Should the Derailleur Die? Zerode's Gearbox-Equipped Taniwha - Review

Mar 23, 2018 at 22:02
by Mike Levy  

This bike, more than any other, represents the hopes and dreams of all those who despise the derailleur and believe that there's a better way to do it than with a low-hanging ''mech'' that's just waiting to be torn off by a rock or errant branch. No, the Taniwha isn't just another 160mm-travel sled, and it's not just a carbon enduro bike, either - it's more important than either of those two common talking points can sum up because it also has Pinion's 12-speed C.Line gearbox bolted to the bottom of it.

With a massive 600% ratio that dwarfs even the widest range one-by setup and the promise of 10,000 miles of use before it even calls for a five-minute oil change, the Pinion gearbox might be 'The Answer' that so many riders believe we need. The German-made gearbox also makes the Taniwha incredibly interesting and cool.
Zerode Taniwha

Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
Travel: 160mm
Wheel size: 27.5"
Frame construction: carbon fiber
Drivetrain: Pinion 12-speed C.Line gearbox w/ 600% ratio
Hub spacing: 12 x 142mm
Head angle: 65º
Chainstay length: 431mm
Sizes: med, lrg (tested), x-lrg
Weight: 34lb 4oz (as pictured)
Price: $9,500 USD (as pictured)
More info: www.zerodebikes.com


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Pinion's 12-speed gearbox sure is different than a traditional drivetrain, but is it better?


Seriously, go ahead and pick literally any mountain bike; this black, 27.5'' wheeled Zerode gets more stares, more questions, more ''Can I pedal your bike around?'' than any other test rig I've ever had in my possession. But hopes, dreams, coolness, and parking lot tests count for precisely diddly squat. I'd argue that this $9,500 USD potential paradigm shift needs to come with some real on-trail advantages to justify not just its different-ness, but also its 34lb 4oz weight, proprietary twist shifter, and having to re-learn how and when to change gears.

The Taniwha is far from being the first gearbox bike, but it does feel like one of the first realistic options for someone who wants to shun the derailleur. Yes, even at $5,000 USD for a frame, shock, Pinion gearbox, and all the drivetrain parts, it comes across as more attainable, more real than a Nicolai, Cavalerie, or some other European exotica. For whatever reason, the Taniwha is the one bike that's always left a hint of hope in my mind that maybe there is is an essentially zero maintenance drivetrain. That maybe there is a better solution than the derailleur. And, when I'm feeling a bit cynical, that maybe we don't Shimano or SRAM parts to have a high-performance drivetrain that works well.

The viability of the gearbox drivetrain is a topic that I tackled in my 'What's Keeping the Gearbox Down?' 1 Question article early last year, with opinions from SRAM, Shimano, Zerode's Rob Metz, ex-Honda racer Greg Minnaar, and both Pinion and Effigear included. As you might expect, perspectives varied depending on where they were coming from.

And, having ridden it for the last few months, I now have my own perspective on not just the Taniwha, but also the gearbox drivetrain itself.
bigquotesThe Taniwha is probably the most important bike that I've reviewed, and it's equally as important to acknowledge what's been created: an off-the-shelf gearbox bike that, cost aside, anyone can buy and enjoy.


The heart of Pinion s gearbox. Fearsome is the only word for the engineering that goes into one of these and a it is instantly clear where the extra weight in the system comes from - these things are built to last. Pinion expect a lifttime of over 100 000km for one of these gearboxes with no maintenance aside from the occasional cable change and a little lubrication.
The inside of the C.Line gearbox is equal parts jewelry and mechanical muscle. It's said to be able to handle up to 250Nm of torque, which is roughly equivalent to a small, slow car.
Matt Wragg photo





Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
With a set of wide Derby carbon rims, suspension from Cane Creek, and brakes from Magura, there's far more to the Taniwha than just its gearbox.


Construction and Features

Rob Metz, the New Zealander behind Zerode, released his aluminum G1 downhill bike (pictured below) eight years ago, and then he followed that up with the more refined (and also aluminum) G2 a few years later. Both of those wild looking machines employed an Alfine hub in the frame as a gearbox, along with an extremely high main pivot to help the bike carry speed through the worst of the worst.


High pivot swingarm and lower shock link
Metz's first offering was the G1 downhill bike that used a Shimano Alfine hub mounted on the front triangle as a gearbox. It looks wild and works well, but the New Zealander took a very different approach with his all-mountain machine.
RC photo

The Taniwha is an entirely different animal, however, with a 12-speed Pinion gearbox bolted to the bottom of the frame and a relatively conventional suspension layout. ''It is very difficult keeping an idler pulley quiet enough to be acceptable on an enduro/trail bike,'' Metz said when we asked him why the difference in design between the G1/G2 and the Taniwha.

''The idler would need to be chainring-sized, which makes the bike heavier, more complicated, and confusing for the masses. The final design [of the Taniwha] reflects this, with a move to a more traditional pivot placement. I thought long and hard about this. The high pivot is a must on my DH bike, but in practice, it wasn’t the best solution for the enduro bike.''

So that's why the Taniwha looks like a mountain bike rather than a rolling science experiment, which probably goes a long way to it feeling more 'real' than other gearbox bikes out there. The thing looks like a mountain bike first, and a gearbox bike second, which is a very important point to keep in mind.
Rob in his workshop A main with so much knowledge and many ideas.
Metz in his Auckland-based workshop.
Cam Mackenzie photo


Robs original High Pivot Concept enduro bike. This is the one in which Rob built by hand in this shed
Long before the Taniwha, there was this high-pivot prototype that Metz built to suss out the concept. The high-pivot and idler layout turned out to be too complicated, too heavy, and too loud.
Cam Mackenzie photo

Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Hope you like twistin'. Shifting is controlled by Pinion's twist shifter, and no, there is no trigger option.


