From the Top: Pinion's Christoph Lerman

Sep 27, 2017
by Matt Wragg  




If there is one company that could feasibly break the derailleur's stranglehold on our rear axles, it's Pinion. A small company from just outside the German automotive heartland of Stuttgart, they are the first people to get a gearbox to market that, at least on paper, starts to offer a viable alternative to our current drivetrains. And, regardless of how you feel about the prospect of having a gearbox on your bicycle, no half-serious engineering nerd can deny that what they have created is a thing of beauty. Taking their cues from the automotive industry, then stripping, refining, and perfecting the concept to a 2–3kg box that should be reliable for six-figure distances with almost no maintenance. Christoph Lerman is one-half of the partnership that dreamed up such a component, then coaxed it from imagination and drawings into a solid, dependable block of metal. We sat down with him to try and find out about visualising complex systems, the challenges of bringing it to the market and what he thinks is the future of the gearbox in mountain biking.



Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg

Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg
Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg

Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg

Where and when did Pinion start? What was the first idea?


It was in 2006. That was a time when Michael and I—we were still studying. Michael studied in Karlsruhe, I studied in Stuttgart. Michael is an economic engineer with a technical background. It's a mix between financial and engineering. I started with aircraft engineering at Stuttgart. During our studies, we had to do a training program and both of us did this training program at Porsche. We didn't know each other before that. That was where and when the idea was born actually, one of our colleagues came to work and he was complaining about his derailleur because his chain broke that morning and was late to work. We thought, "Wait a second, why is there a transmission where you don't have to make any maintenance in a car or a motorbike, and why do bicycles have the derailleur?" That was the ignition for Pinion, we thought "Okay, maybe we can transfer what we've seen in Porsche or learned in the automotive industry and transfer it to bicycles." That was the beginning.

So was Pinion your first job out of university?


We didn't found the company then in 2006. We founded the company in 2008, so we were two years, like everybody. Everybody has a great idea, but most people, they don't follow the idea. It's just an idea, and they never realise it. We just thought about it, and it was more like a hobby to work a little bit on the gearbox. In 2008, we were at a point to say, "Okay, we should try this. If it works, let's do a prototype."

Your technology is basically derived from cars, but the technology is miniaturized? Is that a fair assessment of your product, or is that oversimplifying it?


It's oversimplifying a little actually because the gearbox in a car is still pretty different to a motorcycle, especially the shifting mechanism. Of course, you also have gears. The calculation of gears and everything is pretty similar to a car gearbox, but how we shift it is different. In a car, you usually use clutches, which you move sideways from one gear to another gear. There's not enough space in a bicycle transmission to use that space for clutches, so we don't have these kinds of clutches. We have ratchet pulleys.

Did you consider a clutch? Is that something you looked at in the beginning?


Oh, there were many different attempts, like planetary gears. We also thought about CVTs but never really followed it because there are many aspects going against a CVT, and it's pretty tough to develop a CVT which is comparable to a regular transmission in terms of efficiency, weight, durability. We didn't follow through on that. Other aspects like planetary gear systems or needle-bearings. It was not like, "Okay, that's how it has to look." It was much more complicated in the beginning. Even the first prototype we built, there were four shafts, and we could reduce it to two shafts. There are only two gears which are engaged under load, so there's a very high efficiency because the rest of the gears are just free-spinning. Actually, that's the challenge for our development, to simplify it to an essential core mechanism. You have an idea, and you make what is brilliant maybe at the first glance, but then you realise… Okay, you have to put another mechanism around it, and another one, another one. The basic idea gets more and more complicated. The challenge is to reduce it again, to simplify it. You have to run round in circles because unfortunately, normally you don't get there at once. It's a process.

Your production gearboxes are, in some ways, a very simple system. But in other ways, this is insanely complicated.


Definitely, it is. We use a rotating camshaft, you just engage or disengage the ratchet pulleys, and it's actually quite easy. The ratchet pulley is preloaded by a spring. Actually, the spring wants to push the rear part of the ratchet pulley inside the shaft which means that the front part would come out of the shaft because it's also rotating around this axle. The spring pushes the rear part of the ratchet pulley down onto the camshaft. As soon as there comes this gap, it can push the rear part of the ratchet pull inside this gap, and the front part will come out.

How do you come up with something like this? Can you visualise this in your head?


Yeah. Actually, it starts on a white piece of paper where you have the boundary conditions. You know that you want 18 gears. It was also a process to realise those 18 gears in two separate stages with a three-speed and six-speed gear stage, which are shifted independently from each other, actually. Of course, the two camshafts are connected, but there's one camshaft for each gear stage. This is for the six-speed gear stage. Then you know that you have to shift the six gears independently from the three gears and that this sequence has to repeat three times. You have to shift gear one, two, three, four, five, six. At that time, the first gear and the second gear stay still engaged. Then you shift from six to seven. Inside the gearbox, you've shifted the first gear stage from gear six back to gear one. At the same time you shift from gear six back to gear one, then it starts again.

Inside the gearbox, one, two, three, four, five six, and in the second gear stage, the second gear is engaged. These are the gears seven to 12 in the overall gearbox, and again from 13 to 18. By knowing that, you know that you have 360 degrees of rotation to switch six gears. Which means, okay, one gear step is 60 degrees of camshaft rotation. You see, it's a process. Then you know, okay, I have 60 degrees to engage and disengage a ratchet pulley. Then within these 60 degrees, there's a certain tolerance you have to consider. Then you have inside movement, engaging and disengaging, and then you can put that on these 60 degrees. That's how you proceed to define the result of such a camshaft.

Your new C12 seems to be a big step from the P18. It seems to be much closer to something that could be accepted by the mass market. Is that your goal with that?


