Cavalerie Anakin - Review

Feb 8, 2016
by Paul Aston  





Cavalerie probably isn't a brand you are familiar with, nor was I until I spotted French Junior rider, Benoit Coulanges piloting his gearbox-equipped Nicolai to 15th place at the Fort William World Cup last year. Benoit was riding an Effigear gearbox-equipped bike, the brand that gave birth to Cavalerie Bikes parented by Guy Cavalerie and David Roumeas. Never planning on building bikes themselves, they concentrated on designing and perfecting their gearbox unit with the hope of selling them to existing frame manufacturers who would build bikes to house the system. A slow start with a lack of interest from other brands left the pair in a conundrum - what to do next? The answer was to start building their own bikes and Cavalerie was born.

The Cavalerie Anakin is a 160mm travel bike from the Lyon-based brand, which comes from a four bike range including downhill, freeride and fat bike chassis all using the same gearbox and Gates Carbon belt drive system. Custom builds are available, and €3985 gets you a frame with gearbox, belt, seat clamp, headset and a BOS Kirk shock.


Anakin Details

• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Rear wheel travel: 160mm
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Full alloy frame
• Effigear 9-speed gearbox
• Gates Carbon Belt Drive
• 66 degree head angle
• Frame weight: 5,744g (inc. shock, belt, and rear hub)
• Bike weight: 14.5kg / 32 lb
• Frame MSRP: €3985 ($4465 USD)
• Bike pictured approx. 6200€ ($6946 USD)
cavalerie-bikes.com / effigear.com
Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com


Frame Details

The Anakin uses an industrial looking, full alloy tube set. The bike's high single pivot system uses the main drive axle of the Effigear as a pivot. Another pivot is placed close to the micro-adjustable horizontal dropouts, which drives the seat stay that is attached to a short link hanging underneath the top tube. The rear wheel uses a 135mm single speed hub with a fixed sprocket and a zero-dish wheel with symmetrically angled spokes for added wheel strength.

Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com

Other details include a tapered head tube, 180mm post mount for the rear brake, as well as internal and external cable routeing options. Disappointingly, there is no space or consideration for a bottle cage anywhere on the frame.

Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com
A symmetrically dished rear wheel should help increase strength and stiffness.
Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com
The brake calliper mount is part of the dropout, so it won't need to be readjusted when moving the wheel.


Geometry

Cavalerie Anakin Geo


Cavalerie Anakin Geo

The Anakin features contemporary geometry for a bike that might see some enduro racing: I rode a large-sized frame with a generous reach of 472mm, a 66º head angle, and a steep 75.5º seat angle. The wheelbase sits around 1210mm but varies slightly as the chainstay slides between 421 - 431mm depending upon belt adjustment. An extra-large sized frame has also been added to the lineup and should be available mid-summer.


The Effigear Explained

While it looks like there is a lot happening inside the Effigear box, it's actually quite easy to understand: the axle driven by the crank arms connects to the primary (lower) range of gears via a steel sprocket. Of this primary range of gears, only one is engaged at any one time. The gear selector is inside the axle that passes through this primary range, and the selector slides side to side and pushes out freehub-style pawls to engage the desired gear.


Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com
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This version of the Effigear box uses a SRAM X0 trigger shifter to change gears. A long 'BIC Biro' type spring in the black tube on top of the down tube is preloaded when changing into lower gears, and this preloaded spring force pulls the selector back when changing into higher gears. A barrel-type changer is also an option which uses two cables to pull the selector in either direction and doesn't require the extra spring on the down tube.

The secondary (upper) range of gears are fixed along with the external sprocket to an axle, and this axle doubles as the bike's main pivot point. A Gates Carbon belt is used to connect the drive to the rear hub. When freewheeling, the belt and gears continue to rotate. Belts are known to be less efficient than a clean and lubricated chain, but the belt drive is said to require zero maintenance, its performance won't deteriorate with use and should outlive a chain by up to three times.


The sprockets are machined from steel, which means they're heavy but are said to last for years. The gearbox can also be downsized to seven gears for downhill use, which will also shave a few grams off. The suggested service interval is an oil change every twelve months if riding twice a week on average. To do this, simply remove the sump bolt, allow the old oil to drain and then refill with fresh oil. The sprockets are shaped to allow mud to be pushed through and away from the contact area by the belt. A small plastic guard has also been installed to stop baggy trousers getting caught in the belt.
Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com

Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com
The Gates Carbon Drive should make for a bike that's close to being maintenance free, at least when talking about the drivetrain.

My bike had the equivalent range of a 26 tooth chain ring with a 10 - 44 cassette, but different sized external sprockets can be used at the box or hub to give desired gear ratios.

The complete Effigear system weighs 2,640 grams, which includes the box, crank arms, shifters, belt and lubrication oil. Cavalerie suggests this weight is on par with an average double chain ring system, using an 11 - 34 cassette.

This diagram shows how the Effigear box can be built in three different shapes, changing the position of the three main components: the crank axle, the primary gears and secondary range/main pivot to choose the desired pivot and bottom bracket locations different types of bike.
Effigear box layout






Shifting

Compared to a derailleur system, the Effigear offers some notable pros and cons. The glaring con is that you can't change into an easier gear with pressure on the pedals, which is tough at first. When tackling climbs, a very short release of tension on the pedals is needed to allow the gear to change. For me, the pros seemed to outweigh the cons, though: being able to select between any number of gears when freewheeling or at a stand still, and solid down shifts when putting maximum power through the cranks.

When I became used to the system, I found myself pre-selecting gears when a climb came into view but still descending. Hopping onto a coffin-sized rock on a Swiss single, I needing to wheelie off, but I was in too hard a gear; I held a track stand, flicked up a couple of gears and popped off the death box. I also found this useful when I bobbled on a couple of stream crossings and lost all momentum - I just clicked up a few gears a pedalled out. A similar situation with a derailleur system might have meant getting off to spin the cranks and get into the right gear, or crunching the chain to move up to the other end of the cassette over a couple of crank rotations.

Being able to shift so freely quickly became a habit, and going back to a derailleur system was tough to re-adapt to. With the exception of powering up climbs which were easier than with the gearbox and something that a rider is going to have to keep in mind when considering the Anakin.


Climbing

The 75.5º seat angle is a great start for heading up steep climbs, but due to the lack of anti-squat in the system, the Anakin did wallow a little, similar to the Pole Rinne Yla I reviewed last year. It's great for pedalling through rough stuff as the wheel is free from chain tension to move over obstacles but it struggled with wallowing when going through large dips and putting the power down, especially when seated. Power transfer certainly isn't as direct as a traditional drivetrain because the forces from your legs have to make it through multiple cogs and the belt. I wouldn't like to comment on real efficiency numbers as some more scientific testing would be needed, but it certainly didn't feel as efficient as a chain. David admits that the system won't be as efficient as a clean and well-oiled derailleur system, but can possibly offer an advantage when things get muddy.


Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com


Descending and Handling

I instantly felt comfortable on the Anakin heading straight into some downhill tracks in Morzine to get a feel for the bike. The 66º head angle and roomy top tube for a large frame, combined with the low and centralised weight, kept things stable and offered a great front/rear balance.

The high pivot point, light rear wheel, and lack of feedback from chain stretch meant the suspension action was incredible, and ploughing into Le Pleneys favourite braking bumps was no issue. Notably, riding this bike with flat pedals was a cinch, my feet just stuck to the pedals while I could feel the back wheel going wild behind me with only a reassuring thud of rubber against dirt - the Anakin is nearly silent.

The linkage and BOS Kirk gave a progressive feel and the Anakin loved to charge the descents, with a rewarding generation of speed when pumping and pushing through holes, compressions, and ruts. A few times I winced as I got way too close to some derailleur dinging rocks but floated through without concern. The bottom bracket clearance is huge as I found when mistiming a fallen tree hop and braced for the inevitable chain ring collision with the object in question. But nothing happened and I just sailed straight over. Even if you did contact the box with the ground, the frame looks burly enough to take more abuse than any bash guard ever could.


Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com


Downsides

Rolling speed seems affected by the continually rotating mass of the box and belt when freewheeling. A freewheel could be used at the rear hub but it's not recommended by Effigear as it requires an extra ten degrees of retro pedalling to change into an easier gear. A zero degree engagement hub would be a great solution but doesn't exist in the correct sizing for the Anakin. This is particularly clear when jumping as the slowing wheel gently pushed your weight forwards in the air, similar to pulling the back brake or letting off the throttle on a motorbike - a slight change of balance is required.

I ride left foot forwards and with my knees pretty close to the frame in corners, and I sometimes take swingarm hits to the inside of the leg and knee on some bikes. What happens when there is a carbon belt drive constantly whirring around in this area? Leg burns. Nothing major, but I did singe the inside of my calf muscle a few times when hitting left-hand corners. This is a real issue, and Cavalerie will have to install some sort of guard to fix the problem. The friction in the system is also less than ideal, as is having to not apply pressure to the pedals if you want to shift into an easier gear.


Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com
Cavalerie Anakin bike review. www.thomasgaffneyphotography.com



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe Anakin is not inexpensive or the most efficient when pedalling, but does have a lot to offer in the contrary. Great handling, low maintenance, huge clearance, silence and centralised weight are massive positives. The lack of efficiency will prove to be a no-no for people who like to go for long rides, but for more extreme disciplines where carrying speed takes precedence over pedalling, I didn't feel this is an issue. If you live somewhere warm, dry with fairly smooth terrain lacking in derailleur biting rocks, a gearbox maybe isn't something on your wishlist. It's not the gearbox bike that so many people dream will make derailleurs obsolete, but it's close. The Anakin is a great option for riders who tackle muddy conditions and gnarly terrain that's littered with roots and rocks. - Paul Aston


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About the Reviewer
Stats: Age: 29 • Height: 6'1” • Ape Index: +4" • Weight: 161lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: Rockwell Watches
Paul Aston is the latest addition to the Pinkbike Technical team and is a racer and dirt-jumper at heart. Previously competing in World Cup DH, now he's attacking Enduro and has been since before it was fashionable. Based in the UK, but often found residing between mainland Europe and New Zealand allows him to experience a huge variety of terrains and trails.



243 Comments

  • + 157
 Yes gearbox. YES. Keep 'em coming.
  • + 26
 Give it five years. I'm looking for at least three of these in the same sentence: yt, carbon, gearbox, belt drive
  • + 8
 Isn't mud going to kill the belt drive rather quickly?
  • + 25
 None of the positives for me outweigh the cons. This is a complete miss.
  • - 2
 Agreed, ok if you never ride mud, otherwise completely useless
  • + 15
 The drag to me is the biggest down side, and that fact that the belt is whizzing around the whole time is a buzz-kill as well.
  • + 18
 You can use a freewheel if you prefer.
  • + 11
 I honestly think that most people don't realize how hard it is to produce a gear box without these issues. Even if you could, the cost would be so prohibitive it would have every single pink-biker holding their torch or pitch-fork high.
  • + 5
 For me the only killer is the industrial appearance. You can use a sram shifter, great. Totally silent, great. Dry belt, great. Shift when freewheeling, great. Put it in a cool looking package and I'll be all over it. Have you guys seen what mud does to chains?
  • + 5
 Yea I guess I should really reserve any further criticism until I ride one. It's just that every time I read a gear box review, these issues pop up, the most glaring being drag. I don't want to compromise efficiency.
  • + 30
 @DARKSTAR63 if you come to France ou are welcome to visit us, so we can share a ride in our local trail!
  • - 16
flag owlie (Feb 8, 2016 at 5:34) (Below Threshold)
 much like 15mm axles, its a solution to something that didnt need fixing.
  • + 13
 @effigear You have no idea how much I would love that !
  • + 15
 @owlie not at all. The equivalent of 15mm axles would be going to 18" wheels, 7.5 gears and 138mm brakes just to save 18 grams.
Derailleurs are shite... unfortunately there isn't anything better yet
  • + 10
 We had real trouble with gates belt even on hybrid city bikes here in London.

Belt tension so crucial a gates tuning tool for tension exists, I've seen one in 5 years...too loose and belt 'ratchets', too tight and bb/hub bearings prematurely die as well as rapid wear to belt and cogs. Throw some grit and mud on that belt I've seen them delaminate and snap.

Gates belt is solution to problem that doesn't exist! Sedis bushingless chain is killer efficient even when covered in CR&p

Like to see this bike without the belt, chain guard for normal chain would be slim
  • - 2
 I'll take an affordable electronic rear derailleur setup 1x instead. Bring on XT Di2!
  • + 5
 dhtomp325 - if you think that XT Di2 will be affordable, then you are dreaming. Zee is affordable, with rear mech at 70$, XT mech will be easily 250-300$. That is more than a complete mechanical XT drivetrain (excluding crankset). Complete XT Di2 mech/shifter/battery/computer combo will easily go for 600$. Having middle cage rear mech worth 300$ or worse 500$ for XTR, hanging off your swingarm wins the most stupid MTB invention award. The only people who don't see it are journalists and sponsored riders, who don't need to pay for it.
  • + 0
 @jaame we already had 20mm axles for years when the 15 came out. It was meant to be an improvement? I cant see how something so complicated and requiring so much maintenance and weighing so much more is an "improvement" over the current derailleur. Which has been around for what, 70 years? Just because you can engineer something, doesnt make it better, especially considering the limitations on shifting while pedaling.
  • + 6
 The review tells you where the improvement is - Wet, muddy conditions, where this system requires next to no maintenance. It points out its negatives for dry and dusty conditions (useless). You can bet Cavalerie just wants this bike to be a showpiece for their drivetrain, which means they want to become a Shimano, not a Specialized. Potentially, we might see two completely different drivetrain technologies for the different riding conditions - dry and wet. It might become like the difference between two wheel drive and four wheel drive in the automotive world, I live in Southern California, so this tech is unlikely to even be offered here, so I will leave it to the wet mtb world as to how much a pain in the ass mud is to a conventional drivetrain.
  • + 2
 I have a feeling gearboxes with a shaft drive is where its at!
  • + 4
 @Zimmer68, the Millyard bike had a chain drive encased in the swingarm. More efficient than a shaft drive, but still sealed from crud and maintenance free except for the eventual chain stretch.
  • + 8
 I'm fascinated by this whole thing. Yes, derailleurs such, conceptually. All your moving parts exposed to mud, and the derailleur just waiting to get knocked off (or even just out of alignment) by a rock. Yet the current state of the traditional derailleur drivetrain, expecially with 1x11, is pretty damn good. It's not all that expensive, it's pretty sturdy, it doesn't take all that much maintenance, and let's be honest, how many of us really end up killing RDs on a regular basis? (Personally, I've lost one to impact in something like 4 years of trail/all mountain riding - and that one was to a stick that jammed into the wheels as well, killing a bunch of spokes in the process, so the ride would have been over if I'd been equipped with a gearbox as well).

Gearboxes have a ways to go. They look really promising. And they'll get better by leaps and bounds IF they can get the numbers up to justify the R&D costs. But the current, suboptimal drivetrain system is still incrementally getting better every year, and a lot of those improvements are trickling down to mid- and entry-level groups. Maybe not so much the electronics - but hey, it's hard to argue that current GX or XT level 1x11 systems are exorbitant or don't perform, and next year you'll have that level of performance with a wee bit more weight and lower cost in SLX-level components. And you can already get most of that goodness in super reliable SLX if you're good with 1x10 and a 11/42 Sunrace cassette. So it will be hard for gearboxes to develop to the point where they can really provide a quantum leap on performance - just because the current stuff is so close to good enough, it'll be hard to justify the cost.

