Viral Bikes Updates Skeptic & Dérive Titanium Gearbox Hardtails for 2021

Nov 28, 2020
by Steve Domahidy  

Press Release: Viral Bikes

For 2021, Viral's Skeptic model gets a whole new frame design while the Derive gets some minor tweaks to geometry.

For the Skeptic, we have taken a more aggressive stance with our original All-Mountain hardtail model. It now features a dropped top tube design for increased standover and longer reach figures. The new frame will see 440/460/480/500mm reaches for their small through XL sizes respectively. The new Skeptic is built around a 150-160mm travel 29er fork and can, as always, be used with either 27.5+ or 29” wheels.

The Derive model remains the same in frame design. We chose to keep the Derive a more traditional double diamond shape to insure maximum frame bag sizes for those who use their Derive for multi-day excursions. It does receive the longer reach treatment of the Skeptic and frame geometry for the Derive is based around a 120mm fork.

bigquotesThe Derive is really a chameleon and works so well in so many different situations. I’ve built them up with rigid forks, Lauf forks, and of course suspension forks up to 130mm. It’s the perfect bike for getting into the backcountry, but it’s so much more versatile than that.Steve Domahidy, Owner & Designer

Frame kits retail for $4795 and include Viral’s triple butted titanium frame, a Pinion C1.12 gearbox, CNC cranks, shifter, Gates CarbonDrive belt and cogs, a lockring tool, and the first year oil change for the gearbox. Colors for 2021 remain the same as last season: raw ti and complete bikes can be built to suit any rider’s needs.

This year, we are offering the same pre-order special as before: put 50% down on a new frame kit and received a free Industry 9 wheelset valued at $1355. We have been offering this pre-order special for their production runs every year, and almost the entire production run is spoken for before they even arrive in the United States.

Please email for any further questions or if you’d like to get in on the pre-order special or hit the attached link to go to their pre-order special order page. Complete builds are possible and pricing is based on individual spec.

More info: or


  • 65 7
 Can somebody make gearboxes mainstream?
  • 4 2
 no ziggy stop
  • 17 5
 eBike has entered the chat
  • 8 3
 Would take some doing. due to lower efficiency of gearbox compared to derailleurs?
  • 17 3
 @aljoburr: to be honest if it’s got the gear range to get me up some steep hills I couldn’t care less if it’s inefficient it could save me 80 quid every 6 months for derailleurs and chains. In my eyes gearboxes are worth it
  • 1 3
 @Ooofff: Could just use a Fixie with flip flop hub?
But soon gets old stopping after every climb to change gear?
  • 22 8
 @Ooofff: A friend of mine has a Zerode with Pinion. You can't change gears under load whatsoever and it's - ugh -gripshift. Another thing to consider: he got a rock strike this spring and it smashed a hole in the box. He had to send it to Germany to have it fixed, and was without the bike for two months. Had it been a smashed derailleur it could have been replaced that afternoon... Personally I'm never getting a gearbox, they have some real drawbacks in their current state.
  • 5 0
 I think/hope they'll get there soon. I'd like my next bike to have a gearbox. What would be great is for the mounting to be standardised so you could get a frame only option. A further step would be a removable bolt on interface to fit a conventional bottom bracket. Universal frames with interchangeble modular drivetrain fitments. Never gonna happen.
  • 27 2
 @SimbaandHiggins: Smashing a hole in a Zerode gearbox seems more comparable to smashing a hole in a frame, not breaking a derraileur...
  • 1 1
  • 6 1
 @fielonator: you know pinion has standard pinion mount. so you can always swap frame or gearbox.
  • 2 0
 @vitality: yip, and for now they seem the most popular choice for frame builders. There are others though, if and when Shimano come to the party there'll be another one.
  • 6 3
 @Ooofff: who the hell replaces chains and derailers that often? Cassette and chain one a year is good. Derailer when it breaks or stops working. Which aunt every 6 months or your full of it)
  • 5 4
 Friction box
  • 10 0
 @SimbaandHiggins: the thing is though you learn to adapt - it's actually easier than derailleurs once you get it. You take the load off the drivetrain for just a fraction of a second, and you can drop as many gears as you want, instantaneously. When I rode a gearbox, I actually PREFERRED the shifting. Now, the engagement lag and efficiency of a Pinion are another topic
  • 1 2
 @stiingya: you bend the chain links or bend the derailleur by waking it. But tbh after these gripshift and not being able to shift under load and poor customer service I think I’ll stick with my several broken derailleurs
  • 2 0
 @vitality: Now find me a bike shop that has a Pinion gearbox just sitting around waiting for you.
  • 1 0
 @fielonator: Well that not going to happen, but can used an e bike frame to make your own?
  • 1 0
 What about the 'derailleur in a box in the middle of the bike' approach that Dave Camp and possibly Honda used? It seems like that might solve a lot of the issues, i.e. the actual mechanical internals might be lighter and you can use a normal shifter. Was there a reason they didn't catch on? I guess it's a lot of stuff to try and package right where you want the suspension pivot and seatpost to go?
  • 1 0
 @Woody25: Shimano is working on that. It was announced a little over a year ago.
  • 1 0
 There is a simpler solution - 2 speed mechanism at the cranks, paired with a 5 speed tiny rear derailleur. Little more complex to set up if you don't go with the e shifting route, but this solves a lot of issues. The setup will be lighter, the unsprung mass lower with lack of dinner plates at the rear, you can shift gears under load, while having the ability to change into climbing gear at the front without pedaling.
  • 2 0
 @c-radicallis: not announced at all really. Some patents were found online for a design like that but that doesn’t mean much.
  • 1 1
 @ComradeLorry: Means a lot given the level of detail into which the patent went.
  • 1 0
 @Woody25: By putting derailleur in a box in the middle of the bike,Problem is that 2 stage drive, robbed that extra 1% of efficiency unless sealed?
Tried on motorcycles back in the 50s, but drive overheated, but that would not happen on a bike, may be on an e=bike?
  • 1 0
 @aljoburr: I'd say the 2 stage drive will still be more efficient than tradicional systems since you will always have a straight chain line, and will have perfect lubrication on all parts inside the gearbox.
  • 1 0
 @c-radicallis: You can have chains inside a gearbox, & 2 stage is less efficient?
Unless you can prove differently, as did a lot of research, before patenting
But patent ?
  • 1 0
 @aljoburr: I could not understand your comment
  • 1 0
 @c-radicallis: Hears a link to patent, Idea flawed in respect that would make gearing parts last too long