Yeah, it is. With the C-line, for us, it was the first step to bring the gearbox or the Pinion system out of the niche where we are at the moment and where we started. For a young company, it's pretty tricky to bring such a product to the market if you don't have the resources to build millions of gearboxes at one time, which means a lot of tooling cost and everything. That was one reason to start in the premium segment. Actually, it's normal to bring new technologies out in the premium segment of the market, it doesn't make sense otherwise. If you go from the Formula One to the road car, it's no problem, but from road car to the Formula One, it's not so easy. That's why we started in the premium segment, and now we feel so comfortable with our technology because we have been on the market for almost five years, since 2012, with very good experience in the field in terms of service rates and customer feedback.

For us, it was time to make the next step to bring this technology from 3,000 € bikes instead of, let's say 7,000 € bikes… That's another aspect actually, our suppliers are usually automotive suppliers. They are used too much higher quantities than what we are manufacturing at the moment. This leads to longer lead times because we are on a lower priority at our supplier, like, for example, BMW. We need those kinds of suppliers because we need the quality. A small gearbox company, probably they wouldn't be able to produce these kinds of gears at that quality and those costs.



Christoph Lerman and Michael the founders of Pinion.



Was there a point where you considered doing your own?


Not at the moment. Maybe. We are still considering producing some parts on our own in the future, but the quantities… You need some special machines, which are so expensive that you have to keep them running 24/7 so it's worth buying the machine. They are very efficient, those machines, so they can produce a lot of parts. To keep it running 24/7 you have to produce a lot of parts, but we are not at those quantities at the moment. Maybe in the future when the quantities are rising.

We are still considering producing some selected parts them here in-house because you're so much more independent of what's going on outside with your suppliers. When you produce your own parts, it's a kind of dream that you go into the facility and you see the gears plopping out of the machine.

One of your guys told me that the casing for the C12 gearbox is a half-million Euro cast.


Almost, yeah.

That's a huge investment for a company of your size.


It is. That's, for example, a part we never could do on our own because there are so many processes besides the actual casting process connected to that manufacturing process. That's a special facility, actually.

It's always interesting to talk to German companies about ownership as they tend to be privately owned, which means they can maybe take a longer view of things and make decisions that wouldn't necessarily get past shareholders.


At the beginning, the whole Pinion thing was an idea we all believed in, but it was not clear how to make a profit with it. Even the first years of when we still were in production, it was still an investment. Now, it's slowly turning to a profitable company. It wouldn't have been possible without shareholders or investors that don't believe in the company. It's essential to have those people on board.

How hard is it for a small company like Pinion to break into the market?


Well, pretty difficult actually. Our main market at the moment is Europe. In Europe, you have many trekking, touring, and urban bikes. The mountain bike market to Pinion is quite a small market at the moment. I think the reason for that is different actually. One is that the market is dominated by two companies, Shimano and SRAM, and it's very strongly marketing driven, more than with the trekking market which is very conservative. People buy what magazines tell them to buy, and magazines often write what big OEMs place with them by advertising or whatever. It's not so easy for a small company to enter this market. You need an opinion leader who introduces such a new technology to the market, and others will follow. That's the strategy. Of course, if you want to have an opinion leader, it's usually a very large company. These companies have certain conditions for how they decide to make a bike. For example, they won't start to make a bike for 500 units or something like that. They only would start if they can go for large quantities. To go for large quantities, they need a certain price level, which we didn't have so far. With the C-line maybe we do.



Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg

Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg
Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg

Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg



The chicken and the egg then?


It's a similar situation, but now we are one step closer to that situation. We have the C-line as a cheaper base, which is more interesting for larger OEMs who have maybe a minimum quantity of one or two thousand bicycles to start even the project. Otherwise, they wouldn't even start. It's not a technical reason why they are not doing it. That's what I believe. It's more like a formal or bureaucratic reason actually, "Okay, we have to make at least this quantity to that price." We don't fit in that metric.

At the moment, there's a lot of planned turnover with mountain bikes. The expectation is you keep a bike two, three year's time, whereas if you're making a gearbox that you guys are saying it'll last 100,000k. Is that a tension for you?


I don't think so because the system itself offers so many advantages, especially to mountain bike kinematics. You only have one sprocket in the front. You have the mass in the middle of the bike. All of our gearboxes we have on the market so far, they all fit into the same standard. Also, future gearboxes will fit into the Pinion standard. It is not our intention to make a lifestyle product which lasts only two years. Our philosophy is to make a durable product, a reliable product you can say, okay, in five years, I can still use it. If you want to use it still or if you want to buy an updated, lighter version which may be available in five years, you still can put it in the frame, but the philosophy is still to make a durable product which works for a long time.

I have a 10-year-old VW Golf, and maybe it's not got Bluetooth, but it's fine. Where if you look at a 10-year-old mountain bike, you wouldn't really want to ride that anymore. Is that rate of progress a problem for you?


I don't really think it's a problem because a good Pinion mountain bike in market production would be so different and so way ahead from that what we have at the moment, I think that's more than two years in the future where you would say, "Oh, I don't want to ride that anymore." I think the Pinion's technology puts something to that bike which makes it more durable for more than two years.

Realistically, will we see mass market bikes with Pinions in the coming future? Is that something you're working on?


We are attracting some larger manufacturers since we have had the C-line. I think so, there will be something in the future, some larger companies coming up with a Pinion bike.



Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg



Obviously, the weight is always an issue with the gearbox. At the moment, you guys say it's a 600-gram offset between that and a standard derailleur drivetrain?


Around that, it depends on the frame design. It depends on which gearbox you use. For example, with a C12, it would be like six to 800 grams plus, but with the mass in the middle of the bike so out of the rear wheel, especially on a full suspension bike, the rear wheel is lighter than ever before, which is very positive for how the suspension works. I also think if you look at the development of bicycles, there were always some steps with new technologies, like disc brakes.

Disc brakes are heavier than rim brakes, but they made it to the mountain bike. Suspension bikes are heavier than non-suspension bikes, but this technology brought benefits, so people accepted some extra weight. From that point on, of course, the manufacturers try to reduce the weight again and then new technology came. I think with Pinion, we are also at such a point where we are just ahead of a situation where people are putting gearboxes on their mountain bikes. Of course, the weight will increase a little bit, but at the same time, it will have benefits on the other end. We are working on a lot of gearboxes in the future.