Interesting times for sure!
  • + 6
 Zerode. Pinion. Trailbike. A couple of months.
  • + 2
 @sanga, yes please, that trail bike proto they built years ago looked like a ripper.
  • + 8
 @G-42, rear mechs are about polishing the turd, but I think it is quite obvious why it is that way. It is just muuuuch more convenient for frame makers to use derailleur instead of a gearbox. One thing is frame design, it is just simplier to make a derailleur hanger as compared to mounting/housing for a gearbox. The other bit is the fact that traditional drivetrain is surely cheaper to make, so you can easily introduce a range of cheaper or more expensive versions of it. In this way you can build a business case for a range of bikes at different price ranges. Finally gearboxes are heavier and cycling is a sport ruled by kitchen scale to a greater extent than by the clock. Add the issue about 3-5% lesser effociency and you lost the XC crowd, and XC/marathon crowd stands for 90% of mountain bikes.

Gearbox still feels better to me, at least for Enduro/DH. But some company needs to stick their head out. If they managed to moveearth and sky to introduce 650B, so can they make gearboxed bikes.
  • + 1
 I am deeply interested in this as well, and although I'll admit I am not convinced yet, I would love to try a gear box. I want to see them developed. But to play devils advocate her for a second... In what way is the derailleur truly a turd? I don't have problems with mine... and I have to say, I beat on my bikes pretty hard. If you asked me five years ago.. before clutches and narrow wide rings, I'd be with you. But today.... as it stands...... what are the glaring issues ? @WAKIdesigns
  • + 3
 @DARKSTAR63 - funny thing, before trying a decen t 1x setup, it never would have occurred to me just how much I loathed front derailleurs. From that perspective, it sure feels like Groundhog Day - sureley, current 1x drivetrains are pretty amazing marvels of engineering, with a pretty favorable balance of efficiency, reliability, weight, and cost. Good 1x, however, is just an evolution of what was there before; gearboxes are a very different thing. So I'm guessing they'll have a hard time maturing it to the point where it can really truly make us all feel as though we want to go there.

@WAKIdesigns - yep, rear mechs are turds, and yep, improving them is a question of diminishing returns. And yes, it's very much possible that the turd is good enough to keep gear boxes from ever being developed to the point where they'd make a huge difference. But I think that's true even for trail and all mountain bikes. There's enough of a paradigm shift that there'll be resistance to early adoption - and not quite enough pain from the current state. The whole wheel size thing is different, in a way - it's still a bike, all the components are still the same, there are just some different sizes. So it's more incremental, mentally, to think of riding 650b or 29 compared to 26 - whereas the gear box requires some real changes to the bike as a whole.
  • + 3
 I totally agree with the 20mm - 15mm front axle comments from owlie but surely looking forward some sort of gearbox design is the future. The cleaning/maintenance/wear on current systems can't go on forever. I really hope the industry can adopt some sort of standard frame design to accommodate a generic gearbox before my knees are too old to pedal.
  • + 5
 @DARKSTAR63 - you can have clutch in the chain tensioner for the gearbox and narrow/wide chain rings for the whole thing. From pure design point of view, if money were no object, gearbox just looks better on paper - centralized mass and everything protected. I don't generally damage rear mechs, but when I do... I screwed 2 last year, one of them twice.

@g-42 - exactly. It requires big changes, which means a big financial risk to a company like Spec or Giant but the first one to pull it out will really go into history books as a true innovator. Making 650B for masses was a huge move for the industry as well, the difference is that it brought virtually nothing while gearbox would change a lot. I have no clue what they are waiting for. Spec, Trek and Santa Cruz sell DH and Enduro bikes for 10k dollars, ask one more grand and nobody will notice anyways. I bet there would be a market for 19k bike like Spec Venge McLaren edition. Spec paid Öhlins for development of MTB suspension for fks sake.
  • + 0
 @g-42 I always loathed front derailleurs. I spent my formative years on a bmx bike, so a chain flailing around and off was a nightmare from the get-go. I have been running chain-guides, on my trail bikes, for years. 1x9 with a 32t for a long time, then 1x10. Clutches and narrow -wide chain rings have made it so that I need not even a minimalist guide. Those things have made drivetrains incredibly reliable for me. On top of that I have not had an issue with ripping off derailleurs since Shimano started using their shadow profile years ago. I can admit to the short-comings ... exposure- mud and debris cause wear and failures. But over all, the system works so well that a gear box would have to be as light and efficient - and reasonable in price for me to want one. I love the idea of being able to change the oil and keep it alive for longer period of time. I like the idea of keeping my transmission protected while reducing un-sprung weight and moving weight to the bottom center of the bike. I don't want to compromise when and how I shift, I don't want drag. Not worth it. Considering how well current drive-train works, I'd much sooner spend money on things like overall lightness of the chassis, quality suspension and brakes, ect. before I would sink money into "relieving" myself of the derailleur. So basically, that's all to your point- they will have a hard time making us want to go there. Interesting side note- I recently bought a bike with a front derailleur and have now been riding one for the first time in years. With the clutched derailleur it's actually been not that big of a deal. The chain stays put... mostly. I'd like to switch it out to a 1x set up to reduce weight and remove front shifting as it does not suit my riding style but I have to say- it's not as bad as I remembered.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns No doubt with cost as no object- I'm a car and motorcycle guy too so I get it. There are just other areas on my bike I'd sooner sink money. Like everywhere. Get the drag sorted out and I'm on board. No question.
  • + 2
 All of this great gear box love and SRAM will be introducing a 12spd in the near future. Really pisses me off. Bottom line is that derailleurs are old as fuck tech and aren't nearly as awesome as a gear box. Yeaaaaaaa 12 spd crap!!!!!!!!
  • + 3
 12 speed concerns me ... these chains are already getting too narrow.
  • - 1
 Darkstar - what if I told you... that chain width and cog spacing will stay the same as 11sp... 152 rear spacing khe khe...
  • + 1
 Wellllll then ... see what use these standards bring? It's all part of one big diabolical master plan.
  • + 1
 i'm all about this gearbox, but the misses will have to wait for the automatic.
  • + 1
 @DARKSTAR63 - funny thing is, Shimano spent a metric shit ton of money and a lot of effort on making front derailleurs suck less. And then they threw even more at it with electronic shifting. So now you can actually have a 2x drive train that is pretty damn smooth - but 1x is so very much good enough on range for most people, and works so very much well enough in terms of crisp shifting even under load, that the market for a truly amazing 2x solution has become a lot smaller than what they probably had in mind when they made those investments.

