Derailleur vs Gearbox: Nicolai Ion 16 vs Ion GPI - Review

Feb 16, 2017
by Paul Aston  


The age-old derailleur versus gearbox conundrum. People often say they want gearboxes, but we rarely see them. People often say that derailleurs are junk, but when it comes to the polling station, the masses don't appear to find fault with their derailleurs. Gearboxes are renowned as heavy and inefficient. Derailleurs save weight and spin easily, but are left hanging to receive the brunt of mother nature's forces.

Times, however, are changing. New technology and manufacturing techniques have been continuously increasing strength and reducing the weight of both systems. Surely, with the introduction of SRAM's Eagle and its whopping twelve gears, modern chain-retaining rings and quieting clutches, the derailleur (as we know it) has been developed to its limit. Though lesser-seen, the gearbox has also been around for a long time. Does it have enough room for improvement, or is it already maxed out?

Personally, I'm a big fan of the gearbox. Probably because I lack precision on the trail and I log plenty of time riding on gnarly, ungroomed, alpine terrain, which makes for plenty of potential bike-smashing moments. Many riders share my gearbox dream, but a great number, including most of my colleagues and peers, have little interest in gearboxes and are happy with their conventional derailleur systems.

Each system has its positives, and each has its compromises - topics that have fueled an ongoing debate about which transmission is ultimately the best solution for a mountain bike. To properly debate these burning issues, I asked the people at Nicolai to build two identical bikes, one with a gearbox and one with a derailleur transmission. I would then put them to task on the same terrain for both timed runs and for riding impressions. In addition, I would provide weights and technical comparisons to hopefully flesh out the best and worst of the gearbox and derailleur - and, ultimately, conclude with a clear winner.

For those of you who have yet to form an opinion, here's the general breakdown:


Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

A Derailleur Promises:

• Light weight and high efficiency
• Easily-sourced parts due to higher production volume
• Lower prices due to higher production volume
• Easy maintenance due to the external nature and cross-compatible components
Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

A Gearbox Promises:

• Protection of moving parts from the elements, debris, and strikes
• Little, or infrequent, general maintenance
• Improved unsprung:sprung mass ratio, therefore suspension action and grip
• Increased ground clearance




The Machines

Nicolai has been producing gearbox bikes, including their own G-Boxx projects, for as long as I can remember. Their latest Ion GPI bike blends a 12-speed Pinion P1.12 gearbox, a Gates Carbon belt drive, and Mojo-developed Geometron geometry. Nicolai provided me with an Ion GPI and a matching, derailleur-driven Ion16 Geometron, each with a near-identical build kit.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

This isn't at all integral to the comparison aspect of this review, but I feel it needs mentioning. For those who haven't seen a Nicolai in the flesh, the handcrafted detail and finish of their aluminum chassis is superb, a bike geek's wet dream. Photos never do these bikes justice, especially in the stealth, black-anodized finish.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.
Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

Both Nicolai Ions were built with Fox suspension: 36 forks and a Float X shocks with the same tunes. Hope provided cranks (derailleur-bike only), wheels and brakes. Continental provided traction, and a RockShox Reverb provided a perch. Transmissions were powered by SRAM's X01 11-speed, and Pinion's 12-speed P1.12 gearbox.


Weight and Cost

A few notes about the gearing: SRAM declined to provide an Eagle system for an equal test of 12 vs 12 gears, as they didn't have any in stock at the time. Since the test, Pinion has released a new 'C' version of their box which drops the claimed weight 250 grams, to 2100 grams for the unit. Pinion also offers the 18-gear, P1.18 version, for a few more dollars and an extra 350 grams.

For comparison's sake, a SRAM Eagle XX1 drivetrain, including cranks, BB, shifters, derailleur, chain and cassette weighs 1553 grams. The Pinion P1.12 gearbox alone weighs 2650 - but you'll need to add the crank arms, two belt guides, and the Gates belt and sprocket assemblies to that figure to make an accurate comparison based upon the components of each system. The difference in the overall weight of the gearbox vs the derailleur bikes is 1.78kg. One must assume that the mounting plate for the Pinion gearbox is a fraction of the sum, but if you add that figure to the Eagle drivetrain, the total weight of the Pinion transmission comes in at about 3330 grams - a bit less than double the weight of the best 12-speed derailleur system.

There is also a wide price difference between the pair: the Ion GPI with the Pinion here retails at €7400 Euros, versus the ION Geometron at €6350. That's about $7926 USD against $6804 USD at today's rate.


Gear Ranges and Spacing

The 12-speed Pinion system provides a 600% gear range with equal 17.7% steps between each gear. SRAM's 11-speed setup only provides a 420% range, with more erratic steps, ranging from 12.5% to 20%, while the 12-speed Eagle drivetrain still comes up comparatively short, at 500%, with gear steps also ranging from 20% to 12.5%.


Shifting Action

The classic SRAM trigger shifter undercarriage is superbly ergonomic with light shifting. The two different click feelings when moving up or down gears makes it easy to remember which lever to push. It also doesn't affect your grip choice and only has one cable that needs routing, unlike the pair on the Pinion.

The Pinion's Grip Shift-style selector is more clunky. Even after spending plenty of time on the bike, and however used to it I became, I would still get confused with the similar clicks and change in the wrong direction. I didn't have any issues accidentally shifting when riding and think this would be hard to do, but I do have some experience controlling a motorbike with the throttle.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

When changing down into an easier gear with the Pinion system, a slight pause or let up on the power is needed. Definitely not ideal when climbing up steep sections that require consistent power to make it to the top. The rest of the time I had no problem shifting and the rider will learn, in time, the nuances of easing the power to allow the shift to happen, it's the same as changing with a derailleur system; you can't simply change gear under full power. Over time you learn to feel the correct pressure and allow the gears to change smoothly.

The upsides of the Pinion are that you can change gears at any time; pedaling, coasting or standing next to the bike supping espresso, showing the boys how you can switch 12 gears on the spot. This freedom can, and should be used to your advantage, preselecting gears before climbs or preparing to sprint out of corners.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.
Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.


The Drop Test

What does a drop test tell us? Well, if the bike bounces, then the rear suspension hasn't absorbed the impact and energy returns upwards through the bike from the ground and lifts the bike off the floor. Both bikes had an identical shock tune, but the Pinion version has less unsprung weight, meaning the rear wheel should be able move more easily into the suspension travel and absorb the impact. It's important to note that the gearbox bike's heavier overall weight will help it stick to the ground too.

The Pinion bike offers the chance to make you feel like a boss performing this in front of your buddies, with no bounce and no noise prior to the macchiato round.

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Weight

The gearbox-equipped bike weighed 1.78kg / 3.92-pounds more than its derailleur-loaded counterpart. Neither of these bikes, however, could be described as light. But, the first major argument for a gearbox equipped bike is the movement of unsprung mass to sprung mass. Unsprung mass is anything that moves below the fork stanchions and lower shock eyelet. That would be the fork sliders, wheels swingarm, linkages, brakes and cassette sprockets. Motorsport engineers will spend hours to improve this ratio by fractions of a percent. The Pinion bike's single rear sprocket and simple chain idler reduces the unsprung mass of the rear suspension.

Nicolai Shootout - Derailleur vs Gearbox
Nicolai Shootout - Derailleur vs Gearbox


Ground Clearance

In a recent Pinkbike poll about derailleurs and breakage, an overwhelming majority of people said they hadn't' broken a derailleur in the last two years. In this case, I'm either an inaccurate hack on the bike, or in the workshop - or I crash too much. I have snapped two derailleur hangers in the last two months, destroyed a mech, snapped a chain, and have gears that don't quite work properly. So, ground clearance is a big deal for me, and something gearbox proponents and manufacturers also like to shout about. But, how much difference is there in reality?

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.
Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

At the danger end of the drivetrain, the SRAM 11-speed derailleur has just over 19cm of clearance from the ground when set in 6th gear. This decreases when speed rises and higher gears are selected. The derailleur moves down the cassette, but this also moves the derailleur away from the wheel towards oncoming trail traffic. When moving into a lower gear, the derailleur moves inwards and away from obstacles, but also extends down towards the ground. This also moves it closer to the spokes where damage can happen if something manages to push it into your rotating wheel.

The Gates carbon belt drive is a direct, single-speed system and the belt is always travelling in the same line. The rear sprocket has a massive, 29cm of clearance to the guide. Nicolai uses a standard 142mm width hub to give the correct belt-line, but the frame could be improved by using a narrower, single-speed hub, this would slim down the swingarm and perhaps, shelter the drive sprocket more effectively.


Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.
Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.

At the chainring, the derailleur bike had 27cm of clearance from the 34t chain ring to the floor. The Pinion bike comes with an integrated bash guard and chain tensioner which sat slightly higher at 27.5cm from the floor. The Pinion system also looks better for attempting Danny Macaskill style log slides.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.
Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.


The Ride

There was a massive difference between the two bikes. Most of the riding I did was lift assisted with some pedaling up to various peaks in the Portes Du Soleil, France. In this area, I would choose the Pinion bike hands down, every ride. Yes, it's heavier, but this was only a hindrance when getting it onto lift hooks. It didn't pedal as swiftly as the derailleur bike, but on the downs, it was another–better-–beast. The gearbox bike was so much quieter – almost silent, offered so much more grip and inspired so much more confidence when heading into gnarly sections.

I set five downhill segments and rode them each four times, 40 timed sectors in total. No pedaling, standing starts on Le Pleney. I chose simple sections, including one fire road section (Stage 5) at the end of the trails, to take away rider input as much as possible. On average, the Pinion bike was nearly three seconds quicker over a 3.5-minute track. Huge.

After riding both bikes, I would argue that in very technical, rough, and loose trails the Pinion machine would chip away at even more time, if not purely because of the extra confidence it gave to hammer through sections.

I was undecided whether this was due to the reduction of unsprung mass, the increased amount of pick up (due to two freewheels creating more slack in anti-squat) or the heavier weight of the complete bike. Heavier weight? But hey, people keep telling me a lighter bike is a faster bike? I can't find any evidence that a lighter bike is faster downhill, and something that makes me think the opposite is when I'm trying to follow a heavier rider down the hill. Try following a buddy who is 15kg's heavier than you and see who rolls the fastest.

Nicolai Shootout - Derailleur vs Gearbox

If I lived in an area where regularly pedaling the bike to the top of the hill was needed, I think I would choose the derailleur bike. I generally don't mind grinding a heavy bike to the top of the hill, but the 17kg gearbox brute was a bore. I couldn't calculate how much, but the Pinion bike does drag more than the derailleur bike with a clean and lubed chain. The derailleur bike had more inherent anti-squat in easier gears, which made climbing easier by sitting the bike higher in the travel and pulling the bike up and over steps more easily. Technical climbing is also made more difficult on the Pinion bike; the pair of freewheels increase the engagement interval, which hampers quick, half-pedal strokes when things get trialsy.

For downhill, I am convinced the Pinion bike has a huge advantage, but for XC, it loses out. How about trail riding or enduro? That's still a big, gray zone for me and the answer depends on what this type of riding really is like for you. If you have the horsepower to get the Pinion to the top of a long, mellow road climb followed by a long descent (like we find in Europe), your trip will likely be faster and more fun-filled on the way down, providing there aren't too many techy climbs snuck into the trail. On the other hand: if your trail riding is more akin to a UK trail center, or North American trail, where the ride constantly switches between ups and downs, the derailleur bike is likely to stay ahead here.


Issues

The gearbox dream of never breaking a derailleur? Well, the only part of either bike I managed to break during the test was the chain tensioner on the Pinion. The belt would derail if the bike was rolled backward more than a few meters (not when backpedaling) and during one attempt to re-fit it, I managed to break part the very heavily-sprung tensioner with my overly huge biceps.

The second gearbox dream of the ever-clean belt was also destroyed. Over multiple days of riding the belt drive did an excellent job of self-cleaning and never required any maintenance or even a scrub. But, on one exceptionally muddy and sticky day in Les Gets–20cm deep mud conditions–the front sprocket did clog up after it became overwhelmed with mud. The belt almost started to derail, as the packed mud lifted it away from the teeth. Some trail-side stick therapy remedied this. I figured that the accumulation may have been caused by the amount of freewheeling down the hillside, and that more time turning the pedals may have helped to clear the blockage.

Nicolai derailleur vs gearbox comparison.



