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Review: Zerode G3 - A Belt Driven, Gearbox Equipped DH Bike

Apr 23, 2024 at 11:10
by Matt Beer  

Kiwis are known for doing things a little differently, and Zerode Bikes is a prime example of that. They've been designing frames in New Zealand for over a decade. However, the philosophies of Rob Metz, the founder of Zerode Bikes, date back to 2001(check out their history here).

Their first production frame, the G1 downhill bike, was reminiscent of, yet more attainable than another obscure Kiwi creation; the Lahar M8, which also used a high-pivot design and internally geared hub.

Bring it back to the present day and you’ll find the G3, an evolution in the Zerode G-series. The mixed-wheeled, aluminum chassis continues to use a high-pivot suspension design but the drivetrain has been streamlined. Replacing the bulky hub and dual chain transmission is a belt driven, 6-speed Pinion gearbox.
G3 Details

• Aluminum frame
• Travel: 200 mm, 203 mm fork
• Wheel size: Mixed
• 142x12mm single speed rear hub
• Pinion C.Line 6-speed gearbox
• 63-degree head angle
• Chainstays: 440mm (static)
• Reach: 435, 460, 485mm
• Weight: 19.0 kg / 41.9 lb (size MD - tested)
• Colors: red, grey, raw (brushed)
• Price: $10,300-$10,795 NZD
• Frame kit: $6,000 NZD (shock, gearbox, drivetrain, shifter)
• Smart.Shift upgrade - $675 NZD
zerodebikes.com

Ultimately, the G3 is geared towards riders who have asked for increased security and silence from their drivetrain, whether that's a racer-type or simply a rider who loves lapping bike parks. Adding to that derailleur-free bliss, 200mm of travel arcs rearward to smooth out square-edge hits.




Contents

bigquotesThere's a magical sense about the G3's rearward axle path and derailleur-free drivetrain that helps it float through the choppiest trails. Matt Beer





G-series Evolution

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The unpainted steel G1 prototype.
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And the production G1 which was released in 2011.

Zerode 010
A G2 evolved to work with dual 27.5" wheels in 2013.
Sam Blenkinsop s Zerode G3
Fifteen years later, the high-pivot, gearbox traits live on in the G3.





Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay

Frame Details

For what appears complicated to work on, the G3’s aluminum frame is surprisingly easy to service, however, there are some specifications that are pointing out.

The rear hub uses the older standard of non-Boost with a width of 142mm and a 12mm diameter axle. The Pinion belt cog also runs on a single speed driver to maximize the hub flange, so finding a replacement wheel in a pinch will be less likely than the common sizes of 148 and 157mm of today’s standards.

Zerode has also kindly allowed for the rear brake line to be run neatly into either side of the top tube, depending on which side you prefer to run your rear brake on. If you opt for the frame kit, you will want to pay attention to the 203 mm post brake mount. The wire runs through the downtube to the gearbox and battery while the cable actuated version exits just above the crankset.

Adjustments on the G3 are limited. There are no alternate chainstay lengths or shock progression flip-chips, however, the reach could be increased by using an aftermarket +/-10mm headset in the full ZS56 head tube. The built-in bumpers are substantial in thickness and even limited the turning radius of a Fox 40.

Zerode covers their frames with a lifetime warranty for the original owner and has tons of literature available on their website that explains how to care for the gearbox and belt.

Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
If Rube Goldberg designed a downhill bike.
Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
The G3 exclusively uses a Pinion C.Line 6-speed Gearbox and Gates carbon belt, although you can choose between a mechanical or electronic shift system.

Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
The Pinion Smart.Shift uses a dual action thumb paddle with similar ergonomics to a TRP shifter. The charge port connects next to the shifter. Separate wires are shrink wrapped together and run internally through the downtube.
Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
A 142mm-wide DT Swiss 350 Hybrid single speed hub keeps the rear triangle width to a minimum.




Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay

Drivetrain

The 6-speed Pinion C1.6 gearbox is standard equipment on the G3, however there’s a choice between mechanical or electronic shifting. The 6-speeds give a 295% range with ratios starting at 2.86 and ending at 8.44. Each step is said to be a 24.3% change.

One of the largest deterrents to the mechanical system is the need to stop pedaling in order to change gears. The second is the twist shifter. The C1.6i Smart.Smart gearbox upgrade takes care of both of those drawbacks.

A sensor in each of the 165mm long crank arms takes care of the semi-automatic shifting by changing gears at the 6 and 12-o’clock crank positions when the torque instantaneously hits zero. The ergonomic dual push button shifter has rubberized paddles that take little effort to tap through the gears. The Pinion app connects by Bluetooth, allowing for quick calibrations, shifter direction and further tuning to be personalized.

Pinion says the battery nestled inside lasts 20,000 shifts, or 100 hours. In less than 3 hours, the battery can reach full charge. The connector is located next to the shifter and runs parallel on a wire, but is wrapped together with the shifter wire. Regarding the Gates carbon belt, those should last 30,000km, roughly three times as long as any chain.