@WAKIdesigns - gearboxes have two big hurdles to overcome; they have to become something that can be put on a bike with no penalty (weight, drag, etc.), and they have to get cheap enough to be competitive with the rather mature, but still evolving incumbent solution. The extent to which that has to happen depends on whether they can be packaged in ways that make their pros more appealing. Not interfering with suspension, more ground clearance due to lack of chain ring - that's all great. But if some clever bike designer can look at these things and somehow figure out a bike design that even in its first few iterations somehow brings with it some compelling, instantly perceived advantage (so that everyone riding one immediately thinks this is the future), then they'll have something. Until then, it will be very hard for their makers to come up with a good enough case to nudge people off their current drive trains.
  • + 1
 Very true @g-42. The range of 1x systems now leaves little to be desired.
  • - 1
 The range of 1x is great, but it neglects the anti squat that most suspension designs would bennefit from when climbing etc.
  • + 0
 I read an article about a new steel alloy made in Korea. It's not available yet. It is said to be easy and cheap to make in small batches, and have the strength to weight ratio of titanium. I feel something like that is necessary before gearboxes can get the development they need to surpass turds.
  • + 1
 By the way the 15mm axle is the same as 20mm but smaller. This is not a small derailleur, made purely to save a bit of weight. A gearbox is a completely different solution.
  • + 2
 If it was revolutionary, it would be amazing. The gearbox is older than the derailleur! A CVT gearless transmission would be technology. Im not comparing axle sizes, just solutions we didnt need. If anything, less complicated and more reliable should be the direction
  • + 1
 I want to see a carbon drive shaft and frp gears on there and I am sold !
  • + 0
 Hang on guys, I gotta do an oil change on my bike. Meet you at the top.
  • + 1
 Owlie all gains are small in MTB now. You have testers that have derailer usage ingrained in their brains giving reviews of riding a gearbox for a day or two. When you get a new car, you're alienated by all the subtle little differences until it becomes the norm. Jump into a Euro car if you own a jap car, with indicators on the wrong side of steering wheel your totally alienated, when it's your normal car, it's the same going the other way. The main gain of the gearbox is being able to shift many gears any time without pedaling. Until this is trained in to your brain, you don't use it enough, and don't fathom how great it is until it's in your subconscious, then you ride a bike with mech and you feel so handicapped by it, slowed down by it, time lost by it, have to think about when and where to shift, not always in the right gera. You don't realize how much you compromise pedaling with a mech until you know better. Honda tried CTV, didn't stick with it. CTV would be awesome, but would alienate the user a lot and have it's own balance of compromises.
  • + 4
 owie, oil change takes way less time than nearly all mech adjustments. Beats my mechs wrecked my rides over.
  • - 2
 Really? I bet not. Im guessing trailside repairs mean youre pushing, or carrying a waterbottle full of oil. Keep up the good fight tho, sir
  • + 1
 just run it dry if you lost oil. It's hardly any oil and not under the loads a motor puts a gearbox through. It's about a 1/4 of a cup of oil.
Yeah a drastic mechanical would wreck your ride like a broken mech. The point is, it's far less likely to happen with a good gearbox bike. Not too much feedback on the Effigears yet, but they are making improvements all the time. The dude racing with one in his Nicolai on the WC curcuit is doing great with his. Would be interesting to know how many mech issues he had prior.
I know Zerode owners are having way way leass issues than mech owners.
Just look at the design. Not really much to go wrong, nothing that'd make it unrideable. Loosing gear changes would be most likely but not likely realistcily.
more than happy to bet though. As soon as you get a friend with one, tell me who has a mechanical first, you or him. $100US good with you? If we're betting on DH and a Zerode I know about, I'll raise it to $1000US.
  • + 1
 Measuring a gearbox on a DH race isnt what Id call exact. What about Enduro or XC? Id also like to know what goes on in the pits after every race.
You can watch a car go 8 seconds on street tires in a race, but his tires are changed out every round. Top fuel get new motors every weekend.
  • + 1
 How many broken mechs are there each WC race? I see blown tires, chains and, less often, suspension, but don't recall a whole lot of mechs being destroyed. While we know they can be destroyed and we all have had them go to shit, so does everything else on a bike.
  • + 2
 I was there when Lahar won the Jr Worlds with a Rohloff gearbox. That bike had just raced a year overseas. It had a new cable fitted and an oil change before racing for the weekend. On the flip side and because it was Honda, they had a ten mechanic crew in a massive tent next to Lahar and probably stripped the bikes down every run. But it's Honda.
I see a broken mech ruining a race run at pretty much every DH race, be it WC or local races.
Chains are less likely to fail on a gearbox bike also.
XC racing is a different beast. and a stronegr argument perhaps against gearboxes. An XC racer is more likely to have a spare bike than the average weekend warrior.
Gearboxes are less fkucing about, it's enough reason. MTBs should be as tuff as MX bikes and BMXs, we've been lulled into believing they can't be by marketing pushing weight and miniscule performance gains. With gearboxes they can be that reliable. and ypou can SHIFT ANY TIME ;-)
If you're happy with your mech set up, all good. Shifting isn't that big a deal, and mechs are pretty dang good. I just like shifting whenever and having a bike good to go every ride. I don't even bother washing it, and lube the chains only every now and then.
I really can't vouch for the Effigear gear box as I've not had enough experience with it. I like it's high output sprocket as I like rearward axle path bikes, they make a lot of sense to me. So I would happily buy one. I have seen a Cavalerie Anakin in the flesh and it was an awesome looking bike.
  • + 4
 Noskidmarks I've never tried a zerode but I almost bought one in 2012, just the weight put me off. For a downhill bike, gearbox makes the most sense. Drag isn't really important and the changing gear any time part is gold. Logan Binggeli rides single speed now because of hating derailleurs. Plus with a gearbox the chain is always running a perfect line so it lasts longer. A spit of oil on the gears would see them right, even under a beast like Graves. For me it seems to be a case of, what's not to like? If someone would put one in an aesthetically pleasing package, I think it would take off.
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63 - there's a review of XT 1x11 up on the site today that really highlights how traditional drivetrains have gotten remarkably good, at remarkably reasonable cost. It's a good time to ride mountain bikes. Hell, if the gearbox people can ever step it up to the point that they can wean us off the stuff available now, and do so within a reasonable budget, it'll be reason for all of us to hoist a beer in salute.
  • + 2
 Absolutely @g-42 It's a real good time to ride bikes.
  • + 1
 @DARKSTAR63: It's so easy to fix this by using a freehub.
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63: couple things - you don't "compromise" your shifting; you change how you shift, and, arguably, it's an improvement. At least, I think it is after riding one enough to tart getting used to it. The other thing is, they don't actually cost that much, once you factor in the lack of expensive ass chainrings, derailers, shifters, cassettes and chains (11 speed chain that wears out super quickly vs a cheap 8 sp chain), and then never having to replace any of that
  • + 1
 @owlie: so a gearbox?
  • + 53
 Forget wheel sizes, forget boost, forget 15mm Vs 20mm. Gearboxes are where it's at. The quicker we finally shake off the road-bike past and their derailleurs the better.
  • + 12
 If pedaling fro point a to point b in the shortest amount of time is one's main criteria, then gearboxes are NOT where it's at, and never will be. Nothing beats the efficiency of a roller chain and deraileur setut as far as energy efficiency goes. With a reasonable chainline and a clean lubed chain, it's >98%.

Now, I realize that going fast isn't everyone's priority, and there certainly is a place for gearboxes, but it isn't the right solution for everyone.
  • + 9
 @hllclmbr >98%, as you said with a clean lubed chain and in good condition.
Add dust, mud or rain and efficiency will decrease a lot...
efficiency of gearbox + belt transmission doesn't depend on how good it's lub and clean, so stay good all allong your ride
  • + 6
 Got any numbers to go with that? What's the efficiency of your gearbox? Surely you've put it on a test bench at some point.
  • + 4
 Ive serviced my derailleur in the field numerous times, sometimes with a rock. Ive broke a wheel off mine and still finished a 26 mile back country ride.
For me, its about efficiency, performance, cost. Just cant beat a single ring, rear derailleur setup. Maybe someday, but this isnt it. Even if my derailleur snaps off, completely fails, I can rig something together to pedal home 90% of the time.
  • + 7
 "If pedaling fro point a to point b in the shortest amount of time is one's main criteria, then gearboxes are NOT where it's at, and never will be."

I think your being slightly naive. We all tried to convince ourselves that we don't need bigger wheels for but were buying them because the industry has dictated it.

And as soon as an efficient, lightweight gearbox is mounted to a racing winning bike it won't take long till the trickle turns to a flood. Sure, not all of us need it, or in your case want it, but just like we don't 'need' Boost or 650b a gearbox movement WILL happen.

MTB is in full progression mode right now. And like 26" and front derailleurs, the chances are someday the rear mech will be consigned to the parts bin or the depths of supermarket 'off road bikes'.