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe final question is: Which one would I choose? That is a tough one, but I would go with the Pinion bike for Alpine-based and uplift-assist riding, the 155mm travel Pinion bike is a killer, and a downhill version would surely be a winner. If I was back in the UK, pedaling more and lapping trail centers and local woods, I would take the derailleur bike, but then there's the mud, grit, cleaning and tuning to contend with... - Paul Aston




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404 Comments

  • + 336
 Someone needs to design a bike with 2 or even 3 chainrings then we could put small lightweight cassette on the back instead of these massive heavy eagle beasts. That would sort out the unsprung weight thing without having a gearbox.
  • + 93
 Or perhaps even a crank that has a 2 speed gearbox built-in.
  • + 124
 ...or why not the best of both worlds? Gearbox at the front, and Eagle at the back? Think of the range!
  • + 13
 @Mojo348: I thought of that when Eagle came out. SRAM may no longer make one, but there's nothing preventing you from adding a triple to that drivetrain. 1000% gear range, anyone?
  • + 29
 @Bluefire: Derailleur design prevents you adding a multi speed front to the 1 x specific systems. The shift on the front would pull the top jockey wheel towards or away from the cassette and mess up your shifting completely. There would also not be enough derailleur capacity.
  • + 12
 @Patrick9-32: I did not consider either of those things at all; you're absolutely right. Glad to be corrected; thanks!
  • + 57
 @Bluefire: Well you still got a Hammerschmidt-Eagle combination...
  • + 23
 @Patrick9-32: Shimano still makes their 3x11
  • + 118
 Just run down the trail without bike. solves all mechanical issues
  • + 5
 I have been waiting for someone to say this. Big Grin
  • + 35
 @alexblayden: I always wear a fullface and full body armor when I run down hills. The extra weight helps me go faster. Lol
  • + 10
 @alexblayden: Apart from my knees.
  • - 2
 @dthomp325: That happened. It sucked.
  • + 9
 Wait, but what kind of magic mechanism could possibly switch a chain between multiple chainrings?
  • + 35
 MTB is comically arrogant and constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Motorcycles have already done the R&D for drive train power transfer. Belt drive is for very few street machines because they do not handle grime well at all. These bicycle belts are just miniature timing belts for automobiles wrapped around timing belt pulleys. The irony is that in automotive applications the belts are ALWAYS housed on a protective housing because they are so susceptible to skipping or failing when exposed to grit and grime. Just look at all of the flat surface area for crap to remain trapped until a hose appears by the side of the trail. Dirtbikes? chain drive of course.
  • + 1
 @Mojo348: oh shit!
  • + 6
 I think the new Sram ex1 has some potential.
Sure it's designed for ebikes (shudder), but it's got an 11-48 range over and 8 speed cassette!
Now if they could make it a touch lighter... I think we'd be getting somewhere.
  • - 5
flag rivercitycycles Plus (Feb 16, 2017 at 21:07) (Below Threshold)
 @alexblayden: Then it's not mtn biking it's trail running and how boring would that be. Wink
  • + 2
 @silvbullit: so true
  • + 2
 @silvbullit: or you know the torque requirements as well as friction (related to rotation speed) may be totally different on a MTb and a motorcycle
  • + 1
 @Mojo348: I can see the 22/50T gear ratio being real popular in getting up those 200m elevation hills most trailriders encounter on a daily basis...
  • + 12
 @rivercitycycles: trail running is dead, you need to be endurunning, trucker cap with goggles and plus size joggers
  • + 3
 @Drover: I've been endurorunning since before endurorunning was cool! lol
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: The Hammerschmidt flopped. One would think a two speed internal crank would be great, they sold a few, even some OEM, but it just didn't get accepted.
  • + 1
 @c25porter: I loved mine. It was on the heavy side; if they kept developing it maybe it would have lost some weight.
  • + 4
 @ratedgg13: 1x8 wide range! That is my dream combination. Thicker chains and tougher components could solve some of these issues. The tolerances the rear mech and chain have to achieve on the 11 & 12 spd bikes are so delicate. No wonder they have shifting issues. Remember back in the day when 3x8 speeds was a big deal. I think I ran my 1995 American made Schwinn for 6-7 years without any shifting issues. I always tell people that if they are shifting to much to find the right gear, they just probably need to get in betters shape, I am a big culprit of over shifting and under 'being in good enough shape'.
  • + 2
 @dthomp325: www.vyro.com/en Maybe something like that?
Not a gearbox, but looks nice.
  • + 2
 @DrCheck-iLL: Thats really cool!
  • + 1
 Or do away with geary things all together Wink Smile
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: sram hammerschmidt?
  • + 1
 @rivercitycycles: Back Country Sledding is where its at! youtu.be/jV1EJhoNIyk
  • + 0
 @alexblayden: Till your knees start to hurt and you sprain your ankle.
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: duuuude i like your way of thinking!!
  • + 2
 @Mojo348: How much range do people really need though?
  • - 5
flag Rainozeros (Feb 18, 2017 at 4:37) (Below Threshold)
 Who cares if gearboxes work, if the bike looks so damn ugly you puke yourself to death bei merely looking at it.
  • + 5
 @Rainozeros: Go look at the new Zerode and tell me that its ugly.
  • + 2
 @lukejensen-mtb: Fortunately, the advancements in mountain bike technology since the 3x6 Schwinn I rode in 1987 have just about kept pace with the decline in my own fitness levels over those same 30 years.
  • + 1
 @DrCheck-iLL: did you see the service video? lol (lots of luck)
  • + 1
 @silvbullit: you can run a chain instead, so not relevant to gearbox vs mech.
Not a fan of belt as it's not needed, chains on gearbox bikes last several times longer than a bike with mech anyway. However your points are not really relevant as a motorbike and or car have way different loads etc. Belts aren't needed, but they would work okay. Not sure why the Germans keep pushing them though.
  • + 177
 So the gearbox is better if you don't have to pedal?
  • + 60
 Ha. Sorta defeats the intent doesn't it?
  • + 125
 Wait till they hear about Singlespeeds...
  • + 27
 Yeah and at 38# for an AM bike, that's pretty hard to swallow.
  • + 24
 @maxlombardy: To be fair, though, this Nicolai is 34 pounds with the derailleur. This build and frame are heavy independent of the gearbox. I can't seem to find any complete weights on the Zerode, but I imagine that'd be significantly lighter; the whole gearbox platform, though it naturally pays a penalty to a derailleur, doesn't necessarily have to be a heavy bike overall. Weight can still be saved in other places.

Furthermore, the gearbox is a big opportunity for downhill to wrest its title back from enduro as the F1 of mountain bikes. Shifting under power won't be as much of a problem, and neither will weight; the improvements in ground clearance and suspension performance will be most beneficial in DH. So it's natural to expect that gearbox downhill bikes will herald their widespread adoption... except that downhill bikes are one of the lowest-selling mountain bike segments; any R&D costs a manufacturer invests in developing a gearbox downhill bike will be much more difficult to recoup than if they were invested in an enduro or trail bike (hence the Taniwha). So as far as the financial incentive to improve the technology, gearboxes are fighting a fundamentally pitched battle. That's probably why it's taking so long. If everyone rode downhill, I imagine we would have started seeing gearbox DH bikes from midsize manufacturers two or three years ago.
  • + 31
 Seriously. If I only rode whistler, I would just run a singlespeed.
  • + 18
 May as well be chainless...
  • - 4
flag dhx42 (Feb 16, 2017 at 9:48) (Below Threshold)
 Interesting idea, but I had trouble with this review as well.

This comment kind of ruined it for me... "I can't find any evidence that a lighter bike is faster downhill, and something that makes me think the opposite is when I'm trying to follow a heavier rider down the hill. Try following a buddy who is 15kg's heavier than you and see who rolls the fastest." So you are saying that a heavier guy is always faster?? Try telling that to Troy Brosnan - the "little guy" seems to do pretty well against guys that are much heavier than him
  • + 22
 @dhx42: He's right, newtonian physics are on his side. Potential Energy, that's the energy of an object when it's raised, that wil be liberated when it falls down, hence the potential in the name. The formula is gravity by WEIGHT (mass) by height (g*m*h), so he's basically right.
  • + 7
 @Bluefire: people are paying $3k for carbon wheelsets with like 1/4-1/2 lb weight savings, if that, and some "stiffness". For a 4lb deficit you could carry a couple spare derailleurs and chains and still come out ahead.
  • + 24
 @Bluefire: The problem I see is a racer charging out of the start gate, and shifting like mad (how Gwin broke his chain). If you have to pause, even momentarily, for every shift, racers wouldn't like it.

Sponsorships aren't that big of a barrier anymore, as the world cup champs team and Specialized Gravity aren't sponsored by a drivetrain company and have to purchase them retail.

If Pinion came out with a 6 or 7 speed drivetrain, with less than 300% spread (no overdrive gears) it would weigh maybe a 1/3 of even the new light 12 speed gearbox, could be even smaller, and would be a great potential application for DH, especially if mated to Di2
  • + 8
 @maxlombardy: It's a Nicolai, never going to be a balet dancer, I would love to see how the weight compares to the Zerode bike.
  • + 9
 @aserta22: Potential energy is something entirely different, and irrelevant in this instance. A feather and a bowling ball fall at the same speed in a vacuum, even though the ball has a greater potential energy.
  • + 9
 @dhx42: Yeah i had no trouble with the review overall. I'm glad someone went and rode the crap out of both versions and reported back. At the end of the day it's an opinion piece and i think brings up some good points.

The weight comment is a little off though, but at the end of the day Paul's just saying that if you're 90% focused on the downs, then don't stress the weight, this thing rips. DH bikes have dropped from 40 lbs 10 years ago to 33 lbs today. Ask anyone if they feel better on a lighter or heavier bike given the choice.
  • + 5
 @aserta22: the author isn't talking about energy. PE would involve, say, if you were dropping two bikes on the ground to see which would leave a bigger hole. Height and gravity being equal, yes the heavier object would have a bigger impact. However, what he is talking about is acceleration from gravity, which is indeed a constant regardless of weight. Remember the experiments of a bowling ball and feather dropping: youtu.be/E43-CfukEgs?t=2m50s and gravity works the same on both (in a vacuum of course, necessary for these two objects)
  • + 8
 @WasatchEnduro: I agree the review brought up some good points and it is cool having the side by side comparison. I just felt the review could have been more complete - better evaluation of the pedaling, etc. I realize my earlier comment came off as overly negative.

However, the comment on weight is a poor one. Most riders I know do prefer the lighter bikes as its easier to move the bike to hit their spots on the track or get to spots that were more challenging with a heavier bike. There is a reason racers have moved to lighter bikes - they're faster. Of course, there is a limit here for where going too light my be hurtful, but I don't think racers want to be in the 40+ pound range anymore.
  • + 7
 @hamncheez: They do make that. C-line gearboxes come in 6 speed and 9 speed setups. pinion.eu/en/c-line

It's lighter then current setups in this test by quite a bit.
  • + 1
 @dhx42: I hear ya, especially given that a lot of riders are VERY interested in the comparison and do a lot of climbing.
  • + 10
 @Fix-the-Spade: 15.5kg for my zerode.
  • + 1
 @wako29: and accordingly the only advantage a heavier rider would have on the downhills would be less relative resistance from the air as a result of his ratio of weight to surface area, as in the bowling ball vs feather example (but not in a vacuum)
  • + 4
 @dhx42: So is it true to say, that because a heavier bike will accelerate faster than a lighter one on a smooth slope, the more skilled rider is better off on a 'as light as possible' bike, whereas, a lesser skilled rider who isn't gapping roots or picking the harder but faster line is better off with something a little heavier. Imagine the mathematical formula for calculating The optimum weight of bike for your riding ability and style. That's gotta beat Einsteins theory of relativity?
  • + 11
 @core559:

Agreed, the force of gravity imparts the same acceleration on any object of mass. When gravity converts that higher potential energy into KINETIC energy, that is when mass becomes relevant. When you start smashing through rocks and roots and even air (unless you ride on the moon), the velocity of the object with greater mass will be less affected.
  • + 8
 @mrleach: Good shit dude, now answer these teaser's, are you -

a. the love child of Albert Einstein
b. stoned
c. a physicist or mathematician

Do you ride -

a. a mtn bike
b. a nuclear powered laser pulse induced e-bike
c. a granny bike with a basket

Is your fastest recorded speed -

a. 44 kmph
b. the speed of light
c. the speedo melted due to the electro-magnetic radiation

is your full-face made of -

a. carbon
b. plastic
c. lead
  • + 1
 @mrleach: +1 for turning the conversation toward mass' effect on conservation of momentum. Mass cancels out (mathematically) when converting from potential to kinetic energy.
  • + 1
 @jacobite321: I found that to be true. I had an aluminium Anthem 27.5 and next year got the carbon version with carbon wheels. I know we're talking about an XC bike here (which actually may be a better litmus test as it has less suspension and therefore needs more body english), but I immediately started to double up rocks and roots I had only thought about on the aluminium version. It was definitely faster down a hill, plus let's not forget about faster acceleration out of corners.
  • + 0
 @mrleach: Oh yeh, nearly forgot.