The Gates carbon belt has a molded central ridge to hold it in line with the middle of the grooved cogs. Removing the rear wheel requires unbolting the rear axle and then lifting the belt off of the lower pulley to give enough slack in the system.

As for the efficiency, Zerode acknowledges studies on their website here that state there can be efficiency loses in gearboxes and drivetrains, however, those were tested again chain and derailleur drivetrains in ideal conditions. We’ll weigh in about how that stacks up in the real world later in the ride impressions.

All of Pinion’s C-Line gearboxes are covered by a 2-year (optional to upgrade to 3) warranty and require an oil change every 10,000km. Their detailed FAQ page with even more info can be found here.

photo




Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
Zerode's G-series downhill bikes have always been frames designed around a high-pivot design. The floating chainstay arm pulls on a rocker link that pivots around a large bearing centered in the flat braces of the interrupted seat tube.

Suspension Design

Keeping form with its predecessors, the G3 uses a rate controlled, single pivot suspension design. The main pivot placed very high on the main frame and the floating chainstay pulls on the short rocker link, quickly creating an extremely progressive leverage rate. Not only does the rate change very fast from 3.3 to 2.4, but it remains around that lower leverage for the last 50mm of travel.

What sets the G3 apart from most other high pivot bikes which use an inverted Horst Link, such as the Forbidden Supernought and Norco Range, is that the seatstay runs uninterrupted to the axle. Instead, the dropout pivot is placed on the chainstay. This provides a completely rearward arcing axle path but doesn’t allow for the same degree of freedom to tune the ant-squat or anti-rise and the aforementioned bikes.

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The anti-squat is fairly neutral, hovering around 100% in the sag window. On the other hand, the anti-rise is very high, even for a high pivot bike. That number aligns to about 166%. While some critics will claim that this firms up the suspension under braking, this did not seem to be the case on the trail.

Reaching the high speed rebound dial of the Fox DHX2 means unbolting one end of the shock and cycling the suspension. It’s not a huge time commitment, or an adjustment that is often changed, but it does take an extra step over a fully-exposed damper.

Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
All of the shock bolts and pivots are easily accessible, including the lower rocker point, thanks to a bored hole in the shock tunnel.
Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
The G3 has a progressive leverage ratio ramps up quickly.




photo

Geometry

The sizes of the G3 are limited to three: small, medium, large. At 435, 460, and 485 mm in reach, those reach measurements could be considered standard, but may exclude riders above the 188cm/6’2” mark, or thereabouts. A short 105mm head tube is used across all frame sizes, so it wouldn't be surprised to see riders swapping out the 25mm rise handlebar for a higher perch.

Offsetting the G3's other irregular frame specifications, its geometry is contemporary for a downhill bike. A 63° head angle is par for the course and a -4 mm BB drop, from the rear axle, makes it low without scraping the ground. At static, the chainstays measures 440 mm for all three sizes and continue to grow as the bike goes through its travel.




Specifications
Specifications
Release Date 2023
Price $6050
Travel 200
Rear Shock Fox DHX2, 250x75
Fork Fox 40 Factory 29, Grip2, 29
Headset Cane Creek zs56/zs56
Cassette Pinion C1.6 - 6 speed gearbox
Crankarms Pinion 165mm
Chainguide Custom skid plate
Bottom Bracket Pinion
Chain Gates belt
Rear Derailleur N/A
Shifter Pods Pinion Smart.Shift
Handlebar Title 35, 800x25mm
Stem Title DM 35, 46mm
Grips Zerode
Brakes Hayes Dominion A4, 200mm F/R
Hubs DT swiss 350
Spokes DT Champion
Rim DT Swiss FR541
Tires Maxxis Assegai / DHR ll
Seat Title JS1
Seatpost Title 31.6mm



Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
The aluminum frame of the Zerode G3 is finished with alloy Title AH1 handlebars and DT Swiss 540 rims. Fox Factory suspension, Hayes Dominion brakes, and Maxxis tires round out the complete build kit.
Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
The beauty of gearboxes is that you can change gears without pedalling. What's even more appealing, Pinion's Smart.Shift new-age gearbox can now handle shifting under load.







Test Bike Setup

All of the components, aside from the drivetrain, were familiar to me, expediting the setup process, and downloading and connecting the Pinion app to the gearbox took no time at all. I set the shifter to the traditional direction; the lower lever moved to easier gears and the higher lever to higher gears.

After thinning out to 78kg (including my downhill kit) following the NZ MTB Rally, Zerode suggested 25-50% sag and starting with Fox’s recommended base settings in "Table B” for the 425lb spring on the 75mm stroke DHX2 shock.

I managed to hit the 25% sag number with half a turn of preload on the coil and remembered how Sam Blenkinsop had setup his G3 for Red Bull Hardline. Although he’s roughly the same weight, he’s been known to run a firm rear end and was running a 500# spring. Given the impacts on that track are way gnarlier than what I’d be taking on, I figured I’d lean into his preferences for the G3.
photo
Matt Beer
Location: Squamish, BC, Canada
Age: 37
Height: 5'10" / 178 cm
Weight: 170 lb / 77 kg
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @mattb33r

The high-speed compression was set 6 clicks open from a total of 8 when closed and the low-speed compression sat 13/16 clicks from closed. On the rebound side, the high-speed rebound was 4/8 open and low-speed at 7/16.