hears my patent
  • 1 0
 @bitterbiker: sex on the beach?
  • 25 9
 Honestly, Im not really into it. To each their own, but derailleurs are getting really really good, easy to work on, and cheap to replace. I genuinely like the feelings, and I have yet to see anything convincing showing a gear box is as efficient. I also dont think theyll ever be mainstream because of price spectrum. I dont see the economics of a deore level gear box that is heavy, but works almost as well as an XTR level one. Assuming all bikes in a product line cant have an equally functional, but differently featured and weighted gear box, no major manufacturer is going to invest in the tech in anything other than a token fashion. Like it or, imo gearboxes will always be niche products.
  • 16 4
 I always thought this was as well until I started riding in the pnw where it is all mud 75% of the year. It literally eats bikes, destroys suspensions, etc. Everyone has those mobi pressure sprayers in the trunk for EVERY RIDE. I already ride only the gravel bike after November and am thinking about the switch to a single speed in the winter so I don't have a drivetrain to clean.
It's probably worse in the UK. honestly a 3-4 speed system with big gaps and plenty of range would keep me happy. My big problem with gearboxes is the efficiency....
  • 32 2
 "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943
  • 8 3
 @Mtmw: Efficiency of gearboxes was tested to be either better or on par with traditional systems, I don't think efficiency is really a factor. Weight and price might be though. I ride with Rohloff gearbox and love it, but it's a pretty unique setup, I don't see any MTBers doing the same. Also live in PNW (Vancouver) and not having to clean your drivetrain is a godsend.
  • 6 0
 Gearboxes have the advantage of massively reducing the unsprung mass. There is a video in this article showing the difference: . Efficiency aside, gearboxes are clearly the way to go for downhill oriented bikes. Reviews of the nicolai gearbox bikes seem to back this up.

When it comes to XC bikes and hardtails, though it might not be worth it. I could maybe see them being a thing for very technical XC riding.
  • 2 2
So you are still using a chain, a chain tensioner aka "fixed" dereilleur an not cleaning your moving drivetrain parts somehow doesn't reduce YOUR efficiency but somehow does reduce it for EVERY other conventional rear dereilleur setup. Please explain... ????
  • 1 0
 @Mtmw: One solution for your problem, would be to cover normal derailleur, making it a gear box?
But even though will work well, has other unforeseen reasons for not being available!
Any one know why that is, as I do ?
  • 1 0
 How much more do gearboxes tend to weigh compared to say a mid-level dreaileur (like xt or gx)?
  • 4 1
 The modern chain drive system is basically really good, which makes it hard for gearboxes to beat. With expensive bikes (where you can bear the cost of a gearbox potentially) being predominantly suspension, a gearbox bike still needs something like a mech to take up the chain growth. So you end up with nearly all the complexity of a chain drive system as well as a bunch of big heavy gears in a box. And the gears have to be big because 60-100kg of cyclist on the end of a 175mm lever produces a lot of torque. Personally, can't see it being mainstream for analogue bikes. Integrated gearbox and e-motor, that could easily be a future...
  • 2 1
 Derailleurs work good. Personally what I hate are chains (and yeah I know most full sus gearbox bikes use a chain with a tensioner).
I've tried all kinds of lubes, tried wax. But I spend so much time with cleaning my drivetrain when I ride in dry and dusty conditions in the summer. So to me a belt driven drivetrain sounds like just about the best thing ever.
  • 2 4
 @Mtmw: Fake news. The UK is not even in the same league for rainfall as the PNW. Bellingham WA gets 39" rain + 9 inches of snow. I live near Dartmoor UK where we get less than 33" of rain and Maybe 1" of snow.
I replace my chain annually out of habit as I can't be arsed with the risk of is snapping but that is probably overkill.
  • 1 0
 Exactly, this is a heavier and more complex fix fir something that's already been fixed... 30 years ago if they would have had gear boxes to the point they are now it would have made sense to change over. But at this point there is no point...
  • 2 0
 @iliveonnitro: if gear boxes improve in tech the way computers have, going from needing a warehouse to fiting in your pocket, and exponentially better, etc. then you have a point that maybe someday they will make more sense than a derailer.

