quote me on the dates. Let's just use it as an approximate time point. Some other notable things occurred around this time. The Wright Brothers first flight was in 1903; the Ford Motor company was founded in 1903; the US Civil War ran from 1861 to 1865; Karl Benz made the world's first true automobile in 1885; the first automobiles were commercially available in 1890; Dunlop made the first pneumatic bike tire in 1888; Fichtel and Sachs (Sachs) was formed to make bicycle hubs in 1895. In 1904 Sachs produced their first gearbox, a 3-speed hub.

I listed the info about Sachs at the end of these historical events because, as you probably know, Sachs bicycle division (in Schweinfurt, Germany) was acquired by SRAM in 1997. This acquisition is the foundation of our drivetrain development center here in Schweinfurt. If you were to walk around this center today, there is plenty of remaining influence from the many years that Sachs pioneered, engineered, developed and manufactured bicycle parts. Among those parts are bicycle gearboxes. Since 1904, more than 100,000,000 (one hundred million!) gearbox hubs have been produced just by Sachs / SRAM. More hundreds of millions by other manufacturers. As you can imagine, there has been a lot of experimentation over the last 112 years. Not just with hubs, but with all kinds of bicycle transmissions; that includes a wide variety of gearboxes. After all, products like Hammerschmidt, SRAM's 2x10, 1x (XX1), and the all new Eagle drivetrain were developed here. It's pretty obvious to a lot of bike riders that SRAM makes drivetrains (we call them External Drivetrains) with derailleurs. It's worth knowing that we also have an awful lot of experience with gearboxes, too! We make them today. To be clear, a gearbox contained in a hub or in the main frame aren't so different. Many of the same functional principles are employed to make them work.


SRAM XX1 at their DTC facility in Schweinfurt Germany. Photo by Sebastian Schieck.


Since I work in product development of our drivetrains, I always like to read the comments Pinkbike readers have regarding our products, or really any products. There are few things that I have learned from reading these comments: Norbs was robbed; everything looks like a Session; gearboxes are the future.

I don't really know where I stand with the first two points. Norbs was certainly underscored. Horribly. But robbery is a serious crime, and saying he was robbed might be a bit of an overstatement or even an accusation. On the third point, though, I can provide some commentary. First of all, gearboxes are absolutely in the future. There is no question that bikes in the future will have gearboxes. They have been around for over 100 years, and they will be around for years to come. There are going to be gear boxes on bikes in the future. Some bikes. But gearboxes aren't the ONLY future. Gearboxes existed long in the past on bicycles. Gearboxes exist today on bicycles. Gearboxes will exist in the future on bicycles. The real question then is: what bicycles will gearboxes be on? And what does a gearbox need to do to be successful? A gearbox is just like every other product on the market, bicycle or otherwise. It's a compromise. There is always a tradeoff among the traits of a product to make it successful. Weight, cost, efficiency, durability, performance, reliability, availability, ease of maintenance, etc...

The myth today seems to be this: ''A gearbox is perfect. Bulletproof, maintenance free, silent, efficient, awesome shifting, perfect suspension, and so much more!'' Well, it ain't. It's a compromise. Everything is a compromise. A gearbox can be many things, but each of those things will cost you other things. Lightweight comes with high-end materials and manufacturing process, and that adds cost. Unless you use plastic! It's cheap, it's light... that subtracts durability. Durability not THAT important to you? Okay, are you ready to disassemble and re-assemble a transmission with 100 small and similar parts? Does less unsprung weight make for better suspension performance? Could be. Are you willing to trade that for significant loss of efficiency? You may blaze the moments of downhill where you aren't pedaling (or not), but your buddies will get sick of waiting for you.

Let's say the industry invested heavily in gearbox development. If a gearbox was highly refined in the future and had significantly fewer drawbacks, would you be willing to pay more for it? How much more? Because that investment in the gearbox itself, plus frames, tooling, mechanic, dealer and other training are all going to add cost. Do you want a bunch of new standards for your bike? Frame mounting, hub width and configuration, chain or belt, chain tensioners, and lots and lots more are needed. It seems unlikely that every major bike manufacturer or gearbox developer would agree upon a single set of fixed ''standards'' that everybody would use. Because all bikes would then eventually be the same. And nobody wants that. We want choice.


SRAM GX Review


A gearbox has a lot of potential for certain applications to make a great bike, but it's not a perfect solution today. And as I mentioned before, gearboxes have been around a long time, nearly twice as long as derailleur systems. I know a lot of people think ''What’s the point?'' of continuing to improve a derailleur system. The point is because we are still improving them. Ten years ago, everybody (practically) was riding 3x9 drivetrains on performance bikes. Today, you probably aren't. You could, though. You could also go back to an elastomer fork and rim brakes but you won't. An external drivetrain is light, efficient, simple to work on, and available at a wide variety of price points. Not to mention readily available at bike shops around the world. Our 1x11 drivetrains span a huge range of prices, making it affordable to any mountain biker.

But you know what, plenty of people ride single speeds. Adam Craig is a 5-time single-speed World Champ. His bike was incredibly light, durable, simple, and probably affordable. Have you asked him what he thinks about gearboxes? He would smash us all with only a single gear. Why do you even need gears? Probably because we aren’t Adam Craig.

The decision about gearboxes on future mountain bikes is completely up to bike riders. Everybody reading this has a choice, a VOTE today. You can go out and buy a gearbox bike right this minute. And if thousands and thousands of people do, it will steer the direction of the industry. We all get a vote on this stuff. It's called dollars / euros / pounds or money. Every dollar you spend on a product casts a vote for that product. I don't know how many performance mountain bikes have gearboxes today, but I do know how many external drivetrain bikes are sold today. Today, people are voting for an external gear drivetrain. It doesn't matter how many derailleurs or gears it has.

Is SRAM working on a gearbox? Well, in a sense we started working on them 100 years ago. SRAM isn't afraid of trying new things, taking risks, and taking our own trail to the future. I guess we will see what's going to happen when it's happening.

When everybody (or nearly everybody) buys it or chooses it, it will become ''the norm.'' Gearbox bikes are available today; they are a commercially available option, but clearly not the norm. Therefore, I can only conclude that The People have decided that the product does not suit their needs. People vote with their dollars and their choices. Believe it or not, The Industry will pretty much cater to the common vote. Democracy can be tough, though. Sometimes you lose to others, and that means your opinion isn't the direction chosen. That might be hard to accept. What's keeping the gearbox from becoming the norm? The People haven't chosen it.






Whew, and breathe. It turns out that it isn't just you guys that are passionate about gearboxes, as the cycling industry that's behind the products we ride has some pretty strong opinions. Better yet, they're not exactly soft-pedaling with their opinions when asked what's keeping the gearbox from becoming more of a mainstream item. That said, it's the same weight, efficiency, compatibility, and cost concerns that have been voiced in the past, and those same reasons will continue to be used when the question is brought up again and again in the future. In the meantime, companies like Zerode, Pinion, Effigear and others are pushing forward despite those four cogs of contention.

We're about six thousand words on (kudos if you've read this far, by the way) from where we started and, hopefully, it's a bit clearer as to why we all still have a derailleur hanging off the back of our bikes. The question after everyone has made their case above: should that derailleur stay there, or does a gearbox deserve to take over its duties? - Mike Levy

Must Read This Week

514 Comments

  • + 339
 The Sram talk about ''Do you really want new standards for your bike?'' as an argument against gearboxes seems a bit silly. let's talk metric shock sizing then....
  • + 31
 My thoughts exactly! This constant changing is probably driving up costs! Economics of scale dictates that the more one can produce the cheaper it will be, right? Why can QR9 be so cheap? Because they are made by the millions!

If you keep changing stuff how on Earth will you ever reach volumes to cover that R&D and tooling?
I'm sure these big companies can absorb a bit of a hit when it comes to costs to produce and supply gearboxes at reasonable prices? They will make their money in time. These little guys just can't afford that risk in cash flow.
  • + 39
 Sram guys are such d**ks ... all they think about is money by making pieces that will have problems
  • + 160
 And the Santa Cruz guy chatting about cost ahahahaha
  • + 11
 @m07mmukh: Ironic, much??? lol
  • + 11
 Yeah, such a laughable quote!
  • + 68
 Or XD freehub or BOOST or Torque caps or basically anything else they decide is the latest greatest thing.
  • + 18
 gearboxes will take over, as renewable energy... big players and uninformed consumers push back.... its like digital photography, 20 years around before breaking through... did KODAK see it coming ? ~170,000 employees back in ~1998 may be ? boom.... technology development is exponential....its a fact.
  • + 14
 Stop voting wrong people.
  • + 105
 "Nothing they are making now is directly compatible with a gearbox, so this means re-developing, potentially from the ground up, and expensive carbon molds."

So we should be content with a new sprocket, half a HA degree and rear axles with 2mm extra every now and then?

Because incompatible standards have been a hurdle for manufacturers?

Aren't they already changing the molds every year anyway?

So much wtf in a single sentence.
  • + 33
 All's I know is I've been talking to Ian at Zerode for the past week, I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on buying their Taniwha. To me, the pro's FAR out way the con's of a gearbox and I'm just straight TIRED of the derailleur system. Wished I could just slap a pinion on my insurgent.
  • + 41
 @RedBurn: Every business is in the bike industry to make money. They are businesses; not think tanks, experimental groups, charities, or government agencies. If you're upset about the durability of their products, buy Shimano. Or Box. Or go single speed. Or belt drive. Believe me SRAM wouldn't risk their market image by making purposefully poor components for a high cost. The incentive just isn't there.

If you have purchased a gearbox and have seen the light, excellent. But if you're one of those "there is an industry conspiracy against gearboxes" and you haven't yet purchased a gearbox product, then I revoke your right to b*tch about it. You must put your money where your mouth is before you demand that businesses risk their--and their employees'--livelihood to make your curiosity commercially available at your budget level.
  • + 14
 Oh, for the heck of it- if ur reading his pinion- please offer a trigger shifter option down the road soon.
  • + 9
 @diggerandrider: Zerodes Taniwha looks great, really pretty.

However it doesn't do what made Zerode, in my opinion great;

Gear box = opportunity to run high pivot, which has to be one of the most exciting suspension layouts, bye bye braking bumps, roots, rocks or any square edged impact.....

If Shimano made a light weight Alfine with 3/4 gears, and the G2.5 got a little longer, it would demolish all....
  • + 12
 @diggerandrider: I have spoken to Pinion at Eurobike and they told me the trigger option is in the works.
  • + 16
 @PLC07: 650b made all the moulds change....
  • + 14
 For me the "standard" drive train is almost drained out of evolution. I think the Eagle is the last breath of large cassetes. In a couple of years, when sram and others see that the drive train profits are stagnated or low they will introduce a revolutionary gearbox or something simpler like the hammerschmidt kind of gear. As long as they see there is money to make in the traditional derailleur they will exploit that. It's like petrol, we already know petrol is a fuel of the past and primitive and that electricity is the way to go, but you still need to feed the machine.
  • + 7
 @TopperharleyPT1: I agree with you about the high pivot. Check out peregrine bikes. They do a cromo pinion frame with a high pivot.
  • - 7
flag Mac-Aravan (Jan 5, 2017 at 10:54) (Below Threshold)
 @Lagr1980: except that "digital" for MTB is called ebike, so no, there won't be gearbox revolution because there will be no market for it.
  • + 3
 Or boost!!!
  • + 4
 @migkab:
It's difficult to imagine 13 speed cassettes with anything bigger than 50 teeth
  • + 6
 @hazbazmtbmonkey: yep and I remember a PB article where a bunch of the main actors were super stoked about the change. There aren't many people in the industry that called B.S. on 27.5 or complained that it was an expensive/complicated switch for them either.

But then again: it was only a few millimeters here and half a degree there. The usual. Nothing really different from the year to year changes.
  • + 7
 SRAM can make a spinoff company that begins with M, This way they have

Sachs (which is now their drive trains so it counts)
Rockshox
Avid
M (your best guess here)
  • + 7
 "It can be lubricated and sealed against the elements" Maint reason right there that we should want gearboxes. Current gear systems suck when they get mud in them which is exactly where we all ride. The more gears we add onto the cassette, the more they dislike mud. Gearbox should be good for stability and weight distribution too. I think the survey asked the wrong questions. Let's reduce the time we spend cleaning and lubricating drive trains and spend more time riding!
  • + 13
 @TopperharleyPT1: Few things here which I might be able to clarify, I am unashamedly a zerode fan and just got my hands on my new Taniwha (For just under $10,000 NZD fully built which is about $7000 USD, so for anyone moaning about price go figure....). I am also lucky enough to have been riding Rob's old prototype for the G1 which had the high pivot but trail bike angles (65 HA, 150mm travel etc). I can say for sure that the high pivot is amazing when you point it down real steep, real rooty tracks, but on grade 3 - 4 tracks (which if we're being honest we all ride a lot of) you have to work really hard to pop off things and it was a bit sluggish - still awesome but much harder work. Fast forward to my first day on the Taniwha - I overjumped all my usual gaps, it manuals better, is way more playful etc etc. So I guess I'm saying that the high pivot has it's place, but that place might just be more on the downhill bike which only gets pointed down... It takes about 5 minutes to get used to the grip shift - its not like the old school ones which were spring loaded, it just clicks positively both ways.
  • + 1
 @sanga: Me Jelly....wish I had that free cash floating around. Maybe if I sold some of my other bikes....hmmm...
  • + 6
 Hilarious how PB'ers hear experts from Shimano, Sram, SC and even a rider of the most successful gearbox bike ever who all tell you that there are too many shortcomings to make them viable. Instead you listen to the two gearbox makers who stand to profit from them and PB's biggest troll! Do any of you honestly believe that Shimano and Sram would not love to sell a $2500 gearboxes to every bike manufacturer? Get real. No one is going to pay thousands more for something that slows down coasting and adds a ton of weight.
  • + 10
 Exactly. My pro Taniwha comment on that PB article got over 700 up votes. Proof that we are ready and willing for gearboxes or similar
  • + 2
 @sanga: How does the rear suspension feel under braking? Does it stiffen up at all?
  • + 4
 @migkab: Nope, next they're going to start making cassettes with the same range, but fewer gears. Who really needs those 1-tooth steps anyway?
  • + 2
 @PLC07: the expense of manufacturing is currently expensive because of the WAY they're manufacturing. There are quite likely some people in China right now working on different approaches to production. It amazes me what they're doing on the fringes over there.
  • + 12
 @crank1979: I have 5 full days riding on my Zerode Taniwha in NZ and I came off a Santa Cruz Nomad and it is better in every way. Suspension is pure confidence inspiring, there is no drag when coasting - same freehub as any other bike. Reduction of unsprung mass offsets any issues with weight - it just feels balanced. It is uncanny how quiet it is and gripshift feels better than the trigger that I previously had. Just feels right. Is it an XC bike? I made a Ti Pinion hardtail a couple of years ago and haven't touched the drive train. Just chuck a little lube on the chain every month or so. Feels good under brakes. VPP is a marketing tool and a way of packaging a frame.
  • + 3
 @sanga: That's cool. I'm stoked that the Taniwha came out well, truly. I can see where you are coming from, especially in terms of the trails that most people ride. The Taniwha is an evolution of the mountain bike, one that i think sits perfectly in the market place now.

I am biased in that I ride trails that are steep, rocky and rooty all the time. I ride a Nomad, which is great, works really well, but compare that to my G27.5 (i know more travel etc etc) it's like re-writing the rule book on how a bike can handle that kind f terrain. If only the internal geared hub wasn't from a touring bike, it's not woeful, it's just not all it can be.

I'd like to see the Taniwha flourish enough for Rob to be able to continue to evolve the DH bike, and hopefully bring out an alpine long travel enduro with a high pivot.
  • + 1
 He has a point though. If Pinkbike review a 6K bike, most of the comments will cry about the fact that it's again an article on a bike most of the people won't be able to buy. That's the same for Gearboxes. Are you willing to put much more money into a bike just to have a gearbox that doesn't work as well as a derailleur right now? No? Then how can you blame SRAM for not investing heavily into gearboxes.
I am pretty sure SRAM and Shimano secretely work on gearboxes for MTB at least a little so that if it becomes the way to go, they can follow the trend and retain their leader role. They just don't dedicate themselves 100% to it since gearboxes still have obvious problems.
  • + 1
 @m07mmukh: And that they stand by their product LoL. I had a crack in the top tube of my bronson frame, that was not crash damage, but looked like a stress fracture. The LBS sent a pic to santa cruz and they declined to replace the frame saying they believed it was not structural (based on their review of a photo). Last $10k Santa Cruz we'll ever buy. On an Ibis now and loving it.
  • + 1
 @supermike306: I ride in Arizona. What is this "mud" you speak of?
  • + 4
 @TucsonDon: Is it the arch enemy of exposed transmissions! It is mother natures' grinding paste sent to destroy your gears and give you poor shifting.... No mud sounds great, but then again mud can add to the fun.
  • + 1
 its understandable though the sram guy here probably think metric shock sizing is just as crappy as you do.
he does not seem to be talking through an heavy marketing filter in this interview that is. basically hes saying they know how to make gearboxes and they'll make em if they figure enough people will buy them. which, yeah, sounds reasonable.

i think what most people here want to hear is "we're working on X thats a gearbox that solves it all we just need a frame manufacturer to follow up and.. yeah 2018 we're good to go!". That's not exactly how things work. Because you like a gearbox as a concept doesn't make it instantly a perfect mechanical design.
  • + 5
 @bankz: well derailleurs are still quite flawed after 110 years of development so you can't really expect some dude in his garage to get it right the first try. It is going to take a while to perfect, especially when the big 2, who would be most likely to make it work, seem to be a lot more interested in milking the derailleur as much as they can.
  • + 2
 @EvilGarfield: The hope is that there will be a trickle down with gearboxes. Yes they are still going to be more expensive than a traditional drive train but they will last many times longer.

There needs to be a few brave souls (with big wallets) to start the revolution that we will all benefit from in the future.
  • + 3
 @fartymarty: with all the lost time spent/money spent on derailleurs, I'd be even if I bought a gearbox frame. The thing is if you're in north america, it is next to impossible to try one and I'm not spending that kind of money blindly.
  • + 158
 So, as pointed by SRAM, it is all about investment vs income. You see, inventing boost = little investment but huge income. Inventing metric = little investment, but huge income, 27.5 wheels? little investment, huge income. New 14 gear drivetrain? = little investment, huge income. With gearboxes people would not e.g. swap their 13speed to new shiny 14 speed, because it would be too costly. So gearboxes = reduce in income. Simple as that. So the only way to have gearboxes it to keep buying them as they are now. No big playes will ever invest in it, because it is not worth it for THEM.
  • + 29
 Hammer firmly in contact with Nail. WELL SAID.
  • + 24
 Also it kills the current "Drive Train Gravy Train". A gearbox will / should last for a very very long time if maintained. A current derailler drivetrain lasts for maybe a year or 2 in the right conditions. Gearboxes will kill this source of income.
  • + 4
 Yep, You got it.
  • + 8
 ...yep, and when Zerode start selling as many pinion bikes as they can make, more gb bikes will pop up, and then the huge profits for sram will start to disappear. All it will take is for someone to start eating their lunch, and they'll spend the money to protect their position.
  • + 2
 @Mojo348: I suppose for S+S high end mtb is not a huge market. As such aren't too worried but will probably release something once the tide has turned the way of the gearbox.
  • + 12
 Don't worry. I am pretty sure big companies like Sram and Shimano are keeping a close watch on the gearbox companies. It is not that often that any big corporation dive head first into new technological developments. The risk is much lower with acquisitions. Pinion will grow to a point where they'd require new investors to enable them to grow, and that is when one of the big guys will step in with the money, whether it's Sram, Shimano, Giant or Trek.
  • + 13
 You guys are all acting like internal gear hub/gearbox bikes are fun to ride up hills. Spoiler alert, they're not.