From there, the Fox 40 was set to 84 psi with my usual preferences, a hint less compression and rebound damping than Fox’s suggested settings.

Given the low bar and stack height, I raised the front end height by sliding the stanchions down in the crowns.

On the handling front, I personally would have preferred a shorter offset fork. At head angles of 63 degrees, I find 52mm offset crowns make the front wheel flop unpredictably part way through tighter turns.





Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay

Descending

I spent a week thrashing an Ibis HD6’s around the Queenstown bike park before jumping on the Zerode G3. I’m not knocking the enduro bike’s performance, since it’s a totally different type of bike with less travel, however, it was almost comedic when I dropped into the first rough section of trail on the G3 - the high-pivot suspension and calm belt drive simply floated down rattly brake bumps.

This wasn’t my first ride on a high-pivot downhill bike, or a belt-driven bike either, but when you put the two together, it’s astounding how it mutes the chaos of a beat down, blown out bike park.

Sure, there’s still the usual caveats of that rearward axle path. You’ll need a few laps to adjust to the rear wheel returning to its resting position as you launch off of jumps, but with a balanced suspension setup, it becomes as natural as any other suspension type.

The only place I found that it became strange was steep, tight, bermed corners (think of trails like Angry Pirate in Whistler or KY in Queenstown). In those instances, where it’s tough to totally drop the rear brake, the chainstay extends. This can feel like you’re being stretched or pulled slower through the turn.

Opinions vary as to what the ideal amount of anti-rise actual is, but I didn't have any complaints about how the Zerod behaved under heavy braking. The higher anti-rise level means that the head angle is better preserved since the fork also undergoes compression while braking. Because of this, I found my confidence grew and I felt safer to hit those turns faster and faster, finding more and more traction.

Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay

The aluminum frame and wheels help the G3 track exceptionally well through rough spurts, dissipating any vibrations that might be sent through the chassis. Literally, the only sounds you can hear are the tires rolling on hard packed surfaces, and sadly, the brake pads jiggling in the calipers.

Recognizing that there may be a more centralized weight distribution from the gearbox might be a confirmation bias, but the one thing that is clear is that the rear wheel acts as if it’s chainless, obviously. Perhaps it’s better to say that it is unimpeded by the tension of a derailleur clutch or feedback from a bouncing chain. The light, calm feeling of the belt that wraps around the single cog on the rear wheel is incomparable to any other bike I’ve ridden with a derailleur.

Learning how the gearbox bangs between cogs also takes a second. There’s no clutch in the system or a chain to ease the gap between gear reductions. It slams into place instantly, and with authority, at least most of the time (I’ll get into that below).

Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay




Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay

Technical Report

Title Bar and Stem: The G3’s headtube isn’t the tallest and I’d wager most riders would prefer a higher rise bar. Handlebar bends come in all flavors. These are 5 degrees up, 9 degrees back. The backsweep of the AH1 alloy bar felt even greater than that, with a seemingly late bend.

The 46mm long DM1 stem has a massive 86mm clamping width and a thoughtful cross brace on top of the crown to shrug off any thoughts of twisting in a tumble.

Hayes Dominion A4 Brakes: Hayes Dominion brakes have a nice and light lever action with a tool-free adjust. After coming off of the newly released SRAM Maven brakes, I missed the savage power compared to the somewhat numb powerband of the Dominions. Furthermore, the brake pads rattling in the caliper killed the otherwise stealthy ride of the G3.

Drivetrain: I’ve ridden Pinion’s mechanical gearboxes before and disliked the two most apparent traits of the system: the twist shifter and the requirement to stop pedaling when changing gears. The electronic trigger shifter is more conveniently arranged and safer compared to the twist shifter, which requires easing up on your grip. It takes a short amount of time to adapt to the location of the buttons compared to the natural position of a SRAM or Shimano shifter.

As for the precision and timing of the shifts, again, it’s an improvement over the mechanical system. Occasionally, the shifts lagged, only to clunk into place unexpectedly a few moments later. Zerode did preface that Pinion is working to optimize the location of the sensor in the non-drive side crank arm. Banging through the gears always felt solid, like a derailleur's upshift, except in both directions.

The gap in the 6-speed gears are noticeable, and I felt the steps between each one were greater than a 7-speed Sram X0 DH setup, particularly between the two highest gears. Elsewhere, the pick up speed of the hub's clutch and gearbox don't add up to the most responsive crank inputs either.

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A small tab below the rear cog dissipates regular oscillations in the belt caused during pedalling. At some point, possibly in transit, while riding, or loading the bike onto carriers, the plastic piece was compromised and caused the belt to skip on the cogs when placed under tension.