You only ned to look how far we've come in the past 20 years. It's only a matter of time.
  • + 4
 this would be the poly bumper bushing on the first Rock Shox then.
  • + 2
 Haha I get your point. I'm not disagreeing that this particular concept has it's flaws but where'd we be without Rock Shox?..
  • + 8
 Something to consider
The derraileur has had, what 70+ years of evolution and perfecting. Gear box's are relatively new to bicycles. Give them time to work out the bugs
Personally I can not wait to say bye to derailleurs an gear systems exposed to the elements
  • + 2
 There are things inherent to a gear box though that I don't think can be engineered out. I would be curious to know the efficiency rate of this gear box as it sits right now. How much power is lost through the box when pedaling vs. a derailleur set up?
  • + 0
 Nope. Not naive at all. Just educated in the ways of how mechanical stuff works. Sure, someone can win a dh race with a gearbox. Gwin won with no chain. However, nobody is ever going to win an xc race with a gearbox. You lose more to mechanical friction than epo could ever compensate for.
  • + 1
 I can't wait to upgrade my KX250 with a derailleur next year!
  • + 1
 I personnaly do not think our sloppy half HP is ever going to be enough to justify a gearbox... Yes we might get a lightwwight FRP built gearbox with minimal drag but it'll always drag more than our current setups. On the other hand a compact cvt like Nuvinci as a gearbox and not a hub would probably work....
  • - 1
 Fibre-reinforced plastic, consists of fiberglass, carbon, aramid, hybrid or other fabric reinforced plastic
Final resting place, as in Cemetery
Franco-Provençal language
Functional reactive programming
Free radical polymerization
???
  • + 1
 @hllclmbr
No way anyone could use plastics for mountain bikes, it would never last!!
  • + 2
 Drag is way less than made out, if at all compared to real world riding with a broken in gearbox Vs a worn mech. a 1 year old gearbox and drivetrain will be close to as efficient or better than the mech set up, and that's not even considering the mech set up most likely playing up, jumpin about, tight or kinked link, frayed cable, slightly bent hanger etc etc. Add some grass or mud to the mix and even moreso. If Shitmano or Scam jumped on board, we'd have more perishable but much lighter gearboxes with smaller ceramic bearing, titanium sprockets etc, at a huge price tag, with withheld tech, but they'd out compete current mechs in every way.
  • + 2
 If it was the best product out there, It would be the best product out there.
  • + 4
 everything is a balance of compromise that is different for every person and made different by every brands execution. There is no best, unless speaking about something particular. People can highlight a flaw in gearboxes as if it's massive, taking it out of context of reality and the actual balance of comproomise that'd suit most people. Here it is again. Gearbox. Shift any time. Statistcly far more durable and reliable than a mech. Centered weight. Efficiency loss is minuscule and probably negated by being able to shift without pedaling. Definitly negated by a faulty mech driveline that is way more common issue than a gearbox issue. Higher expense for gearbox. Way way less maintenance for a gearbox, and way less wearing parts. Design handicaps for suspension designs. Consistent anti squat throught the gears with a gearbox if the manufacturer desires that.
  • + 1
 The other problem is, and I am certainly guilty of this, is that people like tinkering with the parts of their bikes. Knowing that what you've got will easily last ten years if you want it to takes some of the excitement out of it. To put it another way, people like buying new parts, but need an excuse to do so. Fast wearing parts give us the excuse.
  • + 6
 @hllclmbr 94-96%. 94% at the beggining arround 96% after the break-in.
  • + 3
 Anyone got stats for an 18-month old dirty normal drive train? I bet it's the same.
  • + 3
 My 11spd sram has worn out in 12mths, costing £150 top replace. Gearboxes sound very appealing to me!
  • + 1
 @owlie, you have a misconception on ''plastics'' they are far more durable than you might think, also much lighter than steel or aluminum, what do you think carbon fiber is ? it's an FRP as in fiber reinforced polymer... Gearbox will have to be made out of it to be useful for MTB, at least the frame, the gears maybe not but definitely the frame/shafts...etc look up aerospace equipment, you'll be surprised by how much frps are replacing metals.
  • + 1
 @Brakesnotincluded clearly you dont see the sarcasm.
  • + 36
 "It's not the gearbox bike that so many people dream will make derailleurs absolute, but it's close."

Obsolete??
  • + 8
 Obsalute!
  • + 14
 If there ever was a pinkbike article in need of proofreading this is it.
  • - 1
 hi
  • + 1
 Great article, but there were a few grammatical errors. Ha!
  • + 3
 If Effigear released it as the new industry standard then would Trek start selling it?
  • + 3
 i ride this bike, and i can tell it's AWESOME!!
  • + 23
 "This is particularly clear when jumping as the slowing wheel gently pushed your weight forwards in the air, similar to pulling the back brake or letting off the throttle on a motorbike - a slight change of balance is required."

You're kidding right? There is enough drivetrain drag to affect the bikes flight? Thats insane. I love the idea of a gearbox, but I just can't believe there is that much drag. You sure your formula brakes weren't anything to do with it??
  • + 1
 Yea that's completely unacceptable. Back to the drawing board guys.
  • + 5
 over tight belt perhaps? I simply cannot believe a gearbox could produce that much drag unless something was wrong. I'd love to see a video of how long it takes the wheel to spin down...
  • + 1
 Yeah well... that's what happens when you put the freewheel ratchet where they did. If the belt, another shaft, and a set of cogs has to constantly rotate whenever the wheel rotates, you're going to have a lot of drag. Odd choice to use a fixed rear hub.... I wasn't aware of the shifting issue they described (having to backpedal to shift). Is that true of all gearbox bikes?
  • + 2
 The old Honda gearbox supposedly dragged quite some too.
  • + 1
 Gotta be the lack of freehub. I bet if your derailleur equipped bike had to keep dragging its whole drivetrain around and around which the wheel when flying through the air, that would tip the nose down pretty quickly too.
  • + 1
 Especially if it was caked in mud
  • + 4
 The Honda gearbox was literally a derailleur inside of a housing.
  • + 4
 Which, btw, is still a good idea. Perfect chainline, lower sprung weigh at the end of a lever arm, and more centralized weight (all the same arguments for this variety of gearbox too) Put a 10-42 inside of a housing and I'd be all over it. The only downside is the drag of two chains, and the weight of the housing and however heavier the frame needs to be to accept it. Planetary gears seem like a less than optimum approach to me.
  • - 1
 Somewhat recently, Minnaar spoke in a video interview on the drawbacks of the Honda system. Can't remember exactly what he said though.
  • + 2
 I'd love to read a review of one of these with a freewheel fitted to the rear hub. it's interesting that effigear dont recommend it. The ten degree back pedal would be annoying but I reckon any gravity oriented rider would be more concerned about the rolling speed. I really think gearboxes can and should become the norm, but that much drag would be a deal breaker for a lot of people.

Excellent review by the way. It was very informative. tup
  • + 2
 Hi Gabriel, I had a Chris king hub in the back of mine for ages, and before that the fixed hub. I prefer freewheel because the chain whipping around when high speed coasting was scary, but I have chain drive, and with a large reduction to the rear wheel, so it goes faster, and is more likely to catch leg hairs, socks and shoelaces than the belt drive! But it does mean nearly a fractional back pedal to change to easier gear.
  • + 3
 Just had a thought...
Freecoaster hubs (as used by bmxers) often require a small amount of backwards torque through the pedals to "unlock" the clutch mechanism. You don't actually have to pedal backwards, as the hub will try to push your cranks round like a fixed gear when you freewheel. You just hold your feet in place, and after a moment of reverse pressure through the feet, the clutch will free up and you get friction-free freewheeling. Something along those lines could help with this 10 degree back pedal issue. Yes this momentary "locking" is the sign of a poorly maintained freecoaster, but the effect could be reproduced in other ways. You basically need some mechanism that makes the freewheel clutch release slightly sticky. It would be simple enough to create something that fitted the bill. This would essentially mean the shifting was just as quick as running a fully fixed rear hub, but with the added drag free rolling advantages of a freewheel.

I have literally just woken up, so there may be massive holes in my idea, lol...
  • + 1
 :sigh:.... put a freehub on it. Also, I doubt this gearbox was broken in.

But yes you are right about the hubs, I think Onyx hubs use a clutch-like mechanism
  • + 1
 @trialsracer: The problem is if you simply put a freehub on it, you then need to backpedal slightly to free up the gearbox when you want it to shift gear. A fixed rear hub solves this meaning you only need to slow your pedaling slightly to shift, but it slows your rolling speed when you aren't pedaling. What you need is a hub that is fixed momentarily when you stop pedaling, but then frees up for drag free rolling. Hence the "sticky freecoaster" idea.
  • + 1
 @gabriel-mission9: I'm aware, I own a Pinion bike with a freehub. The real downside is not the shifting, because at least with the P1.12, you simply stop pedaling for a second and you can shift. It really is still much much faster than a derailer set up once you get used to it, especially when you want to shift multiple gears.