It's not a problem that can be chipped away at with engineering- it's a fundamental problem that's going to require either new materials or someone a lot smarter than the rest of us with a completely new idea. Which after over a hundred years of development seems pretty unlikely.

We've already convinced the average rider that they need 6" travel and downhill tire tread patterns to have fun mountain biking, and now bikes cost 6k and weigh 30 lbs. Add a gearbox and some plus tires and then we'll all just give up and get an E-bike. That's how they do it.
  • + 9
 I mean really. Has there ever been a more pent up demand for a product in MTB history than a carbon enduro bike with a gear box? I don't really want to trust a unknown brand with my $$, but the moment SC, Spesh, or YT drop one of these bad boys, I, along with a lot more of us, are raiding the piggy bank and clicking that buy button.

No one wanted 27.5 and boost, and it was bought. We do want this. And within 2 years of launch, who would be caught dead on the trails without one?

Just build it already!
  • + 9
 Hold the phone! Are you telling me that selling stuff has been all about the Benjamins this whole time?!
  • + 9
 Component companies are not going to be the one to just go out and create a great gearbox without bike companies already going in that direction. Gearbox drive trains may happen, but it will happen because bike companies like Zerode create a demand in the marketplace for this technology.
  • + 6
 @fartymarty: Exactly that. The current external drivetrains are the big S's licence to print money and they won't let that go easily.
  • + 8
 @bvwilliams: I started dhing when dh bikes weighed nearly 50lbs so this doesn't concern me!!
  • + 6
 @bvwilliams: Pinion uses a different system. It is more like a car gearbox in its workings. It does not use the Planetary system like all hub gears. I have put my money where my mouth is. I have developed a hardtail around the Pinion. www.olsenbicycles.com :-)
I have also owned many hub gear bikes and agree they are not for MTBing. I do think gearboxes are going in the right direction. 5year guarantee
  • + 7
 @bvwilliams: Have you ridden a 6" travel bike with DH tires with actual traction and modern suspension? Amazing. Can you have fun on a 100mm XC race stead with slick tires? Of course. But if you aren't racing XC primiarly , the 'do it all' or whatever cliche' marketing can come up with is actually a pretty accurate statement for modern all mountain/enduro bikes. I started riding MTB in 92 mostly racing XC. Bikes are SO much better today.
  • + 1
 Logic of the year here. Well said duder.
  • + 1
 @bman33: it always amuses me when people with no piccys in their profiles comment. Like you I have been riding since the early 90s and agree bikes are massively better than 20 years ago.
  • - 1
 @fartymarty: Unless it takes a real bad hit, then its a huge cost to replace vs a fairly cheap mech
  • + 8
 @bvwilliams: Spoiler alert - unless you're an xc weapon you wont notice the difference. Third gear on my Taniwha is the same as the granny on a GX 11 speed 32 front ring.... The problem with all this efficiency/weight rubbish is that people think they're better at stuff than they really are.
  • - 1
 Um, that's how capitalism works. It's not a conspiracy.
  • + 1
 I think there's a lot of money to be made from gearboxes. Currently, you can fit a brand new 11 gear drivetrain to a fifteen year old bike. With gearboxes, switching from Pinion to Effigear, or maybe just to the latest generation of either, would force you not only to buy a new gearbox for a thousand bucks, but also to buy a new frame. So, I think that argument is not really valid.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: Yeah. That doesn't fit with the world market's current model of consumables. Expected lifespan. If gearboxes lasted for years and years then it reduces sales which reduces earnings which reduces consumer confidence which increases shareholder grievances which increases change back to normalcy. Bring back derailleurs! If I were one of those guys answering and on my way out from a company I would have had a one symbol answer: $.
  • + 5
 @fartymarty: This is a huge part IMO, cassettes are quite expensive in the new gear range, good chain is too, rear mech really doesn't last that long in reality, a few years if you ride often. Sunrace and SRAM are never going to promote gearboxes as it eliminates all this income, of course these Sram and Santa cruz guys are going to come up with endless excuses on why its not good enough. Its not rocket science to design a bike around a gearbox, most of these boutique bike brands are just a few guys in a grimy office with a CAD machine outsourcing to Taiwan anyways. I am endlessly cleaning my drivetrain and still snapping chains should I, god forbid, put power down in too high a gear after a hill, many of us are so ready for Gearbox.

I recently rode a fat bike with a Rohloff gearbox hub, it is brilliant, has a really cool shift action, the push pull grip shift is quite easy to adjust too, and once you put some kms on it, just as efficent as chain\cog garbage technology.

Bring on house brand suspension (giant\trek) and put a gearbox in an aluminum frame (german mail order brands, i'm looking at you)

Ikubica I think a lot of us know the truth of the industry and aren't brainwashed by their claims of fancy tiny changes making huge differences in mountain bikes, so buy a new 7k carbon bike barley better then your 5yr old aluminum bike, do it, new hub spacing! press fit bottom bracket, slightly lighter frame by 70g...
  • + 2
 @bvwilliams: I've climbed Himalayan and Andes passes with a Rohloff bike, rode a fair amount of trails in Utah, Arizona and Colorado with my Pinion gearbox (P.12.) Don't know what your real life experience is but I really don't regognize what you say there.
  • + 70
 Damn. That was well worth the read. Gonna go take a nap now...... See if I wake up to a world full of gearboxes.
  • + 33
 Excellent read Monsieur Levy; don't shy away from more of the same!!! Great informative stuff.
  • + 9
 I'm surprised I read 6000+ words. It really was a good read.
  • + 4
 You can nap for a couple years and we'll likely be having roughly the same conversation. Nevertheless, an interesting piece.
  • + 38
 Great article, really hope Rob Metzs' Taniwha takes off in large numbers, this will make the other manufacturers st up and take note. Looking forward to PB review of it.
  • + 6
 some of the taniwha builds on vital are beautiful. I would love to get one as my next bike
  • + 2
 @handynzl: Yeah, how many industry folks, like ones here, have ridden a seemingly well-sorted one, like the Taniwha? Nice review, I'm sure we're all anxious to see additional input from the big media outlets.
  • + 5
 @WasatchEnduro: I would like to see friction numbers. Pinion vs. Eagle in all gears. It is probably not that much difference but the Hammerschidt from SRAM was horrible.
  • + 2
 Good to see this article. I have a UK built frame and press coverage has been slow on Gearboxes apart from STW. I have found the biggest hurdle is stuffy shop owners who don't ride as much as they used too. Customer will eventually pull the demand of gearboxes through, but it can be disheartening, but I have had positive feedback as well.
  • + 0
 @handynzl: I want to try that bike. The rear wheel with no dish is such a bonus. It looks really nice, and sounds like it rides great. Grip shift is a bummer
  • + 34
 So we don't have gearboxes because we don't need them, and derailluers work just fine? How many people were thinking, "Oh, if only my hub were a few millimeters wider so it didn't work with any prior frames, and gave me an indiscernible increase in performance?" Yet the bike industry was more than happy to unleash an expensive shitstorm of new hub "standards" on consumers. Or how about press fit bottom brackets? Who were the mass of consumers clamoring for more creaky noises on their bikes? These "innovations" that no one was asking for makes the statements of the bike industry about as trustworthy as politicians running for office.
  • + 2
 The hub and bb changes were pretty minor investments. And not everyone even used them.

Looking at Santa Cruz's comments about longevity: they have never used a pressfit BB. It was always optional and never even was claimed to improve the riding experience; it was just a manufacturing thing (maybe some vague claims about frame stiffness benefits). You can also get adapters for it, mitigating longevity issues. Santa Cruz did go to Boost, but this only was a minor rear triangle change, and the entire industry was jumping on that en-masse. At least Boost is a standard, even if it is a new one. But there are adapters that can be used with it too.
  • + 32
 More Drag, More Drag, More Drag

Why hasn't anyone done comparison testing on the new generation of gearboxes from effigear and pinion so that we can see EXACTLY how much more drag they produce? This is the primary issue for most riders, and we don't even know exactly what we're talking about. Come on pinkbike. Get some testing done for us.
  • + 11
 Especially since every measurement of efficiency loss on a traditional drivetrain I've seen, may have accounted cross-chain drag, but not what is, most likely, the most common cause of drag on a real world bike: dirty, & old, components. Most people don't lube their chains until they make noise, & if we leave the performance segment, most people don't do anything about their chains until the links are so rusted that the chain has trouble wrapping around the cogs. Conversely, most of the efficiency tests I've seen on traditional components either test a single component in isolation("is this chain lube more efficient?" "are these ceramic bearing derailleur pulleys more efficient?") Or try to eke out the absolute best efficiency possible, & consider "degraded" to mean it's been ridden for a day or two since they did their ultra, super-duper, sonicly cleaned & immersion lubed chain treatment. ride a bike for 6 months without a cleaning & tell me how much efficiency has suffered then.

The point I'm making, is that both dirt & wear are going to degrade efficiency at a much slower rate on a gearbox with a belt, than on a traditional drivetrain. & Belts can absolutely be used in a full suspension format, both motorcycles & Niccolai have proven that.
  • + 11
 I'm sure Pinion would be publishing these numbers all over their marketing material if the result was good for them (a marginal difference). Absence of numbers == bad news in my mind.
  • + 9
 @dthomp325: You could make the same Argument for SRAM/Shimano, why haven't they published a study showing how efficient their drivetrains are when covered in crud? They haven't even done so for fresh drivetrains, every study I've found has been from third parties, because there's a demand for this info that the mfgs aren't supplying.

I suspect that Pinion doesn't have the in house staff and/or cash to do a proper study like this. A lot of smaller bike companies are remarkably small, I wouldn't be surprised if Pinion is under 10 employees.
  • + 2
 That sounds more like Mountain Bike Action territory.
  • + 5
 Pinion was measured at 200W with 10% efficiency loss by german magazine Fahrrad Zukunft ausgabe 20, although I personally think the measurements were a little flawed.
  • + 5
 agree that the drag is the issue, but to be fair, this article focused on DH, and Aaron Gwin proved that pedaling efficiency isn't everything when it comes to that discipline. That said, I've ridden a Rholoff, and while the new ones may be better, as I mentioned upthread, I could DEFINITELY feel the drag on that one. If the Pinion or Effigear is as bad as the Rholoff, then I'm not interested. Also, it's not that hard to keep a chain lubed and running smooth. I'm definitely lazy and hate maintaining anything but c'mon I don't let it get rusty or whatever.
  • + 2
 @groghunter: It seems really simple to measure power loss: one power meter at the input source, a second power meter at the output source. If they have the resources to engineer a gear box from scratch, then I'm sure they have the resources to measure power loss. I'm sure they have test/failure rigs for QA that would be perfectly sufficient for measuring power loss, otherwise they wouldn't know how much power and torque can safely be applied to their product.

Sram/Shimano don't have any reason to publish numbers, since they are the current industry standard, and the burden is typically on the newcomer to prove an improvement and convince consumers it is superior. A gearbox probably shifts much better when covered in crud, but I doubt the effect on power loss is any different, as the moving pieces exposed to crud are mostly the same: chain, chainring, cog, and 2-cog idler.
  • + 3
 @dthomp325: This isn't debate club, where it's two sides making arguments. It's the retail world, where there's multiple sides. Shimano & SRAM don't have any reason to publish numbers? Only if their product hasn't improved efficiency. They're always competing against their last product. How many people said 11 speed was dumb, & they were staying on 10? If their newer drivetrains stayed more efficient under worse maintenance than the last one, you'd better believe they'd be singing it from the mountains. instead, with longer derailleur cages, longer chains, & bigger jockeys, it's likely the starting efficiency of eagle is less that the drivetrains that preceded it.

As for the moving pieces, you're convieniently ignoring the point I made about belts being completely usable in full suspension designs, no idler needed, & besides that, when you've got a single driveline you can install guards in bad weather (or all the time, if they're light enough.) Heck, one of the ideas I kicked around after seeing Nicolai's belt driven FS prototype was running the belt THROUGH the chainstay(beltstay?) for protection, & to be able to cover the always spinning drivecog in a fixed rear design like they showed.
  • + 2
 I totally agree with this. I have been entertaining getting into the gearbox club but would be very reluctant to journey down any other path than a downhill bike for this reason. What is the efficiency of a gearbox compared to a standard drive train? I am very impressed at the gear ratios they can deliver but at what cost?

@groghunter a belt will work for a hard tail or single pivot applications just fine but that really limits the ability for the suspension designs that the consumers seem to prefer these days to be used. However I think this is something that could be remedied by a robust tension arm designed for use with belts. (maybe one already exists that I haven't seen yet)
  • + 2
 I'm having a stupid moment: someone please explain how a gearbox, in neutral while coasting, adds drag? Wouldn't that be a function of the free hub? Enlighten this idiot, please.
  • + 2
 @robwhynot: the drag comes when pedalling and all those meshed gears are rubbing against each other.
  • + 1
 @Someoldfart: but they're complaining about drag when coasting. I see in comments below that it is because the internals continue to move while coasting to allow for shifting without pedal strokes.

I'm with Waki, that's the least valuable benefit of gearboxes.
  • + 1
 @robwhynot: It's lighter to put the freehub mechanism into the initial drive side of the gearbox, so many gearbox designs are using a fixed rear hub, which means the hub, belt/chain, & final gears of the gearbox are always turning.

@mixmastamikal Those suspension designs are still designed around the chainlines, pedal feedback, & pedal bob needs of a derailleur drivetrain, you can't make assumptions of how a gearbox suspension design will work based on them. The gearbox>rear hub portion of the that nicolai was almost 1:1, for instance.
  • - 1
 A better question is why no one has bothered to engineer an internally geared drivetrain with less drag. Why are constantly-meshed gears so important?
  • + 1
 @groghunter: One point: On some of the designs I see pictured up top, the chainstay pivot is not concentric with the gearbox drive cog. That means that when the suspension compresses, any belt running inside the chainstay would need to bend. That could potentially break a stiff belt.

Maybe for the bike you're talking about the pivots are concentric, but hiding the belt in the chainstay wouldn't work for lots of designs.
  • + 0
 @groghunter: You could hook up a bike with a powertap rear hub on a trainer, and stages power meter on the cranks, and do it very cheaply on both bikes. You would just compare the difference on each bike. Even run them both through some mud and dust and come in and do it again. It's not actually all that complicated. It doesn't require any really fancy equipment. It's just as simple as I stated above.
  • + 2
 @TucsonDon: It is if you're just doing it in an amateur capacity.

If you're a professional company, making claims about your, & your competitors products, you need to have a repeatable lab process. That requires facilities, personnel, & accurate measurement equipment.

@WaterBear Yes, if you're going to do a belt design like I was thinking about, a concentric pivot is not only necessary, but desirable, as in, the more the structure of the pivot can be integrated into the drive cog output, the easier it is to hide that cog inside the stay. It isn't a fully fleshed out design, either, I see several problems with it, for instance, making it a two piece design might have issues with strength/weight ratio, & making it one piece might make it hard to make the pivot as robust as it needs to be.

More of a speculative idea I came up with & thought about. no idea if it's feasible. OTOH, integrating thin carbon fiber guards should be easily doable.
  • + 3
 www.rohloff.de/en/technology/efficiency/index.html

www.rohloff.de/en/technology/speedhub/efficiency-measurement/index.html

I've been riding Rohloff for 10 years now and Pinion for 2, there's no big difference in both systems concerning "drag" The whole drag thing is realy extremely over rated, it;s virtually non existing. Also concerning drive train drag is maybe 3% of your overal "drag", Rolling resistance, air resistance etc give way more "drag".

Do you really think an so many avid cyclist in Holland and Germany are running a Rohloff/Pinion Belt combination if it was that ineffecient? A lot of people are just afraid to try and are having their opinion ready just from hearsay.

I can say from experience that in muddy condtions a belt/internal gear combination has less drag and is a way more durable and reliable than any chain set-up.

No one seems to argue a derailleur system that is nothing more than an open geabox with grease exposed to the elements that operates 99% of the time with an incorrect chain line? Wink
  • + 24
 A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and bought the first Zerode Taniwha in the U.K. Bought it blind without seeing or trying one. I was sold on it watching videos of Rob Metz telling me how good it was. I had seen several Zerode G1 DH bikes and been impressed. Well after several miles on it, I am really impressed. The gearbox is amazing, silent, smooth and without noticeable drag that everyone keeps talking about. The suspension works so much better, and the bike rides as if it is much lighter than it is, 15.4kg. Gearbox is the way forward, and companies like Zerode deserve success for pushing this tech..
  • + 2
 This is awesome to hear -- pretty much what everyone says about pinion gearbox bikes! Having a little extra weight low and centered will likely offset the fact that the bike is any heavier at all, at least from a handling perspective.
  • + 23
 Joe Lawwill -

"One of the biggest and most obvious is the fact that gears in a gearbox have significantly more drag than the chain system we are accustomed to."

How does this compare to the drag of derailleurs when they were a new technology?

"Nothing they are making now is directly compatible with a gearbox, so this means re-developing, potentially from the ground up, and expensive carbon molds."

Is this not what manufacturers have had to do for Boost?

Richard Cunningham -

"If bike makers switched to gearboxes today, the two weakest links of the present system would still remain on most mountain bikes. So, the final drive of most production gearbox bikes would most likely be a roller chain and, because of the variable chain lengths created by the most-wanted suspension designs, there is going to be a chain tensioner."

Effigear solves this, see bikes by Nicolai and Cavalerie.
  • + 17
 There is always going to be a chain tensioner. Just because you have to keep a part of "old tech" doesn't mean that the new tech shouldn't be invested in. To borrow from the Henry Ford analogy, he still kept wheels, much like what them Romans used with horses....

I also think that the benefits of the gearbox actually outweigh the drag. It's not really all that measurable by the human engine, although quantifiable by math. The improvement in suspension, weight distribution, and further refinement in suspension design (as has similarly been achieved with the removal of the front mech) will all outweigh the "drag".