Have you actually ridden on the moon?
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: no need to power off to upshift, only downshift. Pinion do a 6 speed gearbox already. Smile Imagine a v10 fitted with one. creamy....
  • + 3
 @wako29: yeah but.... DH riding isnt done in a vacuum. It's that other part of the equation about inertia that matters here. "Unless acted upon by an outside force" Rocks roots and trail obstacles of any kind including the consistency of the dirt are all outside forces. Therefore one with greater potential energy should experience an advantage, because that greater potential energy can be harnessed by a good bike handler. Conversely when your talking about guys like Troy Brosnan and other WC type riders they also have mechanics setting up their suspension in a very bespoke manner which lets them work all that energy to their greatest advantage. So then it comes down to differences in skill level. I'm not even gonna inject chaos theory in here which would completely take the conversation into an arcane realm that I'm not qualified to get into, but chaos plays a role in DH competition too.
  • + 2
 @demostug: 1) Very jealous. 2) That's not much heavier than my Cotic.
  • + 6
 @aserta22: Ha ha ha, to make it fair, add the 4 pounds to the chain bike and re-run the test.!
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: Good point about the start... but what's funny is that the twist shifter would solve that problem hahaha. One and done. Not that any downhiller could use it.
  • + 1
 @demostug: does that mean it would be 13.7kg using a derailleur instead?
  • + 4
 @Bluefire: My Zerode is a LG with 13oo gram F and 1200 R tires it weighs 34lbs on the nose would be 32 with standard 900 gram tires....
  • + 3
 @jacobite321: Laser pulse engine (external saucer style for coolness), has to be done.

Also would allow 1970's space helmets to be legit again. Which in turn would allow you to wear cycling specific visor glasses without looking like a tw@t.
  • + 5
 nice bikes fine and whatever, but these Nicolai are brutes from the start. Only a masochist would enjoy manhandling the beast around a real world trail that has ups and downs and technical climbs, regardless of transmission. So this test is like adding Formula one tires to a monster truck and saying well 'the tires made the truck too slow around the Nurburgring'. Maybe start with a lightweight trail bike and see if the 1.5kg extra weight is offset by better small bump performance and handling agility.
  • + 0
 @dhx42: to use one exceptionally talented pro rider as your fuel for an argument againt basic phisics kind of ruined it for me. he isnt saying that heavier guys are always faster, just that they have an advantage in acceration and maintaining momentum over an equaly skilled rider who weighs less.
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: amen. this will be the future of dh drivetrains i have no doubt
  • + 1
 yep, that is the short of it. Like cars or motorcycles: gearbox is no problem with an engine.
  • + 2
 @blackthorne: It's an enduro bike, it don't need to go uphills quicky.

Maybe a similar test needs to happen for a trail bike. If anyone is willing to give me £15k + expenses I am more than happy to put my engineering degree to good use.
  • + 2
 @demostug:
seriously? 15.5kg ouch and extra drag
air or coil shocks?
  • + 1
 .delete
  • + 1
 @Bluefire: 'If everyone rode downhill, I imagine we would have started seeing gearbox DH bikes from midsize manufacturers two or three years ago'

If everyone rode DH there would be too many awesome people for the general population to handle! :-P
  • + 2
 @markg1150: have not noticed any extra drag. running air BOS. it is 1kg heavier than a capra pro and rides a lot lighter feeling.
  • + 3
 @dhx42: Not a fair comparison. Troy's speed is based on skill and how he rides. In fact, the fact that he overcomes being a smaller lightweight guy and still places well is a testament to his prowess.
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: The "derailleur in a box" setup, like the old Honda downhill bikes ran, would work beautifully with a modern large spread cassette and Di2. It'd be lighter and more efficient than a planetary gear setup too.
  • + 1
 @hllclmbr: THis is something I photoshopped a while ago, and I'd love to try and engineer something like it :

www.pinkbike.com/photo/13049543
  • + 4
 @jacobite321:

are you -
a. not to my knowledge
b. I wish
c. not exactly, mechanical engineer

Do you ride -
a. a mtn bike? YES

Is your fastest recorded speed -
relative to what?

is your full-face made of -
d. flesh, bone, cartilage
  • + 0
 @core559: but last time I checked we don't ride our bikes in vacuums, having more weight increases the force of gravity helping you overcome wind resistance and friction of the tires and bearing, therefore making you faster
  • - 1
 @themagicat: More weight (mass) does increase the force of gravity, HOWEVER it ALSO increases the force required to move the object. That's Newton's 2nd Law and is the reason that the force of gravity causes the same acceleration for all objects.
The heavier rider will likely have more surface area, increasing air resistance, and more friction with the ground, and is therefore slower, all else being equal.
  • + 2
 @thrasher2: Heavier riders do not automatically have more surface area or air drag. A stocky, short heavy rider has less drag than a taller, lighter, lanky rider. But the difference is negligible. Also, there needs to be hundreds of pounds of wieght difference between riders for the bearings in hubs to increase in friction. However, hubs and tires have a somewhat fixed amount of friction in them, that is mostly the same across rider weights. This means heavier riders will experience less drag, relatively speaking, since they have more force to overcome it.

The point the author is making is that heavier riders also can "plow" through the rough stuff, since dirt is malleable. I don't know if I agree with this point; I myself was faster 4 years ago when I was lighter, despite having an older, slower bike.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez:
All else being equal is an important statement. Gravity does not help heavier bikes/riders more than lighter bikes/riders, period. Heavier things falling faster is a very common misconception though.
  • + 1
 @zephxiii: That's what I was thinking. Even less unsprung weight! Don't even need the sprockets, gears, or shifters.
  • + 0
 @core559: Yeah, um, we don't ride in a vacuum. The bowling ball also gains kinetic energy much faster due to it's higher potential energy, so it won't be slowed down so much by things like, air. Whereas the feather gets slowed down easily, even just by air. Fatties roll downhill faster, even without pedaling.
  • + 1
 @thrasher2: we are not talking about dropping mtbers in a vacuum. We are talking about kinetic energy and the tendency of a heavier object to stay in motion as well as the heavier object has a greater ability to overcome various forms of drag. This is an absolute fact. Almost everyone here is confusing gravity with kinetic energy -- gravity in the case of MTB will contribute to kinetic energy but it's two totally different things.
  • + 1
 @aserta22: Keep in mind the kinetic energy to get up to speed is also proportional to mass. Other factors aside the two effects cancel each other out. Rider weight will have a significant effect on how the suspension acts however which is why you may see heavier riders carry more speed. With high stiction bikes this will be particularly noticeable as the stiction forces will be a higher percentage of the overall shock forces.
  • + 1
 @leftCoastBurn:
Mmmmkay, you might be right in a straight line, but downhillers DON'T RIDE IN A STRAIGHT LINE. A heavier object that has to change direction or go up and over something TAKES MORE ENERGY.
  • + 2
 @TucsonDon:
Is that why all of those pro-DH riders are big fatties? Hmm, wait........
DHers don't plow through obstacles like a bowling ball though pins...They have to go up and over or around. A lighter rider has the advantage in 100% of the direction changes.
  • + 2
 @thrasher2: Ritchie Rude being the exception
  • + 2
 @davidccoleman: It's actually pretty funny how well single speed works in many situations, especially where I live. Decades of research, and testing, honing every last gram of performance, tons of derailleur reviews, and constructive criticism drive train assessments...............NAH, one gear does just as well, or better in 90% of riding.
  • + 0
 @thrasher2: you were the one talking pure physics, but you just changed the topic to bike handling skills... Btw the winningest downhillers of all time are big guys for the most part so you are wrong there too--Gwinn will probably be the exception in that his skill on a bike will cancel out whatever "mass" defecit he may have
  • + 1
 @demostug: same Weight as my Scott genius LT 720.... thanks for the info, I'm saving the coin for one as we speak
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: Pinion now has a 6 speed for DH. When shifting into higher gears you do not need to let up on the pedaling. When shifting up into lower gears you need to, which would not be too much of a hinderance in DH.

Having been on a box since last August, I would never want a derailluer again. Chain security, shifting abilities, maintenance, etc. life is just better with a gearbox. I guess unless you are a weight weenie.
  • - 1
 @leftCoastBurn: I didn't mention a thing about handling skills. More mass is harder to move, period.
  • + 1
 @thrasher2: try rolling a bowling ball down a steep hill with a flat or uphill section right after. Next, try rolling a marble or ball bearing down that same hill, or even a lighter ball, the same size as the bowling ball. Now, report back on which object rolls the farthest. I think you probably already know the answer. Here's another research project for you. Look up how many world cup pros are around 6 ft tall and 200 lbs. Now compare how many wins those guys have against the vast majority of little guys they are racing against. What did you find?
  • + 1
 @leftCoastBurn:
C'mon man... a bowling ball is obviously going to have more rotational inertia than a much smaller and less massive object. Only the wheels on a bike have rotational inertia, and it will be essentially the same for all bikes. In a purely straight line, the more massive object will carry more speed, though it will take more pedaling force to get up to speed. We already established that if gravity was the only force acceleration would be equal. However, DH tracks are decidedly NOT straight. So try this, roll a bowling ball and a marble down a hill. Not try to get them to turn, which goes around corners and returns to speed faster?
  • + 0
 @leftCoastBurn: Actually, try this. Go fill your tires with lead shot and try to roll down a DH track. Let me know how it goes when you try to hop an obstacle or you try to go around a corner and the wheels keep right on rolling straight.
  • + 4
 Reading all of these makes my brain hurt...

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge" - Stephen Hawking
  • + 2
 @thrasher2: man you are desperate. Here I'll help you; do the experiment I just mentioned but put the bowling ball in a cart. Now use the same cart again with nothing in it -- "rotational inertia" is no longer a factor. Result will be the same because kinetic energy of the heavier object has a greater ability to overcome drag from the air and the ground. This is what the author of the article is referencing. Yes ability to change direction with a lighter bike/rider is greater. But, there is a point of diminishing return in both directions. Too heavy and handling is crap. Too light and not enough kinetic energy to maintain speed (very important especially in MTB where no motor is involved). This is very evident in race results from not just downhill MTB, but also skiing and other gravity based sports where kinetic energy is critical. I personally notice this all the time as well. A lot of my riding friends are smaller guys. I am 6 ft 2, 190. Any straight sections I am constantly braking when they are off the brakes, and I run full knobby tires with cheap hubs. Not scientific by any means but I can attest to the point the author was making...
  • + 1
 @core559: I'm with you, this talk of vacuums, bowling balls etc is getting out of hand.

"Better be ignorant of a matter than half know it." Publilius Syrus

With that level of insight, there is no way Publilius Syrus was a downhiller !!
  • + 1
 @leftCoastBurn:
Cool man. I guess you have proven the whole bike industry wrong then. You should let them know they can stop trying to make bikes lighter.
  • + 54
 What is the point of testing a drivetrain on a trail with no pedalling at all? Why not take all of the drivetrain components off the bike and have the lightest, quietest possible bike? Its like testing brakes on a trail where it is all uphill.

It is cool that derailleurs and gearboxes are both getting better and people are having more options to vote with their wallets, we will see how the whole thing goes.

My next bike will have derailleurs but who knows about the bike after that?
  • + 7
 I propose a second round of testing with equal parts up and down, then let's compare the numbers.
  • + 7
 derailleur, gearbox, hamster on a wheel, whatever. i'll still figure out a way to send it flying through my spokes and/or wrapped around my rear hub.
  • + 2
 I personally believe this was done to tip the scale toward the gear box bike.
  • + 3
 That portion of the test is valid since it's important to understand the effects of mass location on the bike.

Unsprung vs sprung weight in particular. With a 1x dérailleur setup, the gears and shifting mechanism are all at the rear and the suspension has that much more mass to handle swinging up and down.

The Gearbox OTOH is placed in the middle and doesn't suffer those drawbacks. That's one of the reasons it's a superior setup for DH and I'll argue Enduro as well.

