Pinion and Gates talk about their new partnership in the US - Interbike 2017

Sep 19, 2017
by Richard Cunningham  
Interbike 2017 Pinion and Gates
Pinion's Chriistoph Lerman (left) with Paul Tolme from Gates.

Pinion and Gates recently announced that Gates will be distributing Pinion's transmissions to the US and Canada, which opens up a number of opportunities for both brands, and their customers as well. Gates is no stranger to transmissions and drives, and while its bicycle division is a small branch, the Carbon Drive system is about as high tech as a cog-belt system gets. It's no secret that many bike makers who offer Pinion's gearbox, also favor the Carbon Drive for its simplicity and all-weather performance. The partnership with Gates seems like a perfect match. I spoke with Pinion's Christoph Lerman and Gate's Paul Tolme about their new partnership.

How critical is it for Pinion to have a distributor in North America?

Christoph: it's very important. We are already having small brands using the Pinion system here. we have seen a demand in this market, and for us, it was not just important to sell gearboxes, but to have a partner here who is also able to do some services for the technology. We are glad that we found the Gates Corporation as a partner to operate the US business.

Paul: Yeah, we had an informal partnership for several years, and that led up to this formal agreement.

Christoph: We have the gearbox on one end and they have the carbon belt on the other, so it makes sense to incorporate in this particular market.

Interbike 2017 Pinion
Since he co-founded Pinion, Christoph Lerman has been a one-man show, demonstrating their transmissions at trade shows, and to potential customers on four continents. The Gates partnership is their first step towards globalization of their products.

It's not like Gates is a stranger to power transmission and drive systems...

Paul: Like peanut butter and jelly, man. We're obviously going to be distributing Pinion gearboxes to customers who will be putting chains on, as well, but the market trend is having that ability to combine a belt and a gearbox as sort of the ultimate. It's really working with designers to accommodate a belt into their frame designs.

Will you have a tech center that will stock parts, or will Pinion handle warranty issued from Germany?

Christoph: No, it's all from Denver. Marc Seemann is there for sales and service, and all of the parts as well, are in Denver for customers, dealers and OEMs, just like we do in Germany, which is a big step for us. Bigger brands were skeptical of us here, and now we can provide OE support those larger companies need.

What Might the Future Hold?

bigquotesIn a perfect world, your pinion gearbox would not need service, beyond the occasional oil change, but if that moment did arise, I'll bet that there are only a handful of riders who would dare crack open the cases to attempt a repair. Pinion's decision to open up a support and distribution center in Denver should make their customers rest easier, knowing that they can get their gearboxes serviced and their questions answered quickly from a professional Tech. The advantage that Gates brings to the table, is that they already understand and communicate with bike makers and riders who have committed to alternative drivetrains, so there is no learning process to inhibit Pinion's expansion into the US and Canada.RC


  • 54 7
 No one will buy gear box now, for fear of being miss identified as an E biker....
  • 10 3
 The proliferation of e-bikes will be the deathblow towards gearbox systems on mtn bikes.
  • 31 0
 @gonecoastal: Actually I believe that e bikes will be useful for ONE thing: Honing gearboxes. It is not a big deal for an e bike to have some extra weight, and even less so is the added drag. So e bikes are the ideal place for the gearbox to develop before getting to actual bikes.
  • 2 0
 Can you blame them?
  • 6 0
 If Pinion makes housing that fits bolt pattern of Bosh motor it could get interesting. It's just that, who will spend 6k+ on a quality Ebike, just to spend 1,5k more on gearbox... however if you find one on classifieds with a dead motor, it could be the thing Big Grin
  • 3 0
 @Caiokv: so basically a pedal driven motorcycle?
  • 2 0
 @Caiokv: until you're that guy I saw on Saturday pushing his Haibike ebike up a shortish grade on Lord of the Squirrels. That looked heavy.
  • 3 0
 @Someoldfart: E bikes on the alpine is a sad sight. But to see an e biker pushing uphill is kinda satisfying as well...
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: plus that might increase the number of gearbox frames available.
  • 3 0
 @taletotell: I still don't see it happening financially. E-bikes cost at least 700$ more than their "analog" versions. What does Pinion cost? 1200? That's boutique brand price range and at least 90% of these are bought by people looking more at kitchen scale than clock or pulse watch. Most people that I had conversation with about my Carbon jack asked me about the weight of the bike, and looked at me as if I farted, after I told them 14,3kg. That's with single plies. Or they lift it and look.. cheated?. And I ride with 1,5ply back with insert for most of the time. "Why don't you use carbon rims and air shock" a middle aged man asked, puzzled and judgmental... "why don't you use a carbon bar and go fk yourself" I thought.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: the weight obsessed public seems to forget that weight only matters in relation to performance and performance only matters in relation to fun.
  • 1 0
 @RLoganSx: Exactly. It seems that some bicycle riders and manufacturers are missing this very simple point. We used to call them mopeds.
  • 2 0
 @taletotell: I've never thought to myself a heavier bike would be more fun.
  • 1 0
 @vikb: That's not something to be proud of... my bike could be 11,5kg but it is 3kg heavier and more fun. Sorry at this moment it is at least 15kg. DH tyres are fkng amazing
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: So you are telling me what I should consider fun in a bike? LOL
  • 1 0
 @vikb: I’ve never thought that my bikes mass is in anyway related to my ability to have fun on it.
  • 1 0
 @gonecoastal: That's great. Should save you a whole lot of money!
  • 1 0
 @vikb: Nope. Follow the C.Porter school of thought
  • 1 0
 I disagree. I can tell an E-bike from it's riders shit cadence.
  • 1 0
 @XCMark: Yes. They suck at pedalling the right speed. Haha the nerds. They are lame for that. We are so cool.