You are on the right train of thought Mr Money.
  • + 2
 Effigear solving this is true, but it brings some limitations to how rear end can be designed. So the implementations will be limited.
  • + 3
 It is not just drag that effects efficiency. It is the loss of the chain tension effects on suspension. Gearboxes are no worse efficiently than having muddy gears and they keep becoming more efficient with age if they are Rohloffs.
  • + 4
 @choppertank3e: The drag created from muddy derailleur gears, vs encased (clean) gearbox is a bloody good point.
  • + 7
 The drag argument also depends on where you live and whether you ride during the winter. Gearboxes will always have some drag but it's probably nowhere near as bad (provided you are using a beltdrive) as crunch crunch crunch-ing along with a mud covered chain. Not to speak of chain/cassette/sprocket wear and the psychological effect of a loud drivetrain (making the whole bike feel like shit).

EDIT: ....like the two guys above me just pointed out.
  • + 5
 The drag issue remains my biggest concern. What's the reason I stop riding 99% of the time? Spent legs. Even a couple percent less efficient translates into less riding overall. I'd be that over time that's a bigger factor than the very rare occasion I actually have a mechanical issue associated with my drivetrain.
  • + 3
 @gtill9000: I have a Shimano Nexus (Hub-GB) on my commuter bike and do not think that there is a drag that slows me down...
  • + 11
 @gtill9000: problem with this type of thinking, as stated above is that drag calcs are done under perfect conditions; perfectly lubed, tuned and clean traditional mech drivetrain. In real world, hard riding conditions, a traditional drivetrain will lose a significant amount of the claimed efficiency that was calculated during controlled testing under ideal conditions.

This whole article reeks of establishment industry confirmation bias hiding behind a thin veil of fair reporting on the pros and cons of gearbox tech.
  • + 1
 @leftCoastBurn - I do think a gearbox makes the most sense for downhill, where pedaling efficiency is least important, and bike handling/suspension performance is most important. And yeah, that was the focus of this article. Unfortunately, as much as I love DH when I get to do it, most of the riding I do is CC/Trail and I have to pedal a lot and when you're gassed, I do believe you can feel small amounts of drag. FWIW I've tried a Rholoff hub, which I realize isn't the exact same thing, but I could DEFINITELY feel the drag. It's the only gearbox I've tried. If a pinion feels like that, then I wouldn't see the benefit for anything except downhill (and e-bikes lol.)
  • + 3
 @gtill9000: quit skipping leg day lol
  • + 3
 @gtill9000: from what I've heard/read about the pinion gearboxes most riders are not able to detect the drag under normal riding conditions. I have yet to ride one, so I can't say from first hand experience. I am sure for XC riding a gearbox would not make sense at this point, given that the smallest amount of drag could cost a top rider a race.
  • + 5
 When I developed this hardtail for the Pinion SRAM told me that I should adopt 148 Boost rear axle. I explained that the chainline is fixed and therefore only need a singlespeed rear hub. Pinion, Chris King and Hope have NO plans to develop a sinlespeed hub with 148 rear spacing. Why would they, singlespeed hubs do not have a problem with chainline or narrow flanges??? It is the marketing departments that keep the derailleur alive...

The derailleur drivetrain was invented in 1928 and works perfectly fine for road bikes where precision shifting is not impaired by mud sand and more mud. A lot of design and engineering has gone into improving the rear derailleur, but this system is still exposed to the elements and mud. The derailleur has become the mechanical Achilles heel when long distances and trail conditions turn bad.
  • + 2
 @leftCoastBurn: except that external gears or gearbox you still have the external roller chain. Roller chains are extremely efficient. A muddy cassette will suffer shifting issues though and an iced up cassette will be a nightmare. Chain growth with full suspension has to be addressed in some way be it a chain tensioner or dual chain set up, but that increases drive friction. The decreased efficiency spoken of is all within the gearbox. But someone mentioned a lack of actual data on friction and that is an excellent question. That would seem to be a no brainer for proponents of either style of drivetrain to address to prove their system is either highly efficient or that the frictional losses are actually quite small.
  • + 3
 The thing that stood out for me was that they're automatically assuming you'd need to put the tensioner on the rear wheel where the mech now goes! A new drivetrain design means you could put it behind or underneath the gearbox (or even encompass it internally!) shielded by a cover or even just the chainset. Do that and suddenly chain growth is no longer an issue.
  • + 1
 @squarewheel: i dont think commuting on paved/gravel roads is the same as mountainbiking on rough terrain.
  • + 6
 The path of the chain through a derailleur causes drag, which some anti-gearbox folk conveniently forget. The Gates belt drive has high levels of drag because the tension has to be very high, like when you put too much tension on the chain when putting a rear wheel of a bmx on. Some of the quotes about drag seem to be over the top of data I've seen. Ten per cent? That must be comparing a figure of something like 3% to 3.3%, which means 'no difference any human could feel.
  • + 4
 @gtill9000: My Rohloff feels like it has significantly more drag than my Pinion. Shifting quality on the Pinion is much better than the Rohloff too.
  • + 5
 @DaMilkyBarKid: good point -- they also fail to mention in this article that most people who have tried a pinion say they will never go back to a conventional drivetrain -- part of the problem with gearboxes catching on is simply that more people need to experience one, myself included.
  • + 4
 @leftCoastBurn: it's the same thing as getting electric cars to be accepted. To get people to look at them they have to make them look like a conventional car (think Tesla model S, Nissan Leaf) whereas the new drivetrain actually opens up a whole range of new packaging possibilities. But if they do a full redesign then the cars don't look like cars (think Renault Twizy) then they don't sell. Once people try an electric city car they can see the benefits but it's the problem of getting the customer to try the 'strange type of car' that's the issue. Same with gearbox bikes for the general public. If it doesn't conform to the picture in their mind of what a bike should look like then they dismiss it as a piece of crap and don't try it. The enthusiasts that understand the reasoning about unsprung weight etc will try one if they are given the opportunity and will make their own mind up, but then we hit another problem of none of the big manufacturers making one so there aren't any demo bikes out there to try! We can't expect one of the small companies to absorb the expense of getting demo bikes out round the world so we're stuck in a chicken/egg scenario until one of the big boys steps up to the plate. If Shimano or SRAM were to build a dozen gearbox test bed bikes that we could demo, built without compromise and purely as a marketing exercise, then we'll know how the market would react but until then we are stuck with the merry-go-round of 'OOOHH, another huge cog on top of the cassette?! TAKE MY MONEY!!' every 18 months or so.
  • + 1
 @DaMilkyBarKid: yes you are spot on! We all fall victim to this need to have something that is maybe original, but not downright STRANGE. A perfect example is the high pivot suspension design. High pivot is unarguably a superior design but looks so strange with the awkward chain routing that is required. That's m guess for why Zerode went with a more conventional layout for their Taniwha gearbox trail bike -- they know it will appeal to a much larger consumer base because of looks alone. Man, if Zerode could get the price down and get out a fleet of test bikes I feel like they could really start to change the market.
  • + 1
 @bonkywonky: There's still a chain exposed to mud on a gearbox bike, you still have to get the power to the rear wheel somehow, even if the shifting is done at the bottom bracket area. You also still have the chain going through some kind of idler pulley system as shown on the Zerode, to account for chaingrowth that will exist in all but the most simple suspension designs. The only suspension designs that won't have chaingrowth would be ones with a main pivot concentric to the bottom bracket, which don't have great pedaling characteristics, or a URT which locks out whenever you stand up (not so great for downhill).

Point is, either way, you still have a chain to get dirty.
  • + 1
 @DaMilkyBarKid: Zerode already did that, you can see it in the picture above. It does make the idler system less susceptible to damage, but it still adds the same amount of drag as a derailleur does. So with that system, you have the same drag as a derailleur system PLUS you're then adding the additional drag of the gearbox system. It seems like a good system, but there are tradeoffs in efficiency. People will vote with their dollars on which tradeoffs they're willing to make.
  • + 2
 @TucsonDon: you're falling into the trap of thinking the tensioner has to be derailleur-shaped. It could be incorporated into the gearbox itself or part of the suspension movement that rotates the gearbox housing slightly, there are various possibilities! The gearbox itself could become a suspension linkage component with the output shaft rotating as it's only the input shaft (the cranks) that have to stay put, but even then the GT system has proven that rider don't mind if the cranks/BB area moves slightly. So many other design avenues to explore if you open your mind to it.
  • + 18
 The ultimate combo for the consumer is a direct sales brand like Canyon or YT producing a bike designed around a gearbox. That way we can benefit from the gearbox without paying excessively more than if we had purchased a boutique brand like Santa Cruz.
  • + 7
 Here here!! I'd buy off Scooby, but I simply can't afford even his cheapest build set. He just hasn't the backing to make enough bikes to bring costs down. Canyon or YT, however, are another proposition entirely...
  • + 4
 Yeah, if it's true that one of the major reasons that we haven's seen many gearbox equipped bikes is that we, the consumers, aren't voting with our wallets, then we have a little bit of a chicken and egg paradox here because there currently isn't an affordable enough option out there to temp enough people. Also, I would be curious to see the bell curve of [mtb-related] consumers by age - which I suspect roughly corresponds to the curve of affluence. I'm guessing the largest segment of the population is in a part of the curve where they are also in the lowest part of the financial curve.
  • + 21
 you interviewed Waki and not Protour? lame
  • + 14
 waki has a variety of things to say at least. protour is just famous for complaining about horst links.
  • + 16
 Interesting article - well done PB!
Good different points made on a complicated issue.
Hilton and Graney probably make the most pertinent responses to the typical opinion that gearboxes are the future.
My own concern as someone who builds his bikes and likes to work on them would be how accessible they would be to maintain yourself.
I'd hate bikes to become like modern cars where every little thing has to be taken to the garage to sort.
Imagine a bike with some fiddly suspension, DI2 and a gearbox?! You'd need some serious kit at home and knowledge to run your own maintenance.
  • + 1
 You touch on one of my main concerns about a gearbox. My standard drivetrains are easy to clean/maintain, more reliable than ever, and (at least for me) have been very durable. I've only ruined one rear mech in 10 years. Also, if I don't like a component, or destroy one, I can replace it myself within minutes of buying/receiving the replacement.
  • + 1
 One of the good points about gearboxes is that they may never need to be worked on. The Rohloff internals are probably the most complicated mechanical device for bikes, but if you change the oil regularly you could go years and years without having to send it in for a service. AFAIK, no Rohloff has ever worn out.
  • + 12
 I've just invested in a gearbox. Pinion, on a Nicolai.

I won't repeat all the pros and cons (many!) but I LOVE it. I want to show people how good it is already, and how good it could be if we all put our money where our mouths are and invested in one. SRAM guy on point, if we started buying them, the industry would follow our demand and invest in development.
  • + 11
 Heres my take.The weight penalty will all but disappear soon. The extra drag and cost will not disappear any time soon. Reliability and cost per km beats xx1 +eagle. If you're not into racing of any type a gearbox will be a good choice if you have the $$$. I would buy a Zerode when carbon cranks and a lighter casing are available. I would also buy xx1 eagle for bikepacking. I Can't see Sram giving up their cassette-chain cash cow any time soon. Great article thanks , BUY A ZERODE AND SAVE THE WORLD!
  • + 11
 I have ranted so much about the moronics of the pro-derailleur position & I'm tired. I'm really tired. It's like trying to explain to a monkey how a television works or to a religious zealot how common sense works.

Industrial inertia isn't an argument. WE DIDN'T WANT BOOST OR 650B! Neither of which made any improvement to anything except corporate profits. With refinement, gearbox performance & reliability will go up while cost comes down. Has the average cost of any level of bike, car or electronic device gone up as the performance & quality has gone up over the years?

I couldn't fly a fvck what everyone else uses. Most people seem to always have to have something "new", which is why these morons are consistently fed crap with different seasonings on it. As long as I can buy the better thing, that works right all of the time & lasts & lasts & lasts the rest of you buffoons can keep on buying & buying & buying as much junk as you want. Maybe you never replace a derailleur because you buy a new bike every year. Meh.

Slinging the "drawbacks" to uninformed consumers is akin to the Big 3 NA automakers trying to quell any interest in EVs. The MTB industry has long needed its analogue to Tesla. Maybe it'll be Pinion, maybe Effigear, maybe someone else but it won't be $hitmano & it won't be $CAM & you all know why.
  • + 10
 Used to be a gearbox fan, but I hadn't really considered the consequences of it. I ride downhill and have broken about 8 derailleurs over 3 years of riding. It's annoying and expensive, but not as bad as the listed consequences of having a gearbox IMO.
  • + 10
 i can see park bikes being the best application of a gearbox. they get utterly abused, you really aren't pedaling that much so efficiency isn't a huge deal. they cost more but if you are running high end derailleurs you are spending more there (especially you, holy crap work on line choice or something). i for one know when i had a park specific bike, it saw zero maintenance.
  • + 1
 @adrennan: I don't ride park that much. I go out and find rocky trails with tight technical lines because that's what I like. I have only broken one derailleurs at a bike park. (Most of my "brakes" are actually bends that cannot be undone and cause the chain to slap around or get stuck while I pedal)
  • + 5
 But what about the time saved from more efficient suspension and better handling characteristics of have the weight center and low on the bike? How about a gearbox being constantly perfectly lubed and maintenance fee compared to pedaling a crunchy chain in mid and in the wet?
  • + 0
 @ibishreddin: There's still a chain exposed to wet and mud on gear box bikes, you just don't have to worry about its shifting performance, but you still have the efficiency losses from a dirty chain. Just look at the Zerode above.
  • + 12
 You know that in the Henry Ford statement the faster horses is what the bike industry is pushing today?
  • + 2
 faster..., and they don't eat and sh1t nearly as much nowadays too
  • + 8
 A good (expensive though) test would be to test a similar frame with both solutions. Regular Drivetrain x Gear Box.

I know that there isn't a frame that fits both, so let's say a major company buys the idea and come up with two frames as similar as possible, except that one fits a gear box and the other a regular drivetrain. There you go. Do several runs on both bikes on different terrain, on different situations (climbing, downhill, all mountain, etc), plot the average results, listen to the riders' feedback and it's done.

But the question is (I actually don't know, really): Has anyone done this?
  • + 5
 You can check @Peregrinebikes. They have both the traditional drivetrain and gearbox models of the same frame. Handmade and steel. I have the former (zee) and I am considering to get the Pinion frame also. But a professional comparison is out of my league. Maybe PB can do that. @mikelevy
  • + 3
 Nicolai too.
  • + 13
 So Waki really exists???
  • + 6
 No actually is A.I. created by PB developers...Trailforks is an excuse... all damn money goes to develop Waki A.I mind so they can get rid of all PB commenters and let the companies rule it freely...
  • + 12
 Saw waki (nothing to see here) scrolled down
  • + 8
 Here's where I'm at. The derailleur isn't going anywhere, or at least I don't think it should. By stating that though, I'm not ignoring the fact that it may not be the complete solution to getting a wide range of gears, with minimal drag, along with a low weight penalty, into such a small space. We can all complain about how exposed the derailleur is, but honestly when is the last time you ruined a derailleur beyond repair? Over my years of wrenching on bikes, it's a rarity. We solved that issue with the aluminum derailleur hanger. We're overthinking this, why are we trying to replace technology that is just now peaking? It's time to EXPAND, not REPLACE. SRAM has an internally geared hub, 3 speed, that also has a FREEHUB body on it. It's not fancy, or light, all that durable, but neither was the derailleur when it first came to fruition.

Lets make our rear hubs into some high/low gear range units that are cable actuated. We know it's possible, lets start refining it! Bring back that front shifter and let it do it's work on the rear hub. Still no messy 2x/3x setups, while retaining a similar range. It's a central mass, so the weight added won't be much of a penalty being that it will all be actuated within the hub.

Honestly tell me why this wouldn't work?
  • + 2
 Yep. When, sometime we lose the rear mech. I think it will be a hub not a gear box.......
  • + 3
 It's not ruining deraillers that gets me its the cleaning of the chain, cassette, derailler and chainring after EVERY ride that is annoying. You just don't have nearly the same amount of maintenance with single speed.
  • + 4
 @fartymarty: Nor with a gearbox. Still got the same amount of parts waving in the wind as a singlespeed, except you can climb any hill, and/or, not spin out going back down them.

Don't get me wrong, singlespeeds are cool, but were not in this for a fashion statement *hides my matching Fox kit and helmets*
  • + 1
 The negative effect the extra weight would have on your suspension.
  • + 0
 @handynzl: Sorry I was likening a single speed (and associated maintenance) to a gearbox bike.
  • + 0
 @handynzl: I agree gearboxes are the way forward.
  • + 11
 @fartymarty: I know.

Single speed maintenance = wipe down and relube the chain, check for chain growth, hit the gnar, repeat

Gearbox maintenance = wipe down and relube chain (or not even that if using a cogged belt), check for chain growth,hit the gnar, repeat until 1 year of riding when you change the oil.

Derailleur = bitch and moan about it going out of whack half way through a ride, not going into top gear, dropping off the cassette and behind it and against the spokes, swear intolerably as you bend spokes getting it back out, ride a wobbly wheel home, hit a stick on the way and break the derailleur hanger off the frame, rig up a single speed using ten or so less links and locking out the suspension as best as possible, go online or your fave LBS and buy new hanger, new chain, replacement spokes....bitch about the cost of it all and wonder why the bike industry still has these stupid gear shifting mechs and not gearboxes...

I guess the only diff to single speed and gearbox is that you still have to maintain a gear shifter, but that is reasonably easy.
  • + 3
 @handynzl: Nailed.

and you have a tensioner on a gearbox but it's tucked away and probably need a little wipe. This is why I like @Peregrinebikes bikes. He's gotten rid of the need for a tensioner.
  • + 8
 Nicolai has been making gear box bikes, available to the public, for over 17 years now. And you mention Zerode and the GT-I...... right. Should mention the Lahar while you're at it if we're bringing up ancient bikes that a handful of people bought.

Joe is exaggerating the efficiency loss. It's online, and more research was done and it's actually quite close when you consider factors like chain line. Don't kid yourselves in pretending it's a 10% difference, it's not.
  • + 1
 source? I can't find any good articles about efficiency of a gearbox vs traditional drivetrain
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: there are a bunch and I don't have the time here to search them all, but here's a start www.hupi.org/HParchive/PDF/hp55/hp55p11-15.pdf. Its important to remember there is a lot of variables where gearboxes are concerned, how new the seals are (there is a break in period), what configuration the box is in, etc. 2%-5% difference is a more realistic number even though marketing guys for the two brands throwing out "10%" and "significant" will probably make its way to 'fact' for a lot of people soon enough... you repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: www.ihpva.org/HParchive/PDF/hp52-2001.pdf more. There's a lot more out there. Since a lot of it is old, you need to take that into account, but the numbers are significantly more rigid than a marketing manager making a bogus unfounded claim.
  • + 3
 totally agree Nicolai developed the Gboxx1 & 2 "standard". Shame there was no mention of this. Without Nicolai the Pinion may not have been developed? Things evolve and Pinion have shaved 200g off the P-Line with their new C-Line range... more options
  • + 1
 You could be right, but then why aren't gearbox companies broadcasting this to the world? They have the most to gain from your claims.
  • + 2
 @thrasher2: There's no even general agreement on gearbox pros and cons. Zerode considers weight distribution as #1 benefit while RC mentions only switching characteristics. Looks like everyone has his own idea of gearbox benefits and as a result industry can't communicate it properly.
  • + 2
 @thrasher2: these are not my claims. There is actual evidence to support this information vs an arbitrary random number spouted by a marketing guy or company engineer who hasn't actually evaluated the question and has an opinion instead. Gearbox companies have already touted their benefits, which you can see on their sites, but since they are small companies and the market is small, it's not likely that this information sticks as well as seeing adds daily for sram eagle or Di2. Providing true modern numbers with the existing stuff is a large undertaking, see the links for yourself to see what is involved, but the older information still holds weight with regards to loss expected with different systems.