One of your team said that, for instance, with a change of material in the cranks you could save 150g. You could, in theory, have lighter sprockets. Is this something you've already done? He reckons you can get to the same weight as a standard mountain bike.


On the same weight, it's not completely impossible, but it's always a question of how much energy do you put into development and how much money are people willing to invest or to spend for a high-end gearbox. We're using common automotive materials for the gears, which are very high quality, but of course, there's still some aerospace stuff which you could use. At the same time, with the material we are using at the moment, the design is very conservative because of our intention, in the beginning, was to make a gearbox which was reliable and durable instead of having a very light one which breaks after 5,000 kilometers. We started with a conservative design to get some experience with it on the market. You cannot do this just with testing, you still always need some experience over years with the product. That's where we are now after a couple of years, and from that base on, we're really confident that there's still a huge potential for wide optimisation.

To what extent has your automotive background influenced the way your product is and how is it different to other mountain bike products because of that?


The positive influence was I think we were very analytical. The situations and the steps we made with the product, it's very automotive style to make it analytical. Maybe in the bicycle business, it's often more like following the belly feeling, with how to make things. I think that was one of the main reasons why we came so far because our products are actually on the edge.

If you look at the car transmission, you have to transmit 200 or maybe 400-newton meters in a VW Golf. You usually have around six gears. The weight of a car transmission is between 80 and 120 kilograms. In the bicycle, in our gearbox, we also have to transmit around 250-newton meters, so the torque is pretty much the same as in a car. It's very high, only the rotation speed is much higher on the car. Actually, that's what damages your parts, the torque. That's pretty much the same as the standard car.

As I said, six gears in a car transmission at 120 kilograms, we have 18 gears at the same input torque and make it less than three kilograms, 2.1, 2.2 kilograms. The product design actually is pretty much on the edge. You need some analytical process of thinking to do that. I get the impression that other components in the bicycle industry, especially the components, also decide the same way. You cannot just do something.

What would you like the next evolution of your gearbox to be? How would you like it to change for your next step? What would your next goal be?


I think with the C-line, we have a pretty good base for future developments. Our goal after P and C-line is not to make a third product line of gearboxes. The focus is more on shifting devices. Not everybody likes the rotary shifter. Many people prefer to have a trigger shifter, electrical shifting systems, so these are projects we are investigating at the moment, how we could approach these things for the Pinion system.


173 Comments

  • 93 1
 12 gears is great but I think a fantastic use for a gearbox would be on a park/dh bike where you only need like 5 gears and that might help make it smaller/lighter. Improves rear suspenion, and makes the drivetrain more durable.
  • 20 0
 I assume that a couple of gears don't impose that much of a weight penalty. But you're still right, a solid DH box with 5-7 gears would definitely do the trick!
  • 14 6
 @Mooka: yea the silly 600%+ range they have adds unnecessary weight. they could make one with 500% or even make one with fewer cogs and that would be a huge weight saving and make them competitive. Just seems like common sense a lot of people are on 1x drivetrains with 1x10 1x11 & 1x12. Why not make a 10 speed gearbox with a bailout gear for the big climbs similar to 50t rear cassettes? Surely saving weight and remaining usable it's a win win.
  • 34 0
 There actually are different options, the P-Line comes with two different 9-Gear versions. The C-Line offers a 9- and a 6-Gear version. All of these are lighter than the 12-Gear version.
  • 16 0
 They come in 6, 9, 12 and 18 gears Smile
  • 5 0
 Would it not be possible to do a 5 or 6 speed Enduro box? After all, you are either so show up a climb or trying to Sprint race pace
  • 1 2
 @acmilan1899: You mean having 10 speeds in the box and a bailout where? On the rear end?
  • 10 0
 This would be a terrible application to start a product launch. The interview said that the mtb market was small already and then you want to suggest pigeon holing it into an even smaller demographic of the mtb market. I see where you think that it may be a better application but it would be a poor choice for the company to go that route. Trail bikes is the biggest number of bikes sold. The hard part of offering a gear box is that frame builders need to build a bike around the gearbox. This, in time and if successful, may remove a lot of the different standards that companies keep making to stay competitive.
  • 1 0
 @PILATUS: spectacular, but what is the great range?
  • 2 0
 they do a 6 speed already. They have EVERYTHING covered.
  • 3 0
 @nohit45: I think he means one of the 10 speeds is an ultra-low granny gear.
  • 1 0
 @ibishreddin: pinion.eu/en/c-line
C1.6 has a 295% gear range
  • 45 1
 Yeah I think electric shifting would work really well with the gearbox. It's so nice to see a company putting themselves out there and doing the effort that the bigger companies won't do. Let's hope they continue to develop and make it better and better, then the bigger companies will wish they had pulled their fat fingers out.. Go for it Pinion, when I can afford it I'll be backing you.
  • 13 0
 I think electronic shifting is the only thing holding it back. Just the thought of only having to buy a frame with updated geometry and move the Pinion from bike to bike to bike is very very tempting.
  • 4 0
 @Thustlewhumber: I rode a Pinion equipped trail bike for a season, and I have nothing but praise for the gearbox. The only mild irk was the slow engagement (felt like a lower end hub)
  • 43 0
 Gearboxes are the future! More gear ranges, centres the weight down low and in the middle, can't get ripped off like a derailleur, dirt can't get inside it and it requires less maintenance. I'm all in for it tup
  • 8 12
flag lifeofloon (Sep 28, 2017 at 3:35) (Below Threshold)
 No the just blow up from the inside when they do go like the one I saw at the last enduro I did. Nothing is perfect or invincible. Liking what these guys are doing. That being said the only drivetrain issues I've had in the last three years of reaching was a broken chain.
  • 4 0
 There is also the potential with a gearbox to move the chainline around in favour of a different (read better) Instant Centre. At the moment, the only suitable chainline is around the 32t ring, so most suspension systems work with very similar Instant Centres. Commencal with their elevated chainline is the obvious deviation from this (and by no means the first) but I haven't analysed their suspension to see how this relates the bike's IC. I'm looking forward to an era of rearward tracking suspension kinematics based around an elevated IC using gearboxes Wink
  • 18 1
 @lifofloon: hmmm really? That's good for you. I'm on my third derailleur this season. I'm sure I'm not alone. I think more break than stay intact.
  • 2 3
 @fattyheadshok: I agree everything breaks and I've been fairly lucky the last few years. I haven't had a chance to fully read the article but my question is, how easy are they to repair on the road? If I a break a derailleur it's a fairly easy repair and not too expensive. If a gearbox breaks can you easily get to the internals? If the whole gear box blows up like the one I witnessed (I think a zerode) how economical and practical is it replace? I'm liking the progression though and looking forward to what lays ahead for cycling.
  • 3 0
 @lifeofloon: What do you mean the gearbox Blew Up? Usually, it is an issue with a tensioner or cables comes loose. The actual gears inside having an issue is something I have never heard of. What race was this at?
  • 2 2
 @downhillnews: there was a hole about the size of a dime at the bottom of the gearbox and out looked as though it came from the inside out rather than a rock strike. Not my bike but another racers.
  • 3 0
 @lifeofloon: That sounds pretty strange - from our experience putting 20+ Zerodes and other Pinion bikes through their paces all over the US over the last year, we haven't encountered any issues like that.