Lycra-Lads should stick with a dérailleur.
  • + 1
 @BDKR: I agree that the low center of mass is important. This isn't an invalid test at at, It just hides some of the drawback of the extra weight and drag when climbing if the testing is mostly descending.
  • + 1
 @BDKR: I do agree with that, there should certainly have been a portion of the test on a downhill only course to see how much difference that sprung vs unsprung weight makes but it would be better to have had downhill, up and down rolling trail and climbing only trails tested to see what the systems were like in different conditions.

You wouldn't put the wide range cassette or the wide range gearbox on a DH bike so a lot of what is said about both systems doesn't really apply to DH specific rigs. Particularly when it comes to the increased ground clearance and the weight differences.
  • + 1
 @Patrick9-32:

You're right! A wide range kit makes no sense for a DH bike, but it does for an Enduro rig.
And at this point some are going to argue that the additional weight and drag are too much to justify, but that's more personal at this point. Some Enduro riders carry the difference in weight between a gearbox and der setup in their backpacks! Tracey Mosely in her last year of full time racing was spanking everyone with what appeared to be an expedition pack on her back.

But you would still put on a wide range on your DH bike if there is not a narrow range available, simply because the increase in suspension performance greatly out weights that of a der.

@DARKSTAR63:

I think "Hides" is the wrong word. "Doesn't bother" is probably more fitting.

Everyone knows the additional weight is there so what is there to talk about really. The drawbacks are a known quantity to everyone so not stating it isn't such a loss. We all know it!

OTOH, there are more than a few that will argue that the weight penalty may be justified if the better suspension action results in better climbing over "TECHNICAL" terrain. And we are mountain bikers right? Aren't roots and rocks part of our experience?
  • + 1
 @BDKR: I'm more interested in efficiency loss. And yea, even though we can "imagine" an extra 4 lbs on a long climb, riding a heavy bike up hills would have impacted the overall impression of the machine on this reviewer. So I think it does help to "hide" flaws. If only by perception.
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63: @Patrick9-32:

On the weight difference, MBR (who did a report on these two bikes nearly a year ago!) states that the gearbox setup weights 2.7 kilos by itself. That's just shy of 6 lbs! That is a bit!

OTOH, if you carry a 2.5 litre hydration pack (with water in it!), a tube or two, a small pump, some snacks for energy, and a multi-tool, you're already over that 2.7 kilos!

The simple truth here is that if a 40% reduction(!!!!!) in unsprung mass at the rear (based on the MBR review) is less important than an increase in 6lbs, you're an XC rider!

www.mbr.co.uk/reviews/full-suspension-bikes/is-the-nicolai-ion-gpi-the-most-radical-mountain-bike-ever-created-video
  • + 1
 @BDKR: That's not a fair argument because I assume you will be carrying those things on either bike... but in any case, yes, the weight could be offset but it's worth talking about because apples to apples you have 4 lbs additional weight in just the drivetrain. I am convinced as well that it's the low center of mass that lends itself to nice handling here more so than the reduction in unsprung, however that doesn't hurt either. It's a cool bike, I would love to try one, but there are some glaring negatives if you plan to do a long grueling ride on one.
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63:

I'll back up from "you're an XC rider" and instead say that one is XC focused.

Most aren't going to carry that much while riding DH, if anything. we can remove that right there.

The real battle fronts for acceptance here are XC and Enduro. Efficiency is paramount in cross country.
Enduro OTOH is a blending between DH and XC so no single Enduro bike is going to be as good as a dedicated XC or DH rig right? So you're after the best possible compromise.

When you consider that you are timed on the trip down, that logically would skew the balance a little towards the DH side of the blend no?

Anyway, I'll agree that the bike isn't for everyone! If you don't have the mindset to deal with a bike that's going to feel sluggish while going slow (due to it's length and plushness more than it's weight), stay away from it. The Tanniwha is likely to be more lively and feel more familiar by virtue of not having a twist grip. :-)
  • + 1
 @BDKR: I'm not an "XC" rider no, my primary daily driver is an Evil Insurgent, I would just rather keep the weight of my bikes reasonable, I will do 15 mile plus rides with 50$% climbing so the overall weight and efficiency is a consideration. I would rather "spend" my grams on sturdy tires and wheels, durable components and end up with a bike that isn't morbidly obese, so for me, for now, a gearbox weighs too much for the gains imo.
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63: I hear ya! :-)

And awesome bike BTW!
  • + 1
 @BDKR: Thanks ! To be clear, I would love to actually try a gear box equipped bike
  • + 48
 In my oPINION, it seems they are very close to making this a reality to the masses. Further refinement to reduce some drag, and quicker engaging freehubs (didn't realize they run 2). Additionally, they need a trigger shifter ala SRAM/Shimano, no grip shift for me.
  • + 51
 grip shifters really grind my gears
  • + 4
 I want the gearbox dream sooooo badly!!!! But my main reasons for wanting one is less maintenance, less susceptible to breakage (out of the way), and ground clearance. I feel as though the standard rear derailleur could be re-engineered to do this. 1x drivetrains have already made a massive improvement. If industry fixes the issues with the rear derailleur, I'm off the gearbox bandwagon.

Also, gearboxes def need to nix the grip shift. I rock a scooter and the throttle is sooo annoying. The industry SHIFTED from grip shifts for a reason.
  • + 3
 Grip shift is lighter than triggers and works great. No need to click off 1 at a time when u can shift top to bottom with 1 twist.
  • + 2
 @Nizhoni: I figure it would be faster if more people rode DH. All the drawbacks of the gearbox, minus the freehub lag, are things that are less detrimental to a downhill bike's performance than to a trail bike's. Trigger shifter should be fairly easy to fix... I also figure that adding electronic shifting to a gearbox would be a lot cheaper than adding it to a derailleur is.
  • + 6
 @Twenty6ers4life: Cool..except for the part where I like clicking.
  • + 4
 @Bluefire: You're right, the future is probably electronic gearboxes with servos, that eliminates the grip shift and the additional cable.
  • + 9
 @Twenty6ers4life: Grip shifts and 26ers. Make America Archaic Again
  • + 9
 @zephxiii: pedal that gearbox uphill for a full season and your knees will be clicking plenty
  • + 4
 Quicker engaging in not a problem as You would only have to block freehub at the rear wheel. I had rear hub that was fully locked in my Cavalerie Anakin. Engagement wasnt an issue.
  • + 2
 Cinq5 are already making aftermarket trigger shifters for Rohloff hubs, should be possible to cook something up for Pinion as well I'd say.
  • + 6
 About the grip shift: don't knock it until you try it. Back then on my trail bike I had a flat bar and it made the shifter pod of my x9 hit my top tube when crashing. Found a X0 gripshift on clearance for 50$ so I figured I'd give it a shot to solve that problem. They work really well and let you go through your entire cassette in one single wrist motion, which is really nice with 1x setups. Not sure if pinion's one is as good though.

I wouldn't have gone back to traditional pods but my shifter died and sram doesn't seem to make 1x10 ones and I'm not paying 300$ for a 2x10 combo. I just took the old x9 pod I had lying around since I don't use a flat bar anymore but I miss it all the time.
  • + 1
 I believe the author is referencing the two freewheels on the bike, one at the rear hub and one in the gearbox itself. We run fast engaging rear hubs to minimize any issues with engagement of the gearbox.
  • + 1
 @cycling247:
It's not the first time I see an article about Pinion, with a bike tha has two freewheel. I don't know if the gearbox actually need the hub's freewheel, or if they put a standard hub instead of a fixie one.
  • + 4
 @faul: You could technically run a fixed rear hub with the Pinion but then your front cog would always be spinning.
  • + 3
 @FarmerJohn: Someone has to make a gearbox with more modern materials. This new metal glass stuff or something. Take those cogs down to rc model sizes.
I think the metal/glass is about 10% of the weight of steel and much much stronger.

300g sounds a lot more healthy, and not having a beer keg strapped to your bb has to be a better look.
  • + 1
 @cycling247: the RN01 had that and riders complained about drag. Also I remember another of Paul's reviews which had a belt that was constantly moving and he said he had to be careful not to bur his legs.
  • + 1
 There's the hub freewheel and the gearbox has a freewheel aspect to it as well. I assume the hubs on both bikes were Hopes, but who knows.
  • + 37
 you know what really grinds my gears? nothing, because i ride pinion
  • + 82
 actually i don't. i just wanted to make the joke ...
  • + 2
 @leopaul: That's a totally acceptable reason.
  • + 31
 Pinion's don't have much drag. The fault here is the Nicolai belt setup. Gates specifically says not push on the belt from the outside just as the Ion's chain tensioner does. The tensioner wheel is rolling on a surface that wasn't meant to be exposed to friction. Full suspension bikes with Pinion gearboxes should be setup with a chain drive, NOT a belt. Ask Zerode Taniwha owners how much drag they experience with their chain drive gearboxes. If you want a full suspension gearbox bike using a belt then buy an Effigear. I ride a Pinion equipped hardtail and it is beyond awesome! My only regret after purchasing it is that I can't afford a Zerode anytime soon!
  • + 6
 I do not notice drag on my zerode.
  • + 2
 But all pinions drag related reviewers out there state the drag is in the heaviest gears only.

How would a belt/chain make a difference there?
  • + 3
 @Enzyme: I know that the Gates belt drive has to be run at a VERY high tension. That alone will cause the cranks rotation to be stiffer as anyone who did the chain on their BMX too tight will confirm. I knew MTB industry guy who rode his hardtail on the same route to work every day. He one day switched to Gates belt drive, doing the belt to specified tension. His times dropped. He would swap between chain and belt because he didn't believe it but his times using the belt were, overall, slower.
  • + 5
 @Enzyme: belts require a lot of tension so they don't skip, this tension adds drag and load on the bearings. Should have done both bikes with a chain to get a better comparison
  • + 2
 This was my first thought. Why wasn't it set up with a chain?
  • + 1
 @joelsman: Half the arguments I have seen for gearboxes involve the ability to run a belt and reduce maintenance though. This seems like the right way to go to get a test of how people would actually use them.
  • + 1
 Effigear, eh? Interesting ...
  • + 1
 @iamamodel: Gen 1 Gates belts had to be run at a VERY high tension. The 'center track', Gen 2 version doesn't need to be singing tight.
  • + 1
 @bsedola: Okay. I'm behind the times. And I can't withdraw my comment.
  • + 1
 Agree, I own a Zerode Taniwha, no noticeable drag, no maintenance on drive train, great to pedal, amazing on the descents,.. simply a magic bike.
  • + 29
 Now we are getting somewhere.
  • + 3
 Yeah.. Let's hope next time for a comparison between drivetrains, where they should both get pedalled. It was kind of a forks test but when locked-out...
  • + 1
 @thebikings: "It was kind of a forks test but when locked-out..."

Too funny! LOL!
  • + 20
 So.... more weight, more money, same issues with mud/maintenance and more drama when it comes to repair. Gear box bikes.... PASS.
  • + 22
 I like the way you just ignored the overall review and decided it was worse than a traditional setup somehow.
  • + 15
 @mgolder: Nope I read the whole review. In fact I read it twice. Solely going downhill the gear box system may be better. Awesome.
  • + 8
 @mgolder: no kidding. he emphatically states it's a significantly better performing bike for descending, the very activity this bike was intended for... but hey, it won't win XC races, it must suck!!!!
  • + 8
 @atrokz: this isnt a DH bike though.
  • + 3
 @jaycubzz: It's geared towards enduro/all mountain/freeride. which puts the emphasis on descending.
  • + 3
 @jaycubzz: no it's an enduro bike, most enduro's don't have much timed uphill's and the timed stages are usually downhill or flat so it's still made much more in favour of descending...
  • + 4
 @atrokz: yes, but you said "the very activity this bike was intended for", which is half truth.

Not to mention this is a drivetrain review, and it just so happens you need a drivetrain to go UP hills, you don't necessarily need a drivetrain to go down.