Dude I love your comment. It so perfectly contains all the nerdiness and elitism in mountain biking. All it needs is a comment about wheel size to be complete! No no, make it about ovalized chain rings! Carbon? Oh man there are so many options!

RYB dude. Ride your bike.
  • 23 1
 Need some Pinion stickers for my ebike gear box now so I don't get yelled at anymore.
  • 6 0
 Haha. Now I'll never know if the guy with those pinion stickers that beat me up the hill was riding a moped, or if he was just a monster!
  • 6 0
 @pinhead907: I'm glad my pinion sticker distracted you from the 2 cycle exhaust
  • 2 0
 Will the Pinion gearbox be sold by itself? I'm just curious because I know some custom frame builders out there that would want to take a crack at building there own frame with one in it.
  • 1 1
 You mean, 'for your moped'.
  • 12 0
 Oh how I so want to build a titanium hardtail with a gearbox and belt drivetrain...
  • 4 0
 I ride one. It's an awesome combination! Rode the entire winter and never had to wash the bike. Winter and the spring thaw were awesome. Flawless performance, 100% consistent, and only one minute of maintenance dusting off the belt!
  • 1 0
 @lacanuck24: What are you riding? Is it with Pinion, Rohloff or something entirely different? I haven't come across a titanium hardtail with a Pinion gearbox yet. I have been looking at titanium hardtails as a next frame (The Kingdom Vendetta 2 LS looks cool) but then I wanted a gearbox too so I need to go back to steel or I'll never be able to afford it Wink .
  • 1 0
 @vinay: I'm riding a Zero Cycles hardtail. Unfortunately, He doesn't have an independent website but you can find his page on the Book of Face. Full disclaimer, I'm friends with the builder so definitely biased Smile I was really hesitant at first, but I tried my buddy's bike a few times while I was having conventional drivetrain issues, so the stars apparently aligned at the right time. Definitely, an investment that required lots of low-budget spaghetti meals to be eaten, but it was definitely worth it in the end.

Kinda had to learn how to ride a hardtail again because of the different weight distribution, but makes for awesomeness! I uploaded some photos to my profile here.

I wonder whatever happened do Viral/Domahidy Skeptic? No webstore anymore.

My only issue with Pinion is that I want gearboxes on all my bikes. I'm trying to justify a Zerode to my wallet and prepare for more spaghetti. My buddy has one on his road/touring bike. He rode through thick river mud and completely submerged the box in mud and then did another 50km home with zero issues (no pun intended).
  • 1 0
 @lacanuck24: Thanks, that bike looks beautiful! For me buying local it would more likely either be from Portus (Krowd Karl), Olsen or BTR could modify a Ranger frame. Even though I love the concept by Steven Olsen, I don't see myself ride carbon but even that one in steel would be about the same kind of money. But yeah I'm now also wondering how much worse Rohloff would be. On a 2.5kg frame, how much does it matter whether you have an extra kg at the bb or at the rear hub? Those are durable too. And of course it means I can actually share it with a fully as long as I make sure it takes the same axle. Then the unsprung weight does matter but then I was looking at my fully. 600g hub (Fire Eye), 400 or 500g rear mech with axle (Shimano Saint 2007, no rapid rise but still axle mounted) and probably a 350g cassette or so. And it still works and it is not even that far off from a Rohloff rear hub. And of course it doesn't take such a big modification to the frame.