That said, in the unlikely case of a Pinion gearbox having a problem, the protocol is to unbolt the box from the bike (six Torx bolts), and then ship it to Gates Carbon Drive, Pinion's service center in Denver. Gates should have a replacement gearbox in the mail before your old gearbox even reaches them.
  • 3 1
 @CycleMonkeyPinkbike: guy was pretty bummed to be out of the race and he mentioned he had a spare gear box but had left it at home in Canada, eight hours away. It's nice to know replacement is that simple. How about in field repairs?
I'll admit my original comment was a bit snarky. So little is known about gear boxes and their reliability and serviceability. I'm looking forward to hearing more real world experiences.
  • 4 0
 @fattyheadshok:
All you have to do is take some care and attention with your bike to make sure it’s running properly.
Listen for noises, they all mean something.
Learn how to identify a bent hanger or messed up links in your chain or loose pivots or any number of things that will still cause problems with a gearbox bike too by the way.
I’ve broken one deraileur in 25 years and I ride a lot.
  • 3 0
 @jflb: ok hucking a blind drop and your pretty xtr derailleur comes down cage first into a rock trailside. Snap! Spoke breaks in rear wheel ala Minnar and punctures the rim tape while the other end wraps around your chain and derailleur cage. Snap!! Nothing at all to do with bike maintenance. Believe me I maintain things. The wheel had just been built as well.
  • 37 0
 Biggest perk, can't fit a pinion drivetrain AND a motor. Pinion is doing the lords work.
  • 28 0
 I keep hearing industry, website, and magazine folks say things like "expectation is you keep a bike two, three year's time..."

Are you kidding me? After spending $5k on a bike, it better fu@#ing last me more than two, three years.
  • 6 0
 When I read that I heard "we want you to throw away your bike and buy a new one every two years".

Which makes sense from an industry standpoint. Manufacturers love it, credit card companies love it. But the reality is that the vast majority of riders buy a bike when they need one. Individual parts upgrades...all the time...but frames get replaced out of need.
  • 1 0
 My last bike lasted me 6 and I'm hoping my new one will be around a bit longer.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, this sport has a serious barrier to entry problem combined with a somewhat elitist attitude that a $2700 bicycle is just so low end. At a $15 an hour job, you'd have to work 4 1/2 weeks to GROSS enough money to buy a $2700 bike that you most likely get a chance to ride a couple times a week.
It's a HUGE decision, a massive sacrifice if there happen to be other financial responsibilities, little things like food, rent, and a family. That god damned TOY had better friggin' last AND be serviceable much longer than the latest fad cell phone tech.
  • 1 0
 @JWadd: The problem is though that a $2700 bike IS low end. It's not an attitude, it's the fact that at that price level, the build is JUNK.

I was just discussing this with a riding buddy a couple days ago...I looked at an Intense "foundation build" discounted to $1999...I was thinking how great a deal that appeared to be, until I looked at the component spec. If you took everything off that frame and sold it, you'd make $600. $350 of that was the fork. So basically it's a $1400 frame, $350 fork, and $250 for EVERYTHING ELSE!!! I realized then how terrible these sub-$3000 bikes actually are. You are far better off buying a 3 year old frame and building it with a cheap wheelset and SLX/GX components...you'll have a much better bike than if you bought the brand new frame with a near wal-mart level build (seriously, the brakes and crankset on the foundation build ARE actually parts you can find on bikes at wal-mart).
  • 23 0
 I like the engineering theses guys are doing. Very trick stuff indeed. I do feel let down though. Its 2017 , Im 42, and I was expecting to be riding the hover boards from Back To The Future 2 by now.
  • 4 0
 Hahaha I'm 42 as well and my kids were joking at breakfast about the fact that there aren't hover boards yet! They said "their future is our now but it's still the same". I'm gutted that this gearbox thing is probably going to be too late for me to fully enjoy but I reckon my kids will be riding them without question
  • 1 0
 @rokboy: My son just introduced me to the source of that discussion. They've been listening to Set Sentry www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOH15_pqWZ4
  • 27 7
 My Zerode Taniwha has the P.12 and rides brilliantly. It is a crock of crap to whine about extra resistance - total bollocks - and imagined shifting problems. The grip shift is far superior to trigger in 90% of real world situations. The additional weight is meaningless as it climbs like a goat and on the occasions I have to shoulder it, it is fine. Maybe a girl would struggle. So buy a 9kg XC racer. I like some weight in a bike, adds to stability when the ride gets wild. The gearbox is a game changer and I am saving lots of pennies not buying lightweight consumable crap from Mr sram and Mrs Shimano.
  • 7 3
 I tried Pinion shortly but the biggest showstopper for me was that you have to stop pedaling to be able to shift. You dont mind that?
  • 14 0
 Amen bro! I've been running Geometron with Pinion for a year now and when I've ridden a derailleur bike again I've missed the shifting options the Pinion and rotary shifter brings!