Therefore, going uphill is a major component of this bike and this review.
  • + 1
 @jaycubzz: Not a dh bike, but it has a dh bike geo.
  • + 2
 @jaycubzz: therefore, not really Razz

It's an enduro bike, which means slow up the hills, quick down (at least if current endurbo marketing jargon is to be believed). Had it been a helius, or another trail bike, yea sure, it would highlight those flaws more. but a bike intended for sales to a gravity oriented market (freeride, enduro, big mountain riding, etc) should put climbing on the back burner, for somewhat of a 70/30 importance. Of course, if your riding is more steep climbs to get to the bottom, then yea, it wouldn't be ideal, but then neither would any 160mm bike compared to a trail or xc bike. FWIW I was the Canadian importer for this company in the mid 2000s, so I'm familiar with what the Ion line is intended for. They have their helius bikes for more all around trail riding.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: yeah but wouldnt you want to optimize the climbing ability since its downhill capabilities are already very high?

i ride an 07 sx trail up and down hills. believe me, if i had the cash to drop on some carbon goodies to drop some weight, i would (actually i would just get a new gen enduro bike which is good at both going up and down and it wouldnt have a gearbox)

like really, just get a dh bike and pedal it up hills, at least youll be able to go faster coming back down.
  • + 4
 The issues with mud and maintenance seem like they'd be totally mitigated with a chain drive. Personally, I plan on having a gearbox bike in the future, and it'll definitely be set up with a chain.
  • + 1
 @fernrob: You read it twice but still didn't understand any part of it then is all that says to me. 'Awesome'.
  • + 3
 @atrokz: There must be something between lift-assisted gravity trails and winning XC races i suppose..
  • + 0
 @mgolder: Ah yes the low personal attack on an internet forum. mgolder for the win!!
  • - 2
 @fernrob: What was low and personal, or even an 'attack' about saying you didn't understand something?

Very odd reply. But to be expected from someone who didn't understand the post he was replying to.
  • + 0
 @mgolder: You can't seem to let this go. Very odd. Rather than actually voice your opinion on the review you seem obsessed with me and my opinion.
  • + 20
 Pinkbike, please start paying Paul Aston more. Everything he touches turns to gold. Thank you. Loved this article!
  • + 1
 For sure. I may not agree with all of his conclusions, but he puts in a ton of work into being as neutral and honest in his reviews as possible.
  • + 10
 Great! Paul will now earn TWO boxes of expired energy gels each week! Keep it up!
  • + 18
 I vote Paul Aston to be the MTB journalist of the year, and this article as the most anticipated MTB article of the decade. I wish I could shake your hand Sir.
  • + 1
 Did you forget his take on the district 9 carbon prawn bike?
  • + 1
 The stopwatch never lies!
  • + 12
 Not trying to be a wieght wennie but that's pretty darn heavy for a drivetrain. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate but for me the improvements would have to be pretty extreme for me to accept that wieght penalty.
  • + 7
 The new C1.12 with magnesium body is cheaper and it saves about 250g versus this model. Does that change the equation at all for you?
  • + 15
 Remember that we agreed to take on a whole bunch of weight in suspension parts (and eventually dropper posts) because the improved performance was worth it. 4lbs seems like a lot but in a few years it'll be down to just 1-2. That drop test is compelling.
  • + 5
 @alexsin: do a drop test of a bike with a coil spring. No bounce on the DH bike I tested a while back.
  • + 8
 @alexsin: yep - lightest MTB I know belongs to one of the older dudes in my club - a rigid 90's Klein with cantilevers, 26x2" tyres and the saddle bolted in a good 100mm above the bar height.
I prefer my bike.
  • + 2
 @alexsin: the drop test is only truly relevant when you put the weight of the rider on the bike at the same time. Deflate your tires to 15 psi and it will have a great drop test- as long as you're not on it
  • + 1
 @alexsin: and when that happens it will be a much more compelling option
  • + 11
 I raced a 6 stage Gravity enduro on my Taniwha on the weekend, 6hrs of pedalling up and down. I was no slower on the ups (compared to my mates) but finished 2 minutes faster and 17 places higher than my previous race on a 2015 trek slash....
  • + 1
 Have just built mine up this AM it came in a 34lbs flat with a 1200 gram F and R tire. I will mount lighter ones eventually and it should be at mid 32 lbs somewhere. It is a LG am looking forward to getting some saddle time on it. What shock are you using? I have an X2 and am assuming the frame will have a rather linear rate to it so I added some HSC and a tad of LSC an am running a tad under 30% sag.....
  • + 1
 @downhillnews: linkagedesign.blogspot.ca/2016/09/zerode-taniwha-275-2017.html

Not the most progressive out there, but definitely has some progression. I also got the X2 on mine, but am still waiting for it to arrive.
  • + 1
 @ciszewski: Yeah it is dumping rain here today so still no saddle time they are expecting 6"-10" so not sure about going out.....
  • + 3
 And that's it folks. All talk is just that. There's the proof. Danmitch had all good results. Drag is a farce, and an elousion due to the alien feel. Plus gearbox bikes break in and get more efficient, whereas the new mech it was tested against will only get worse or just snap off.
  • + 1
 @ciszewski: Been out on it 3 times so far. It does feel a bit like The Megatrail not size wise but suspension action. I have 3 spacers in my Fox X2 and it is pretty progressive that way typically using about 75-80% on normal trails no major hits so it is just where it should be.
  • + 9
 It would be interesting to see the amount of drag if the pinion bike had a chain, compared to the belt. I've run a belt before and I wouldn't be surprised if a bunch of the drag you saw was due to the belt and not the gearbox.
  • - 1
 @dirktanzarian The drag is really tough to make a apples to apples comparison. If the chain is new with a factory grease on it, the belt might lose a little bit in the efficiency game. If we are talking a dirty system...it's not even close...the belt way out performs a dirty chain.

That isn't even accounting for power loss due to chain stretch.
  • + 1
 @cycling247: Except the part that if dirt is involved, the belt-driven bike stays in the garage...
  • + 1
 @thebikings: You don't ride your belt bike off road? They aren't just for townie bikes these days.
  • + 9
 About the drop test video, because fools don't understand:

Compare the amount of bounce in the back wheel between the derailleur bike and the gearbox bike; you'll see that the gearbox bike bounces much less. If you look closely, you can also see that the gearbox bike's rear suspension is compressing more - this is the real point. This is because the gearbox bike's frame weighs more than the derailleur bike's frame, thanks to the extra weight of the gearbox. The extra weight is activating the suspension, meaning that the energy of the drop is being absorbed by the shock's damping circuit, rather than being stored in the tire and then returned as bounce. Basically, the idea is that the extra weight keeps the wheel stuck to the ground by requiring the rear suspension to be more active. This is the idea of sprung versus unsprung mass: for a given total system weight (i.e., bike plus rider) the more weight is "above" the suspension, the better the suspension will work. In practical terms, this means getting weight off the wheels and onto the frame or rider, since the wheels are "below" the suspension. So getting weight off the rear wheel and onto the frame (by losing the cassette and adding the gearbox) improves the ratio of sprung mass to unsprung mass, and makes the suspension work better. This is what you see in the video.

Incidentally, this is the same reason the article mentions the difficulty of keeping up with heavy riders over rough ground: a heavier rider also results in a better sprung mass ratio. This is also the reason why the gearbox makes much less of a difference in real life than it does in the video. In real life, you have to include the weight of the rider, as well as the bike. Without the rider, losing the cassette and adding the gearbox probably changes the the sprung:unsprung mass ratio from about two kilos for the rear wheel and one kilo for the frame, to about one kilo for the rear wheel and about three kilos for the frame. Going from 2:1 kg to 1:3 kg is a 600% percent difference - which is why you can actually see the difference in the video. But if you add the weight of the rider (~90kg), that becomes a change from 2:91 to 1:93, which is only a 1.1% difference. A 1.1% improvement is certainly enough for a good rider to feel, and almost exactly matches the 1.6% average time improvement that Paul reported in the article.

Of course, if you wanted the same benefits, you could just bolt some lead weights to your bottom bracket. But heavy bikes are bad, right?
  • + 1
 Would you say that the rear shock had enough air in it? It was going through a third of its travel by just being dropped! I've never seen an air shock behave like this when fully pressurised unless you're a very light person. I'd say with proper pressure that the bike would still bounce as it takes more initial force to move past the air seals. Although modern units are better. But my ccdb air cs at 150psi won't behave like that.
  • + 1
 @mikelee: I tested this out on both my Nomad2 with CCDBA and Zerode with fox x2.Nomad bounced like anything and the Taniwha stayed planted no matter how high or hard i slammed it but as a previous poster stated it could be the xtra 2 or 3 pounds of weight. Both shocks are set up quite similarly with 30% sag
  • + 1
 @wblh: but surely it depends on the pressure required to get 30% sag! So if you're light then less pressure is required but a heavier rider would use more pressure need more force to move the shock.
  • + 8
 Just wondering if you have weights for the frames alone. When you look at a pinion frame, it looks like it would be a bit lighter as there seems to be less material in the BB area.
  • + 2
 I don't think so. The machined part that holds the gearbox must be way heavier than the segment of downtube it replaces.
  • + 1
 I think they could make it even lighter by using sprocket axle as a pivot point for chainstay (beltstay?) as it was done in Cavalerie Anakin:
www.pinkbike.com/news/cavalerie-anakin-first-ride-2016.html
- also aluminium frame, 160mm, with older(heavier) Pinion gearbox, and "only" 14.5kg.
Such design eliminates the need for tensioner, and the part of frame holding chainstay axle. Furthermore the rear triangle becomes wider because the chainstay has to wrap gearbox, so it probably could be thinner with no harm to stiffness.
  • + 7
 "SRAM declined to provide an Eagle system for an equal test of 12 vs 12 gears, as they didn't have any in stock at the time."

Surely I am not the only one who finds that suspicious?

Bad PR to have your latest and greatest perform poorly against a disruptive competitor.
  • + 1
 It's easy as to get an eagle kit, which makes me think that SRAM know the gearbox could show up some inadequacies in their new flagship product, being that heavy AF cassette and derailleur that hangs way down. I'd even fathom a guess that they're well aware of these inadequacies but are not ready to show their solution just yet.
  • + 5
 I think there's a bit of oversimplification in these comments with the bowling ball and feather in a vacuum experiment...we don't ride in vacuums and when you're not in a vacuum it's force minus drag that determines straight line velocity.

Force=mass x acceleration (gravity), so a heavy object will produce more force when acted on by gravity. If your drag coefficient doesn't increase by the same proportion then the highest speed you reach will be higher. So when coasting in a straight line heavier dudes can be faster because they generate more force relative to their drag.

But - when you throw other accelerations into the mix (accelerating from pedalling/pumping, braking, cornering) things get less clear. Heavier riders (and gearbox bikes) get benefits from a better sprung to unsprung ratio as mentioned in the article, which should help the heavier guys.

Pro's and cons, which is why I reckon that whether you're a smaller person like Danny Hart / Troy Brosnan or bigger heavier fellas like Peaty, one size doesn't seem to have a huge advantage over the other. Not like in a sport like basketball where if you're short you're probably at a bit of a disadvantage...Anyway, my rambling thoughts only - might be wrong so feel free to flame away :-)
  • + 5
 Well.
I can see that the author of this article has done his (probably) best to compare 2 as much identical bikes as it may possible be. On the other hand Paul missed a few “details” of the gearbox systems that are on the top list of their theoretical advantages…
First thing first, the ION bike (funny, here at Greece ION is a major... chocolate manufacturer!!!) IS NOT designed around a gearbox system. A proper gearbox bike, has no need for any tensioner at all… (Ok, I get it. How the hell are we going to compare 2 completely different bike frames, one designed to cope with the restrictions of the conventional gearing systems and one designed around a gearbox system…).
That means that “we missed” a major factor of the gearbox equipped bikes…
Also. I would prefer (by far) the comparison to run between 2 bikes WITH chain. Why add one more factor that may not be an absolute characteristic of a gearbox bike? (Next time, either both bikes with belt, or both with chain, please).
Also. There’s the very fine transmission solution of the hub gears systems, mainly referring to the speedhub (I know, I owe one for a long time now). Paul misses this alternative completely…
So,
I would like to see, for start, a comparison article among 3 hardtails, best equipped with “properly strong” tires and designed for real all mountain use. One with a conventional gearing system, one with a gearbox and one with a speedhub.
Then, using this comparison as a starting point, I would like to see a second article, using 3 similarly equipped full suspension bikes (with similar travel) that their design will take full advantage of the best properties of each transmission system.
Nice efford though.
  • + 3
 A FS gearbox bike will still need a tensioner if you want to retain anti squat properties
  • + 2
 For a test of gear box vs min both bikes have to be the same. You want both to have chains to keep the test fair! So the bikes have to be the same to be fair as well.
  • + 1
 @danmitch01:
And that's why a first comparison has to be on hardtails... One of the major (BIG) advantages of the gearbox systems is that we may skip the exposable derailleur... (or tensioner)
As for the rest (same bikes - same properties) we have to address the different systems by their best values. We cannot just “cripple” a gearbox, on our effort to squeeze it on the same “platform”…
Also.
There are so many different gearbox configurations out there. The Zerode for instance or the various speedhub (as a gearbox, without spoke flances) bikes…
  • + 1
 @mojoriders: I don't see why this isn't obvious!
I also don't see why Mtn bikers want a belt on a Mtn bike.
  • + 4
 interesting review and data points. also that you'd pick the gearbox bike where you dont need heavy pedaling, basically (given this is a pedaling system comparison ;-)
i'd hope the tech evolve and comparisons keep coming though
  • + 6
 All that extra top tube... and then you have to slam the seat as far forward on the rails as possible... Smile but great geo right???
  • + 4
 I find technical climbing on a Zerode Taniwha, which uses the same gearbox, is actually easier than a derailleur bike. This is because there are more low gear options and the light rear wheel floats over rooty and rocky terrain. I think a derailleur bike would be superioronly on cross-country terrain where lots of pedal induced acceleration is required coming out of tight corners.
  • + 4
 Things...
1. there is raked out front geometry and then there is this thing that just looks weird
2. Grip shift...nothing like hitting a drop/gap/Jump and shifting through 4 gears when you land... :-/
3. So, it's more weight and more money?
  • + 2
 2- your hand doesn't rest on the shifter
  • + 1
 Just quite fondlying your grip when you go off jumps or drops and it's not a problem.
  • + 0
 @thejake: @scottzg clearly you've never ridden with grip shifters
  • + 1
 @preach: I ride with Gripshift on my XC race bike, hand basically rests on the shifter. Never have issues with unintended shifting, but I'm not jumping stuff on a carbon XC bike. Making sure your foam grips are hairsprayed in place prevents your hand rotating FWIW.
  • + 0
 @preach: I reckon Paul can jump a bike (see pic three quarters of the way down the page in the original review) and didn't seem to find it an issue.... ...