@Beltrider I think that is the true case. Without Nicolai, none of this would have happened imo.
  • + 12
 After reading this,I'm really considering going...singlespeed.
  • + 1
 19t is perfect
  • + 7
 As usual we all need to read between the lines here. SRAM and Shimano are both telling us they already have a production ready gearbox, but won't release it until they have sucked the derailleur pit dry. In my opinion SRAMs Eagle drivetrain is as good as a derailleur system can probably get. Yes you can add electric motors and what not but as far as gear range, shifting, and reliability are concerned. How much better can it get. I've barely touched my XX1 Drivetrain in the last 3 years. Of year round use. On the other hand my wife's Shimano stuff requires constant attention. But that's a different story. So what I am getting at here is the evolution of derailleurs is almost at its peak. When it tops out. Both Sram and Shimano will release game changing gearboxes. Probably sooner than they would like you to realize. Constantly changing standards have guaranteed them revenue. Nobody in this business wants to kill that cash cow. I can see it now Pink Bikers bitching that the new Vulture 1 gearbox. That has 20% less drag and is 138grams lighter than the Condor1. Won't fit in last seasons frames. To make matters even worse the DiB XTR box only fit one Pivot frame. But supossably the DiB XT would fit at least a dozen frames. First world problems. Poor Mtn bikers we have it so bad???? Start saving you beer money ???? because bikes are about to get stupid expensive. On the plus side 26" wheels will again reign Supreme. It will be sicentificly proven that they require less watts to turn. Making up for lost watts in the gearbox. In turn making them more efficient than a 9er???? You don't say? I'm here just to keep things interesting. Cheers ????
  • + 7
 For those that are interested in how the new Zerode Taniwha actually rides in the real world I wrote a short review a few days after building mine as I had so many people asking about it. For the record I've now done about 400kms on it and my attitude towards both the bike and the gearbox concept are only improving the more I ride. You can all make up your own minds but I suggest this technology is worth keeping an open mind for. In any case here's my review.

Ok, so this is an unashamedly glowing review of the Zerode Taniwha. I'd try to balance it out with some positive criticism but I just don't have any. This review is just my opinion. I don't claim to be any kind of expert or EWS pro, I'm just a guy who likes riding his bike.

I've got 4 solid days on it now and I can truthfully say it's the best thing I've ridden. I felt comfortable on it first run and was able to build speed quickly. The bike is fast, feels planted but plenty playful. It's super plush but I've still not felt it bottom out. I'm cornering faster, carrying speed better and charging steeper and rougher terrain with more confidence. The gear shifting is easy to adapt to and once you've got the hang of it there are some advantages.... The ability to shift through multiple gears at once with no shifting delay is awesome, yes, you do need to get off the power to shift but that's easy enough to plan and becomes natural quickly. I've found that pinch climbs where I have been caught out before are easier manage with the gearbox, you just pause for a split second, dump as many gears as you want and then get back on full power without the delay of the chain climbing the cluster. It's also nice to be able to select the exact gear you want whilst stationary. This will be particularly useful at the beginning of race stages or after pushing up a section as you can select your starting gear without having to pedal to shift.
I think the most noticeable trait however is how well it stays on its line, especially through rough terrain, both in a straight line and whilst cornering. I'm no expert but I guess it has a lot to do with the reduced unsprung weight of the rear wheel. You can just point it where you want to go and it goes there. I've smashed all my PR's and done it with a huge grin on my face.
My bike was never built as a light weight xc racer, with the components I've selected it's really only one step back from a full DH rig and that's what I wanted. Whilst I won't be smashing any climbing KOMs, it still climbs acceptably well for a big bike and the 600% gear range certainly helps with that. It pedals well with very limited bob. I was only selecting climb mode on my shock for the long fire road climbs, the rest of the time running wide open in a plush DH setting even for flat pedally sections.
I've done some decent days in the saddle already, 5+ hours of climbing and descending in the Redwoods (Rotorua), so big days or enduro races will be no problem even with the big (heavyish) coil shock.
I'm also the guy who always smashes his derailleur at the furthest point from home so the simplicity, and hopefully reliability, of the drive train really appeals to me.

I'm riding lines I'd never even noticed before, hitting DH jumps and drops I was too frightened to before, attacking trails I was just 'surviving' before and hitting everything else with an excited new confidence.
  • + 2
 Cool, bro.

What were you riding prior?
  • + 7
 If this is a contest of who dumps most bullshit across the widest possible estate on a PB page, the SRAM guy won it by far. And no one asked him about Norbs...

For the rest:
- I don't believe in the theory that these big Sses stick to a conventional drivetrain to sell more wear parts. If they're after that, they could just as well make other parts less durable as well.
- If a gearbox would make a bike with a carbon frame too expensive, just put it on an aluminium frame.
- I believe that if component manufacturers can agree (somewhat) on a standard (or several different ones actually) then gearbox manufacturers can, too. Especially if this would otherwise keep frame manufacturers from speccing one in the first place.
- The idea that suspension design would be compromised with a gearbox is backwards. Current suspension design is a compromise in order to work with conventional geared drivetrains. A gearbox would require some redesign, but definitely make things easier. No need for an idler to cope with "chain growth" if you arrange it properly.
- Yes, for a simple frame builder it is much easier to design and build around a conventional drivetrain than around a Pinion. Same goes of course for IS brake mounts instead of PM. But a geared hub in the frame (Alfine like Zerode or Rohloff like Nicolai used to do) could be doable as well.

That said, it is nice to have the views of these different people/companies on a single page. The biggest elephant that somehow left the room is the Hayes group. They're big, could be an OEM supplier similar to SRAM offering whatever goes on a complete bike (Hayes/Answer/Manitou). They just for some reason don't turn the PeteSpeed gearbox they bought from B1 (a gearbox similar to what Honda has been running in their DH bike) into reality. Would be nice to have this elephant back in the room to complete this article. Same goes for Suntour who may not have handlebars etc, but they do have a gearbox and suspension.
  • + 2
 You actually believe component manufacturers would agree to a standard, and stick with it? AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Also, FYI, current suspension designs are the way they are because a bicycle is extremely power limited compared to, say, a moto. When you need a fixed-length, no chain growth rear end in order to accommodate your gear box, you anti-squat invariably goes to shit, and pedalling efficiency goes out the window. There is a reason no one is proposing gear boxes for XC bikes.
  • + 3
 @tsheep: Why do you need a fixed length, no chain growth rear end? Who put that rule in place? What is wrong with a chain tensioner? I bet if you looked at the rear end of your bike right now there is a chain tensioner there. And if I looked at Nino Shurter's bike, there would be one there too. Not sure what you are driving at.

The only reason that a gearbox isn't on an Olympians XC bike right now is weight. It has nothing to do with suspension ramifications. Bring out a carbon box, or magnesium; both options would be lighter than an alloy box. Reduce the number of gears in the box...maybe 9 instead of 12 (25% weight saving). Make the sprockets from a lighter material; yes it reduces lifespan, but you don't exactly have a long lifespan with a cassette... Plenty of ways to get weight out of a gearbox before even looking at lighter cranks, lighter frames, lighter wheels etc...
  • + 0
 @tsheep: Thanks for your feedback and glad it made you happy. Still I don't think I quite agree with you but then again I might not understand you completely either. Let me share my view.

Yes component manufacturers would agree to a standard and no they won't stick with it forever. If they feel a standard is holding them back, they move on. There was the ISCG standard for chain guide mounts. Which wasn't compatible with all frames and didn't work well with external bottom brackets that came up after 2003. So Dave Weagle got component manufacturers round the table and decided upon ISCG05. Same with disc brake standards. Initially it was all over the place. Then they agreed upon IS2000 which got most common. Exceptions were the Boxxer mount and PM. But IS2000 was stable and easy to produce. But as more complete bikes got spec'd with disc brakes, the faster (to install) yet less stable PM standard became more popular in the OEM market which introduced a shift. After all the bike manufacturer instead of the end user became the customer. But standards help with the adoption of new technologies so it is definitely in the gearbox manufacturers interest to agree upon a standard. Hahaha.

If the front and rear ring have the same diameter and the rear axle pivots around that front ring (so you have no chain or belt growth) there is no interaction between suspension and drivetrain. That is, if the cranks remain level, the suspension can move without rotating the rear wheel. If you do want interaction, you can use different diameters front and rear. If you want the suspension to push down when pedaling, use a bigger ring in the rear than in the front. Is that what they call anti-squat? I tried looking that term up but all explanations start with so much bullshit that is hard to keep reading beyond that. They basically say that when you accelerate your weight moves back. Which is nonsense. Weight moves back when the mass moves back. If you stay central on the bike when accelerating, weight won't shift. What does happen of course is that the rear wheel experience a larger upwards force from the terrain and the front a smaller, compared to the situation with a constant velocity. Yes of course that would also happen if the weight would shift to the rear, but it is a very different mechanism. They're trying to explain a dynamic phenomenon using statics, it is confusing and it doesn't work. But if it is what I think it is (the wheel digging down under pedaling forces), it can simply be done using a big ring in the rear and a small ring in the front like they do on an MX bike.
  • + 1
 @vinay: ISCG05 is the notable example of the industry getting together and agreeing on a standard, then sticking to it. It is special, because it's basically the only time it has happened. The reason it happened is because ISCG05 is literally just one 2-D drawing that costs frame designers nothing to implement, so companies have nothing to lose by committing to it. Drivetrains? Those are expensive, and we change axle, hub, chainline, and BB spacings every year to sell more bikes. Moto gear boxes are not standardized, there is no reason to expect bikes would be the same.

As for suspension design, um, there is a lot wrong with your statement. First off: anti-squat (for bicycle suspension design) is defined as the use of chain tension to counteract the "squat" of a suspended frame under pedaling forces. It can be graphically represented as a curve of percent of anti-squat vs suspension travel. The reason we say "squat" your center of mass will always move rearward when attempting to accelerate your bike, and the rearward shift of the center of mass behind the bottom bracket produces a squat effect. That is not nonsense, it is the Law of Conservation of Momentum: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The necessity of anti-squat is the key difference between suspension design for motos and bicycles. On a moto, with a twist throttle and a fixed-position engine, it is possible for the rider to maintain the center of mass over the main suspension pivot. On a bike where they have to pedal, that is not possible. Hence we need to design suspension systems to minimize the energy lost to compressing the suspension during pedalling. This is one of several factors that limit the efficiency of a gearbox bike.

While it may seem confusing, the methods for analyzing these dynamic phenomena are a well known and explored field of engineering, and an anti-squat curve combined with shock spring and damping information will provide an accurate description of how a bike pedals. Moto-style designs exist. They suck to pedal. Adding a gear box will not change that one iota.
  • + 1
 @handynzl: Oops, correct you don't need a fixed length rear end. Adding in an idler or tensioner is a possibility, but further kills your mechanical efficiency. Which brings up the second point: weight is not the killer for XC, mechanical efficiency is. The best gearboxes are 92-93% mechanically efficient at optimal torque (but drop off swiftly at lower torquest). A derailleur drivetrain is 98% efficient clean and trim (yes, muddy drivetrains kill efficiency, keep your chain clean), and suffers much less fall off at lower torques. That 6% gap is huge, and grows bigger at lower torques. Add in the weight of a gearbox, and it becomes very clear why XC sticks with the tried and true external derailleur drivetrains.
  • + 7
 If gearboxes can reduce drag even more, get rid of the grip shift and multiple cables, preferably by using paddle/electronic shifters, and lower weight some more, they have a chance. Until then I don't think the gearbox will not be refined enough for major brands or consumers to step in and say ''add another 1-2k to the bike, it's worth it for the addition of the gearbox.''

''However, there will be plenty to see in the coming years for gearboxes, with our Pinion technology being just at its beginning''

I will be giving it another 3-4 years, and seeing where the gearbox technology is at that point. Also with the whole, ''bike companies don't want to change carbon molds which is extremely expensive'' argument. 3-4 years ago nobody had any 650b bikes out, until they realized they could make a ton of cash by making everyone else swap over. They were more than happy to make new carbon bikes then.
  • + 2
 Agreed - honestly the biggest turn off for me in regards to the gearbox is the grip shift.
  • + 1
 and Boost!
  • + 6
 Not understanding all this gripshift hate. Have you guys that are making all the noise actually used an XO or Pinion gripshift? If so then I would like to know what your gripe actually is. personally I find gripshift intuitive. love being able to downshift whilst braking among other things.I also have no complaints about how well current trigger shifters work but for me gripshift makes much more sense on a gearbox bike given the different shifting technique required. To those who say gearboxes are hard to shift under load I would say you just need to spend more time on one to get the technique sorted
  • + 3
 I think a lot of the original hate comes from the first gen GripShift units in the 90's. I bought a first gen set back in the day, and it was brilliant up until the point that the soft rubber that keyed with the plastic spline to shift the gears stretched and then you couldn't change gears, or they got covered in Riverhead clay and crud during winter, in which place your hands just slipped over them. The only remedy at the time was to wrap zip ties around them so you had some knobby bits to grip, however you'd end up cutting the palms of your hands and destroying gloves.

Now, all of that is in the past, and no doubt that Sram has addressed these failings for their shifters. Personally, I'd like to try a set again.

Pinion makes their own shifter, or as far as I know they do. It isn't a GripShift. But please correct me if I am wrong.

I believe that there is a way to make an indexed click shifter work with a Pinion, but it involves a bit of dicking around TBH as you have to push/pull the cables. The answer will be a shift unit on the gearbox itself that utilises a spring to change gears, rather than the push/pull unit currently employed. This would then allow a basic ratcheting and release shifter (ie, current shifters) to be used.

But, yeah, don't know why there is so much hate for throttle shifting these days. AFAIK they work pretty sweet now.
  • + 1
 @handynzl correct pinion has their own twist Shifter. It is a two cable design. I like the idea of a Pinion but not the twist Shifter. Limits grip selection and possibly brake lever positioning. Pinion should be developing either a trigger Shifter or skipping that and going direct to electronic trigger.
  • + 6
 I get the feeling that most people commenting haven't read all of the article and watched the video. After 6000 (mainly) wise, enlightening and informative words people are still making the same old comments.
  • + 5
 This is Funny...Lets Ask to all the Oil Magnats why only 1,5% of the cars in the world use Electricity as power source!!
Come On, Until Sram and Shimano, etc don't find a way to make Gearboxes less reliable, that will not be a good business model for them... Its good for them that we be able to keep brooking our derailleurs/chains and whatnot...They are not in the business of reliability and long duration components!! Long Live Capitalism!!
  • + 5
 shimano came out with a lighter gearbox that had 11speeds and cost way less than a Rolloff. Zerode used to use them. No one bought them.
  • + 1
 @choppertank3e: you mean 8 speed, and it was basically the rear afline hub mounted in the frame, similar to what GT-i did, and exactly what Nicolai did with the rohloff hub.
  • + 2
 @choppertank3e: they were shit tho. I had no end of problems with them but love the rohloff.
  • + 1
 @choppertank3e:

The Shitmano Alfine hub isn't even close to a Rohloff hub, Rohloff has less drag, less weight and lasts 100x longer. Alfine hubs are not intended for ofroad use.
  • + 5
 I'm actually really surprised none of them threw the UCI under the bus: Why are road bikes still traditional, 2 triangle design when other frame designs have been proven to have significantly better aerodynamics? Because the UCI won't let those bikes compete in their events. Reportedly, part of the reason why the Honda bikes ended up being a "derailleur in a box" was that the UCI wouldn't let them compete with a full gearbox(if you think a company with the resources of Honda couldn't come up with a true gearbox that was competitive in every way that mattered to a derailleur, you're smoking crack.)

So if SRAM or Shimano start producing gearboxes at retail, it has to be completely in addition to the derailleur product line, & they will receive zero press from riders taking those gearboxes to wins at competition. It would mean a huge expense, with a much smaller return on investment than derailleur development, for reasons completely outside their control.
  • + 9
 Oh I could see it now SRAM / Shimano come out with a gear box and the PB a$$ clowns lose their minds. A NEW STANwDARD!!!! I CAN BUY AN XT GROUP FOR A THIRD OF THE PRICE ON BLOW OUT FROM CRC. WHO NEEDS THIS MY DRL WORKS FINE.

Let's face it the market for gearboxes is very small compared to the demand for CHEAP systems around the world. Oh and don't forget the gram counting / leg shaving roadies....no way in the world they would accept it.

In conclusion I want one :-)
  • + 1
 Ha yea the UCI would want a window on the gearbox so they can check for electric motors at the start line!
  • + 3
 @Chris-Brown23: Ha, they might need it, after all, people were cheating at xterra events with seatpost motors
  • + 5
 Everyone screaming for gear boxes: put your money where your mouth is and go out and buy a Zerode. It's pretty simple, really. Show the market there's a demand, and it will follow suit.