Chuxxo - This is a common misconception, you don't have to stop pedalling, you merely reduce the power input a bit (slightly more so when shifting to an 'easier' gear) and time the shift at the end of your power stroke and it shifts just fine. It's a mental adjustment, not a mechanical inhibitor. Sprinting out the gate of an enduro stage, I have no issue cranking through the gears while out the saddle to get up to speed.
  • 23 13
 No need to call out women in regards to weight man...
  • 7 0
 I have to agree on all your points, I was sceptical when I bought my Taniwha and was thinking was I doing the right thing in selling my Nomad, after the first ride all my doubts were gone ! This bike is amazing , no drag at all and ok the bike is heavier than my nomad but it rides so much better , you honestly don't feel the weight at all, it feels so light , and climbing is a breeze , the pinion gearbox is flawless smooth and quiet , best bike Ive ever had by far
  • 11 12
 @rclugnut: oh, for christs sake. Let it go.
  • 8 0
 @chuxxo: you get used to it. It's actually a far faster and superior shifting method. You should never shift under torque with a normal drivetrain, which is far more inconvenient. With the Pinion, you learn to back off for a fraction of a second and then bam, you can be back on it, full gas, several gears lower. It takes far more than a fraction of a second to go up and down a cassette.
  • 3 6
 @Rembrandt:
Gripshift sucks dude.
That’s why nobody besides you and Greg Herbold use it.
  • 17 0
 I think one of their arguments should be that even if you change your frame every 2-3 years, you can take the gearbox with you. It will be compatible with every frame. We don’t do that with derailleur because it is a hassle and they ware out, but you might just bring your gearbox along. It would sell more frames.
  • 1 1
 Made the same point on the cube article Maybe in 2055...
  • 4 3
 My Zee derailleur is almost five years old and it's still working perfectly..
  • 32 1
 @bonkywonky: it must still be in the box...
  • 2 1
 @cavedood: my XO1 derailleur has three seasons, two racing on it with no problems. So come again.
  • 3 0
 I really wish they would stick to the same mounting layout for all of their gearboxes. The Pinion P-line and C-line are not interchangeable on the same frame as far as I am aware. Future C-line may work with current C-line frames and future P-line may work with current P-line frames but I'll believe it when I see it.
  • 18 0
 I can't wait for some mainstream manufacturers to fully support gearboxes. And for gearboxes to get lighter. That will be a fantastic day for the sport!
  • 8 0
 I firmly believe in the idea of gearboxes! However, could someone please tell everyone what caused that malfunction on that Nicolai the other World Cup round?
  • 3 0
 Ouch if you still remember this it might have been really worse for the gearbox's rep
  • 11 0
 It wasn't a Pinion Gearbox I believe, it was an Effigear.
  • 6 0
 if you have not tried a pinion equipped bike I seriously suggest you do , the grip shift becomes second nature , you can fly down your regular descent in 12th gear stop at the bottom and simply twist and your in another gear ready to go , no cranking through gears and lifting your bike to get into gear. The weight of the box is unoticeable and the bike just feels so planted , get hold of one and you'll see for yourself
  • 5 0
 There is zero point for the big companies to invest in gearboxes. They'll invest to see if there's a market for gearbox bikes then let the little guys do all the work. If the gearbox is a financial success, one of the big S companies will buy Pinion and rebrand it.
  • 2 0
 Millionaires sell their companies and billionaires develop their companies All depends what you want, hard to say no when someone is throwing riches your way but they'd only want to buy it because it has potential to me them even more
  • 3 0
 Isn’t this the definition of a start-up? That is all they seem to do hope that some investor will buy them.
  • 5 0
 This will be the future product and component that will come into mainstream mountain biking. With these guys mindset and how they go about developing gearboxes the things in 5-10 years time will be properly good mechanisms.
  • 15 7
 We only need 6 to 7 gears over 500 to 600% range. Cadence is for roadies.
  • 6 4
 I would take 6 speeds (one set of gears) and 500% and increased efficiency over 12 and less efdiciency. If you've ever ridden a single speed (which I guess you have) you know you only really need one gear and strong legs.
  • 12 0
 There is Pinion 9-Gear version with 568%. And its lighter than the 12-Gear version.
  • 4 0
 @PILATUS: I would definitely consider the C9 model if I replace my P12.
  • 7 0
 @MacRamsay: I'm running C9XR on my zerode Taniwha. Behind stoked with it. Leagues above my previous Yeti and Santa Cruz bikes. slightly bigger hear spread and close to same overall range.
  • 3 0
 @jezken: yeah it really appeals - I wouldn't mind having wider slightly less range (I barely use 11/12) and a bigger jump in ration between, and saving the weight from dropping three gears (apparently as much as 300g).
  • 1 0
 @MacRamsay: @jezken:

how do you find the pedalling efficiency? Also how is changing under power?
  • 3 0
 Sram X1 goes that direction
11-48t
8 speed
No gear box, I know :-)
  • 4 0
 @fartymarty: to be honest after the first 250kms I didn't notice any difference. I built a pinion hardtail 5 years ago and it just keeps getting better with age... The gears are meshed so nice. The complete opposite experience ive had with all my other bikes! Changing isn't much different -you'd never change under full load with derailleur so similar but I can change all the gears in one hit! No pedaling... Perfect for sudden pinch climbs.
  • 1 0
 @jezken: @fartymarty yes, agree - after a short bedding in period, I can no longer feel and noticeable resistance or drag (there was a tiny bit at the beginning as the gears mesh together through use). Changing under power to a harder gear is no problem - described in another comment here as, 'sprinting out the gate of a stage, there's no issue getting up through the gears once you get used to it', but it is a little different from a traditional drivetrain. Changing under high power to an easier gear is not possible, but again, a different mental approach means you adjust your technique and timing slightly and once you get the hang of it, actually opens up more possibilities for convenient shifting.
  • 3 0
 @MacRamsay: @jezken: Cheers. It is always good to hear from someone who has actually used a Pinion rather than a reviewer who has ridden it for 5 minutes.