The absence of a derailleur doesn’t mean this unique drivetrain was without issues, though. On day four with the G3, a sudden sense of skipping gears started causing a racket. The hub clutch was inspected and then the gearbox was recalibrated; it turns out that the small tensioner that hides below the rear cog became weakened. This led to the belt skipping on the cogs when the crank arms reached maximum torque.

That may have been bumped during shipping. Striking this critical component would be extremely difficult while riding and I don’t recall bumping this at any time. No exterior damage or scuffs were visible either. Zerode identified the problem once the bike was returned. They’re working to increase the integrity of this guide and the depth of the bolt that holds it in place.




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Which Model is the Best Value?

Deciding on the best value for your money with the G3 involves two main decisions: mechanical or electronic gearbox, and complete build or frame only?

If you’re after the electronic Pinion Smart.Shift unit you’ll have to cough up an extra $650 NZD or settle for the mechanical twist-shifter. Is it worth the extra cash? Considering that the Smart.Shift automatically meshes the gears, regardless of how much torque is on the cranks, it’s a huge leap forward in gearbox technology. You also move away from that old school, twist shifter system, making it a no-brainer in my mind.

There’s just one complete build kit option for the G3, nearly identical to the one featured here - the only out-of-spec component on this build versus the listed parts were the Hayes Dominion brakes - Magura MT7s and TRP DH-Evos are the regular starters in the stopping department. Beginning at $10,300 NZD, it’s a solid choice of parts for hammering downhill tracks with a tough wheelset, powerful brake sets, and quality suspension.

For those wishing to build one from the frame up though, that’s an option too. The $6,000 NZD frame kit includes all of the necessary gearbox and drivetrain components (cranks, cogs, belt, shifter), plus a Fox DHX2 shock. Keen to match up the dampers? Zerode sells the G3 frame kit with a Fox 40 Factory for $7,800 NZD.

The complete build kit with the Smart.shift would be my pick. The components are all of excellent value, plus a conventional drivetrain won't transfer over and it's likely you'd need to build the G3's specific 142mm rear wheel.

Zerode ships their bikes directly from New Zealand, so for some consumers, the exchange rate could be of benefit but they’ll have to factor in taxes, shipping and the usual customs duties. Estimates on shipping would be $985 NZD for complete bikes or $775 for framesets. Taxes are expected to be in the range of $500-$750 NZD.

To keep things simple for US customers, Zerode has committed to approximate landed costs of: $4,325 USD for the frame kit, $5,525 USD - frame kit with a Fox 40 Factory, and $7,245 USD will score the complete bike. Those prices exclude the Smart.Shift system.




Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay
Zerode G3
Antidote Darkmatter - photos Satchel Cronk
Antidote Darkmatter

How Does It Compare?

Picking a downhill bike to compare to the G3 took me a second because it's one-of-a-kind. The only other close rival would be the Gamux DH-prototype with the same drivetrain and (single) high-pivot design. We’ll have to wait to swing a leg over that one though.

A closer competitor would be the high-pivot Antidote Darkmatter. Obvious contrasting points are the frame materials, drivetrain, and overall weight. The Darkmatter, a.k.a. the carbon spaceship, is 5.5 kg lighter than the G3.

Zerode’s aluminum DH rig is a hell of a lot more comfortable. The frame's alloy tubing damps more vibrations and then there’s that uninterrupted start to the suspension. A low unsprung weight and rubberized carbon belt take the G3’s suppleness and silence to a level that can’t be attained with a chain and derailleur.

Sprinting off the line is not the G3’s forte. Whether it’s the high-pivot, belt drive, gearbox, or a total loss of that system. Ever try to run on a sandy beach? Ok, maybe it’s not that bad, but there’s a serious amount of effort sapped from the pedals versus the direct power driven to the ground on the Darkmatter.




Zerode G3 Review. Photo credit Riley McLay


Pros

+ Smart.Shift gear changes and trigger shifter are a massive improvement over the mechanical system.
+ Suspension absorbs braking bumps and square edges brilliantly.
+ Calming ride quality with the absence of a bouncing chain or tension from a derailleur's clutch.

Cons

- Acceleration is not its strong point.
- Could be too progressive for some rider's tastes.
- Finding replacement parts for the drivetrain and outdated rear hub size could be a challenge.


Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe G3 lands near the top of my list for downhill bikes that deliver superior grip and have the ability to delete square-edge impacts. Just be prepared to cough up some power when you get on the pedals - it's not the lightest or most efficient bike.