BUT, the difference in your analagy here is that there wasn't already something filling the need of computers that in some ways functioned better, mature in it's tech, highly adaptable, easily available, widely used, comparably cheaper and far easier to work on and update by an average user.

In no way us your analagy apples to apples...
  • 2 0
 @scoobydan: Speak for yourself. The west of Scotland / Wales is soaking. Saying "fake news" doesn't make it so.
  • 7 2
 Could care less if derailleurs shifting performance is "really, really good",etc...

The fact is they were never designed for mountain biking, they are always one rock or random stick away from ride-ending destruction, and they look dumb as f#ck.

Good luck trying to save the the archaic derailleur. E bikes are taking over and e bikes will have gearboxes because they make even more sense for e bikes. Once that happens derailleurs will finally face extinction except in the lycra xc crowd, which is appropriate given derailleurs roadie roots.
  • 1 0
 @iliveonnitro: Oh... that's why IBM's NLP system is called Watson!
  • 1 0
 @Mtmw: That makes a lot of sense. I guess if you're bike has 4 pounds of mud on it 20 mins into the ride then the extra weight of the gearbox is effectively moot.
  • 11 0
 The main thing i think about this bike is that its basically about as maintenance free as it gets. Lauf fork does not need to be serviced. Gearbox needs oil change like once every few years.
  • 2 0
 Yes first thing on this bike to need any maintenance will be the brakes?
Got to love riding your bike in mud, might as well lubricate with grinding paste?
  • 1 0
 I've read (no first hand experience) that Lauf fork is great for smoothing small bumps (like break bumps for instance) but is terrible for bigger stuff and tends to behave like a pogo stick on them since you don't have any means to adjust rebound and pressure. Plus reportedly it has wicked side flex so cornering on it doesn't feel fun at all. Based on all of that I'm kinda surprised Lauf fork is here, it's like either what I read was very wrong (and I researched because I thought about getting a Lauf fork), or this bike isn't meant for serious mountainbiking but more like countryside riding around.
  • 5 0
 Does...does it have warts?
  • 2 0
 Must attach all the tings to my bike!!
  • 2 1
 I'd love to ride a gearbox to see how they feel. I love the idea of them, but I can't help but think that any drag will be very noticeable, especially on a bike like this designed to be simple and lightweight. Even the notion of increased drag will be a mental block for many. Although as my riding is currently limited to commuting on road on an ebike...maybe I'm not the best case study!
  • 2 1
 Gear boxes are cool. Personally, I'd like to see more R&D put into internally geared hubs like what Shimano uses on city cruiser bikes for example. There was actually an article on here not long ago about a company working on a 22-speed wirelessly shifted internally geared hub. This is the direction I feel drivetrain tech is headed once the weight and size becomes reasonable. Now you have no cables to worry about and your drvetrain looks like a BMX bike with a single ring up front and a cog in the back with all the gearing wirelessly shifted inside the hub.
  • 4 0
 I don't know, I'm skeptical...
  • 3 0
 looks like Lacrau only twicely expensive
  • 1 0
 If a titanium hard tail with a pinion is what you’re into... a solace cycle is just that with far better lines and design.
  • 1 1
 Gearboxes are certainly the superior concept. In theory anyways. It's just a crying shame that, in reality, so far most of them suck.
  • 1 0
 Yay. I'm so excited. This new toilet paper will impress my guests and wipe my button.
  • 1 0
 For UK folk this is the answer and you can have it with a belt
  • 1 0
 Given that it is 2020 and all, Viral should renounce the Skeptic name and go with something like "Believer", "Threat", etc.
  • 1 0
 You know what? I think it actually looks like an ebike and that’s not a good thing.
  • 2 1
 Wow who could afford that?
  • 5 3
 Price out a moots hardtail with xtr 12 speed and four replacement cassettes to compare to this ti gearbox hardtail.
  • 6 1
 It's a ti frame that includes the entire drivetrain. Seems par for the course.
  • 3 1
 @BobbyHillbomb: and wheels.
  • 1 0
 Those cranks look kind of cheap for such an expensive frame kit.
  • 1 1
 actually they are cnc cranks, but gearbox is cheaper s version. with 0 water isolation for gear shifter. imho, any pinion bike without P series is waist of money.
  • 1 0
 Carbon cranks are available aftermarket.
  • 1 0
 So, a badged Chinese frame?... That's cool, I guess
  • 5 3
 eww waste of Ti
  • 1 1
 I would rather spend my coin on a Kingdom Vendetta, with or without a gearbox, and save a good amount of money!
  • 1 0
 Like the fiddling*
  • 1 2
 i have more faith in an e-bike
  • 1 1
 That fork can do one!!
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