the German transmission maker, debuted a second-tier version of its 12-speed P1 bottom-bracket-mounted transmission. The C1.12 is lighter, slimmer and less expensive than its predecessor, and will be offered in twelve, nine, and six-speed configurations. Pinion says the C1's internals are the same as the more expensive P1 gearbox, and attributes much of its weight and cost savings to the C1's magnesium casing, which is stated to be pver 30-percent lighter than the P1 model's CNC-machined aluminum housing. Pinion co-founder and engineer Christoph Lermen would not yet quote a retail price for the new transmission, but made it clear that it would be appearing on mid-priced trail bikes with MSRP's in the neighborhood of $3000 USD.
That should be great news for gearbox hopefuls, because the high price of existing geared transmissions, like Pinion's 18 and 12-speed P1 models, has relegated their use to expensive, limited-production boutique bikes. The new C1.12 provides potential OEM customers with the ability to offer viable options to clanky chains and derailleurs at both high-end and mid-level price points. Scale-ability, being able to offer a gearbox platform at a variety of price options, has been a barrier for interested bike brands.
The 12-speed C1.12 will arrive first this autumn, followed by a nine-speed trail and a six-speed DH option. All will continue to feature Pinion's two-cable twist shifter, although Co-founder Christoph Lemen tells us that they are working on a trigger lever that will sync with the transmission's rotary shifting mechanism. The narrower C1 housing allowed Pinion to reduce the Q-factor width of 165 millimeters and offer chain lines as narrow as 50 millimeters. All of the Pinion-equipped bikes at Dirt Demo were fitted with Gates Carbon Drive cog belts, however conventional narrow-wide chainrings are also an option. Overall weight of the 12-speed C1.12 transmission is pegged at 2100 grams.
RC: I understand that the internals are the same between the high-end P12 transmission and the less expensive C-series. Where did the savings come from?
Christoph Lermen: Pinion Founder
I met with Christoph Lermen, one of Pinion's two founders and co-designer of the C1 transmission for a short question and answer session. Lermen was very animated while speaking about the new gearbox, saying that they had secured a number of OEM bike makers who will be spec'ing C-series transmissions on production models for the coming 2017 season.
RC: What type of bicycles should we expect to see the new C1.12 transmissions on next year?
Christoph: Mainly, trekking bicycles - with fenders and lights. Not the kind of bicycles you see very often in the US. We also have customers who will be using them on plus and fat-bikes. We, of course, also will see the C-series gearboxes on mountain bikes.
Christoph: We industrialized most of the components. By this, I mean that we designed most of the parts to be manufactured more effectively and in larger quantities. For instance: the P-line casings begin as a large block of aluminum and then we machine away over eighty percent of that metal to make the final parts. Of course, all of those chips become recycled and are again melted to be used for something, but you can see that this is an expensive way to make the parts. We cast the C1 casings, which is faster and much less costly. Also, we use automakers to produce the gears and shafts. Those must be made in large quantities, because, as you can imagine, they are used to making thousands of parts and we can only buy so many. The C-line has been well-accepted by our OEM customers, so that has helped us to increase our orders.
RC: How much weight savings did you achieve from the switch to magnesium?
Christoph: The magnesium casings are 33-percent lighter than the aluminum casings. We made them more compact, so there is also a reduction in the Q-factor. This also means that the C-line does not have room enough for the 18-speed gears. We only offer the twelve, nine and six-speed gears - which also saves some weight.RC: How complicated is the Pinion gearbox to work on?
Christoph: It is actually very easy to assemble. We counted the parts needed for Shimano's Alfine eight-speed hub transmission and also ours, and we use far less parts. More important, is that our gearbox is designed much simpler, so it is not so hard to put together.
• Construction: Magnesium housing with bash protection.
• Gear options: 12, 9 and 6-speed
• Compatibility: Pinion mount interface only
• Final drive: Narrow-wide or Gates Carbon Drive sprocket
• Shifter: Twist-grip indexing
• Crankset Pinion aluminum crank arms
• MSRP: TBD
• Contact: Pinion