The unconventional drivetrain has its advantages and disadvantages; it's less susceptible to damage and wear, but you'll want to keep the necessary proprietary parts on hand if you're traveling to races or road tripping to bike parks. 
Matt Beer







Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
378 articles

144 Comments
  • 127 1
 Gearboxes definitely make a lot of sense for DH bikes. I'm down for it.
  • 34 0
 Agreed. Normal drivetrains take such a beating at the park, and the efficiency gains of a derailleur are hardly used.
  • 16 0
 Agreed. I have a Peregrine DH bike equipped with the 6 speed pinion and it is perfect for park laps. The weight and losses aren't an issue, at least for me, at the parks, and not worrying about derailleur maintenence is awesome.
  • 1 0
 I’m down!
  • 11 0
 I think like 3 or 4 gears is all you really need and tightly spaced too. I run single speed and only time notice it is on way to lift in morning. Once you drop in there's no real need for gears, 2 speed would do me to be honest.
  • 10 0
 This bike with a Pinion MGU and seat tube that's long enough to take a dropper please.
  • 5 0
 @eae903 and for the bikes with a battery..
  • 5 0
 The losses also reduce significantly as the gearbox wears in

I don't know about Pinion's, but for Rohloff hubs this takes a few 1000 km

I wonder if reviewers are receiving relatively new gearboxes?
  • 2 0
 @overconfident: true for pinions too
  • 2 0
 Gearboxes are good for enduro too. I don’t know why everybody complains about shifting. I own the Zerode Taniwha Mullet for 4 years now with the pinion c1.9.
You can shift under load. Only 3-4, and 6-7 are not possible to shift under load.
So if you know that you get used to it in the most difficult conditions without any problems.
What do other Zerode owners think?
  • 81 2
 "If Rube Goldberg designed a downhill bike."

A derailleur looks WAY more Rube Goldberg! Push a lever that turns a wheel that pulls a cable that pulls a lever that moves a parallelogram that moves a clutch and holds a cage that hold wheels that push a chain into shapes machined into a stack of gears so that the shapes catch the chain and move it up and down the stack of cogs. Yeah, simple!
  • 5 0
 ^ This guy Ruben Goldbergs. ^
  • 4 2
 Derailleur is easy to work on, cheap and it works. People complain about them too much.
  • 6 0
 @spaced: some derailleurs aren't so cheap anymore. In certain instances a derailleur works fine, in my area they take much abuse, probably replace two or three a week (I wrench in a rental shop in Moab) I recently built a Pinion/Gates equipped MTB for riding in the desert, no more worries about snagging a rock and ripping off my derailleur, no more sand wearing out my chains/chainrings/cassettes prematurely. I absolutely love it.
  • 70 0
 "Removing the rear wheel requires unbolting the rear axle and then lifting the belt off of the lower pulley to give enough slack in the system."
So, just like on a bike.
  • 11 0
 I just cut my chain with a bolt cutter and install a new one when i put the wheel back in
  • 38 0
 Zerode is one of those brands that seem to be ahead and still get everything right (allmost).
  • 8 46
flag ridedigrepeat FL (Apr 29, 2024 at 9:41) (Below Threshold)
 142 rear wheel and 203mm post mount seems pretty short sighted... That and $10k for a DH bike...
  • 41 0
 @ridedigrepeat: It's $10k NZD which is a bit over $6k USD.
  • 22 0
 If there is no video showing the suspension cycling; did a review even happen?
  • 34 19
 "Whether it’s the high-pivot, belt drive, gearbox, or a total loss of that system. Ever try to run on a sandy beach?"

It's definitely the high pivot, this was the way I described my experience on a Druid years ago.

It depends a lot on where the high pivot is located, on my Kavenz VHP Gwagon, it's not a problem:

kavenz.com/blog/gwagon
  • 17 21
flag sanchofula (Apr 29, 2024 at 10:08) (Below Threshold)
 It amazes me how I get downvoted so much for what apears to be a pretty reasonable post, makes me wonder who would downvote me, perhaps you all could explain why you downvoted ? I'll admit to being curious....
  • 30 2
 @sanchofula: druid owners
  • 6 8
 @kbonesddeuce: Ahhhhh, that makes sense!
  • 4 0
 The Kavenz uses a lot more anti squat at sag, at least 150 percent. The Zerode has about 100 percent. The Deviate Claymore uses about 135 percent in the climb gears and 90 percent in the smallest cog. The Deviate is said to pedal fairly well, though the axle path is less rearward then both.

The extension under bob should waste more energy then just the bob alone. Also, the old DW link design found 135 percent to eliminate most bob while still tracking bumps under pedaling. Bump tracking shouldn't be an issue with high pivots, so maybe Kavenz found a new sweet spot.

Also, I though Gates didn't recommend sprockets as small as those idlers?
  • 6 12
flag thebradjohns FL (Apr 29, 2024 at 12:04) (Below Threshold)
 @sanchofula: people that are jealous you have a Gwagon, who are the same people that will downvote me for calling them out
  • 1 0
 @sanchofula: Kooks and children. AI gonna take care of that lot real quick though. Wink
  • 18 1
 When pretty much all disc road bikes use 142x12, finding spare hubs won't be a problem.
  • 17 0
 its a standard size single speed rear hub, very easy to find, hope make one as do loads of others so that's sorted..
  • 2 4
 True. Finding a single speed, 12mm, disc, 142 hub really cuts your options, but they're out there. Pinion offers one.
  • 4 0
 @CarbonShmarbon:

A HG driver can be set up singlespeed.
  • 2 0
 @hllclmbr: Totally. But you don't get the strength benefit of wide flanges and a symmetrical wheel.
  • 1 0
 well, I did think the same... but the wording... he said "wheel".. not "hub"...
  • 1 0
 There is no issue finding hubs, but unlike other bikes you won’t find a replacement wheel in stock at any bike shop if you need one quickly.
  • 16 0
 ive got one coming soon. cant wait to try it out!
  • 2 0
 Far from the good old days of Clapped out Carl! Smile
  • 2 0
 @n8dawg82: don’t you worry it’ll still be clapped out
  • 10 1
 Great review - very thorough and thoughtful. I'll say this stood out as an observation I've not read elsewhere; "The frame's alloy tubing damps more vibrations [than the carbon Antidote frame]..."
  • 1 0
 It did. 5kg weight difference is possibly the more significant damper though?
  • 9 0
 Is it just me or is it not just a single pivot with a rocker link connected to the shock not a multi pivot?? What am I missing here??
  • 3 0
 Correct. I cleaned up that wording. Thanks.
  • 12 4
 Love the idea but I've learned my lesson with niche bikes too many times...the pain when things go wrong is not worth any potential advantage the tech provides.
  • 3 0
 what's your experience then? (brands)
  • 7 1
 On the other hand, I has a long and flawless experience with Hammerschmidt and can’t imagine the ACTUAL gearbox company 10 years later would make something worse
  • 5 1
 Boutique bikes, boutique problems.
  • 5 0
 I mean, Pinion isnt exactly a niche company. I'm sure you can easily get any parts from them that you need. There are hardly any parts though, just a shifter and a tensioner?
  • 1 1
 @jackfunk: oh well, there's plenty of special tools and custom parts required (sprocket socket, shift cable installation tool, oil change kit to name a few) but then again these tools should be considered part of the bike as most shops will not have them. And anything beyond that is usually a mail-in service anyway...
My commuter Pinion P1.18 has been OK, apart from a catastrophic failure four years in (warranty service took about a week total). I'm sure a chain drive would've been far more problematic in that use case (10 miles per day in any weather with little maintenance since 201Cool .
  • 1 1
 @jackfunk: Its not even Pinion...my buddy had the v1 of these back in the day and even getting bearings was a nightmare...call the guys in NZ, wait a month and hope they arrive. I love the innovation and hope more follow but there is something nice about being able to walk into a bike shop anywhere in the world and be able to get the bike serviced if needed.
  • 6 0
 I've had a G3 since February, and my only complaint is regarding the pinion grip shifter , it's very weak, I broke it and I'm waiting for my new one to arrive, which is very difficult to find. The rest of the bike is sensational. Congrats Rob and Ali
  • 2 0
 Agreed, I'm on my 3rd shifter (averaging one a year), though you can at least order just the fragile plastic bit direct from Zerode here in NZ. I'd advise wrapping the outside in a few layers of strong tape as soon as you fit the new one, seems to keep it going even when they eventually crack. Admittedly they were all caused by stupid crashes on my part, and nothing else has broken during that process!
  • 1 0
 That's disappointing

Assuming the shifters are unindexed like Rohloff gripshift(?), they are so simple it shouldn't be hard to make them durable

I have a Comotion Rohloff dropbar shifter that I rekon is near indestructable
  • 6 0
 Great to see these machines released and in the wild. I owned a Taniwha Mulét for 2 years and the supple, quiet rear-end was excellent. It was a shame that the geometry felt short & dated. Twist shifter wasn't ideal either, I could make it work but always preferred the thumb shifter. Never found the 'drag' in the gearbox to be a issue though and no problems with the Gates belt ever.