Personally, I don't think derailleurs are so bad. Inspiring weight? Meh, we're all used to it. Maintenance? I might have to adjust mine a couple times a season and replace a hanger every other year or so. Think you won't have maintenance issues with a gear box? Think again.
  • + 3
 I meant "unsprung weight," not inspiring weight. But y'all knew that, right?
  • + 2
 No one thought fixed seatposts were so bad either... Maybe you love those too?
  • + 1
 @leftCoastBurn: Yes, loved them. Now quit trolling me and go buy a Zerode. The option you want is out there. Go buy it. I'm not stopping you, and neither is my opinion.
  • + 5
 Everyone is carrying on about the Zerode but Nicolai have been using gearboxes for a long time, and the Pinion about as long as anyone I can think of. The Zerode looks great and I'd love to test one and compare it to my Nicolai. I've had a Nicolai Helius AC Pinion since 2013, to replace my Pivot Firebird. The P1.18 gearbox version. I was worried about the grip shift and drag but both are not issues. Compared to my Rohloff there is significantly less drag in the Pinion gearbox. Compared to a clean derailleur system the difference in drag is negliable. I had to relearn how to back off when climbing to change to an easier gear. That was it. It took about 3 or 4 rides. I can change to a harder gear under load without any problems, no backing off. I just changed the oil, all 60ml of it, in about 10 minutes. 8 of those minutes was waiting for the old oil to stop draining out. There is a bit of extra weight. It's not outrageous and it's placed down low. Shifting without pedalling, into whatever gear I want, is really handy and something that I miss when I'm riding my derailleur equipped bikes. The gearbox freewheels and the rear hub can freewheel, this makes lubing the chain a bit more difficult because I have to put it in the workstand. That is the biggest negative I have. I wouldn't mind if the Pinion gearbox was lighter, but who doesn't want their bikes to be lighter. The 9 and 12 speed Pinions lose a fair bit of weight but I like the range on the 18 speed gearbox. Di2 style shifters would be awesome too, but I've come to like the grip shift with the Pinion. I don't like the grip shifter as much on the Rohloff. You can already run a Pinion gearbox with a belt drive system on a full suspension bike if that's what you want, but I'm happy with a regular chain. The Shimano and Sram reps do a great job of promoting their stuff and bagging out the current gearbox offerings. Even though it sounds like they have not ridden a bike with a Pinion gearbox I'd be very surprised to find out they actually haven't.
  • + 5
 Well put, Sir. I've always wondered why the backing off when shifting is some supposed bad thing and not normal. In thirty years of racing and riding bikes from high school to now I have never shifted with load on the chain, especially when climbing. It's all about timing, and if I get stranded in the wrong gear I either bust my knees to grind over the obstacle, or hop off. Good to hear your positive feedback. Ride on!
  • + 9
 F$@k a gearbox, Who here can fix their car's transmission?
  • + 5
 Yeah, I was thinking the same, but at the same time mountain biking is a pretty frivolous activity to begin with. When I was younger I was a big single speed advocate, just because of the bulletproof simplicity, but now I see mountain bikes as a relatively frivolous thing. I'm not saying people will buy garbage, because they're smart, but I'm saying the whole drive behind mountain biking is somewhat luxurious in a lot of ways. It's a luxury to be able to even ride a bike in the mountains rather than walk, not a right is what I'm getting at, so why not take it that extra step?
  • + 6
 The Pinion box is far less complicated than your cars transmission. It is more along the lines of a Hewland box found on single seater race cars. Looks scary on the outside, but really just two shafts with sprockets on it. If you can dismantle a cassette on your bike now, and take your cranks off to get at the bottom bracket, you'll be able to service and maintain a Pinion gearbox.
  • + 1
 Pinion is not to be dismantled, they use special pretensioned screws that yield.
  • + 5
 @ZigaK13: The pre-tensioned screws are for the main box cover plate, more to prevent klutzes from tinkering with the internals, although the listed reason per their documentation is to "ensure that the transmission will remain leak tight on a continuous basis"

This does not disregard the fact that the internals are essentially a very simple design and easily worked on. Even upgraded with different gear ratios should someone wish to do that (though I wouldn't see the need personally - far easier to adjust the final drive ratio).

"What is put together by one man, can be pulled apart and be put back together again by another"
  • + 4
 when was the last time you replaced your broken transmission?
  • + 4
 @timmeh2k: Change it on my Formula Ford most races, actually. Not hard.
  • + 1
 @handynzl: Better you than me. I wish I had that kind of work ethic, my car's f*cked, and I know all about them, but I don't give a f*ck.
  • + 3
 I can Smile
  • + 2
 @Kramz: Well it is a pain in the proverbial, but if you have long straights you need longer gears. First few times was a bit worrisome, as in, was everything put back in the right order!! Touch wood, so far, so good Razz
  • + 2
 @handynzl: Yeah, it's pretty sad because I probably could have worked at pretty sweet cars by now if I had my life together, but I'm focusing on bikes as kind of a stepping stone in the right direction, and they're really healthy.
  • + 5
 99% of the mountain biking World rides mountain bikes in places other than mountains just for fun. Since when did all of you forget that riding a bike is about fun. The modern-day mountain biking world is so full of latest and greatest new standards and Bs I think it drives the majority of the people away from the sport.
  • + 2
 This. I live in the mountains, I ride everywhere
  • + 8
 "Wacek Kipszak - Opinionated Consumer" - urgh.
Pinkbike, please refrain from cheapening yourselves like this in the future.
  • + 10
 PB prob felt sorry for him. You can't find a feature on PB where he hasn't written an essay in the comments section so they figured they may as well include it in the article.
  • - 1
 @gavlaa: 4th out of 8 though, c'mon! Following Greg Minnaar...
As if the man needs more smoke blown up him.
  • - 1
 Nothing wrong with that... Waki actually has some good opinions... You just have to be able to sift through his sense of humor to get it...
  • + 5
 @lumpy873: The opinions on the article aren't even his. I got to "Two of the three suspension specialists" and I stopped reading.
I've been here so long that I'm plagued by the memories of the days in which I was unable to watch videos and could go to the comments without seeing a barrage of rubbish posted by Waki.
  • + 2
 @lumpy873: I can't help it if I feel those days were better.
  • - 2
 I am Kanye of MTB. You just can't grasp my great-ness cuz ya stuck in ya less-ness,
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: pipe down
  • - 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Thanks for making me laugh Waki!
  • + 8
 @WAKIdesigns: Thanks for ruining my once favourite website.
You're like having a wart on the end of my penis.
  • + 1
 @samfr1000: The fact that he was even included on this only discredits PBs validity
  • + 0
 @poozank: preach!
  • + 8
 "Winningest" is the most ridiculous Americanism I've ever read
  • + 2
 True dat. Successful is usually a good substitute. Better Engrish.
  • + 4
 @bigbear: Nearly as bad as "True dat".

(Irony approved of, incidentally).
  • + 2
 Next to Gotten
  • + 4
 In France, Cavalerie bikes (starring Effigear transmission) are becoming more and more common.

They had a lot of exposure last June, at a major MTB show (VeloVert Festival) cause the conditions were super muddy and their bikes were rolling flawlessly.
  • + 5
 The only thing we really learn from these articles is that industry people are patronizing dickholes about any technology that they aren't trying to push. And that Waki is possibly a bigger idiot than he seemed.
  • + 4
 Well it seems to me that the best solution here is to reverse the chain/derailleur system. Stick cassette/derailleur all at the pedals and have a single ring at the rear.

Cover it all in a plastic guard and bobs your uncle. Problem solved!

Disclaimer: This comment is to be taken with a generous helping of salt.
  • + 4
 Considering DH bikes, the gearbox drag is a bullshit. Just put the freewheel in the fricking hub for fuks sake. Why would you put freewheel into the gearbox to have that chain running. Is it really so important to shift gears while coasting? No, it's a first world problem. So all we are left with is the cost and overall weight
Increase. Now cost... Enve factory grew rather big and it is hard to find more unnecessary gigantic expenditure than wanting these rims for anything else than road and xc racing.

So we are left with 2lbs of overall increase in weight. Get on the gym baby
  • + 4
 Thats what i though when Minnar was complaining about the coasting drag. Just put a free wheel in the hub. And as for weight - if your traditional drive train was engineered to last for 10 years, as pinions are, then they'd weigh a lot, and be more draggy too. Design a gearbox to replace the gear sets as frequently as you do a chain and casette, you've reduced a bunch of weight and drag right there...
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns 30 seconds.
  • + 4
 With a gearbox, doesn't it have to be spinning to shift, but not have any torque on it? How would you shift with the freewheel in the hub? pedal very carefuly for a second or two, in the middle of a race run?
  • + 1
 Shifting while coasting is one of the primary benefits of a gearbox. If you took that away, I don't think it would have any chance of competing against derailleurs.
  • + 2
 @dthomp325: no it isn't. The main benefit is removing the unsprung mass. The second one is reliability. Shifting is a first world problem.
  • + 16
 @WAKIdesigns: you're a first world problem.
  • + 2
 Who cares about investing this kind of money for DH bikes? The global sales of pure DH bikes is super low...it is far less than Tri bikes even. Not worth it for developers.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: You're missing the true Achilles heel of gearboxes: No oval rings!
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: and only one bottle cage.
  • + 3
 If one advantage of a gear box is putting the weight in the center of the bike they should put three gears on the crank and have a simple front mech. with only six cogs on the cassette this could reduce unsprung weight and eliminate $500 cassettes.
  • + 0
 Front mechs have too many problems since you're manipulating the part of the chain thats under tension
  • + 4
 @hamncheez: That's funny mine have worked fine the last 30 years. what doesn't work is a bent 42 tooth cog.
  • + 1
 @plumberso: Have you bent a 42 tooth rear cog Has anyone? I have dropped a chain two or three times in the past two seasons on a 1x11, compared to at least once a ride on my old 3x9 and 2x9. I had to switch to a 2x9 since that largest front ring would bash on everything. I can now have a long travel 29er with short chainstays with my 1x drivetrain. I can run an oval ring. My drivetrain weighs less. I have less cables and shifters. Even if 3x9s were updated to modern technology, it would still weigh more than 1x11 (and 1x12), and a front derailleur will never shift as well as a single ring, even with $2k electronics.
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: yep ,two of them if you don't mind oval rings though it wont bother you because that's kind of what it feels like. Oval rings also came from the 80's on 3x drivetrains. My sarcastic point to start with was that the industry is just going to switch to something else to sell you as soon as you buy into the latest offering and often these are rehashed old ideas like oval chainrings.
  • + 3
 SRAM's uber-engineer's response is one of main reasons why I've never and will never ever buy anything from SRAM drivetrain dept. They are just cheap $$$ diggers, IMO. And as he himself admitted they at SRAM are at keepig profits and not pushing for real progress in this sport.
Thank you PB for this article as it openly showed why this sport is where it is.
  • + 1
 yup....
  • + 2
 They are a business. Business's exist to make money. They are not here to give you exactly what YOU want, for what YOU say you should pay.
  • + 2
 @scotthy72: once a company is big enough to bend the entire market, which Sram a Shimano is, it becomes responsible fór the entire market.
Sorry for negative rep, it was a mistake.
  • + 3
 Gear boxes may be the future, but not until they can put one on a bike at derailleur money. For the time being they will remain a boutique brand thing, which in a way could be good, because somebody may well hit on the perfect solution for integrating a gearbox onto a bike that satisfies everyone.
  • + 5
 The ultimate reason Scooby (Rob) can't bring a bike to market at Giant/Trek prices is because he can presently only afford to make 50 bikes at a time. A whole Shimano XTR drivetrain is similarly expensive as bought aftermarket, which is essentially what Scooby has to do at the moment.

When Santa Cruz first came to market they were uber expensive as they were far more a garage company than they are now. Which is exactly where Scooby, and other Pinion/gearbox user/bike manufacturers are at currently. Just too small to make the economies stack up.

Should Giant release just one bike model with a gearbox, and the whole game would change.
  • + 3
 I have 5 full days riding on my Zerode Taniwha in NZ and I came off a Santa Cruz Nomad and it is better in every way. Suspension is pure confidence inspiring, there is no drag when coasting - same freehub as any other bike. Not a huge noticeable difference in pedalling drag - plus consistent over the range unlike a derailleur where the most drag is on the gear you need to spin out the most - the lowest. Reduction of unsprung mass offsets any issues with weight - it just feels balanced. It is uncanny how quiet it is and gripshift feels better than the trigger that I previously had. Adjusted in 15mins of riding and feels very natural. Feels good under brakes. VPP is a marketing tool and a way of packaging a frame. I made a Ti Pinion hardtail a couple of years ago and haven't touched the drive train . Just chuck a little lube on the chain every month or so and it's been the most reliable bike I've had in the last 15 years. I'm onboard - just ride one. If you like it, get one, if not - don't. You choice...
  • + 3
 I take issue with:

"Over 6,500 of the 10,000 replies stated that it had either been more than two years since they broke a derailleur, they couldn't even remember the last time they broke one, or that they've never even had an issue".

When a bike costs as much as a car, i don't expect any component to fail on it within 2 years when said expensive bike is being used in the way it was designed for.

If your using an XC bike to Downhill on thats another story.

Some may say, but thats the owners fault for hitting the derailliuer against a rock. And i would reply isn't the mountain bike as a whole designed to go up and down mountains which contain rocks e.g. its a product design fault and can be bettered by utilising a gearbox.

Bicycle companies seem to pass the buck stating its not our fault with our bike (e.g frame) its the fault of the component. They sell the product and should take ownership of what they are selling as a whole. A vehicle manufacturer wouldn't pass the buck if an integral part of the vehicle, like a gearbox, fails within its natural life span. They'd fix or replace it or be expected to make a better product. Rock or no rock. A mountain bike is designed to encounter rocks. And a multi-thousand dollar bicycle should definitely be able to cope with them.

In short.
Bike manufacturers know they can make a better bike but choose not to.
Component manufacturers know the derailleur, at its heart, is a faulty design but choose not to fix the fault by making a better drivetrain.
  • + 5
 P.s. I really hope the Zerode sells well to those who can afford them. Then other manufacturers will take note.
  • + 2
 Bikes are definitely not designed to encounter rocks. See: fork stanchions, carbon handlebars, carbon frames, fabric covered saddles, electronic components, hydraulic lines, derailleur cables, rotors, spokes, brake levers, shifter paddles, even tires, arguably.

If you want a 50lb (3.57 stone) bike, sure.
  • + 2
 The issue with your car analogy is that you want the equivalent bike to an F1 car. F1 cars, like a high performance bike, sacrifice durability for performance and break parts and need to be serviced constantly. Bike companies could make your equivalent Toyota Corolla for you that would lose all performance but would last forever.... but you don't want that now, do you.
  • + 2
 @jefe: Well yeah, don't most of us actually just want that Corolla? I do. To me XTR level components are race level components. Fastest/smoothest/lightest at the expense of durability and compatibility with future and past components. From SLX/XT I expect reasonable/good performance. I won't/can't compare my pace to how fast I would potentially roll with lighter components, but most of all I want my gear to hold up. To not break and spoil an otherwise perfectly fun ride. Maybe it are the pro-derailleur ones in the article who have this F1 mindset. That efficiency (of a clean and well lubed but exposed drivetrain) is one of the most important aspects of the drivetrain. This may also be because they receive their feedback from racers and most new technology trickles down from their XTR (that is, race) groupo.

[I'm talking in Shimano terms here (XTR etc). Sure SRAM has a race group as well, but I've lost what that is after they went above X0. ]
  • + 1
 The only part of a bike that is designed to withstand regular contact with rocks is the tires... A properly setup derailleur will last thousands of miles with minimal maintenance if you don't smash it into things.
  • + 1
 @thrasher2: This. I realize I don't abuse my short-travel 29er as much as others do their downhill rigs, but I have not killed a derailleur, yet. Maybe it's just luck. And as for maintenance: What really is there to do besides (occasional) cleaning, lubing and every now and the a small cable tension adjustment. Everythin else (limits, chain gap) you set up once and usually don't have to worry about it for a long time.

And another thing: They may be super reliable but if a gearbox quits I would be at the mercy of the supplier. Send it in for service, wait for them to send it back, hope they won't try to screw me out of my warranty. And since the thing is firmly installed in your frame there's a chance you might have to send in the entire bike. What a pita!

With a broken derailleur I have a small chance of fixing a defect myself and a 100% chance I can at least replace it with a cheap Deore while I wait for the warranty.
  • + 1
 @vinay: The Corolla sounds great, but compared to F1 it would be like riding a horse down the freeway. I hear ya though. The problem with the bike world is that instead of increasing durability as you go down the range (SLX, deore, etc), it generally gets worse since price is the primary driver. Now you just get cheap crappy components at really almost the same weight. The equivalent "Corolla" doesn't exist in the bike world.

There are no moving parts on your bike that are designed to last the life of your bike. Even if you babied your bike, every bearing, bushing, pivot, seal, is going to fail.

Humans are weak so they need light bikes. That is the primary driver of your durability concerns and the reason components are the way they are. You say you don't care how fast you go, but to design a bike to the same durability standards as say a car or airplane, it's going to weigh at least 50 lbs if you want it at an affordable pricepoint (like homeboy said above).

Failed components are the norm and acceptable in the bike industry. If a failed component would most likely kill someone, how different would bike designs be today?
  • + 3
 @jefe: Agreed one shouldn't ask for all components to last a lifetime. Simply as when a component wears out or even fails, it isn't that much of a deal. But I think there should be a middleground eventually, for the rider who just likes to go out several times a week but doesn't (seriously) compete hence doesn't require top performing components. If that means 8sp cassettes with thicker steel sprockets that last two years, it could be worth it. Open bath forks may not be the lightest or even the most consistent, but they're easy to service by the owner. So it is two things really. Regular replacement of wear parts is expensive so less frequent is welcome. And having (complex) stuff serviced is expensive. A set of spanners for cup and cone hub bearings are cheap and 1/4" loose balls can be had everywhere. A bearing press is relatively expensive, specific for that hub and spare bearings typically have to be ordered (once you've figured out what goes in there). At this point in my life, the money is there to not worry about this stuff too much yet riding time is limited to a few rides a week. A couple of years ago it was the other way around. I was riding several hours a day but funds were limited. Having to replace a cassette was a huge setback. I think the industry and media have the misconception that the cheap bikes are for beginners and those who don't ride regularly and hard because those who do are willing to spend a lot. This is simply not true. Those in their prime rarely have the funds to support their intense riding. As far as I know most successful riders have very supportive parents. Mentally of course. But if my daughter would come home ten years from now "Can't ride for a while. Wrecked a rim today so I'll need to safe up for a new one" I couldn't bear that. I'd get her a rim, lace up her wheel and send her on her way. I'm pretty sure the same went with the parents of Seagrave, Bruni, Carpenter etc. But loads of younger riders don't have that and are on their own. I'm pretty sure they'd be better off with heavy and slower gear that works than high performance expensive gear. Did I digress? Sorry for that.

I think the issue with the reliability of a conventional drivetrain is that you can leave home with your gear in perfect condition and a simple stick or rock could destroy it. You can't prepare for that. Internal gearing doesn't just suddenly blow apart. If it is good when you leave, it will most likely survive your ride. If you start noticing play or weird noises over time, you can fix that at home and you'll be fine. It is more predictable. It may not matter in a DH race, but it does matter for someone who just regularly rides the bike for fun. I have no experience with those frame mounted units, but gear hubs aren't too hard to service. And if it is really messed up, you can just replace the entire cartridge (at least with Shimano you can). So that'd be the equivalent of replacing a rear mech.

TL;DR: Yeah safe life design would shift an unacceptable amount of weight from your wallet to the bike but a slight compromise in that direction would be nice.
  • + 1
 @vinay: Agreed. If I could shift a couple pounds off my butt and put it on my bike life would be better. Although i'm sure gearbox manufacturers will come up with new creative ways to fail and ruin our rides in ways we haven't even dreamed up yet.
  • + 6
 One of the biggest reasons is that the population is full of idiots that buy into Sram marketing bull. Sad but true
  • + 3
 RM pulls back the Altitude for a complete redesign not due out till later in the year.
Their engineers have been watching Zerode.
Could it be?!?!
There are probably people I could ask, but it's more fun to speculate and hope.
  • + 3
 Am I the only one who has ridden a gearbox bike and hated it? Loss of efficiency anf a bit of added weight are not a big deal to me. The biggest downside was inability to downshift under load. Clearing punchy climbs was impossible and involved a lot of swearing and hike-a bike. The solution seemed to be to shift into the lowest gear, then up shift cautiously. If you went to high, you were having to back off the power while trying to maintain balance.

at the same time, I've blown up 2 Alfine 8-Speed hubs in my commuter bike from shifting under load.