www.pinkbike.com/news/nicolai-mojo-geometron-first-ride-2015.html
  • + 6
 I run grip shifters on my Uzzi, because they r lighter and u can shift top to bottom with 1 twist instead of clicking off 1 at a time with heavier triggers. I don't have any issues with accidental shifts landing jumps either.
  • + 6
 F*ck, we need a Zerode Taniwha review.

What about a trail/am gearbox with less gears, a little smaller and lower weight? Carbon framed chassis practically needed to help offset the weight of the gb. In the end it's gonna be $$$$ for quite a while. The xtreme Nicolai geo gb bikes i think have an even smaller market than a better sorted (seemingly) Taniwha.
  • + 4
 I raced semi pro DH most of the 90's on Grip Shift bikes. I prefer triggers. However, I NEVER false shifted.
  • - 3
 @thejake: This guy needs to jerk off a little less and get rid of the claw hand
  • + 3
 @skidrumr: except happily married w 2 kids and not living in my moms basement
  • + 1
 I run a halfpipe GripShift on my trail/AM bike - two thirds of the grip is shifter (!) and I've never had a mis-shift from jumps or rough terrain. And the halfpipe also allows shifts while covering the brakes, with a bit of practice. Razz
  • + 1
 @bmbracing: I have no problem braking and shifting with gripshift now that I have become accustomed to it, something I never even thought about with trigger shifters
  • + 8
 Good honest review, nice 1 Paul
  • + 5
 Wasn't the Honda gear box based on a miniture derailler in a sealed box? unsprung weight. Single cog out back. Why isn't this being chased up?
  • + 2
 hayes has a patent on it iirc.
  • + 3
 Cool article and comparison. I've love the look of the ion so that doesn't hurt either.

For the bounce test, it would be interesting to remove the cassette and derailleur and then reperform. This would let you know the impact of redistribution of unsprung weight alone without the impact of the additional gearbox weight.

Also, to your weight comment. It's important to remember that inertia also plays a large role in descending, as does friction. I think for descending prowess there is an optimum weight (and weight distribution), and that's probably not the lightest weight possible.
  • + 3
 To the reviewer, please test a Zerode Taniwha to compare another gearbox bike!

Reasons, its not belt driven, it will be lighter but Id like to see the same specc weight comparison and then the ride esp pedalling comparison!

I think these reviews are slightly skewed not deliberately but because of the lack of true data comparisons, at the moment each gearbox bike on the market is very different to each other, but to the layman they look the same because the word gearbox!

Its about as bad as saying its a Horst Link so they must all ride the same, anyone who can ride knows not all HL bikes are created equal.

Im not trying to promote Zerode, but if buying a 27.5" bike now, I wouldnt buy anything else, theyre are a few 29ers I wish would come with a gearbox!

Saying all that and its not a deal breaker, but Id still like the option of crank choice for a gearbox (pinion u listening) shifter vs gripshift even though I was a GS fan back in the day,

So get a Taniwha to test and compare this article asap please, Im sure it wont disappoint if the above things could be improved it would be a game changer for the serious riders!

For all bikeshop bike buyers eg joe avearage the derailluer will probably still be an easy sell to them, like FS vs HT it took a decade plus before the majority switched when many said the hardtail will always be the mainstream bike, this will be the same, consumers are consumers, not intelligent, manafacturers will resist as long as they can while they can milk what they can out what they have already!
  • + 3
 to try to differentiate between the effects of total bike mass and unsprung weight, it would be interesting to see what happens to the timed runs if you were to strap an extra 4 lbs (low, near the bb) to the conventional bike. a simple way to eliminate that variable.
  • + 6
 I'm just here for the comments. Getting some popcorn and beer ready.....
  • + 2
 Had a hammerschmitt. Absolut senseless. Never would try anything of this gears in a box things again. Very poor efficiency and to much weight for the uphill. Better get a light bike or put that weight on important parts of your bike. I don´t see a problem with the normal drivetrain on an Enduro. You can maintain it very easy and it´s no problem to check your bike before you go riding. Technical noobs can learn all about their drivetrain in a day thanks to youtube. And for the big bike i would recommend everyone to check out singlespeed. Not to think about gears and shifting can help you to feel the bike better as a part of yourself and force you for better lines. I love it.
  • + 2
 your penny farthling has gears?

your hammerschmitt wasn't a good gauge point. horrid actually. The actual, verified efficiency loss is actually less than 5% between drivetrains. That hammer was horrid.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: i just didn´t get enough speed for fast jumps with the hammerschmid. It was still very inefficient !
  • + 5
 Hundreds of pinkbikers are out in their garages dropping their bikes at this very moment.
  • + 4
 I know Nicolai is on the bleeding edge of the long front center thing, but dang man when a seat needs to be shoved that far forward, I think it's time to dial back the reach.
  • + 1
 lol im gonna be looking out for this from now on.
  • + 2
 Nice and honest article ! Timed results should be used more often, at least for the journalists who can test the bikes on the same loop.
I think a lot of drawbacks attributed to the Pinion are adressed by the Effigear gearbox: you can use a SRAM trigger, the rear-hub is fixed so you gain some weight + quicker engagement, the belt is constantly turning so clogging with mud while coasting downhill shouldn't be as much as an issue, you have an even better clearance as the chainring seats higher than the cranks axle. It's 9 speed only with a 440%, so less than a pinion but probably more than enough, and the overall weight is more competitive.
I don't know why Nicolai didn't spec these on their bikes (apart from the Ion 20), to me the effigear is better suited to a MTB than the Pinion...
  • + 2
 Nice to see some numbers, but they aren't very useful ones - who decides races on average of 4 runs? Variation between runs on either bike is way more than the difference between the two. Would be interesting if he was doing consistent runs, and one bike was always faster on a run than the other - but that's not the case here.
  • + 2
 @paulaston

Paul - If you still have access to the bikes it would be interesting to test the following:

1) Mech bike with and without earplugs - Is noise really make you ride slower?

2) Mech bike with and without cassette and derailler - How much does the unsprung weight / clutch mech affect suspension?
  • + 1
 Paul,

Also it would be interesting to compare the 650b GPI with a G-13 mech bike (maybe with 140-150mm travel). My bet is the G-13 is quicker even with the mech.... or even the Evolink 140.
  • + 6
 Those may be two of the ugliest bikes I've ever seen
  • + 5
 Gripshift style shifter? Really?!?
  • + 4
 twisty shift is the only way to shift...
  • + 1
 The gripshitter is back!
  • + 3
 Thank you for this review. This is the kind of article pinkbike (with its industry connections and reach) should be doing on a regular basis.
  • + 1
 Now how about a comparison with a bike using a Shimano Alfine hub mounted as a gear box in the frame like Geode did. The Alfine is half the weight of the Pinion. Seems that if hollow alloy axles are strong enough for saint and XTR hubs they should be strong enough for an Alfine offroad gear box that doesn't have to carry a weight load. Intresting times ahead. If Shimano continues their stubborn refusal to move on new trends like 1x, wireless and internal shifting as more competitors jump into their area Shimano sales will continue to fall. I like my 2x10 XT drivetrain but I don't like how Shimano as large as they are can hold the industry back. Time will tell if the are learning some tough lessons or not. Seems like the steps interface is the ideal opportunity to create an adapter to fit an Alifne like gear box to many more bikes.
  • + 1
 I would have liked their test to be done with a chain driven Pinion. No idea why people want to attempt running a belt on a Mtn bike? Moto all run chains on the sprocket. A few road bikes are belt driven.
I've also read that Gates ideal application is on a fixed rear end.
  • + 2
 When xc guys start using gearboxes will know they are good, for now I will wait and see what comes from the industry, feels like one step forward two steps back situation currently.
  • + 1
 what if DHers use them, and win on them?
  • + 2
 Dropper posts are no good then?
  • + 0
 @wblh: as you have clearly seen since droppers have improved they are starting to be used. Hence my point.
  • + 1
 @atrokz: that's also valid, but not a good argument for widest possible range of adoption of the drive train standard.
  • + 1
 @tigerteeuwen: may be worth pointing out that a certain gearbox bike has won WC races and championships Wink

But yea, hopefully more development happens on this front. a 12 speed gearbox is perfect for trails imo.
  • + 3
 Go figure. The gearbox is better for downhill. Been saying that for ages. More active suspension, lower CG, at cost of weight. Sounds like DH to me!
  • + 2
 Gearbox would be nice for gnarly AZ rides!
  • + 2
 @colemanb: Especially for South Mountain!!
  • + 2
 @therealtylerdurden: yeah for real!! Some gnarly stuff over there
  • + 1
 Every trail description: nonstop rock garden. Lol
  • + 1
 This hasn't really helped one bit, so they're both good at what they do in different environments, so after reading this you're going to stick with your derailleur as it's a cheaper choice to make, was hoping for more from the final decision.
  • + 3
 I'm just going to put this out there that some people will prefer a derailleur and some people will prefer a gearbox and you know what? that's ok
  • + 4
 Intolerable, sir! You'll be telling us next that it's OK for me to like my E-Bike!
  • + 4
 @KeithReeder: Well... I wouldn't go that far
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: You can buy an Ebike, ride it, but please do not enjoy it1
  • + 1
 With the bike weights at close to 40lbs, you defintely don't need gears coming down and you won't need gears and pedals going up since you won't be pedalling that beast all the way up a mountain. I'm not sure if this article is really showing the reality of a average high end trail/enduro bike with derailleur that will weigh anywhere between 24lbs to 28lbs vs a Pinion gearbox bike that weighs at least 10lbs more. Imagine, you're going out on the trail with a hydration pack that'll weigh another 5-6 lbs on your back. Your legs will feel that extra 15-20lbs!
  • + 2
 Both bikes in the test were relatively heavy, 34 lbs for the derailleur version and 4 more with the gearbox. The point of the article is to compare two bikes that are as similar as possible. 24lbs is extreme weight weenie territory for an enduro bike, no closer to an average high end build weight than 34 lbs is.
  • + 1
 Well is a step in right direction but still think that gearbox bike could drop a fair bit of weight But going by how long they have been worked on them, may be harder than it seems Would make some surgestions, but I would rather not give any ideas other than sealed drive work better for longer
  • + 1
 so everyone who stated for like forever that a lighter dh bike was better than a heavy one was lying to us....wow ok but this time...this time i can be certain this is the truth then that heavier bikes are better.

that said i do appreciate the effort in this comparison but as i need my bikes to go up as well as down i would always choose a derailleur setup based on this. Surely the rear shock could be adjusted to correct the bounce difference could it not with a little less rebound but admittedly im lacking in knowledge in this point.