However, the real problem I have is the engagement when you want to get back on the pedals. It's mostly an issue after you do some back pedaling, because if you don't back pedal, the front ring doesn't move since the freehub has less resistance. But, take the situation where you come through some corners, back pedaling to get your feet in position, then want to get right back on the gas. You definitely feel a bit of a "lurch" of unsupported weight on the pedals, then you engage. It is really my only actual quip with the box that I see as a true disadvantage.

edit: I did some rough measuring, and my P1.12 seems to have around 25* of engagement. Pretty awful, especially combined with a freehub

Did you check out Onyx's mechanism? I will do it and double check, but I think it uses what you are talking about.

Also, does anyone know if they have to have the coasting mechanism in the box? Could it just be fixed, or would that create a new set of issues/become a design flaw? @effigear can you tell us? II haven't carefully considered the engineering constraints in this situation, so forgive me if I missed something obvious.
  • + 1
 @trialsracer: the effigear has a ton more engagement points in the gearbox than the pinion, I think 54/rev so that with a fast engaging hub means it's all good.
  • - 1
 @uphillsg: Well I'm never going back to a derailer for anything more than XC (which I stick to SS for these days anyway), so I will keep that in mind whenever it's time to add another bike to the stable.

One thing everyone should know about all of these gearbox bikes is that the suspension performance is unreal - noticeably consistent, supple, insane small bump compliance, etc. I'm worried about trying a 100 gram rear tensioner instead of the front one, because I don't want to negatively affect the performance; yes, you can tell it's that much better.
  • + 23
 Where's the Pinion review? 18 gears and a freewheel in the back with no real pressure change needed to shift... sounds like your dream.

Plus I want to see inside Nicolai bikes!
  • + 6
 You can use a freewheel rearhub if you want.
  • - 3
 Pinion gearbox is not really suited for full suspension frames, it needs chain tensioner
  • + 4
 attitudebikes.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/nicolai-helius-ac-pinion-29er

It is very suited for FS frames. Chain tensioner here is out of the way of trouble.
  • + 1
 Pinion can also be used with a belt
  • + 2
 But you have to use their scrappy two cable twist shifter yes?
  • + 0
 I'm sorry but chain tensioner is an ineptitude with a gearbox, more drag, more weight, mud can go inside, not clean design... The cons of a derailleur with the weight of the gearbox
  • + 2
 Pinions chain tensioner, located just behind the crankset is not a problem by a tiniest bit. Gearbox advantage lies in having no parts hanging by the rear wheel, which means lesser chance for damaging the rear mech, Eventually getting the chain into the rear wheel. Then you save 1lbs off the unsprung weight and put it to central Location around BB, the best place you can imagine. Finaly you get reliability and durability. It's super worth it as long as you have a frame producer willing to make a frame accepting the gearbox. That is a problem.
  • + 1
 I have always thought all those single speed riders using little tensioners mounted to the derailleur hanger, should use the lower roller part of a chain device instead. As Waki says it just makes far more sense as a design. The drag added, even when muddy, should be insignificant as long as the jockey wheel bearings are good. Keeping a couple of jockey wheels spinning isn't exactly the most taxing maintenance. So really, its all the advantages of a gearbox, and you can run dw link or fsr rear ends.
  • + 1
 Riding with a freewheel put less reactivity to pedaling. Compare a ride with Chris King' +100 clics and a 20/40 one, it's horrible. Tried a Pinion, not my cup of tea, because no shifter, bigger and heavier & not precise freewheel.
  • + 3
 There is no doubt about it that company like Pinion or whatever your small German manufacturer is, cannot match the R&D power of Shimano or Sram. If the big boys would get on it, gearboxes would be dialed in a matter of one equipment generation. Second gen would be flawless. But small companies just can't deliver that. They cannot even make a good rear derailleur and shifter that matches Deore/X7 level in terms of action, durability, ergonomy and price. I know a dude testing FSA road electronic group, he's on 3rd prototype now and says it is utter sht. After 2 years they cannot deliver alivio quality. I am also highly sceptical of freewheel being locate din the gearbox. It should be in the hub, too much hassle otherwise. If you can't switch gears soon enough in the normal way, by rotating the cranks then change a hobby, it's really not that hard to learn.
  • + 4
 Either Big Ss would make a much lighter gearbox, their R&D would likely go into making it perishable and obsolete each new model change. That's their biggest hurdle. Making them so you need to buy one every second year.
Shimanno could just make a box housing for their Alfine hubs to be centrally mounted. Even just a narrower hub so it could be used like Zerode does on a AM/Funduro frame would do if a big frame brand got behind it. GT, looking at you.
Would still be great if either Big S did release one. One day. Not sure if patents hold them back much.
Pinion is pretty dialled now though. Weight is their main hic up, but the 12 speed is pretty light with a massive spread of range.
  • + 19
 I can't help but imagine the car downshifting noises I would make while riding this bike.
  • + 15
 Next level braaaapppping. And in a Bradinng ding diiinnggg diinnnn....BRAAAAPPPPPPPPAPAPPPPP
  • + 2
 We have freewheel body in our hubs to avoid this. If you ride pedalos go to "pinkpedalos" forum Big Grin
  • + 1
 I would forego the XO shifter and rig a car's gear shift to the top tube for just that reason.
  • + 2
 @Clarkeh where ever you are from, we all speak the same language to tell storie after 2 beers

"and then the kick brooAAP, and then RAAATATATATATATATA"
  • + 11
 Still not convinced that belts are the way to go - heard plenty stories of small stones/debriis getting caught in the belt/teeth which stretch the belt and snap it. Not convinced they're right for offroad.

Would very much prefer to be fixing a chain with a powerlink trailside than splitting the frame the frame to put on an expensive replacement belt.
  • + 11
 Belt is an option, you can ride with a chain.
  • + 5
 Or not, if your name is Gwin
  • + 1
 Can someone explain why the belt is preferable to a perfectly tensioned chain?
  • + 5
 Very low maintenance, very low wear. No oiling required. Basically its fit and forget. Chains are great, but they are kinda high maintenance. And they don't like getting wet. Or dusty. Which is a pain if you live, anywhere. They are more efficient than belts tho...if you maintain them well.
  • + 1
 Gates belt are dire even on city bikes

Some well known terms bike mechanic working on belt drive know:-

Crabbing ( belt walks sideways under load)

Ratcheting (belt slips on rear cog under load)

Backlash (take up slack when tension incorrect)

Then we have premature wear to bb bearing, hub bearing, belt components from overtightened belt.

Seen belts split/snap from debris ingress, aluminium cogs strip on steel freehub

Tension tool gauge for gates exists, but not seen in workshops, without this its really guesswork every time a puncture requires removing wheel
  • + 1
 crabbing. wheel alignment issues ratchetting. belt tension issues. backlash. belt tension issue. bearing wear. belt tension issue. correct belt tension isn't really that hard. wouldn't say it was any harder than with a chain. Saying all that, I haven't worked on a huge number, so maybe I just haven't met a bad one yet.
  • + 2
 The main advantage is that you don't get oil on your trousers
  • + 3
 Run a chain, belt issues negated. Chain will still last several times longer than a chain on a 1 x system. So will sprockets. Cables last longer too.
  • + 2
 @gabriel-mission9

we worked on tonnes of Trek Soho at Evans (Soho was the Trek city hybrid).

The belt tension is actually really crucial and there was a sweet spot which is why Gates produced a belt-tension tool to make sure it was set correct. Unfortunately this tool was never widely distributed.

A common problem if the belt was slightly too tight is that the rear cog/paddle would strip out against the freehub body.

They originally had an aluminium alloy piece to save weight, and switched to a steel core with aluminium alloy paddle, which was then supplied to all the damaged bikes. Belts had to be replaced as well as you'd have aluminium alloy shards embedded in the belt, causing it to split! belts were crazy expensive about £100 each.