Perhaps an execution on a DH bike with superior suspension design is the answer
  • + 2
 What did you ride and for how long? In fact you can shift faster with a Pinion or Rohloff than with any other system when you get used to it, release the pressure for less than 1/2 second and you can shift up or down up to 6 gears that are instantly available (you don't need a pedalstroke to engage).

Alfine hubs suck, Rohloff/Pinion are in a completely different league.
  • + 1
 Hey Skidsy by the sounds of it you were not able to get the hang of the gearbox shifting peculiarities, just give yourself a little more time. It is an adjustment to what you are used to for sure but once you get there you will never go back
  • + 7
 Can't we just move cassette to the bb area ?
  • + 5
 Yeah, we can. It's called a gearbox.
  • + 5
 My memory may be fuzzy, but wasnt that how honda did it? I recall a enclosed derailleur/chain/cassette configuration housed in a box above the BB. Im old, was racing dh when honda and others tried doing gearboxes back in the day and recall seeing one setup like that.
  • + 1
 Schwinn had some bikes back in the day with the freewheel mech up in the BB area. Odd feeling coasting and the chainring is still turning. at ludicrous speed.
  • + 1
 @handynzl: one made of standard parts we can service at home that won't cost a fortune and still enables shimano/sram to crank out the same bits cutting down r&d costs and wouldn't weigh too much more apart from maybe reconfigured frames.
  • + 3
 Hey Richard [Cunningham]-and everybody else that commented on the question for that matter- you forgot one [not so] minor point. Using the Zerode Taniwha as an example, the gearbox gives a massive 600% SPREAD across its gearing. That's a LOT more than the next closest-the SRAM 12-spd.
In an age when mountain bike manufacturers and their hardware suppliers(i.e. SRAM and Shimano et al) are coming out with new and 'improved' wheel/hub sizes, bike geometry, shock sizing etc in an effort to get people buying new bikes every other week, one would think they'd see the gearbox as a[nother] tool to do this.
And we all know the quickest way to improve on a design is to get it out in the real world, being made by multiple companies, and in as much people's hands as possible.
War forced countries to build the quickest, best handling, and most lethal planes in the smallest amount of time-competition- That's why the airplane evolved from a paper kite with a chainsaw(prolly not exactly) motor, to jets that do Mach 3 and beyond, VTOL and vectored thrust, all in less than a hundred years.
Everybody was using it, thus smart people were coming out with new designs for a multitude of companies in the shortest time possible.
Alas, the real hurdle is its lack of maintenance, i.e. a loss of income for drivetrain manufacturers. No need to replace front chain rings bi-monthly, no derailleurs to get smashed in crashes thus needing replacement, and no new-and-improved cassettes to get everyone to pay $300+ for every 6 months.
It's therefore my opinion that it's gonna take a small company such as Zerode, to come up with an affordable home-run design that will entice a large(er) number of customers to step up for.
IMO the players(SRAM/Shimano) won't move forward unless/until they see that not doing so is gonna hit 'em in the wallet.
  • + 2
 @a loss of income for drivetrain manufacturers: Not necessarily, you could have a carbon housing one year, ceramic pinions the next, improved teeth geometry and so on and so on
  • + 5
 I love it... the person from SRAM asking rhetorically " do people want another standard?"

That's rich.
  • + 4
 Yeah, it seems we need to be more specific in our moanings because these product managers are incapable of interpreting them properly.

Yes we like component interfaces to be standardised to make it easer to swap/replace.
No we don't like existing standards to be replaced by new standards for no apparent/viable reason.
  • + 2
 One word somes up the demise of the gearbox. "money"

The big companies have the tech but their product lines are set years in advance to maximise profit from the moulds and tech they have refined.
When they feel it's time for the gearbox to prosper then it will until then the little companies can keep plugging away all they like. Helping the R&D of the big companies. They will just buy the latest gearbox rip it apart and use what they feel benefits them to better produce their gearbox product.
  • + 2
 dropping Names would have been too much for Christoph Lermen.
"We're in contact with a number of well-known OEMs, and it has become exciting to see who is a technology leader and will be using our revolutionary drive technology as the first gearbox bike in their catalog."
Who and when would be interesting...
  • + 2
 There are few things that I have learned from reading these comments:

1. Norbs was robbed
2. Everything looks like a Session
3. Gearboxes are the future

And

4. wait for it..... CHRIS HILTON from SRAM is a Condescending A-Hole!!

No other person in this article wrote/talked like him.

Listen A-Hole, we want you and Shimano to refine the current state of the tech so that we CAN "VOTE" for wth with our $$. Don't say we haven't voted for it. This article is proof that there is a real desire for it. Now go make it so! You can do it.

And next time you are asked to contribute, don't be a d!ck about it!!
  • + 2
 I have a Mi-Tech Tyke with a pinion p1.18. When I first got it in2013, the gearbox was good... but kind of noisy and it occasionally clunked - which was alarming. HOWEVER over the past 4 years, Pinion has upgraded the box - twice!! What I have now is a triumph of engineering. It makes almost no noise. It shifts like butter (up to about 8 gears in a go). When you shift, you are IN the gear... not about to be in it once you turn the crank. It feels so solid. God I love this piece of metal.
When I get home from a ride, I give the bike a quick squirt down - no tedious washing or chain cleaning.

I think the reason people are not complaining more is that they have just resigned themselves to a shitty life riding a regular drivetrain - It's like a person living in North Korea - complaining every day, aside from getting you shot, would just get you down, so you bite your lip and say it's not that bad.

Luckily most of you are not surrounded by a barbed wire fence, so what are you waiting for?
  • + 2
 "Time spent improving existing tech is not taking away from future tech. There is a full-time dedicated team constantly working on future technology"

At Shimano, this team is working on front derailleurs, better wires for electric shifting and a slightly improved version of the original Gravity Dropper seat post. Their next project will be to see if it's possible to use carbon fiber to make crank arms.

I did find this line interesting though:

"The overall bike industry is pretty soft, especially in the downhill segment, so asking brands to invest a lot of money in new designs to only sell a relatively small number of frames is not going to get the thumbs up from George in accounting, so there is a very real gamble that could literally bury a company"

guess that's why Saint and Zee haven't been updated since Obama was running for reelection.
  • + 2
 It's not as exciting to talk about as gearboxes, but I would like to see some development of "lube-free" bicycle chains. The high maintenance clean and lube schedule of traditional drivetrains is a bit ridiculous (1 hour in the dust? bye-bye efficiency!).

Companies like Tsubaki and Renold have been very successful with their roller chains for industrial applications.
  • + 4
 last time I broke a rear derailleur??check my shoe box. 13 and counting.
come ride here. these rocks love them. at least shimanos are much lower profile than sram.
  • + 1
 Yep- first thing I think when I see half of the bikes reviewed in the PB articles is "damn, that derailleur would last 5 minutes where I ride". Short cage and front ring bash are mandatory. I will be on a Zerode this summer.
  • + 2
 If it's one thing that bikes are so behind the times on its their gears. The basic principle hasn't changed for decades. The gearbox bike needs to be the future and we'll know manufacturers need to start creating them to appeal to the masses.
  • + 3
 the only thing I know is that my 2016 brand new bike is already old due to standard changes... Much faster than pcs! I'm still using ddr3 RAM without getting old And fuck it, i'd like to try a Nicolai with Pinion!
  • + 6
 lmao at "opinionated consumer"
  • + 2
 Really for the gearbox to happen all the companies would need to be like"3,2,1 lets do it!" once that happened gearboxes would get lighter, create less drag, become cheaper and become simpler. The problem is no one once to the that guy that kicks the whole thing off.
  • - 4
flag stumpymidget (Jan 5, 2017 at 4:51) (Below Threshold)
 "Wants" not "once."
  • - 2
 @Earthmotherfu: Pedantic? Not really. The guy mixed up "wants" and "once". If you speak english as a first language, and you mix up those words, you should be ashamed. Its even worse THAN mixing up THEN and THAN, which i see on here all the time
  • + 4
 @stumpymidget:

And yet you ignore "to the that guy".

Pedantic AND careless. Well done.
  • - 5
flag stumpymidget (Jan 5, 2017 at 7:02) (Below Threshold)
 @KeithReeder: Pedantic AND careless, ok, yeah, maybe. But it's not as bad as making both those mistakes in one sentence, is it? And your picking on me for this, yet nobody picked him up on his mistakes? Wait a second, yes they did, it was me.
  • + 1
 Wouldn't be that easy, if it were, would've have happened as said above. Disc brakes happened and that took coordination not only from frame makers, but fork and hub makers as well. Caught right on though, because the disc brake wasn't so hard to make. IMO, if gearboxes were today's magic bullet, Giant would have done it.
  • + 2
 Well, this debate goes on. I for one would love a gearbox bike. I understand the drawbacks, for an aggressive HT design I simply don't see them. I get the engineering challenges of the chain tensioner thing with fullys though. But that can be solved.
I ride a bike every day to work I'm fortunate enough to be able to ride through single track in my local state park to get there. Nothing epic, no big drops or serious tech just a nice little trail to take to work. However, I ride through shit on many days. And I do mean shit, goose shit, derailleur deep mud, snow, ice, whatever. I have an xtr drivetrain that I have to clean constantly every day. I would love an aggressive HT with a pinion gearbox and a gates belt. These things have their place. With so much being invested by the bike industry to make these wanna be motorcycles (E-bikes) for people that are too out of shape to pedal why the hell can't they invest in making the gearbox more mainstream?
  • + 2
 Same here. Does anybody know the cheapest gearbox hardtail available on the market today?
  • + 3
 From what I can find:
Portus 3500€
18 bikes £3000
Nicolai 3150€
Endorfin £2250
Viral $5000
Mi Tech 2300€

You would have thought someone like On One could make one for £1500.
  • + 1
 All frame + gearbox only prices above.
  • + 2
 @LemonadeMoney:
I Kickstarted my Carbon hardtail frame for £2500
Am doing them now for £2700 - 3000 -
Longtravel or Rigid
29er or 27.5+
I am working on a 4130 frame
  • + 1
 @ZigaK13: That Ghost looks reasonable - switch out the 27.5+ for 29ers and you have a bit of trail weapon
  • + 1
 @handynzl: What I like the most about Ghost is that it's a big company, the first of it's kind to offer pinion equipped bikes. (as far as I know)
  • + 1
 @ZigaK13: Why has the Ghost got a chain tensioner on a hardtail?
  • + 1
 @LemonadeMoney: You need horizontal dropouts that also incorporate brake caliper mounts to be able to run a pinion without a tensioner (same as ss)
  • + 1
 @ZigaK13: Yeah, I realise that, so why not do it?
  • + 1
 @LemonadeMoney:

They just failed, probably in their hunt to offer as cheap as possible..... very dissapointing. Throw in a bit more and go for a dedicated brand.
  • + 2
 @11ants: I'm guessing that they were developing their full suss gearbox bike at the same time, sharing as many parts/details as possible.
  • + 2
 I was under the impression that the Alfine hub was planetary, so it can be shifted at a standstill just as well as spinning or backward. And I'm pretty sure the single speed on the Zerode is a traditional freehub. So half the time you have the same amount of drag. The pedaling is where the pundits come in with the percentages, without riding two identical drivetrains back-to-back (same bike/course/conditions) and measuring wattage there is only speculation. For DH it has to be incremental at best, I'm willing to trade that for losing a chain or better yet jumping one into a now-ruined wheel, and that is if it doesn't lock up the rear and send me into the trees. Yes, that has happened.
  • + 1
 I think it will take a more efficient gearbox that can beat out the standard cassette for it to ever catch on. The reality is we are a bunch of lemmings getting trickle down technology from the pros. Until pros start racing and winning on gearboxes we won't see them trickle down to the masses. Which is kind of sad because right now gearboxes make some sense for people not trying to shave tenth of seconds.
  • + 1
 i honestly don't have any issues with standard drivetrains but i am not against gearboxes being offered but as the wheel debate ended badly for advocates of smaller wheels after the promise of all three options being supported to offer more choice (and not the eradication of one size) never happened (and with the likely demise of 650b bikes what with 29ers encroaching into the dh arena as well) i am far from keen to support this new alternative for risk that my personal preferred choice may dry up yet again as manufacturers switch to this setup and drop the current type. For me transmission loss is the deal breaker and yes even though there are pros to this newer system i would not trade them for this reason alone.
  • + 2
 Have *you* ridden a 2016 Pinion equipped bike? If "no", then you may want to try one out to be fully informed as per "transmission loss".
  • + 4
 @handynzl: i have manufactured my own drivetrain from unicorn bones and troll teeth and it has 50 gears and weighs 5kg but is cable driven and sits on a small dolly that is towed behind the bike.....its amazing and because i made it in the future (2076) and traveled back in time to use it its many times better than anything you will ever own. I will not post pictures but please take my word for it and dont form an o-pinion (lol) of it for yourself.
  • + 2
 @rabidmonkfish: haha. Love it
  • + 1
 While the gearbox systems we have available today do work, they still are not as efficient as they would need to be to take over from external drivetrains. As an Alfine user with belt drive, I can attest that this is the case, not to mention the extra weight, far more complex maintenance, and durability not even reliant on the cogs themselves, but other peripheral parts that can fail and bung the system up. Someone will need to completely redesign an internal sealed gearing system that is as easy to service, as efficient, and as inexpensive as external drivetrains for something new to "take over". In the meantime, any early adopters or drivetrain resale conspiracy theorist can take the gearbox plunge anytime they want.
  • + 1
 Using the Status Quo as an argument in favour of the Status Quo is lame (we built it this way, and now it's convenient, so let's stick to it). It's really quite reminiscent of the discussion suspension versus rigid bikes end of 80s/early 90s. For all the naysayers, suspension was too heavy, not necessary on MTBs, too expensive and complicated, and very difficult to make it work well. notice something? thought so.

Here's my pro for gearboxes: Reducing unsprung weight is H.U.G.E. Everyone try yourself. Remove cassette, chain and derailleur from your bike and go on one chainless ride downhill. Tell me, you don't feel any difference (I won't believe you).

Apart from scoring a great riding exercise by going chainless, you will notice to have to adjust your rebound, because your rear wheel is gonna be much more active and springy. And this from removing something like 6-700 gr. unsprung weight, which is very little when compared to 80kg rider plus 14kg bike. Crazy effect really.

So, here is your justification to push on for gearboxes. All other problems around gearboxes can be solved just like the problems surrounding classic drivetrains for ages.

Investment probs? for sure. Just as with suspension, this wouldn't change the market overnight. But think slow shift and let each company build one high-end model into their wide range of drivetrain bikes. We'll see from there.
  • + 1
 Bike frames are engineered around the derailluer. We then constantly modify parts such as boost spacing to make every thing work. It would be a huge leap but not impossible for a big bike company ,say Specialized , to make a gear box bike. Then all the other bike companies would scramble to keep up. it will happen. I just don't know when. BTW Sram has tested the idea of a gear box. Sram and Specialized just need to get together on the concept and commit.
  • + 1
 sincerely I don't give a single f*ck for gearbox. My Shimanos work great, are relatively cheap comparing to other brands and I've had few issues in the past because of this derailleur system ( getting branches and small stuff into it) but isn't something that makes me eagerly want a gearbox weighting and making my next bike more expensive and harder to do a home maintenance.
  • + 1
 Why they aren't common:

1. Cost and complexity
2. Suspension geometry.

Its widely appreciated that a rearward axle path is better for negotiating bumps. Why else would you have any concern for head angle at the front? - same thing.

On the exterior of a gearbox system is fundamentally a single speed. The axle path must remain on an arc around the axis of the cranks otherwise the chain/belt must grow.
This limits what you can do with rear suspension design.

The rear mech, may have its pitfalls - but it has the combined function of chain tensioner and allows and controls significant lengthening of the chain during suspension travel.

I think the gearbox is wonderful - but it isn't practical for mass market full suss designs. There are so many suspension concepts, each manufacturer has their own - which gives each brand it's unique selling point. A gearbox drivetrains is likely to start to commonize suspension designs between bikes, and thus the individuality is lost. A simple example: will not work with Orange single pivot - so what would orange do? Move the single pivot to the bb? This has already been done etc!
  • + 1
 Nope. Thats why some of the bikes run a chain tensioner...
  • + 1
 The problem with gearboxes is what pretty much all of the commentators stated. Mainly cost, efficiency, weight and ongoing support. A well maintained derailleur will last many years. If it dies or get's broken, you're out what...$80? I'm still running the same XT/RF derailleur/drivetrain on one of my bikes since 2003...still running 3x9...flawless other than cleaning, oiling and periodic cable replacements. Never needed to upgrade it and since I've bought a newer bike don't need to any time soon. I'm not willing to take a step back in performance simply for aesthetics...which is all gearboxes are...aesthetics. If I change my gear, I expect an increase in performance, otherwise, what's the point? Chris Hilton pretty much nails everything that is wrong with the gearbox.

I may be a bit of an old guy here, but I don't want my bike to require batteries and I don't want crazy mechanical stuff on my bike that is difficult or impossible to maintain, suspension is bad enough. I will never have battery powered shifters or an eBike and I will never have a gearbox because when these things fail 30k in to the bush, you are walking. There are simple workarounds and solutions for nearly all failures with a traditional drivetrain that will at least get you rolling again.
  • + 1
 Great article, must be a record for comments. Having ridden mountain bikes roughly since the dawn of time, here's my 2 cents: drivetrains have made steady progress since the 70s, but the advent of wide ratio 1X drivetrains, clutch derailleurs, and chain retention chainrings was no less than a quantum leap. Give SRAM great credit for putting those three things together with XX1 and its trickle down relatives, and give Shimano credit for making the combination (especially the cassette) affordable for a high level group with the current XT stuff. I've put almost 3 seasons of rough xc riding in on a XO1 group, and I'm still on the original shifter, derailleur and cassette (with regular chain replacement with the cheapest 11 spd chains I could find). Durability of the stuff is extraordinary. Gear spread is a minor consideration except for numbers junkies; I can get plenty of low end for my old legs by using a 26-28 tooth chainring (something that SRAM still has an edge on with direct mount crank sets and rings) with the 42 in the back, and only xc or enduro racers need the higher high (that's where Eagle comes in). I'll admit I don't ride a lot in mud, and can see where gear boxes, belt drives, and hard tails might come in handy in those environments, but otherwise where's the need?
  • + 1
 I'm not very technical, hate changing gear and run single speed on my DH bike...might be stating the obvious here but as soon as a gear box bike is the same weight and price as my trail bike I'll be first in the que with my credit card ready!
  • + 1
 So I've had an idea rolling around in my head for a while now on how to increase efficiency. Why no clutch (like sprag clutch) each gear on the input shaft? That could potentially increase efficiency (while still being constant mesh) by only having one set of gears turning at any point? That could go a long way to removing the major complaint about the drag of a gearbox.
  • + 1
 Why not just free-wheel the rear so it's not constantly pushing the mech? Then there would be no more coasting drag than there is now.
  • + 1
 @samael: That's external to the gearbox. It would be wise to do that as well. What I'm talking about is when you're turning the crank, you're turning all 4,5,6 etc pairs of gears all at once (it's called a constant mesh transmission, same as on any motorcycle, auto, etc). So if you are only turning one pair of gears when you're pedaling, your efficiency would be increased.
  • + 1
 @patrick2cents: Ahhh, I getchya.
  • + 1
 Has anybody entertained the idea of a system that uses the idea of a continuously variable transmission? Two variable pulleys, one belt, cable actuated... Seems doable. The only thing you'd really need to nail is belt tension as the plates in the pulleys separate or converge. I've never seen anything like this on a human powered vehicle, but I feel like it could almost certainly be done.
  • + 5
 NuVinci
  • + 5
 Gearboxes are durable, so not good for buisness But good for us customers
  • + 1
 look at them nice derailleurs we have today. why even think of a chunky gearbox? give ur chain some oil and be happy with its extremely high efficiency that served well for 100 years now.
if u ask me, the way to go would be to move the rear hub to the right... for even spoke tension (like cannondale and specialized did and maybe a few others)

and wider chains would be nice for some more durability ... how long does an eagle cassette last vs a 7spd dura ace?
  • + 2
 "why even think of a chunky gearbox?"