I dont want to take anything away from different approaches to solving problems but forgive me if i am skeptical of more corporate bulls#it touted as the next must have thing. and gripshift for crying out loud....i defended these in the past only to get told they suck but now there back....really. why is everyone so in need of changes i thought bikes now were awesome....if not then stop reviewing them like they are cos if a 10 grand super-bike isn't all that then don't go around stating the "climbs like a goat & descends like a beast" nonsense..oh i got a new one for ya gearbox bikes.....

"ssshhh it doesnt climb as well but dont worry about it cos it DESCENDS BETTER THAN A REAR MECH BIKE as long as you dont have any pedalling requirements"

catchey eh... oh well you better all save for carbon everything else just to offset the anchor you will be dragging with this gearbox setup increase but dont worry cos after you've coughed up your lungs reaching the top you can roll down the hill a bit quicker yay...are you f___ing kidding me.

honestly i would be much less against changes and be far more open to ideas like this if the industry hadn't tried to sell us so much crap recently.......mind you the dogma xm vid still makes me chuckle....calling a down tube the top tube and the laughable acronyms and ridiculous rear shock mount. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn7bTKb48S0

honestly though i dont mean to pick on gearbox bikes i can see the merits in there given strengths but i am worried this will be marketed to the dumb as the thing you must have to be cool and rather than just well informed people who fit the specific requirements for this buying them we will instead see them being fitted to xc bikes, trail bikes and purchased by everyone and the rear mech system that suits me better will die of due to marketing spin.

we just need a longer one of these for the people that keep breaking there mechs..
ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1RtaEJVXXXXXLXFXXq6xXFXXXY/1-Pcs-Black-Bicycle-Rear-Derailleur-Hanger-font-b-Chain-b-font-Gear-Guard-Protector-Cover.jpg
  • + 1
 That dogma is a work of art, what it performs like God only knows, thanks for sharing
  • + 1
 if the cog in the back never changes in size you can have the perfect kinematics for placement of the pivot. You get exelent rear suspension performance. I think gear box bikes are for DH more than enduro. I personaly have no problem riding a 35 pound bike up hill.
  • + 1
 Waiting on Shimano to release their new wireless system on the next gen Di2s...the derailleur and gears will be housed in the rear hub...will look like singlespeed with 22-30t chainring of your choice up front....game changer!
  • + 3
 from day 1 my Pinion skips a lot, can't figure out why and its not like i can take it apart to service it or replace the derailleur.
  • + 6
 so take it back to where you got it from?
  • + 3
 @cvoc: frame's from Nicolai, not Nicolai's problem. I have been emailing Pinion, only got 1 response on Sept 10 2013 and nothing after that. I quit emailing because i was getting nowhere. I might have screwed myself by not calling Nicolai for help on this case. such high hopes too FK
  • + 2
 @nfa2005: hit me up, I may be able to help.
  • + 2
 @atrokz: cool that would be awesome, see bikers are awesome always willing to help each other.
  • + 1
 I have a friend who got the pinion on a fat bike for riding in sand/mud/snow. He had to have his rebuilt twice in the first month. He also rides the Rohloff and Sram 11 speed. The Rohloff has been the most maintenance free of the 3. The Sram works great but wears out fast with all the sand. I like the idea of gearboxes but I will be sticking with the old chain and cassette until things shake out for the better.
  • + 1
 @nfa2005: ok, let me know. I still have contacts.
  • + 1
 @nfa2005: sucks to hear that. Not having above excellent CS could be a nail in the Gearbox coffin. Frown
  • + 1
 "Since the test, Pinion has released a new 'C' version of their box which drops the claimed weight 250 grams, to 2100 grams for the unit."

"The Pinion P1.12 gearbox alone weighs 2650 - but you'll need to add the crank arms, two belts..."

So which is it? 2350 or 2650?

Also, the slo-mos at the end of each bounce test are the wrong way round (gearbox slomo after derailleur version test and vice versa)
  • + 2
 This is great. Seeing a comparison of the same bike with and without out a gear box is perfect. I would buy one, unfortunately I buy used most times and there aren't many used ones that come up.
  • + 2
 "No pedaling... take away rider input as much as possible."

Then, why not just compare them from afar and chose the prettiest one? No pedaling, removing rider input, on a drivetrain review shm.
  • + 2
 Unrelated, but how about an inside look article for these trail centres that always get mentioned. It seems like an interesting concept. Or is it just another name for the same thing we have in Canada?
  • + 8
 I've ridden most of the UK trail centres. I've also ridden in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. Based on that I would confidently say, while they can be fun, trail centres are a long long way from what you have in Canada.
  • + 2
 I don't see how a belt driven bike can cope with thick mud building up and being compacted down with every pedal stroke. Eventually, probably about 10 mins into the ride the belt will start jumping the cogs. Waste of time.
  • - 3
 Like he specifically mentioned in the article, y'mean?

"But, on one exceptionally muddy and sticky day in Les Gets–20cm deep mud conditions–the front sprocket did clog up after it became overwhelmed with mud. The belt almost started to derail, as the packed mud lifted it away from the teeth. Some trail-side stick therapy remedied this."

Great insight, Jimmy - glad you're around...
  • + 2
 @KeithReeder: Case in point, so why all the talk about unsprung weight and all that jazz?
I ride half the year in that stuff, so it will never work will it.
  • + 3
 I feel kinda good about my single speed downhill bike Smile

@paulaston you are one lucky guy with those two test bikes! I would give an arm and a leg for an ion-20 !
  • + 4
 After reading the title of this post...

media.giphy.com/media/qR6UR8K1Ia2BO/giphy.gif
  • + 1
 2 arguments not mentioned in the article:

Pro gearbox: You can run a singlespeed rear hub -> better spoke angle, and evenly tensioned equal length spokes. This makes for a stronger wheel.

Pro conventional setup: Other than zero chain growth rear suspension designs, like here, a deraileur-like chain tensioner is required for the back of the bike anyways, adding weight and still being vulnerable to damage. Although, this could be added behind the BB rather than at the rear axle. Also, I'm pretty sure the Gates drive won't work in a chain-growth design, even with a mobile tensioner.
  • + 3
 This is not a zero chain growth design, and it does have a tensioner on the belt.
  • + 2
 Except that the bike in the review features a Gates drive and tensioner, just as you've described it.
  • + 3
 I would love to test out a gearbox DH rig It seems like it would be a tank. As for general trail riding, I am more than happy to stick with my derailleur and chain.
  • + 3
 "Well, the only part of either bike I managed to break during the test was the chain tensioner on the Pinion." Chain?
  • + 2
 look forward to the same sort of test on a bike with better geometry for climbing. Something like a Bronson, Trance, Troy, HD3...
  • + 6
 With a 78° seat angle, these probably climb better.
  • + 4
 I'm talking about the whole package, not just seat angle. Here is what PB had to say about it in their review of the Nicolas Ion in 2013:

"On technical singletrack the combination of the slack head angle and long top tube meant the front end had a tendency to wander away from us when we sat back in the saddle for steep sections. When we stood up, the active suspension meant lost power. It by no means struggled at climbing, and the bike's surprising light weight definitely helped, but there are plenty of bikes in the 160mm travel bracket that will out-climb the Ion 16."
  • + 2
 @RollinFoSho: the normal ion doesn't have a 77 deg SA. Most reviews I've read about the geometron say how well they climb (apart from being a bit heavy). Not that I've tried one! :-)
  • + 2
 Yo, the derailleur bike has those crazy "third world country" flat pedals. I thought those already got a review... does that mean you like them, @paulaston ?
  • + 1
 What is the "total time" a total of? It certainly is NOT a total of the 3 *complete* runs reported in your table (i.e. if these 5 segments do not overlap at all, the total time for each run is approximately 5 minutes long).
  • + 1
 As far as I can tell, it's the sum of the averages.
  • + 0
 @ciszewski: the total "difference" coincidentally is equal to the sum of the average differences for each of the 5 segments. But if you actually add up the segment times, 1) you are in the ball-park of 4:40, not 3:30; 2) the average difference between the 2 bikes is about 0.18 seconds (favoring the SRAM bike) 3) the SRAM bike set the fastest total time; and, 4) the 2 fastest SRAM times are faster than the 2 fastest Pinion times.

So, that would lead me to believe that the segments overlap (i.e. the beginning of one segment starts before the end of the previous segment) -OR- the total time is recorded over an arbitrary distance that is no combination of any of those 5 segments. The coincidence that the total difference happens to be the sum of the average differences for the 5 segments is peculiar. But I'm asking for clarification, as I wouldn't expect such a glaring error in simple addition, especially when emphasizing the "huge," nearly 3-second average difference between the 2 bikes.
  • + 1
 @JVance: Hmm, yeah I just quickly added up the differences. I have no other theories than the two you have, hopefully some clarification comes.

However, looking at the fastest times, the gearbox bike is definitely the winner: 281.37s vs 283.76s. Something is up with your math on that one. Or maybe mine, I don't want to check again.
  • + 2
 @ciszewski: It's both. I recalculated the 3 complete runs (runs 1, 2 and 3 for the Pinion; runs 2, 3 and 4 for the SRAM). The Pinion runs are 294.22s, 294.56s, 284.10s (average = 290.96s); the SRAM runs are 300.12s, 289.00s, and 284.97s (average=291.36s).
  • + 1
 @JVance: Ahh, I simply just took the fastest reported time for each segment as I think he said he rode each segment by themselves, not as reported in the lap order.
  • + 1
 @ciszewski: Still weird, "standing starts on Le Pleney.... including one fire road section (Stage 5) at the end of the trails". It reads like the fire road is a continuation of the segment 4, so I assumed that these were 5 sectors of a continuous trail. The way the 4th Pinion run and the 1st SRAM run on Segment 2 is omitted suggests that there's some continuity with the 4 runs for the other segments.

It seems odd to do separate standing, coasting starts for ~40-50s runs. How much variability in a 40-50s run would be due to coasting up to speed from a standing start? In any case, the totals don't add up from any of the segment times presented, no matter how you put them together. So, maybe the "3.5 minute track" was a separate trail altogether. Of course, where the total difference came from, and why it's exactly the sum of the average differences for each stage is a complete mystery.

I'm certainly not in the market for a gearbox bike, but hopefully anybody who is does the math for him/herself.
  • + 4
 @JVance: yeah the whole test was weirdly done for sure, and quite frankly, timed tests are very, very hard to make meaningful for consumers or racers. If what you are looking for is outright speed, you need sufficient time on the bike or setup to be completely at home on it and not be swapping between set ups or bikes.But unfortunately, that means running tests on different days, which means ample more variables. We're looking for which one will be fastest, not which is easier to get used too, which is what majority of bike reviews amount too, and does not always provide the most accurate end result.

I myself have a Taniwha somewhere between NZ and my house right now, and won't be diving too deep into this test, I'll make my own opinions.
  • + 2
 @ciszewski: Very valid comment right there. The pinion does take a bit more than the average bike to get used to as you need to use quite a different shifting technique but once you have that sorted there is no going back imo its just superior in all aspects except weight and I cant say i am noticing that at all. Taniwha climbs way better than my nomad. I am sure you will love it.
  • + 0
 Have you ever wondered why MTBs ride horrible compared to motorcycles? The simple reason is that the ratio of the sprung mass/unsprung mass is much higher for a motorcycle. This makes the suspension more effective. It is one of the reasons why a Cadillac rides like a Cadillac.

Well, I found a way to add Inertia instead of Mass. I can influence the unsprung/sprung mass ratio using a simple mechanical device.This makes your damper work better and more effectively and reduces the forces transmitted to the body (sprung mass). It effectively eliminates 'valve lag' which, if you're an avid MTB, is pretty much the reason suspension never feels as effective as it should, it simply isn't moving because you are! This is my 'gofundme' page for the project, if you want some basic info. on the design.

www.gofundme.com/t7m683u4

Thanks, Simon.
  • + 1
 "It is one of the reasons why a Cadillac rides like a Cadillac."