Hopefully the G3 leads to a revamp of the Taniwha and Katipo. A geometry update (Flip-chip options wouldn't hurt) plus that electronic shifter would get me back on a Zerode!
  • 1 0
 Agreed, I'm waiting on the updated katipo, which I am told is in the works, no word on when it's released though
  • 7 0
 real weight 20,5kg, 45 lbs.
  • 1 0
 Holey moley that's heavy!
  • 6 0
 $7000 in order to get a €100,000 payout when I win a World Cup? Solid investment.
  • 4 1
 Why do reviewers have such difficulty shifting the regular mechanical Pinion? There is absolutely not a "requirement to stop pedaling when changing gears", just shift between pedal strokes (literally what the electronic system is doing) or if you suck at timing just let off pedaling pressure for a couple milliseconds while you shift. Older derailleurs were exactly the same so not exactly a new concept?
  • 4 1
 Such a sweet bike. Gearbox makes so much sense for dh bikes, I’m surprised they haven’t been popularized more. If I was in the market for a park bike I’d heavily consider one.
  • 6 4
 @mattbeer - Did you do the math to check the gear range vs a standard DH drive train? A lot of folks mistakenly attribute the pedaling feel to drag on pinions, when it's actually just that you're pushing a much bigger gear than your used to in the highest gear
  • 2 0
 Great review as always Matt. My G3 is currently on its way (2nd delay) since we are almost identical weight and height wise I think I will start with the settings you ran on the suspension. Big thanks for the tips and I am so stoked that you enjoyed it.
  • 2 0
 Hey Matt, thinking through some other comparisons, the Supreme V4 was amazing in a straight line, but got really long for cornering and jumping. The V5 apparently dials it back a little bit and is a little more well-rounded. How do you say this compares to those two?
  • 2 0
 My Zerode G2 was so so so so badass in any rough terrain. I'd still be riding it, but... It was a Medium so, 410mm Reach !!! I'm 5'10" and it was killing me. So so exhausting to ride such a small bike. My Commencal and Kona both 460mm reach fit so well. But even the COmmencal Supreme was Never a supple and active, magic as that Zerode. Hooooly balls of fire it was wicked on the rough.
  • 2 0
 One of the rare instances where the model from more than 10 years ago looks almost more modern than the current one. That being said, what a cool bike and I’d love to try one.
  • 1 2
 Link?
  • 3 0
 Cool DH bike. Would love to try it. Is this a common issue with the Hayes brakes (rattling pads)? I haven't heard that before.
  • 1 0
 Yea somewhat. Mine are pretty quiet, but my friend who also has Dominions rattle more noticeably. Worth pointing out my friend's bike is on onyx hubs and is otherwise dead silent, so any noise is noticeable
  • 1 0
 First I’ve heard of it too. I’ve never noticed mine rattling.
  • 2 0
 I’ve heard of people having this issue but mine are quiet.
  • 5 0
 Just take out the little spring that holds the pads apart, bend it slightly wider, then put it back. It adds enough pressure on the pads to stop them rattling
  • 3 0
 @Jake-Whitehouse: Yep, this. I have multiple sets, all rattle if the spring isn't spread. Super easy, and silent once you do it. My bikes are suuuper quiet, so I'm picky about sounds.
  • 4 1
 I wish Zerode had a US distributor. Their bikes are pretty pricey as is, but they get even more so after factoring in import tax and shipping.
  • 5 2
 So you want to add a middleman to add more to the cost? The distributor is still going to pay import duties on the bike and pass them along to the end user.
  • 1 0
 There is a Zerode USA in Vermont. Cycle Monkey Used to carry them. That is where I got my Katipo from
  • 2 0
 @bicycle019: I should have said US distribution center, similar to Canyon Or Commencal. That way you'd avoid import duties. You'd also save on shipping through economies of scale. Zerode currently charges $985 NZD to ship a single bike to the US. It's probably not feasible for a company of Zerodes size, but I can dream lol.
  • 1 2
 @friarsky: and those frames magically appear in the us then? someone needs to pay the import duty, do you even know how that works?
  • 5 0
 Zerode is so cool. Love them.
  • 1 3
 Sorry, no model that's compatible with training wheels.
  • 4 1
 @WasatchEnduro: This is my own personal pet peeve. Yes, biden is old. Yes, he sounds funny. Yes, there probally is a better suited man(or woman) to run this country. However, that video of him on a bike is so stupid. His feet got captured by the rotten cage petals. Instead of blaming biden, can we unite against cage petals?
  • 1 0
 Reviewers and first time users struggle to shift a Pinion while pedalings because they don't have any experience using a gearbox.

Unlike a derailleur based system, which requires pedal pressure in the "power stroke" to force the chain onto a new gear, you need to retrain your brain to shift in the "non power stroke" which reduces pressure on the pedals, which allows the gearbox to change gears.

I have no issues shifting my Pinions while pedaling.
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer how do you get 10,000km from a chain on a mountain bike? I'd be lucky to get 2,000km and I'd lube the chain at least every few rides. Mostly dry weather riding here too, not too much grinding paste in the drivetrain.
  • 3 0
 What are other applications with exposed belt drives - wondering how mud would impact?
  • 4 0
 I haven't had any issues with mine and ride all year around in the PNW, deep snow was a problem, when it started to pack into the teeth. Our trails don't have much clay though, i could see clay being an issue.
  • 3 1
 @MorganBH: my friends got one in Georgia. Our clay isnt a real issue, and it can get pretty rough sometimes
  • 3 0
 I have a hardtail with a Pinion C12 and the belt. I had the belt come off once from packed in snow, mud has never been a problem. I have also had a belt partially cut from a rockstrike but it kept on going.
  • 2 0
 @benjagg: belt cut by rock strike is a failure mode I'd never thought of. Flung up while riding or crashed and landed on the belt?
  • 3 0
 @farkinoath: flung up while riding, I only noticed it when I was cleaning the bike. Belt was cut maybe 1/4 of the total width. I was gutted as it only had 3500km on it!!
  • 2 0
 Saw one of these last week at a UK bike park. Very nice looking in the flesh.
  • 2 0
 Recommend 25-50% sag? Wow, I can't imagine using half of my travel just standing on the thing!
  • 1 0
 Yeah typo maybe? 25 -30%?
  • 3 0
 Why stop at just the gearbox? Why not the Pinion MGU (MotorGearboxUnit).
  • 1 0
 Not available for years is what I last heard ( Sea otter)
  • 3 0
 Starting to see quite a few Zerode bikes out on the trails here (NZ)
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer Did you ask Zerode about their reasoning behind the 142mm hub choice?
I'd be quite interested as to why they came to that decision over more common hub spacing.
  • 2 0
 Agreed, I'm running a 148mm wide SS Onyx hub on my Pinion/gates equipped bike, not sure why they went 142?
  • 2 0
 @mooreoutdoors Zerode went with this specification for a few reasons that I'll relay:

1. Since the G3 runs on single speed drive, the 142mm hub improves the spoke bracing angles, which are also symmetrical, so there is no need to dish the wheel.