Would you ever go back to a rear mech?
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: I have one on my road bike but that's about it. For MTB Im really happy with it. If something better comes along I'll try it. From my experience it's the best option available now.
  • 3 0
 @fartymarty: It will not go into an easier gear under load. I shift under load all the time while climbing or descending so it caught me off guard when it first happened.
  • 2 0
 @MacRamsay: I have heard the same from everyone who has one.
  • 6 0
 another benefit of gear boxes is a constant chain-line, think of the possibilities for suspension design
  • 4 0
 I can't wait for Pinion to perfect this and then frame manufactures will have to sink or swim while we all give a big F U to the big Ss and their kool new 100yr old "tech" with trendy bird names.
  • 6 0
 Hurry up and make gearboxes the norm before my legs get too old.
  • 2 0
 If you focus on how the reduction in unsprung mass benefits the suspension, it will take off. That's why it's appealing to me, at least. People are already willing to give up efficiency in the name of downhill proficiency -coil springs, DH tires, and more "active" suspension designs are all evidence of that. Gaining more traction, comfort, and speed at the cost of even 7% efficiency is worth it.

If the Geometron-style of bike is considered cutting edge, then it's worth noting what Chris Porter is working on now, which appears to be adding weight to the center of DH bikes in an attempt to increase the weight differential between sprung and unsprung mass. I would love to try out a Geometron gearbox bike. Hopefully, but not likely, at 30 pounds.
  • 2 0
 ...and you miss talking about efficiency. This is the sticking point to the gearbox IMO. If it can match our current system with respect to mechanical loss, sign me up. I don't care as much about weight or even cost. Especially if we can position the gearbox in a good location (off the rear wheel).

Otherwise, this will be relegated to e-bikes, bike park and downhill race application.
  • 4 0
 f*ck Yes! Great response about the weight question too.Nice Content @MattWragg
  • 10 0
 Interesting that they say they've intentionally over engineered it, and it's heavier a than it could
be. Next couple of generations could be a bunch lighter.

I have to change a drive train every 2 years. I'd be happy with + 400g to not have to do that!
  • 4 0
 I would think you could save a bit more on the cranks Pinions cranks are about 750g a pair Weight weenie but strong and stiff THM left arms weigh 99g apparently. They probably use carbon and resin not available for use in China or Taiwan due to arm sale ristrictions Yes they would need to be impact resistant therefore heavier , but Pinions are impressively over engineered.
  • 3 2
 @Mojo348: Rohloffs are also way over-engineered. They could be much lighter. They are made from such hard steel that part of the cost of Rohloffs is the wear and tear of the cutting tools.
  • 4 3
 Are there any ~160mm bikes with P.12 on the market? I think a vital part of this article should be a list of bikes, otherwise I give a sh*t. I mean it it awesome that guys have found they place in the world, but we are here to talk about bikes which can be ridden.
  • 2 1
 I meant C.12.
  • 8 0
 @lkubica: zerode taniwha maybe?
  • 8 0
 @raozaki: Nicolai
  • 8 0
 @raozaki: Yes, Zerode Taniwha now has the C.12.
  • 9 0
 Ghost make a pinion dually as well
  • 7 1
 Peregrine bikes as well if you want cromo. There are lots of boutique companies doing them as well. I am surprised one of the progressive mid sized companies like Transition or Kona haven't given it a go yet.
  • 5 0
 @lkubica: Nicolai, Ghost, Zerode
  • 3 0
 @fartymarty: +1 on the zerode
  • 2 0
 @TyranT21: Gost does a 130mm trailbike. Nocolai and Zerode are quite special. Nicolai make this G-geometry which I find a bit niche (meaning not for me), Zerode pricing is out of reach for most non-dentists. Alutech used to have one, but the new version does not take pinion.
  • 2 4
 @fartymarty: "progressive mid sized companies" haven't given it a go yet because it still kinda sucks. It is still far from dragless it's still heavy, and the shifting is still unconvient. Imo it currently makes sense only for DH bikes, where lack of derailleur would ease line choices, shifting without pedaling would be practical because you could change gear in technical section, and it would remove the breaking chain problem.
  • 6 0
 @lkubica: As has been commented on the Zerode article, if you add the cost of a top level drivetrain from Sram or Shimano, the price difference is not that large.

Too many people look at the Zerode frame price, but forget it includes a complete drivetrain.
  • 3 2
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: Sorry, but this does not matter. I would not buy top level Sram or Shimano stuff, because for me its not worth it. I need a bike which can be abused, it's just a tool. I would not pay so much money for any bike, even if it would be made of diamonds or had a blowjob function. Now, alu bike with pinion could be worth it, because it is essentially indestructible. Carbon bike from NZ which adds a 22% VAT + duty is a no-go.
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: Steel bike with Pinion would be the go for me. Completely indestructible.
  • 2 0
 you should check this out: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1578650558/krowd-karl-mountainbike-hardtail-rahmen-m-pinion-g?lang=de
29 / 27.5+ hardtail with modern geo - should be good Smile
  • 3 0
 @zede: have you ridden a zerode? Or a pinion? Just curious as that's a strong opinion...
  • 2 0
 @lkubica: On special order Alutech will bolt a Pinion to a Sennes or Fanes.
  • 5 0
 can I get my Pinion gear box in GOLD? If so, I'll take two please.
  • 5 0
 My next bike will have a Pinion gearbox!!!
  • 6 1
 Bike of the future?