I'm sorry? "Chunky"?

Did you even LOOK at the Pinion box?

www.pinkbike.com/photo/13963971
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: nah, i didnt look closely at it yet...
its kinda small but still: not as efficient and a box that is bolted to where a bb should be

i start to love the "old" bike stuff over the new and even newer plastic-marketing-get-every-potential-cusomer-into-riding bs.
  • + 1
 Sorry Greg but I think your statement on bikes being so different now a days is a load of shit!!! Everything looks the same now a days, it sure isn't like it was in the evening ten years ago. Every year brand looked different and you could actually tell what brand it was by the shape of the frame. Now a days it's all cookie cutter bikes basically based around the Iron Horse Sunday!!
  • + 1
 I'm passionately unimpressed by gear boxes. Seems like a solution looking for a problem. My rear derailleur falls apart/wears out before breaking these days. In fact so little seems to go wrong on the bike that I keep forgetting to do maintenance. Which reminds me I have a cable that needs replacing (going onto month 4 of I should change that cable when I get home syndrome).
  • + 5
 YT buys Zerode...

Game=Changed
  • + 5
 YT buys Pinion... Even better!!
  • + 2
 @skill7: YT buys Effigear... better still.
  • + 1
 Why wasn't Effie-Gear contacted for this article? What about Chris Porter at Mojo Suspension? Or the people at Nicolai? Hasn't the Honda bike turned out to be a derailleur in a box?

The Pinion checks many many boxes (do what you will with that pun) the twist-barrel shifter is where it falls short for myself and likely many others. I've heard Effie-Gear has an adapter to run Shimano or SRAM shifters but those boxes seem even more rare than a Pinion.

Big Bike Manu is hard set on turning into electric mini bike companies so gearboxes are trying to gain market share at the absolute worst time.
Also, bring on more e-bike coverage!
  • + 1
 Great.....until you crack the gear box case on some rocks and bleed gear oil all over the trail. And the next rider back hits the slick and goes down....and than the trail club babbies cry about the oil dissaster clean up they will have to do....and you will than have to ride with some Dawn soap in your pack so the sea birds have a fighting chance after you and your gearbox buddies run aground with your bikes and leak more gear oil...
  • + 1
 "In a recent Pinkbike Poll questioning the reliability of derailleurs, over 6,500 of the 10,000 replies stated that it had either been more than two years since they broke a derailleur, they couldn't even remember the last time they broke one, or that they've never even had an issue."

Was that recognising different disciplines within the PB community? I can see differences between XC and AM, for example.
  • + 1
 I think gearboxes will happen in a phew years on very or almost all brands ,but the 1x11or 12 are very good and silent and trusty ,can take vey abuse and still working fine an without many noises ,the gearboxes like the batteries of the ebikes after abusing them I am not that sure they will stay straight in a crash or something like that ,and you will be looking at the gearbox or an ebike and saying now what can I do ,where is the problem,and the system that we have we can almost fix the problem on the terrain and ride along,so ............,I don't know give a top xtr crank from 2006 but costing 30 € cause it's almost the same off today ,just do that keep production of them like other things and if people wants the next big thing then make them paying for that like suspensions keep producing springs forks they are long lasting and almost trouble free,but no let's make some crappy air forks until we hit it ,let's make all things carbon ,no now let's make aliminium again cause now they are the best they have properties that they discover now , lets make short cainstays,no let's make them longer,now let's make this ,no what a joke this is,and the bike media what a joke
  • + 1
 Gear box designs are not as efficient as Derailleur, but can be made close but for racing you would have to be better than everyone else, so Richie Rude could win on a gearbox and really hurt big S's But Nemesis will have something to say about it
  • + 1
 Gearbox is the same comparison as:
1) Diesel engine vs regular unlead gas engine vs Li-ion full/partial electric systems
2) VHS vs Beta
3) Shimano vs SRAM vs Campagnolo
4) PC vs Apple iMac

- you don't need 6000 words to say that it's all based on short and long term costs, availability of parts to the masses, compatibility standards. Weight, of all things is the last thing on anyone's mind. So, if a gearboxed bike weighs 35 lbs and it costs as much as any other department store bike, I'm sure it'll become the norm. However, if the gearbox is aimed at the pros only, the argument is really moot. No industry is going to support that. It's just a niche or boutique market. This world is driven by money, nothing else. We're all driven to make our own choice, but in the end, we're limited with the choices by what we can afford.

If you want a gearboxes for the masses, make it adaptable to the 10+ billion bikes that are available in this world and make it affordable to do the conversion. The only gearbox systems that can do right now is the electric mid-drive systems and they're fast and some are affordable. They're heavy due to the huge batteries you put onto your bike, but who the hell cares when you can go 50 or 60km/hr on a flat road and at least 20km/hr up a fairly steep mountain trail?
  • + 4
 Follow this link to a gearbox bike I thought about buying! www.ghost-bikes.com/en/bikes/fully/bike/h-amr-x-al
  • + 1
 Looks nice. I'd want to switch the 27.5+ wheels for 29
  • + 1
 @handynzl: Yes, I would run it as a 29er too.
  • + 1
 These are the real problems (with current gearboxes), though i'd say the first three at least could be solved by an RN-01 style mech-in-a-box. That seems to be the ideal solution. Honda just nailed it.

Inability to shift under power

Twin-cables and the requirement of a grip shifter

Increased drive-train drag

Total weight
  • + 1
 Lot's of negative comments here...Santa Cruz guy talking about expensive....Sram guys all about money...I'll be the first to say bikes and components have gotten really expensive and younger me could not afford most of what I have now but I will say this. My Santa Cruz Bronson with my Sram X01 and pike/fox float is light years better experience that what I rode for decades and it's getting cheaper fast so don't be so fast to slam these guys. None of them (except maybe CEO) are getting rich doing this. Most just love bikes people. I never experienced such joy on my old GT Timberline hardtail (although I had many great days on it and it was good for the time).
  • + 4
 "People vote with their dollars and their choices"

Nope, they mostly buy what is pre-installed by OEMs.
  • + 4
 Plenty of OEMs installing gearboxes if you want one.
  • + 1
 The arguement that gearboxes will last longer falls flat. Who really cares when most people will only keep a bike for 3-5 years? A well maintained, decent quality derailleur system will easily last that, though you may have to change the front gear(s) and cassette...still a fraction of the cost of a gearbox. Even if you break derailleurs, you'd need to break a lot to cover the cost of the gearbox and if you are breaking that many, you may want to look at improving your riding as you'd be a fine candidate for cracking the gearbox as well.

I'll take cheap, efficient and easy maintenance over a potentially very expensive failure any day. And, to be fair, when I buy a bike, I expect a bike, not a car. Current drivetrains, namely cassettes and front gears may be throw-away, but they still last usually 2+ years of riding, depending on how much you ride. You'd have to replace a lot to cover the extra cost of a gearbox.

It reminds me of these people who buy hybrid cars thinking they'll save money on gas. If the car lasts 20 years that may be the case, but in general, people will never recoup the extra cost of the car in gas alone.

The short of it is, I could get a bike with a traditional XT drivetrain and buy several full replacement XT drivetrains for the cost of getting a similarly equipped bike with a gearbox. This is not just wear-n-tear issue and largely why they'll remain a niche/gimmick item for the foreseeable future. The XT, well maintained, will out-perform the gearbox in almost every way, it's also more configurable, cheap and easy to repair, and cheap and easy to maintain. You could maintain a traditional drivetrain for the life a bike until the technology is obsolete (i.e. 9-spd, which I still have on 3 bikes) and still spend far less than what you'd spend on a gearbox.

Will gearboxes ever become mainstream? Possibly, when the technology improves enough that it actually improves the bike and is affordable enough the justify it. Or, maybe it's just one of those things that doesn't bring enough to the table to justify its existence. Time will tell. It's not that long ago that bike suspension was just a springy mess and not much more than a gimmick itself.
  • + 1
 I have tried a gearbox bike once and I found the peddle feel too heavy. Riding uphill was hard and tiring. I felt exhausted after a half hour ride, but do the same ride on my chain and derailleur driven bike and I'd barely break a sweat. I've had zero issues with my derailleur in the past 5 years. It's a Shimano unit so I guess that explains why it's so durable Wink I hope gearbox bikes don't become the new standard. That would suck.
  • + 1
 One of my bikes has a rohloff hub in the frame. A nicolai frame. I absolutely love the thing. If it was on a shorter travel bike. It could be used for anything. The difference between the hi and lo gear is basically the same as my xc hardtail with frontal gears as well. The biggest reason why its not much out there is the price.
  • + 1
 Joe from Santa Cruz summed it up...big brands are not going to design around a component that may not be available in the future for whatever reason...Pinion for drivetrain or Eightpins dopper posts as some examples. Both cool products but I don't think they warrant frame companies spending millions on RD and redesign.
  • + 1
 While it is good to see a balanced article, there was now talk of what I call the great british weather factor. There are parts of the world that does not have SoCal weather. I am a bicycle designer and run a small company. My motivation to start a frame building company was because the big 3 were not developing belt-drive let alone gearbox frames. Pro's and Con's aside, I wanted to offer an alternative to the "exposed" drivetrain. If you are interested in seeing my solution to the ever evolving problem then my web is www.olsenbicycles.com @thepodge
  • + 1
 Had never really thought about gearboxes as nothing wrong with the current setup. This article got me interest enough to wonder about building a 29er mountain bike with single speed style setup clogging mud avoidance but a handy hub gearbox using Alfine for when just exploring round the countryside in no rush. Lot of reading and what a can of worms, 11speed has a low torque limit so got to be careful what chain ring sprocket combination you use, don't push to hard in the hills or pins will snap, 15mm BMX style fixing bolts so need a big 15mm spanner in your bag, don't tighten it up enough things slip so the gears miss. Sounds a right ball ache - shouldn't be though, if it just worked it'd be great for a winter bike.
  • + 1
 Well spotted an 8 speed Alfine disc hub on eBay local and cheap so bought it and a On One slot dropout 29er frame it fit it to. Will build it up and give it a go and form my own opinion of gearbox / Hub gear bikes. Not that promisingly the guy I bought it off when I collected it said he had it on a Commencal Meta and didn't like it and went back to conventional.
  • + 1
 @StevieJB:

Quit your test and save some more for a Rohloff, Alfine isn't suited for ofroad use, you'll be dissapointed Wink
  • + 1
 The tech is there, but the money isn't. Drag on a gearbox from coasting? put a clutch in it--problem solved. Gearboxes are the ultimate solution: completely encased so little maintenance and high durability, change gear ratios whenever you want, puts the weight at the right place on the bike, etc, etc. But all this requires a frame built around the gearbox or some kind of real standard that requires a major departure from what companies have been doing for decades.
  • + 1
 Many great points explaining things and a few not very well thought through. These bikes look great, as good as any other bike out there and not much different so that isn't holding gear boxes back. Chain tensioners if needed could easily be built into or attached to the gearbox out of harm's way so that isn't a well conceived deterrent. I'm glad SRAM recognize s they currently mass produce gear boxes in hubs. Too bad Shimano doesn't seem to especially since the Aldine hub does get mounted in some DH frames as a gearbox already. While the alfine is not intended for off road use slot of people do use them on trail bikes and they are half the weight of a Pinion box. It needs work for our use but it is already a successful mass produced Shimano product. The suggestion a gearbox could share the Shimano steps mount is an obvious and great point. Glad to see How Lawill mention it. The after market will develop an adapter to mount an alfine or pinion gearbox in that space. There are already several adapters for putting motors in the mid drive configuration using standard BBs. The idea that bikes need to be redesigned around gearboxes is a big issue doesn't take into account bikes already can accommodate different wheel and tires sizes using replaceable dropouts, linkages and the like to adjust geometry and spacing. Most of the real so called issues have already been addressed so it's more a matter of demand and will than technical issues. Demand depends on availablability. The big players say we can't have gearboxes yet so the masses don't ask. Finally cost and thanks to SRAM for mentioning the total cost over the life of the bike will be lower when you don't have to replace their 800.00 cassettes once or twice per year.
  • + 1
 "this ''blogger,'' if that's the right term to call them, prefers a 62-degree head angle" is he making very polite fun of everyone?

"XX1, which instantly revolutionized the way we spin circles and keep chains on" serious question: does you guys count XX1 really as revolutionary?

"Evenly spaced gear selections with no overlaps - not perfect, but pretty close." I think no overlaps are impossible on external transmissions, just because the way our legs work; otherwise the gear spacing would be just too steep for us. Or am I missing something?

"we don't want any rides missed based on decisions we made" that actually made me want to buy a Santa Cruz! Great philosophy!

"gearboxes have been around a long time, nearly twice as long as derailleur systems" I thought it was the other way around!

I'm not sure I agree about The People deciding the way the SRAM guy thinks, I'm more inclined to believe that BECAUSE the industry pushes some changes (29", 1x/2x, tapered headtubes, boost...) is that The People "vote" with their moneys to use them.
  • + 3
 ...one of the better articles by PB though. I think i gained a brain cell or two, as oposed to losing some.
  • + 2
 Aye, but you can remedy the situation by further reading into the comments section. Gets you back where you started from in no time! Pimp
  • + 1
 The fact that @WAKIdesigns a glorified internet troll get ask he's opinion makes it even more then ever that this website has lost it. Keep opinions of the industry to people who matter.
  • + 0
 Haven't you thought for a moment that it's there to show the disparity between an on-line idiot and the rest? Especially one who can't put two sentences together? Why don't you to go VitalMTB they are soooooo cool. I mean wow... NSMB is terrible with Uncle Dave's rants, Cam McRae has such a soft touch to the reviews and they allow Amanda Batty on board. Dirt has lost it with promoting E-bikes. You should go Vital. Start by posting your bike as the bike of the day. They even wrote that they are not sell outs. They probably pay for their flight tickets, accomodation and food on Shimano Press Camps. I'm not on Vital, MTBR or Any other decent site - I'm not worthy. There is an app filtering my comments.

Yours truly: "Embodiment of the worst sht on this site".
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: you just prove my point. Because you're sooooooo coooooll!
  • + 1
 Man. The longer I use the site, the more I like @wakidesigns Is that normal?

For now I'm just waiting for Elon Musk to jump into biking and have the nerve to do the right thing no one else will.
  • + 1
 Sram or Shimano need to explore licensing tbe CVT transmission. The newer model Subarus use them and it could easily be adapted for mtb use. You want to talk about a game changer.
  • + 2
 The status quo. Big companies invest a lot in their products so they push them as much and as long as possible. Hence the derailleur! SRAM I'm looking at you especially!
  • + 3
 Pfft mountain bikes are fine, people should stop looking for ways to fuk them up
  • + 0
 Screw a gearbox, what mtbers need is the little plastic drivetrains covers you get on kids bikes. Entire lot behind a wall of plastic, keeps all the crap out. I don't know why this isn't a thing. Its not like you'd have to weld it on
  • + 1
 The bit I dont understand, and Im not an engineer, is why if companies like Rholff can make a gearboxes fit into a rear hub, why do gearboxes at the BB need to be so big and heavy in comparison?
  • + 0
 at the end of the day, drivetrain companies are making too much money on "wear and tear" components. as bad as it sounds its all the numbers game here. how many often do you replace your transmission oil in your car? next to never. and if it breaks its a warranty issue anyways.
  • + 2
 That's not the right comparison. Your car is not a race car. Your bike almost is. When you take it other way around, your mum never changed a chain or cassette on her commute bike and race cars are changing oils on "daily" basis. Just sayin..
  • + 1
 @pulDag: my point is a gearbox only needs an oil change to function properly as its a sealed unit. standard bike drivetrains NEEDS to be replaced whenever anything wears out as its a "wear and tear, throwaway item". i never even said race car. im talking about your normal car.
  • + 1
 @goflowz: got it
  • + 0
 Overall a gearbox could be whatever you want it to be, it's not like you're plopping it from a car, or a motorbike. I'm sure there's a plethora of reasons for derailleur setups on bicycles, but I don't want to be a talky twat because it's fucking gay.
  • + 0
 Here's my Harry Potter novel: A transmission could work as well as you want it to, but when you're dead you won't care, and it won't matter, and you'll wonder why you spent 60 years on it for other people to rip off.
  • + 0
 Generally anything you work hard at, you're a very nice person.
  • + 2
 You can buy an entire 1x11 Shimano drivetrain at wholesale prices right now on Chain Reaction. Not sure why people are bitching about prices.
  • + 3
 "What if frames were made so that you could have it interchangeable between a gearbox and an e-bike motor?"
Interesting...
  • + 2
 Brilliant idea.
  • + 0
 "Back in the late 80's when my dad [Mert Lawwill - Ed.] was contemplating a rear suspension system, he knew given the limited power output of a human that pedaling efficiency would be paramount and that has not changed today, unless, of course, we are talking about e-bikes..."

This is all that matters, pedalling efficiency. Anything designed for a current Mtb has to consider this first, and any other benefits second. You can't make enough improvement elsewhere to overcome this original limiting factor. Gearboxes produce way too much drag and offer no significant advantage (other than bragging rights for the early adopters, which is always enough for "that guy").

At this point, I want to suggest that if it's on a motorbike somewhere already, you don't need it (gearbox, motors etc). Go buy a motorbike. If you want a trail bike that looks like a motorbike - seriously, what are you, 12??? Grow up.
  • + 1
 Your motorbike algorithm to determining the appropriate parts for mtb is a little bit flawed. What about tires, wheels, disc brakes, and so on and so on?
  • + 1
 "Have you asked him what he thinks about gearboxes? He would smash us all with only a single gear. Why do you even need gears? Probably because we aren’t Adam Craig."

Dummy. Garbage argument.
  • + 4
 How about someone comes up with a new more durable derailleur design?
  • + 1
 The original Shimano Saint (2004-2007) mech was pretty durable. It bolts to the axle so you won't have to worry about bent mech hangers as well. I'm still rocking the 2007 version (I think) which is regular top normal instead of that rapid rise stuff they started with. Their 2005 Shimano Hone mech had similar advantages, which bolts to the axle of the hub. Which was pretty clever, just a longer axle in a regular qr hub.
  • + 1
 Liteville/Syntace have a great little derailleur bash guard and hanger design that works really well.

www.syntace.com/index.cfm?pid=3&pk=1924
  • + 1
 9,000 readers also said that they rarely have issues at all, or that they're at least moderately happy with their current drivetrain.