You mean REALLY badly?
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: Have you ever read a Cadillac review in the past 10 years? There's a shit load of technology you haven't heard of, I'm not talking about a 70's car. Have you heard of magnetorheological dampers? You wish you had that kind of tech on your crappy bike. You guys get all hot and bothered by twin-tube technology that was old on a Formula One car 30 years ago. Wow. That's all I can say.

www.motortrend.com/news/for-cadillac-and-corvette-fans-exploring-the-history-of-gm-magnetic-ride-control-318181
  • + 1
 I'm spitballin' here. So why don't we try swapping the deurailler from the right side of the bike to the left and flipping the derailleur the the left and upside down for more ground clearance.
  • + 3
 Think about it.. The derrailleur would still need to be on the bottom.
  • + 2
 The derailleur wouldn't be able to move the chain over to change gears if it's pushing on the part of the chain that is under tension when you pedal. It has to be on the other part where the only tension is from the derailleur spring. That's why it has to be on the bottom.
  • + 1
 Although.. If we went front wheel drive.. It could be on top lol.
  • + 1
 Fair enough... I tend to hang on with my thumb in inner hand, I even run grips with flanges and and grip donuts. 'Grip shift' just isn't for me. "each to their own" and all that....
  • + 0
 Is it just me or did you not address the biggest current issue with gearboxes? That, of course, would be the almost certain need for a proprietary bike/frame. The only alternative is to go with a "hub" style gearbox, which eliminates many of it's benefits.
  • - 1
 Hey Vern, coincidence that each one was listed with only 4 advantages? The advantage list for the gearbox should be 2X as long & the one for the derailleur cut in half. The middle two are kinda like saying that a dictator shouldn't be overthrown because well, "he's been there for 30 years, he's dug in so deep now, why bother?" or like the car industry ("Big 3") saying "well the problem with EV's is that the infrastructure just isn't there" all the while they build drilling rigs in the middle of oceans yet can't put some battery chargers &/or swap stations in at the myriad of locations in the developed world that are already connected to the grid. You/$hitmano/$CAM etc. all say that it's too hard to adapt the industry to gearboxes, yet there seems to be little trouble turning MTB into MTEV. The "establishment" of the derailleur is no more of an advantage for it than the establishment of a dictator in favor of democracy, internal combustion in favor of electricity or the "establishment" of cancer in my nuts so shove it.

Next thing is that no gearbox bike should ever have a need for some clunky tensioner. If it does, then it's designed wrong. That's one of the big advantages left out of your little list.

If gearbox designers can't fig' out how to make an infinitely reliable box with near (clean) derailleur efficiency that can shift at any time under any load & weighs about the same as a derailleur setup then they should take a lesson from Bob Rohloff because he figged out how to do it lotsa years ago with 14 gears. FTM frame manufacturers could probably just set up a deal to mount them in their frames replacing the hub shell with some kind of frame mount. Could even be standardized believe it or not.

Ground clearance. In addition to my 2nd point you can also consider that a gearbox does not need to have a belt, it is just an option that is not available with a dopey derailleur. You could run a chain around a couple 15T sprockets & bring your clearance up to the point where no bash guard is needed.

A GEARBOX BIKE DOES NOT NEED TO HAVE:

A tensioner.
A belt.
Higher weight than a derailleur bike.
Lower efficiency than a derailleur bike.
A need to lift pressure when shifting.
Multiple freewheels.
A grip shifter.

Honestly dude, if you're someone who's two fvcking stupid to know how to use a grip shifter by now when millions of people have had no trouble (even preferring it for some weird fvcky reason) then you're probably not qualified to be writing an article on gearboxes & maybe not even qualified to be writing about bikes at all. Furthermore, a grip shifter has nothing to do with a gearbox. It is not a limitation or disadvantage of the technology. Trigger shifters could be used, hydraulic shifters could be used. If you're $hitmano then stupid motorized shifters could be used etc. One has nothing to do with the other.

So, "when it comes to the polling station, the masses don't appear to find fault with their derailleurs" & "an overwhelming majority of people said they hadn't' broken a derailleur in the last two years". Hmmm, interesting. I must be not so good at calculatoring 'cuz when I punch in some numbers as of 17/02/17 I get 4093 that do find fault w/their derailed derailleurs compared to 5683 that either ride like bitches or work for the Big Deuce, or both. 42% of your sample of the masses, find fault. Now the really good part is that 4060 broke a derailleur in the last two years compared to the 3415 who said they never have (pussies). To that 4060 you can rightfully add the 129 that don't use one because, well you know. Then you've got 1144 that can't remember. Could be 6 months, could be 6 years, but they've broken one. Call it my personal opinion, but even if I were one of the 2098 that have broken one more than two years ago, that's still too often to be stranded on the trail, or dicking around, needing to carry extra fvcking tools "just in case" (tools you won't need to carry with a proper gearbox setup BTW) & spending hundreds of $ over & over & over. It just ain't cool.

I don't think you're that stupid, but I do think that you think your audience is THAT stupid. I think that you think that your ad for derailleurs disguised as a fair contest between your favored (corporately endorsed) obsolete tech & the superior yet unrefined new one will have the desired subconscious effects in the majority. Sadly, I'm afraid to disagree. Blank Stare
  • + 2
 I've had a few gearbox bikes over last 40 years, all hub gears, but hardtails anyway. The problem gearboxes have is not that they are bad but that direct chain drive is fantastically efficient, and derailleurs are a crude but smart way of providing different ratios with direct chain.
When you ride a hub gear which has one direct drive (Alfine 8 speed, Sturmey 3 speed) the other gears feel fine, but that direct gear feels strangely easier - gearboxes are just not as efficient, despite 100 years of development.
  • + 1
 Really cool comparison. I would like to see some sort of measurement of drive train losses, additional to Aston saying it's harder to pedal with the gearbox.
  • + 2
 Would be great to measure the efficiency of both system... with real numbers...
  • + 3
 Only $392 dollars per second of reduction.
  • + 1
 Luddites, they ride amongst us...

you can here them, [click click ka-cingka clunk-kc-ck-ck-ck click click Kekkerrrrrrrr "ARRRHHHF@&@$#@^$*!!!!]
  • + 1
 All of these issues can be solved-------------------------simply put a bigger motor on it, humans have lame power output. Oh and there is a reason they call it GripShit BTW
  • + 0
 WHAT?????????

142mm hub width on the gearbox bike? (or both bikes?)

WTF do they think this is, like 2015 or somethings??

Ain't no one lookin for that outdated shiz

Hahahahaha
  • + 2
 Why do gearbox bikes use gripshift? I Iove the thought of a gearbox bike but I flipping hate gripshift!
  • + 2
 Because they are pull-pull. There is no return spring for shifting to a smaller gear, unlike a derailleur.
  • + 1
 @PhillipJ: oh. That explains it then. Thanks. It's a shame that is the case. If it used a trigger shifter it would sell a lot better
  • + 1
 @Matt76: Some of us like(d) Gripshift.
  • + 3
 @KeithReeder: I did back in the 90s lol
  • + 3
 I'll never run a gearbox. I'll be too old by the time it's worth doing.
  • + 1
 Derailleur vs Gearbox vs Gearbox Ebike (oh hold on isn't that a motorcycle or should we call it a dirt bike?) : Nicolai Ion 16 vs Ion GPI vs Ion EPI ? .
  • - 3
 "oh hold on isn't that a motorcycle or should we call it a dirt bike?"

If you're a retard, yes.
  • + 1
 "The gearbox-equipped bike weighed 1.78kg / 3.92-pounds more than its derailleur-loaded counterpart"

HARD PASS
  • + 2
 I'm really excited to also see belt drives on a full suspension bike.
  • + 1
 That was weird watching the suspension absorb all the force from slamming it against the ground. Really cool
  • + 0
 Come back when the gearbox is priced like Shimano XT. It's like re-inventing the wheel. Humans are the only creatures that makes the simpliest of things difficult.
  • + 2
 I love gear boxes. I hate grip shift.
  • + 1
 Why nobody talks about "derallieur inside a box" that honda used long time ago in DH World Cups? Best of 2 worlds maybe?
  • + 2
 awesome review, thanks! lets see a zerode/nomad comparo!
  • + 2
 still want a gearbox nicolai. always have always will
  • + 1
 Great article!!!! I would love to see this in a video format. Like a Top Gear for bikes...
  • + 1
 I was interested in the comparison until I read about the "grip shifter" for the gear box. Grip shifters= Walmart.
  • + 2
 That's no Fox Float X2 shock!
  • + 1
 Should have included a Rolhoff internal in this test to really shake things up
  • + 1
 excelent review, and great comparison!
  • + 1
 the video shows mixed slow mo give credit where is due
  • + 1
 Why not make a gearbox hub?
  • + 1
 Unsprung weight and effiiciency.
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder:
Not in DH/Enduro
  • + 2
 @fartymarty:

If this could be made, a hub-gearbox can be made.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPS7aNCAwAA
  • + 1
 Awesome reading! thank you
  • + 2
 Slacker HTA please.
  • + 0
 So you had more problems with the gear box than the traditional system. Sounds like a real winner.
  • + 1
 Great idea for an article and those welds are beautiful.
  • + 1
 what about putting an eagle cassette at the chainring and ss at the back??
  • + 1
 @aserta22 , but frictional force is a function of weight...
  • + 0
 I guess you could say that the competition is really.... GEARING up!! Yeah!
  • + 0
 Well, thank goodness there are cheap, reliable drivetrains out there that fit every single one of my needs already.
  • + 1
 What is the second free wheel he is talking about?
  • + 2
 It's at the front chainring/crank axle – if you turn the cranks backward nothing else moves.
  • + 8
 there is a freewheel in the gearbox as well as the hub. I use an instant engagement hub(Onyx) and that removes that issue. Also a chain drive alleviates the issues experienced with the gates belt drive. I would love to see a shootout between a Nomad 3 and a Zerode
  • + 3
 The gearbox has a free wheel built in. You could ride a fixed rear hub and save a bit more weight but the freewheel in the gearbox doesn't spin as freely or the drag from the belt is high and the rear wheel slows rapidly which can make the bike feel off balance in the air. I guess it might make it roll slower too? I think the WC racer using a Nicolai the past two seasons with an Effigear gearbox was running a fixed rear hub though and he had a few top 20's so it can be made to work well.
  • + 2
 Thanks for the replies, all!
  • + 1
 @wblh: yes please on the shoot out. I'm really interested in getting the Zerode.
  • + 1
 @solidautomech: didn't know a WC DHer was running a Gearbox last season.

Actually I believe I saw a pic of that bike. It's not a 4-bar suspension though is it?
  • + 2
 @gonecoastal: you're right about it not being a four bar linkage. It's a medium high single pivot, at least it is compared to something like Zerode's DH bike. It uses the Effigear gear box which uses a different design than the one Nicolai is currently using. It has some cool features like the ability to use a trigger shifter, an output shaft in a different location from the crank spindle so clearance is huge under the bb, and it's a simpler design that, from what I can tell, is much more user serviceable. I've been riding it (Nicolai Effigear ion 20) for two summers now and love it. You can check out some pictures of it under my name or under bike of the day on Vital mtb. It's a bit different now, it's got the trigger shifter, newer suspension, and a new color. I'll try and post some new pictures soon.
  • + 1
 @solidautomech: sick. Will check it out. The effi system seems to be even more elusive than Pinion. But I like how it works with a traditional Shifter. Huge.
I really hope Zerode continues with the DH bike. Keep it alloy frame and geared hub. Slacken it to 62 and extend the reach and wheelbase.
I was a little bummed the Zerode Enduro bike didn't utilize the high idler pulley like the prototype did. Can't have it all though.
  • + 2
 Almost there.
  • + 1
 In all five sections of trail, the fastest times were with a derailleur.
  • + 1
 Not not not not not not not etc...
  • + 2
 Waiting for shaft drive.
  • + 2
 ZERODE!!!
  • + 1
 Meh i say again meh
  • + 0
 So much tech shit! Run what ya brung!
  • + 1
 pedal kick
  • + 1
 420 tho
  • + 0
 Those welds though.........
  • + 1
 Sorry. Fat fingers down voted you. Meant to up vote.
  • + 0
 I ain't SHIFTING to a gear box any time soon!
  • + 0
 These comparisons really grind my gears.
  • + 1
 I 3 Hammerschmidt.
  • - 2
 'Grip shifts' are shit IMO....
  • + 2
 Ever actually USED one? Light, Low maintenance, tough, easy to fit, easy to use - none of these are BAD features.
  • - 2
 @KeithReeder: Sure none of those are bad features; however same can't be said for when you flat land a jump and you snap your wrist whilst doing a gumby looking "full throttle moto"...
  • + 3
 @AntN: if you think about it most of us already only hold the bars with the outside three fingers on the grip, index finger is on the brake lever. So in that situation bar contact and control would be the same. Even if you had all 4 fingers on the grip you would still have more control on the outside fingers to prevent grip rotation.
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