Linkage fork
R3ACT rear
Pinion gearbox
  • 3 2
 +batteries!...:-P
  • 4 0
 @PauRexs:

: ( no batteries! Think of all those batteries that would need recycling every 3 years!
  • 4 0
 I would love to see a list of all the bikes that come with a pinion gearbox.
  • 4 0
 my geometron gpi is ont it's way!
  • 1 0
 @chmod: What? sweet! what size did yuou go for? Long? very interesting bike!
  • 1 0
 @christiaan: long indeed! I'm 1.70m.
  • 7 0
 Yeah. But where would such a list be kept logically? Perhaps on Pinions website? I dunno, just a wild guess from a dumbass.

pinion.eu/en/bicycle-manufacturers
  • 1 0
 @landscapeben: I love you ben
  • 1 0
 @speed10: then what we have here is a mutual appreciation society... Big Grin
  • 3 2
 I love the idea of a gearbox and with development the weight is becoming less of an issue, the wide gear range is already there, the idea of using belt drive is great too, central weight, lighter rear wheel with wider stronger spoke flanges, no mech to hit and a single cog giving better tuned suspension kinematics are all great benefits.

my main 2 concerns though are:
1 - frame integration, are we going to end up with loads of different "standards" for fitting gearboxes so if you buy a frame with a pinion box you're stuck with pinion (when others eventually join the game). We all hate loads of standards so we need to ensure if gearboxes take off we have one smart, simple and well thought out standard fitting that all frames can use then you choose your gearbox, is this dreaming too much?

2 - Efficiency, in a car you can afford to loose efficiency but when its you're legs putting in all that effort every little bit counts especially when bike makers are going to lots of effort to find marginal gains in efficiency from stiffer frames to better pedaling kinematics and shock tunes, its just fact that a gearbox has more drag than a chain and derailleur (which is pretty much direct) so how much is that and how much can it be minimized with development? even if its only 1% worse (i believe its much higher than that) people who compete can't really loose that edge so it will be a tough sell especially if racers aren't onboard and if racers arn't using them then its going to be a tough sell, although i think this mostly applies to cross country (Road it will be a huge barrier), Enduro and Downhill it will be less of an issue but they are smaller markets.

One other thing it would be really nice to see is more gearboxes where the drive comes from the swing arm pivot point to eliminate chain growth that effects suspension performance.
I do hope to see gearboxes more though, and at more reasonable price points especially on Enduro/DH bikes where they make the most sense.
  • 5 1
 The efficiency is the hardest selling point. I know I won't buy a gearbox bike because of that, and not because of marketing... If you can, at best, put out 200 W and a few percent loss in efficiency means losing 20 or 30 W, that's not tolerable in my opinion. The whole point of bicycles is their unmatched efficiency. If you have ridden the same bike with internal gears and a derailleur you realise that it feels like the internal geared one has dragging brakes...
  • 5 0
 @jzPV:
I have a Pinion P.12 and I don’t notice any efficiency loss. The C line might be even better. There are other articles that note the loss is the same as a dirty chain on a skewed chain line. I honestly don’t understand why people are so excited about 1x drivetrains, the chain is almost never in the most efficient position. You have the most loss when you are in the lowest gear which is when you need to conserve energy the most.

I find myself being able to find the perfect gear more often on the Pinion. Instead of grinding gears with a derailleur it feels like I am more precise and able to use my energy more effectively. Efficiency is probably more in the rider technique than the the actual machine.
  • 5 0
 @colino16: from a technical perspective I can not imagine there is no difference in efficiency, even in the lowest gear. The pinion has at least 3 sprockets more than a 1x drivetrain. Combined with a belt or that horrible pinion chainguide efficiency decreases further. Yes the 42t has noticeable drag and the 10t probably too if you could get more power on it, but other gears feel the same. The lowest gear on a eagle drivetrain seemed smoother than 11 gear x01.

But I'd like a real test where exactly this is measured... Pinions really vague statements don't exactly scream confidence and it would even be interesting comparing derailleur systems from sram and shimano and 1x conversions based on efficiency. Make it happen pinkbike!
  • 1 0
 Parts on a bike should be disposable, affordable, easy to change (even by yourself) and mostly to be able to have them with you at your ride. If you break the derailleur you can make it into single speed and finish your ride.
The future yes is here, so good.
  • 3 0
 I'll buy a bike with a gearbox as soon as they fix the 30+ degrees of engagement caused by the internal ratchets, i.e. their key design element.
  • 1 0
 I'm still looking for a 2x-3x gearbox that would fit in the BB space. With that, the cassette could be made with smaller jumps between cogs, or reduced to 4-6 cogs to cut weight on the rear wheel and improve the chain line.

Why isn't anyone trying this?
  • 2 0
 Hammerschmidt?
  • 1 0
 @DrChaos: I'm thinking of something that could replace the standard bottom bracket and crank spindle, to allow for normal and even direct mount chainrings and the usual crankarms.