So what's the reason everyone gives as to why they adopted 1X again?
  • + 2
 I haven't. 1x10, 1x11 don't come close to the same efficiency as my current 2x10 setup and I'm not willing to give up the efficiency to save a click and a few grams. Now, the new SRAM Eagle 1x12 has me intrigued but I would need to check the gear ratios. Still, don't see myself rushing out for a new drivetrain just to save a single click and, potentially, a few grams. Though, I expect the increased weight of the giant cassette will offset any savings gained by removing the front shifter/derailleur.
  • + 2
 @samael: Australian Mountain Biking mag just did a write up on Sram Eagle. Some numbers that you might be interested in:

Note that whilst the cassette is heavier, they have clawed a significant amount back via lighter cranks, so these figures a "system" figures...

Eagle XX1
Crank 32T but no BB - 475g
Rear mech - 267g
Shifter - 106g
Chain - 251g
Cassette - 364g
TOTAL - 1463g

Sram XX1 (1x11)
Crank 32T but no BB - 568g
Rear mech - 241g
Shifter - 106g
Chain - 255g
Cassette - 267g
TOTAL - 1437g

Shimano XTR 1x11
Crank 32T but no BB - 583g
Rear mech - 221g
Shifter - 102g
Chain - 257g
Cassette - 329g
TOTAL - 1492g
  • + 1
 @samael: Gear ratios:

XX1 11 speed - 10/12/14/16/18/21/24/28/32/36/42
Gear inches per srocket with 32T chainring on 27.5 tyres
86.4/72/61.7/54/48/41.1/36/30.9/27/24/20.6

Eagle XX1 is the same all the way apart for the extra 50T sprocket, so has the addition of 17.3 wheel inches

However with Eagle 1, as the range is greater you can alter the front ring without sacrificing climbing inches to gain back descending inches, eg with a 36T chainring you have the following wheel inches:

97.2 / 81 / 69.4 / 60.8 / 54 / 46.3 / 40.5 / 34.7 / 30.4 / 27 / 23.1 / 19.4

So 10.8" more distance the wheel will travel per crank in top gear, and 1.9" more distance when in the lowest gear. You'll be faster on the downs / flat but have to work a bit more on the uphill with a 36T.

Over in the 2x camp...

Shimano XT 11-40 cassette running a 26/36 crank setup the main numbers (top and lowest gear) are:

26T - 63.8" on 11T sprocket
26T - 17.6" on 40T sprocket
36T - 88.4" on 11T sprocket
36T - 24.3" on 40T sprocket

FYI, Eagle XX1 has 500% total range, XX1 11 speed has 420% and XT 11-40 on 2x has 505%
  • + 1
 @handynzl: Thanks a lot of the info.
So, I have to put it in terms I understand. The Eagle X01 is 10-50t. With a front 32t gear that gives me gear ratios of 1:0.31 on the low end and 1:1.56 on the climbing end.

On my 2x10 end, with a 42t OneUp I'm getting 38:11 (1:0.29) on the low, so a little faster, and 26:42 (1:1.62) on the high, somewhat higher climbing efficiency. For me, who can spin in to oblivion, but tires quickly if I have to mash, that's what matters most.

If I were to go with a 30t front on the Eagle, that gives me gear ratios of 1:0.33 on the low end and 1:1.66 on the climbing end, giving me slightly better climbing performance without sacrificing too much on the low end. Since I'm rarely down that far anyway, that could work. Again, thanks for the info.
  • + 2
 @samael: No worries, mate.

Wheel inches are the ultimate measure of the gear ratio though as this is how far you move per crank revolution. Won't throw torque requirements in though! That'll just confuse everything, and who the hell knows what power is in their legs on any given day anyways???
  • + 0
 I call complete BS on the industry claim that "we just don't see demand..." last time I checked Zerode claimed they were completely swamped with orders for their gearbox trail bike. They are having to scale up production the meet the high demand -- and this is for a ridiculously expensive Taiwanese carbon bike.
  • + 2
 So.. The big question is how many of you are actually in love with the gearbox vs the idea of the gearbox? Is the grass really greener on the other side?
  • + 1
 Drop a fortune on a gear boxed bike that's made to last ten years.

How many months until a better box comes along?

Your new $1000 box will be obsolete in less than a year.


Maybe a realistic next step will be to make derailures rebuildable. Paul Word did it years ago.
  • + 2
 The real question is why would PinkBike ask a troll(Wacek Kipszak) any questions or opinions? Are they making fun of him and he does not even know it? I am confused... haha.
  • + 3
 I can't wait for two things: BELT DRIVE AND GEAR BOX AT A REASONABLE PRICE. Am I screaming loud enough?!?
  • + 2
 from a purely selfish perspective I am kinda hoping not too many others get a Taniwha lol
  • + 0
 Lol the gear box isn't so because of the monopoly of companies like sram, and the inability to standardize a size of gearbox so that other manufacturers gearboxes could fit in any frame. So basically profitshare.
  • - 1
 Two words "PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE!"

None of the gear manufacturers are gonna stand up and say "external gears wear out faster, hence you'll be buying replacement parts sooner" now are they?

It's not an effing conspiracy, it's what they teach in design at every university........
  • + 2
 Worst of both worlds? Ill take it!
  • + 1
 Too heavy, too frame specific. I don't want to buy a bike because it fits a drivetrain, I want to buy a bike that's right for me.
  • + 1
 How about buying bike because of its wheel size Wink
  • + 1
 i don't know, i have a pinion and its skips inside and i am the original owner but can't get much support from them. any help here?
  • + 1
 Gear box design does not offer same efficiency, but can be more efficient in poor / muddy conditions
So do not expect it to be better in all ways
  • + 1
 With electronic shifting (one shiftter)... 3 speed at the crank and 3 speed on the rear would give an acceptable range? SRAM?
  • + 1
 The simple question I have is why hasn't Specialized made one yet?

I thought their slogan was Innovate or die?

Maybe I have that wrong and it's actually Wait and Follow?
  • + 3
 Wait, follow then sue.
  • + 1
 It's actually "Innovate then sell then purposely obsolete then repeat"
  • + 3
 Still no frame mounted gearbox system on any eBikes.
Why is this?
  • + 3
 "Motor takes up the space of a gearbox" would be my first thought.

To make it work, I imagine that the motor would need to be higher up the downtube and either mesh directly via sprockets, or have a short chain linkage, which all starts to blur the whole motorbike vs electric assist mountainbike grey area.

Whilst the bike industry is trying hard to say that eBikes are nothing but a gentle helping hand, I don't think they will risk incorporating the two technologies.

Honda / KTM / Kawasaki et al have already merged the two....
  • + 1
 @handynzl:
A few changes to the effigear box and you could fit a motor on the crank axle.
Check out the motors in the amz racing cars, pushing 50hp out of less than 3.5kg, about the size of your fist...
  • + 1
 The gearbox bit inside a Nexus hub for example is very small. A lot of the volume of the hub is in the axle, bearings and hub shell. I bet you could incorporate a similar 8 speed system into an eBike motor with negligible size increase
  • + 1
 @handynzl: Honda / KTM / Kawasaki have made electric motorbikes with gears, not an eBike. There's a big difference
  • + 2
 Mother f'r, if they can bolt a motor to their 'bikes' they can bolt a gearbox.
  • + 0
 What the hell is going on with MT. Biking! Becoming a bunch of whinos, me included! The current systems are simple and cheap, except for Eagle. You want a gearbox, go buy a motorcycle!
  • + 3
 Excellent article, Levy. Well done.
  • + 1
 I hope Levy's bonus is linked to number of comments per article. In which case, he's of to a flyer in 2017.

As ever, its a great article, and a great debate. Smile
  • + 1
 I am not going out of my way to try or buy a gearbox bike, but if one was in my LBS I'd sure like to give it a try. If they are good, get them out there.
  • + 1
 Gearboxes will be coupled with internal 'swingarm/chainstay' shaft drive. The suspension will work better without the chain tention...
  • + 1
 WTF that clown waki is doing in this article?! It seems that if you're hard core uber troll PB is going to hire you. Strange shit happens.
  • + 1
 i struggle getting up hills as it is. sod more drag. but finger crossed my new chainring and chain arrive before the weekend
  • + 4
 but a bit more drag when you have 600% means you will be able to get up the hill. That's an extra 100% on the best cassette / mech we have today.
  • + 2
 @fartymarty:
wouldn't that mean that i would be spinning more and going slower .thus loosing momentum and having to use even more energy to recover the speed lost. winching up smoith stuff would be okay but on technical climbs smooth momentum is key for me.
i actually started clearing more climbs when i went to 1x simply becauses i was forced to go faster and carry more momentum. instead of just sit a spin . to carry that same speed i will have to work harder. no way round it.
iv nothing against gear boxes im just dont see the reason outside DH
  • + 1
 @markg1150: I agree for tech climbing you need the most efficient drivetrain to get as much power to the ground as possible. Winching it doesn't matter if you lose a bit of power.

I see gearboxes being applicable to DH and Enduro (winch up). Trail and XC tend to involve more tech climbing as such need efficiency.
  • + 1
 @markg1150: Have a read here: spokemagazine.com/content/zerode

420% / 500% / 600%...don't get too carried away with those numbers. It's just descriptive of a range of gears, not how big your largest sprocket is or how easy/hard it will be to climb something. (formula is largest number of teeth divided by smallest number x 100, eg Eagle = 50 / 10 = 5 * 100 = 500%)

On top of that you have your front chainring and wheel/tyre circumference which ultimately allows you to work out "wheel inches", or how far your bike will move with one full crank.

Running 600% just means you can run a larger chain ring as you have a slightly better low end and slightly better upper end available in the gear range. A larger range actually gives you more options to find what works best for you and your legs.
  • + 2
 @fartymarty:
bloody jinxed me .
broke my rear mech today, My fault entirely mind, didnt install the wheel and chain properly, lazy me not paying attention
still doesnt put me of them as there so cheap and took me 5 mins to replace . well slx is anyway
  • + 1
 @markg1150: get a Zee as they have a short cage and can do big cogs. My single speed went fine this afternoon. Made me wirk bloody hard up the hills though.
  • + 1
 zees destroy 11 and 13t on cassetes and shift like poo with a expander cog there isnt enough chain rap left on them. i have a one upd zee and a goat link on one bike and just the slx with a goat link on the other. depends on the bikes mech mounting points , chain growth ect tho my one upd zee with goat link, proper cnc jockey wheels and a xt shifter is the dogs b
  • + 1
 @markg1150: have to say i am less than impressed with my zee.....i got the zee shifter as well and it just doesnt shift smooth enough and my bike has a fair ammount of chain growth. The zee isnt the best at coping with this as it has such little allowance for this as the cage is sooo short so correct chain length is super critical as i know loads of people have ripped these of by not doing this well enough and rolling into a big drop with it in low gear. However when fitted correctly and i factor in the price it does make up for this so i will not replace it unless i have to. Sure my XO equipped bikes shift better in fact the X9 too but then they cost more so i can live with that. Do like being able to shift down by pressing the lever in either direction. Wish sram could add that.....not essential but its kinda nice. But yeh cant imagine zees work well with expander cogs without some tinkering.
  • + 2
 @rabidmonkfish:
most of your shift problem's with your zee will be from the shifter. zee shifters are like slx in that they use cheap plastic bushes with losts of slopy draggy play in them. Always go xt or higher with shimano shifters as they have proper ball bearings in the shifters then so nice and crisp from now till the end of time. That and the jockeys on zee mechs arnt really designed for alot of pedaling and wear out really fast as there supposed to be a cheap dh mech. replace them with cnc jockeys. that cures the side side play and puts that chain where is supposed to be when shifting. kist be aware that fitting cnc jockeys will tighten the chain even further as they are slighty larger than std plastic ones.
a slx mech is the same as a zee only with a longer cage that works better on 1x10 with less mods im my experience.
  • + 1
 @markg1150: cheers for the tip on the cnc jockeys. where do you get yours from?

I am using a zee mech + xt shifter. I love the double tap with the xt shifter. Plus I am using it on a hardtail so chain growth isnt really an issue with the 42t cog. I run a 36 + zee mech on my full sus with xt and thats fine as well.

I guess it does really depend on chain growth of the frame.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty:
i got some uberbike ceramic bearing jobbys on sale. been faultless silky smooth. was worried the bearings wouldn't last long like old chain guide rollers but been great.
  • + 1
 @markg1150: nice cheers for the info will give the jockeys a try. i would change the shifter but if i do that i may just go back to a sram setup.
  • + 1
 @markg1150: cheers. will have a look.
  • + 2
 @pinion, please make a trigger shifter for the pinion gearbox system, as the twist shifter just plain sucks
  • + 1
 I think the solution to this problem can be find at Cavalerie bikes. Effigear gearbox works with sram X0 shifter
  • + 1
 @nicoxfreechti: I know they have that, but I am hearing mixed things about Effi,
  • + 1
 @christiaan: Maybe they had problem in the past, but apparently not anymore. Friends of mine ride an anakin and gearbox with X0 shifter works great and heard other feedback about no reliability problem so apparently it's a good solution
  • + 1
 The Austrians of KTM offered in their catalog of 2015 the KTM ULTRA PINION. Apparently they have stopped manufacturing this bike. Why???
  • + 1
 The market is just silly! If YT, Specialized or Trek had the balls to make a pinion based Dh bike nearly everyone would fucking by one - guaranteed!
  • + 1
 By as in wave it good bye as it passes by?
  • + 1
 @juretunic: sorry about that, just fast typing and not proofreading it
  • + 1
 @juretunic: Looking into your previous posts on your page shows me that you've got your fair share of spelling and grammar issues too. Haha! It's all good though, enjoy the ride dude.
  • + 3
 So just for kicks explain this to me like I'm a 8 y/o
  • + 14
 Gearboxes good. Derailleurs bad. Your mum wants you home by dinner time. Play nice with your friends.
  • + 1
 @handynzl: see y'all got it figured out.
  • + 2
 Simple solution to all the problems discussed is everyone runs single speed and becomes a beast.
  • - 1
 Shimano and sram are suppressing gearbox tech. They dont want consumers to buy technology that last a lifetime, and never needs replacing through either wear and tear or getting smashed up. Good business is about repeat business, which will never happen if a gearbox just keeps on working for years to come.
  • + 0
 Downvotes? I want gearboxes as much the next guy. Its like fossil fuel suppliers suppressing green/renewable energy tech, it takes away their long term profits.
  • + 5
 @stumpymidget: I agree with you about the whole fossil fuel thing, but unless I'm dramatically misunderstanding the situation, if either of those two companies were to see some sort of benefit to a gearbox, they would jump all over it and try to profit and compete with one another. But they don't. And unlike green energy, gearboxes on mountain bikes aren't a solution to a pressing environmental issue-- and most riders just don't care enough about them and meanwhile are satisfied with their 11spds to begin with.
  • + 1
 Exactly. They probably have them in a locked room somewhere. It needs to start with the small guys like Nicolai and Zerode getting rave reviews to create the revolution. Then the big guys will have to follow suit. This is one benefit of E-bikes though is that the mounting configurations are getting sorted out without us having to worry about it.
  • + 3
 Shimano makes an 11 speed gearbox.
  • + 1
 @choppertank3e: Stick it in a box and they're done. SRAM probably has the same thing up there sleeve.
  • + 1
 BAH!! Shimano and SRAM already produce products that pretty much last forever. I still have an XT drivetrain on one of my bikes that's 13 years old. Where they get you is changing standards, and gearboxes will be no different. The problem with gearbox tech, aside from the obvious efficiency issue, is that they're so expensive that when they do fail, it means big dollars. When my derailleur fails, I can get another 9-spd derailleur on eBay for what, $50, or I can upgrade the whole thing to a 1x or 2x system for between $250-$400, depending on what I go with. I don't see gearboxes ever being under $1000.
  • + 1
 and for the record I got my Bronson frame, Sram drivetrain and fork for very competitive price on sale. You guys act like the MSRP never gets discounted.
  • + 2
 Remember Hammerschmith?.....yeah me too.
  • + 2
 I don't know, the Cavalerie Falcon makes my loins tingle.
  • + 1
 Were those Honda bikes stolen years back? Did they ever turn up? Anyone know the full story?
  • + 1
 This is just a bunch of people raving about how good their products are except waki he's the man
  • + 1
 My #1 argument against a gearbox: I don't want people to get confused and think I am an e-biker!!!
  • + 3
 Gearboxes are great!
  • + 1
 Agree #greatbritishweather
  • + 2
 The question should be "who"and not "what".
  • + 1
 Not too many derailuers breaking and increased drag when coasting with the gearbox.
  • + 0
 Whats keeping the gearbox down? Homophobia!!! Bahahaha
And they dont like being called gearbox anymore. I beileve the corrected term is LGBT
  • + 3
 The Man.
  • + 1
 Pinkbike.com: Guys quite like to be different, as well as have a great acronym for their suspension design
  • + 1
 The answer is pretty simple IMO. Existing solutions work pretty damn good. Nobody wants grip shift.
  • + 2
 who needs gears! single speed DH bike. problem solved.
  • + 1
 hahaha yes - DH has been won with no chain, has it not? I singlespeeded in Les Get and Morzine - was soooo much fun. Chairlifts took care of the Alps
  • + 1
 Q. Whats keeping gearboxes down A. Gears
  • + 1
 Go ahead sram kill the rear mech eh?
  • + 1
 They kind of left out the hammershcmidt.
  • + 1
 that honda was a great piece of Engineering!!
  • - 1
 " I wish I were home, eating snacks and watching cat videos on my phone" Wiki for president - as long as he draws one of his creations with a gearbox ASAP!
  • + 1
 Sturmey Archer for the win! Or,5spd!
  • + 1
 The Stonecutters, that's who. Obviously.
  • + 1
 Answer:

MONEY.

They don't want to lose THEIRS.
  • - 3
 It's called Gear bucks
  • + 1
 Chris Hilton outta nowhere with the RKO.
  • + 1
 Waiting to read in the comments what waki thinks of it... Oh wait!
  • + 1
 Hammerschmidt + 7sp + single shifter + electronic
  • + 1
 Please test the zerode Taniwha.
  • + 0
 All kinds of awesome insight... overall, I am not a fan of paying more for less efficient and heavier gear!
  • + 2
 Zeroed taniwha rocks
  • + 1
 Not excited by gearboxes. However if they made riding more fun I'd pay.
  • + 1
 THE MAN!! thats whats keeping the gearbox down.
  • - 1
 Using a Pinkbike commentator as a reference in an article? Come on PB, you can do better than that
  • + 3
 He's an idiot, but still made more sense than half of the other participants.
  • + 1
 Friction
  • + 1
 Graney in '16
  • + 0
 I blame the oil industry
  • + 1
 Don't we all?
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