2. That also allows the width of the dropouts to be narrow for increased ground clearance.

3. Has a marginally lighter unsprung mass than a 148 hub.

4. Single speed hubs are more common in 142 than 148.

5. It's the same hub used on their enduro bike, the Taniwha, although that bike uses a 29" rear wheel.
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer: Thanks for the info Matt! :-D
  • 2 1
 It blows my mind that a company that can design a gearbox can't figure out how to design a simple mechanical shifter, even if it does take two cables.
  • 2 0
 . Instinctiv bikes and Cinq make a trigger shifter kit for Pinion, Not much change out of £500 though.
  • 1 2
 @thebradjohns: As to the Kavenz Pinion, there's a size large Gwagon still available AND I think they're planning to build more as evidenced by Giacomo's desire to build a bash guard for Pinion and he already designed and printed a tensioner; the new tensioner works great!

I like Zerode, I rode one for the past two years, but their trail bikes are too conservative for enduro use even when using the LT link and a long travel fork, plus they really need to ditch the 142 hub spacing and give up on belts.
  • 2 0
 Glad to see a 'Zerod' slipped in for good measure, lessons learned from the 'Yoshimua' review being applied.
  • 3 0
 Can't wait to get mine
  • 2 1
 Very interested to hear how many of these traits get passed along to belt driven ebikes speced with pinion’s new motor.
  • 2 0
 Very cool! I sure wish Zerode would make an aluminum trail bike.
  • 1 0
 When you're blasting shuttle laps in your Raptor and get vibed on the trail for riding a SL E-bike Smile
  • 1 0
 I wanted every ideration of this bike. This new one is no different. Wonder why I never got one?
  • 1 0
 Could absolutely see myself on a zerode one day. Thought the G1 was one of the sexiest DH rigs out there back in the day.
  • 1 0
 How do you pronounce ZERODE?
…I ride my bike on [ zee-road ] ?
or
…while at the convent, nuns get [ zero- dee] ?
  • 1 0
 Zeh-road
  • 1 0
 It's amazing how many people mispronounce katipo too (should be car-tea-pour)
  • 1 0
 anyone else think that shifter cable looks janky and/or fragile?
  • 1 0
 Looking forward to getting one when I have space.
  • 1 0
 I'd take new front triangle and old rear triangle for a better aesthetics
  • 2 1
 FINALLY...some gear box content!!
  • 1 0
 The only bike I would sell my G2 for.
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer was this a M or L frame?
  • 2 0
 Medium - 460mm reach
  • 1 0
 Gates should buy one for Sam Hill and get him going.
  • 1 0
 glad paddle shifters are finally here in full for gearboxes
  • 1 0
 142x12 rear hub with 32 holes = hard to find !
  • 1 4
 This being an electronic box now, its just a wheel speed sensor away from being an auto-shift. Boggles my mind how this hasnt been yet attempted on a DH bike, it makes all the sense.
  • 2 0
 it does have autoshift configurable in the app
  • 1 0
 @road-n-dirt: It should also have a mode where it selects speed dependent gears and jumps back automatically into a preset gear if you come to a full stop. Any comments on that @mattbeer ?
  • 1 0
 @road-n-dirt: Thats awesome! Would love to try that. Is it configurable?
  • 1 0
 @combee: Not sure I read it somewhere for the Gamux bike
  • 1 0
 Make an XL!
  • 1 0
 Non-Boost ain't dead
  • 1 1
 This is very likly the future of drivetrains. But that future isn’t yet.
  • 1 0
 How does it climb?
  • 2 2
 Needs more chain.
  • 2 3
 No boost?
  • 11 0
 May be a deal breaker for some, but I like the feeling of a narrower rear end. Along with the lack of a derailleur I bet it opens up some lines. As far as parts availability, you're already giving that up by buying a belt drive/gearbox frame
  • 10 0
 Without a wide cassette on the back the spokes will be angled out enough, and there's plenty of 142 SS hubs in gravel world to choose from
  • 2 0
 @thats-joe: there's plenty of nice 142 hubs on eBay for a steal too. It's a requirement for me that all my bikes share wheelsets, but the advantage of the gearbox/belt would make it worth it to need a backup rear wheel specifically for this bike vs any regular 157 rear end DH bike with a derailleur.
  • 9 0
 not needed for single speed, flanges wider than a boost already.
  • 3 0
 @thats-joe: I have a hard time believing 3mm either side is gonna change your line choice
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