The problem with these bikes got so bad that Trek started supplying a regular chain, chainring and rear cog with the bikes, so that when the belt crapped itself you could swap the customer over to a chain drive.

I've worked on other bikes with Gates and rear frame alignment has to be spot on, otherwise the belt crabs sideways under load. Frame has to have removable dropouts, or split driveside chainstay so the belt can be installed, this makes the frame weaker and heavier

The later version of the belt comes with the central slot and teeth to stop crabbing and resist dirt ingress better
  • + 8
 future looking bright, be great to see a sub 30lb bike with low rotating mass... all those cogs weigh quite a lot, expect to see far simpler designs to come. early years of research and development, chains are so yesterday!
  • + 7
 Gearbox is where it's at.
You need to read between the lines. Seemed the tester would happily own this bike. The part where he said returning to a mech sucked, spells out the gearbox is better than a mech set up. Shifting any time is so much greater than the cons. You have to light pedal a touch shifting down with a mech also. So you have to stop pedaling to do it with an Effigear, you'r still changing gears faster overall as it's a split second that takes less time then soft pedaling for a second to change with a mech. and you don't need to eccelerate to soft pedal to maintain momentum as much. It's just that it's alien until used to it. That's shifting just one gear, want to shift more than one gear and the gearbox far outweighs a mech. You learn that you can shift any time, so in most instances you don't get caught out having to shift under load. You don't need clear ground free of rock strikes or obstacles disrupting your soft pedaling to shift with a gearbox. This is something you don't consider how annoying it is with a mech, because it's all you know. I shift with my gerbox bikes(all my bikes) in rock gardens, corners, the air, stationary. Now thta gearboxes are ingrained in my subconscious, and not mechs, when I ride a bike with a mech, I am amazed at how much it handicaps my riding, and how primitive it is.
As for efficiency, you can run a chain on this bike. Although it may not be as reliable as a belt(not sure of the truth int that) a chain on a gearbox bike still lasts several times longer than a bike with mech, as the chain is running straight, and not bent and twisted into another gear under load, and not running at extreme angles. Same goes for sprockets and cables. Not sure why these gearbox brands insist on pushing belts, belts are just an added complexity and hard to get item.
Then there's the reliability. You don't realize how annoying mechs reliabilty and servicing are until you've lived with a gearbox bike. You may not break mechs at all or often, but you still know in the back of your head, that that expensive fragile dangly bit is there at the back, and your mindful of rocks etc or even laying your bike down, and you do live with slightly poor shifting or have to do a tweak here or there, or replace a cable.
The gearbox tested was also probably new, they loosen up and get more efficient and easier to use as they bed in.
  • + 2
 you got it all!
after 50/60 km i do not feel any resitance in the gearbox
  • + 7
 "The glaring con is that you can't change into an easier gear with pressure on the pedals"

"solid down shifts when putting maximum power through the cranks"

I'm confused, I always think of down shifts as being shifting into an easier gear? If so these statements contradict each other? Could someone explain? Does it just mean "down shift" as in shifting onto a smaller cog, therefore a harder gear or?
  • + 4
 Downshift is a smaller cog in this example. And an easier gear is going to a bigger cog.
  • - 7
flag nhrider16 (Feb 8, 2016 at 0:30) (Below Threshold)
 Is there chain slap on that? If so that would destroy a frame that chain could snap anything like its a Jamis chainstay haha
  • + 8
 1. It's a belt. 2. No. Well, assuming you have it tensioned correctly. 3. A belt won't hurt a frame aside from maybe rubbing the paint off.
  • + 0
 @Bronco82 cheers dude makes sense
  • - 31
flag mhoshal (Feb 8, 2016 at 2:42) (Below Threshold)
 Lol dumbest pinkbike comment goesto this guy so you always downshift "up" to easier gears eh lol wow some people still amaze me
  • + 29
 Sorry @mhosal, had to downvote you for that. If an interested reader is confused, the best thing he or she can do is ask. The best response to that is an answer. The worst is to laugh and issue a pointless award. You're safe on the internet now, but this is definitely something to keep in mind once you go to school.
  • + 12
 It's poorly worded, downshifting would instantly mean shifting to a lower gear, at least to me anyway. It's even more confusing in this case as you can't use derailleur movement as an excuse for the term.
  • + 8
 "downshift
ˈdaʊnʃɪft/Submit
verb
gerund or present participle: downshifting
1.
NORTH AMERICAN
change to a lower gear in a motor vehicle or bicycle.
"an inertia system that activates whenever the rider brakes or downshifts"
2.
change a financially rewarding but stressful career or lifestyle for a less pressured and less highly paid but more fulfilling one.
"increasing numbers of men want to downshift from full-time work""

The reason I was confused ^
  • + 1
 Yep @medievalbiking that's exactly what it meant to me too.
  • + 4
 Its all good I deserve the downvotes lol
  • + 2
 @medievalbiking No problem. Some people just have a different definition of what it means to downshift/upshift when it comes to mountain bikes or cars.
  • + 0
 @mhosal, upvoted that one. Self reflection is good. I'm a teacher, didn't like your first comment but definitely appreciate you came back to set things straight.
  • + 11
 The Force is strong with this one.
  • + 0
 Except for the kid killing, or, efficiency killing in this case?
  • + 1
 I sense much fear in you.
  • + 7
 I have been racing DH for years now, and my drivetrain is almost never 100% so the 98% efficiency deal is a load of crap unless you have a mechanic replacing the entire drivetrain every training session, which they do on top wc teams. My derailleur is pretty much always bent, chain only perfectly clean at the beginning of a race, chains get damaged, rings bend, cables get ripped off all the time. It's a major pain in the rear and a gearbox could change things for the better as a privateer.
I hate that bike companies keep making up stupid shit that doesn't matter instead of focusing on making good gearboxes.
  • + 9
 YES PLEASE!!! Test it in UK conditions please, really wanna know how it handles UK mud
  • + 7
 Can you double clutch this baby when looking for a little extra instant speed Smile
  • + 2
 hey guys i have the chance to ride the Anakin!
all my friends who tried the bike felt all the same>>>EFFICIENCY
i ride an Anakin for the last two years now, and what i can tell is that i do not feel any resistance when pedalling!
You don't need mud to understand that the gearbox is usefull, here in whistler my buddies break a lot of derailleurs!
And i do not even know what they are talking about !!!!
i love the fact that i do not need ''momentum'' to shift up when sketchy, i press and boom that's INSTANT!
the geometry of the Cavalerie is also a good asset, all the transmission weight is on the BB, all centered tho and makes the bike easy to handle!
I jump quite a bit (whistler bikepark, crabapple hits, Etc...) and i can insure you i do not feel any DRAG because of the gearbox and the belt always spinning!
i love this bike!
More pictures on instagram>>> #cavaleriebikes #Effigear #Dharco
  • + 2
 I have lusted after one of these for ages.

Great to finally see a review that I haven't had to translate from a French publication.

This is the most honest review I've read so far, and considering that the system ain't exactly perfected yet, €4000 is a bit steep :/
  • + 2
 Efficiency from point to point. Something not considered in the efficiency debate, with a gearbox you're in the right gear more often than with a mech bike, so by the time you get to where you're going, you've used less energy.
  • + 2
 I rode one yesterday. Got used to it straight away,even with the brakes the wrong way around. The review doesn't seem to give them much credit. Maybe because they don't pay loads for advertising like the mech producing companies.
  • + 1
 Yep, sponsorship induced anti hype.
  • + 2
 I'd be unlikely to go for something this exotic (and expensive) but that was quite an interesting review.

I do find that I spend a lot more time tinkering with my bike than I did ten years ago. Sticky dropper posts, pressfit BBs, and tubeless tyre troubleshooting all add to the maintenance overhead of running a bike ( though at least 2 of those things save you time once you're out riding) Would a gearbox bike save me much "workshop time"? I'm not sure it would, but that would be my main motivation for looking into the idea further
  • + 1
 It would. I reckon if you keep tabs on every single bit of maintenance you do on your bike, a large portion of it will be something to do with the drivetrain. This gearbox would eliminate most of that.