On the other hand, I'd like to see the Hammerschmidt getting a revamp as well.
  • 1 0
 I'm curious what the drivetrain loss on this system is. Shimano claims something like 96-99% efficiency depending on what gear you are in, with a clean drivetrain etc. I've seen reviews of the pinion (bikeradar I think) where they say it feels like it's lossy. Cars can often have up to 15% drivetrain losses. If this pinion is like 10% or something that would be a lot, and very noticeable.
  • 6 4
 Biggest problem of gearbox bikes: everyone thinks you're riding an ebike, but in fact you actually have to pedal harder than on a regular bike...
  • 19 1
 Why do you give a flying f*ck what anybody thinks?
  • 2 0
 @Axxe: sheeple sheeple are everywhere
  • 2 0
 @properp:
I don't know if you've seen the comments here on any of the ebike articles (some are down right aggressive), so yes, I would mind if people mistake me for an ebiker. But if you don't, hats off.
  • 1 3
 @cvoc: e-bikes are for the handicapped and disabled and the lazy sloth of society that expect the reward without putting in any effort.
  • 2 0
 @properp: you mean, for 99% of us?
  • 1 1
 @Axxe: don't get me wrong I love motorized toys in the dirt. But I just believe that e-bikes are pathetic motorized toys in all aspects. If it's got a motor it's got a hit at least triple digits on the speedo meter
  • 4 0
 @properp: if my legs give up in retirement, I am totally buying one of them ebikes. Quite. Never liked braap braap
  • 1 0
 The c1.c12 is pretty cheap a $922 but weight will always be a problem,why not develope a lighter than any 12 speed rear derailer system to showcase what they can do and the benefits of the gear box system
  • 4 0
 I've come from a full carbon bling spec Santa Cruz nomad to a zerode Taniwha and the weight is not noticeable. The zerode is better in every way! Very stoked on it...
  • 1 0
 The Effigear gearbox works allready with a Sram trigger and have 9 gears with 440% and is lighter than pinion.
Benoit Coulange whent 23 at the Cairns World Cup on a Nicolai with Effigear.
  • 1 0
 I think the problem with Effigear is the pivot placement. It's just a guess. But I did contact Nicolai about getting one of the other frames with an Effigear and they responded it wouldn't work.
  • 3 0
 is that... Windows 7? No sale
  • 10 0
 7 windows best windows.
  • 4 0
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: pffftt... XP!!
  • 2 3
 I like the answer to the question below, clearly someone who does not understand the full market and how fashion leads function.
Make a product that is lighter and interchangeable, something that is a game changer and can look to replace the standard single ring up front and cassette out back, something that fits onto an ISCG mount and threaded BB, as that is a standard that you can work with. Something that fits 80-90% of bikes and integrates the tensioner (currently the mech arm) into the device. Oh, and is over 95% efficient... if it was easy then everyone would do it Smile

or maybe there is no actual need for a gearbox and its a niche product for those who want to be different and are willing to pay a premium for an inferior design (efficiency has to be top priority) than we currently have....

I have a 10-year-old VW Golf, and maybe it's not got Bluetooth, but it's fine. Where if you look at a 10-year-old mountain bike, you wouldn't really want to ride that anymore. Is that rate of progress a problem for you?

I don't really think it's a problem because a good Pinion mountain bike in market production would be so different and so way ahead from that what we have at the moment, I think that's more than two years in the future where you would say, "Oh, I don't want to ride that anymore." I think the Pinion's technology puts something to that bike which makes it more durable for more than two years.
  • 3 4
 Sounds like you've got the engineering side of things pretty much stitched up. The next barrier you must overcome is gaining acceptance and buy-in from the consumer. How do you do this??....

With something this different, people want to be able to see and feel it before they part with their cash. One of the last big evolutions in the industry was the factory ==> consumer model (YT, Canyon). People were OK with this because what they saw on line looked like a normal bike, just cheaper, so they were comfortable with that and they hit the buy button. What you are offering is very different from what people are used to. It's unlikely that people will buy based on what they see or read, they are going to want to try before they buy.

If you could set up some kind of model where people could test a bike with the gear box before committing, I believe that would allow you to start shifting perception and gaining wider acceptance. Sales would start small initially, then grow exponentially over the next 10 years.

Start off with a test center in Germany near some popular trails to establish your model. You could charge people 100 euros per day, reimbursed upon purchase of a gearbox bike. Just make sure you're not loosing too much cash from them. once that's working, go for France, Switzerland and UK..... then go global.
  • 1 0
 I'm all in! I've wanted a gearbox bike for years. I'm sure it's political pressure from the Shimano's and SRAM's that we don't have more gearbox bikes in the market.
  • 2 0
 Pinion should consider using the Raceface/Cannondale spindle interface so you could use other cranks.
  • 1 1
 So what happens if you are flying downhill and all of a sudden your gears bind? Also what sort of lubricant or gear oil will need to be used and what amount and how much will that amount weigh?
  • 1 0
 Electric shifting and I will be looking to build a titanium hardtail ASAP. And that will be the bike I ride till I die!
  • 2 0
 Has anyone ever tried using a fixed rear hub with this transmission?
  • 1 0
 They suggest not using a fixed rear hub. I would suggest Profile or Onyx for super high engagement on it.
  • 1 0
 Really compelling for e-bikes also, since Pinion allows you to shift without pedaling...
  • 3 2
 I'll take a Pinion C1.9 with trigger shifter, please. Thanks!
  • 1 2
 We only need 9 or 10 speeds on mountain bike, it would be lighter than 12!
And what about the yield of a gearbox compared to the actual drivetrains?
  • 2 1
 PLEASE MAKE A TRIGGER SHIFTER FOR PINION
  • 3 1
 THEY ARE! The last couple of sentences - "shifting devices" but don't discount the rotary shifter until you've tried it, honestly.
  • 1 0
 cinq5 has it.
  • 1 0
 @chmod: tell me more
  • 1 0
 @chmod: DI2 would be awesome
  • 1 0
 @chmod: Does this work with pinion? I'm pretty sure that shifter is for effigear...

I'm guessing it also eliminates the mutli-gear shift advantage of the rotary shifter...
  • 1 0
 @MacRamsay: There was a prototype for pinion on eurobike. So actually not yet for sale.
  • 1 2
 As the founders said in the interview, it was developed for commuter bikes. I guess some people like to commute down a hill.
  • 1 0
 I'll gladly take that gear contract.
  • 1 0
 What happened to Hammerschit?....yeah me too
  • 1 0
 I really want to try one of these now!!!!
  • 1 1
 Grip shift went out in the 90s
  • 2 2
 Pinknion bike detected.
  • 1 4
 When are you going to make parts better weight?
If you made it same weight as current Derailuar may have a chance of getting it main stream
  • 6 0
 Sounds like we should crowd fund an engineering course for you.
  • 1 3
 Didnt we already have this article a few months ago?
  • 1 3
 Some ideas best left for motorized vehicles.
  • 3 6
 Is this to go in my motorbike
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.065942
Mobile Version of Website