Silly enough I usually find it easier to ride a hardtail. It feels more predictable so I trust it more to find it's limits. The fully is of course better at straightlining the rubble and climbing with less worry about traction, but I find it less predictable through corners. So if I'd get a gearbox, I'd be fine just having one on the hardtail as the fully doesn't get ridden that much. But yeah if you want Pinion on both bikes, it is going to destroy your life.
  • 1 0
 @lacanuck24: I creeped you to check out your bike. That is a beauty, very nice!
  • 3 1
 I've got huge respect for gates belts. Love that I can replace expensive OEM belts with theirs which are often more durable than the originals.

But for bikes... I know several people who used to have gates belt drive... wasn't reliable, was a huge pain in the ass, expensive.

So now gates' bike division has joined up with pinion? Makes me think the actual goal is to put kooky ideas together in the same basket? Hey... maybe they should also sell Lauf forks?
  • 2 0
 I'd love this set up to be on an AM rig. Gearbox is such a good concept. Low maintenance, no unneeded unsprung weight on the rear triangle = instant better suspension action and even a small belt has little stretch and very little upkeep. We use gates belts on our manufacturing (paper manufacturing and converting machines) and they literally run untold months 24/7 under super heavy load without fail.

Oil change would happen so rarely that you'd basically be down to suspension and maybe brakes (which are basically set and forget now a days) as the only maintenance point on a bike. (Got to love sealed bearings)
  • 1 0
 The Pinion-Gates combination is amazing for HARDTAILS! The CDX system is amazingly hassle free. The only maintenance I've ever done was dust off the belt once or twice. I've had my gearbox encased in snow, ice, and mud while the belt and cogs remained clear and the drivetrain performed flawlessly.

The only hassle I see in doing the oil change is taking the time to order the oil, as the actual change might be the easiest drivetrain maintenance I've ever done.

Gearboxes aren't for everyone, but you really shouldn't knock it till you actually try it. My only regret in purchasing one is that now I want one on all my bikes. I'd never run a belt on a full suspension bike unless it had an Effigear box. For Pinion, a chain drive is the way to go. The Nicolai Geometron is a horrible example/application in my opinion. The giant tensioner adds so much drag and, this is the confusing/silly part of the bike, bends the belt the way Gates specifically tells you not to do.

Sadly, people have mistaken my ride for an E-bike, but they end up really confused cause they can't find the battery. The fun part is the people who are too afraid or proud to ask where the battery is and just stare at the bike like a confused 3-year-old.
  • 1 0
 Has anyone any thoughts on belt vs chain? First I thought belt is nice, less maintenance and very durable. But then I read they merely claim it is three times as durable as a chain. Which considering the prince isn't much. Single speed chains don't need to be expensive either, plus of course you won't need a frame with a split rear triangle (or a high chainstay of course). And belt drive pulleys seem to be much more expensive than single speed chainrings though I don't know whether belt drive pulleys wear considerably too. Finally steel chains can be recycled whereas the carbon belt is an ugly piece of trash when worn out. But in the full life cycle, I don't know how the production of a steel chain compares to that of a carbon belt in terms of energy and resources. If anything, I can fix a broken chain on the trail but I won't be able to do that when the belt snaps (if it could actually do that, that is).
  • 3 0
 You will know that gear boxes have arrived when you see World Cup XC racers running them.
  • 1 0
 I'm certainly not against the idea, as long as the tech was where it needs to be to keep it durable and realitively low maintenance for the average rider. Certainly beats replacing broken drivetrain parts after a rough ride.
  • 3 0
 This is a good partnership, very keen to try both products!
  • 2 0
 Having never seen it in person....Do those gears really have to all be that wide?
  • 1 1
 I know these have a 600% range but what is the min/max on a Gates cog in front and rear?
That determines final gear range that I'm focused on.
  • 3 0
 I think they usually come with a 1:1 final drive ratio or close to that. I don't think it's an issue to be honest
  • 1 0
 Put it in the Ebike ,levo
  • 1 0
 Magnifying drag, simplifying life.
  • 1 0
 E-bike nottttt
  • 1 0
 Zerode Taniwha.
  • 1 4
 I can't image manufactures rebuilding carbon frame molds just for a gear box. But for an e-bike, i can see a gear box happening.
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment

Copyright © 2000 - 2019. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.032183
Mobile Version of Website