It would also eliminate that feeling you get when you have just ridden past a pointy rock, and you feel £100 worth of rear mech part company with your frame, and you hope like hell it doesn't decide to get to know your rear wheel a bit better before you can stop.
  • + 1
 My Zerode needs the chain lubricated. a cable adjust maybe once a year, chain replaced maybe once every two to three years. Gearbox oil squirt once very 6months or year(takes 2 minutes. and that's getting oil out and putting oil in syringe mainly).
  • + 3
 Typical of anything called "Anakin"...starts off good, everybody thinks it's "THE ONE," a bunch of bad stuff happens, then turns bad.
  • + 2
 Just wait for the vader. There will be a bunch of updates to the frame and it will be way more badass
  • + 5
 So pinkbike comment section bros, when are you placing your order?
  • + 1
 I believe someone remember hammershmidt, awesome idea, however lack of success... Gearboxes already 15+ years exist, however most successful is still remains rollerhof hub... I am trully believe that is the future of shifting, however it should be applicable for XC in order to became widespread...
  • + 1
 Gearboxes for bikes are as old as mechs. The planetry gearbox design Rohloff uses were done a long long time ago. Rohloffs are heavy as a rear hub, do last 40'000kms though. Did win JrWorlds DH in a Lahar.
  • + 1
 polandball 4tw
  • + 6
 Death to the derailleur!
  • + 1
 for those of you that mention a rear mech wouldn't last 5 mins on your local trail what were you riding before your gearbox bike......were you all on single speeds or are you all rich with lots of spare rear mech hangers and mechs to constantly switch out?.
  • + 3
 I don't understand how the gearbox works, the article states that only one gear is engaged at a time, yet in the video they're all spinning? Super confused.
  • + 13
 It's a constant mesh gear set, all the gears are connected but the gears on the lower shaft can spin freely on the shaft. The gear you select holds that one gear to the shaft so drive can be transmitted, so for 1st the gear on the far right is connected to the shaft and 9th the far left.
  • + 5
 @pipcarder I get it now, thanks for explaining I watched the unstable badly focussed video a few times and struggled to work it out.

So you get tipped over the bars in the air and burned by the belt along with constant drag when freewheeling, can't downshift mid-climb without breaking your momentum and it catches gravel which snaps the belt? I think I'll wait a while.

This sounds like someone's invested a heap in R&D and developed half a product, but needs to sell something to fund the next round of R&D so releases a half-arsed product that will put people off the technology.
  • + 4
 Look at 00:49 on this video, the rider shift down 2 gear in less than 0.5sec :
www.zapiks.fr/l-homme-qui-change-de-vitess-1.html
  • + 1
 Here you go! In french but a better video than the short one and you can see their bikes! Wink

www.zapiks.fr/boite-effigear-bike-cavaleri.html
  • + 1
 Thanks for the extra vids! I find the mechanism quite beautiful visually quite frankly. Kind of a shame that it gets covered up by a bunch of metal on the actual bike.
  • + 2
 Run a chain. Don't have to run a belt on it.
  • + 4
 Very interesting review, thank you.
  • + 1
 i wonder if u can just run the belt through a neat carbon chain stay, hidden and protected, save the ankles. Or a split aluminium chain stay and again run the belt through the tubes, bah! might LOOK ugly
  • + 1
 Nothing wrong with new innovations!

Who's going to work on it; who makes the gears! Do I have to send it to Fwance to get it affixed!

How long will it be on the market!
  • + 3
 What about the Formula 35 fork? These look pretty interesting - ligtweight at least. Smile
  • + 2
 " Disappointingly, there is no space or consideration for a bottle cage anywhere on the frame. "

tap 2 holes under the top tube bamm
  • + 1
 but i think this may be an issue to do with clearance as your thighs are wider than your shins so you may have to ride like john wayne to clear it but i may be wrong.......wouldnt be the first time. Smile ooops commented on an old linked thread lol.
  • + 3
 man, the video of the effigear box is so mesmerizing.
  • + 1
 What about an helical gear? Wouldn't get the efficiency of the gear box a touch higher?

I like the idea of a silent ride and a symmetrical tail. Fancy thinking maybe..
  • + 2
 I came here for the comments! Which are surprisingly friendly to the bike...
  • + 2
 It seems like moving the free "hub" from the crank to the shaft that spins the belt driver would solve some problems
  • - 1
 Don't waste your money. Look where the drive belt is in relation to your foot. With clips it might not be a problem, but with flats you might find your foot catching the belt. Which will be real fun time as you bombing down the hill.
  • + 1
 Run a chain, a guard if needed, or a freehub hub. No big deal.
  • + 2
 Only a matter of time I'm sure.
  • + 2
 What about replacing the belt with a chain?
  • + 10
 It's chain or belt. Belt is an option.
  • + 0
 7 thousand dollars for a 32lb bike? Derailleurs are just not that bad... PASS
  • + 1
 True that.
  • + 1
 try cleaning that in the PNW haha
  • + 1
 How many POE on the gearbox? @effigear
  • + 2
 What do you mean by "POE"?
  • + 1
 Points of engagement on the freewheel. How many degrees between clicks?
  • + 2
 Onyx Racing Products will make hub in any configuration. That just looks like a SS, ISO Hub with 150mm spacing. I'm sure Jim could whip up a badass hub for this puppy.
  • + 1
 That term wouldn't apply here. The rear cog is fixed, there is no free-wheel and therefore no "POE". There would however be some sort of measurable gear lash, accounting for a delay between the time to begin to turn the crank and the point at which the output gear beings to turn. As with any other constant mesh transmission set up this tolerance is carefully calculated. Too tight and increased wear and drag occur. Too loose and you have excessive lash, cashing a substantial delay, noise and also- increased wear.
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63 what would this term not apply?
I know that the cog is fixed on the rear hub but there must be a free wheel mechanism in the gear box which most probably has a certain number of point of engagement. Then it is also interesting to know on which axle of the gearbox the free wheel is mounted.
  • + 2
 yes, thinking on it a bit I suppose that's true. It must be at the crank. Problem is, now you have the delay in the free-wheel and then the delay in the box? I wonder how it feels pedaling this bike.
  • + 5
 48 POE from the gearbox freewheel.
Onyx racing product is a good match with the gearbox if you don't want the chain or belt always turn.
A 120 POE rearhub work perfectly with the gearbox and you will keep the hub POE as the gearbox freewheel keep contact (belt doesn't turn, gearbox pawl remain engaged)
  • + 1
 Thanks for that clarification... there must be a reason though you wish the drive belt to remain driven? @effigear
  • + 3
 Selection mechanism work with freewheel so to save weight we have remove hub freewheel. some customer use to ride with freewheel, it work perfectly fine.
  • + 1
 Gearbox is the future but apparently the future has arrived yet.
  • + 5
 Drivetrain Gods guided your fingers.
  • + 1
 * hasn't arrived yet.
  • + 1
 "May the Force be with you" Smile
  • + 0
 ... so I can't change gear under load ? Oh dear ...
  • + 2
 I've ridden a Schlumpf dual-speed crankset that was the same. You get used to and you can preselect gears. On the Schlumpf it was a measure to stop accidental shifting under power. I think it was an advantage.
  • + 2
 Look at 00:49 on this video, the rider shift down 2 gear in less than 0.5sec :
www.zapiks.fr/l-homme-qui-change-de-vitess-1.html
  • + 4
 @fedz you can shift up gear under full load (from short gear to long gear). To shift down you pre select the gear and when you want to shift you release the torque (don't need to stop pedaling).
  • + 2
 @effigear, thanks for clearing that up for us Smile
  • - 2
 Ef that gear. The s that how it's pronounced?
  • + 0
 Stupid fingers and typing! Supposed to say "that's how it's pronounced?"
  • - 1
 HARD PASS
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