The carbon front triangle looks as sharp as anything else out there, with internal routing for the dual shift cables that make for a bit of a mess up front but thankfully disappear inside the frame just aft of the tapered headtube. They pop out of a port located just above the C.Line gearbox, while the rear brake line is routed externally for its entire length.

Yes, there is a bottle cage mount, but it needs to be mentioned that only the smallest of bottles won't interfere with the Cane Creek shock on my large-sized test bike. You know how I feel about that...


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Without a derailleur to jangle around, the back of the Taniwha is sleek and simple.


Hey, the Taniwha's bottom bracket isn't PressFit! Well, it's not threaded, either, but there is a splined spindle that the aluminum cranks clamp onto, and the bike's German-made gearbox is bolted onto the bottom of the carbon frame with a bunch of steel Torx hardware. If you believe that gearboxes, Keith Richards, and roaches will be all that's left after a Trump versus Kim Jong Un nuclear pissing match, you shouldn't ever have to unbolt the thing anyway.

The back of the bike is carbon, too, with the only major frame component (aside from the gearbox, obviously) made out of aluminum being the rocker link that activates the bike's Cane Creek shock. There's a good amount of tire clearance at both the chainstays and seatstays for the 2.4'' wide WTB Trail Boss tire, although it does measure in at just 2.3'' across despite being on the mega-wide Derby carbon rim. You'd be able to fit a set of WT tires from Maxxis, but it's going to be tight when you're playing in the mud. Rear spacing is 12 x 142mm width - there's no Boost spacing here - but the bike uses a single-speed hub because, well, there's no silly derailleur. That allows the chainline to always be perfect, but the main pivot not sitting concentric with the box's drive output means that Metz needed to employ some sort of tensioning device to take up the required slack and growth in the chain. And that's what the little spring-loaded widget with two pulley wheels on it - you know, like a derailleur - that's hanging down behind the chainring is for. There's also a nearly hidden aluminum bash guard sitting just inside of the chainring.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
There's a pint-sized bash guard hidden behind the chainring for a bit of extra insurance.




Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
The C.Line gearbox sports 12-speeds, a 600-percent gear range, and the appealing promise of near maintenance-free performance.


Pinion 12-speed C.Line Gearbox

And now onto the whole reason for the Taniwha's existence: the 12-speed C.Line gearbox that's attached to the bottom of the carbon frame. The main facts are pretty straightforward: this gearbox gives you a 600-percent gear range via twelve ratios that each have the same 17.7-percent jump between them.

So, with a 30-tooth chainring and a 30-tooth cog, the Taniwha's lowest ratio is equivalent to a 30-tooth chainring and a massive 54-tooth cog. No excuses for walking, enduro boy. At the opposite end, you're looking at the equal of a 30-tooth chainring and tiny 9-tooth cog, and the 600-percent range easily trumps the 500-percent number offered by a 12-speed Eagle drivetrain.


The upper array of sprockets in the gearbox is the critical part of the system and once you start digging into how it all works it is clear how impressive a feat of engineering it is. This group is made up of two spearate groups - the three sprockets to the left are the equivalent of triple chainrings so there is a small medium and large. The second group of six is equivalent of a 6-speed cassette - so between these two groups they combine to offer the18 gears in this gearbox.
This two piece axle allows the groups of sprockets to move independently.
The internals of Pinion's 18-speed 'box are similar to the 12-speed C.Line. The upper array of sprockets (left) consists of two separate groups: the three sprockets to the left are the equivalent of a triple chainring setup, and the second group of six is equivalent to a 6-speed cassette. This two piece axle (right) allows the groups of sprockets to move independently.
Matt Wragg photo

This should be a test for engineering aptitude. If you can look at this and quickly understand how you would create something like this to drive the cam through those 18 precise combinations sign up for your engineering degree now. For the rest of us it is looks deceivingly simple but to get your head round how you can create all those combinations is mind-bending stuff. Talking to owner Christoph Lerman he could see this in his head and it makes instant sense to him.
Beneath those sprockets lies this adjustable cam - this is the part the shifter actuates to change your gear and it took a solid half hour of squinting and stupid questions to even start to understand how it works. The shifter moves the cam through 18 unique positions sequentially each of which locks one sprocket from each of the two groups to create a gearing combination. This takes you through from the smallest gear up to the largest engaging different sequences of sprockets to create a very smooth progression through the 18 gears.
This axle (left) drives the cam through each of the gearbox's precise combinations. The adjustable cams (right) actuate to change gear. The shifter moves the cam through eighteen positions, sequentially, each of which locks one sprocket from each of the two sprocket arrays to create a gearing combination. Simple, right?
Matt Wragg photo

If you're the kind of rider who pays attention to what your legs are doing, you'll know the total gear range isn't the whole story. The 17.7-percent change between each gear is also worth noting as while it's not outrageous at all (there are bigger jumps at the top of many cassettes), it is a relatively large difference between each gear. For reference sake, 12 to 16-percent is the ratio change you'll find when shifting around on most cassettes, and many people (including moi) believe that 13-percent is the most natural feeling jump.

The 19-percent and 20-percent numbers at the bottom and top of an XX1 block are the outliers that everyone seems to be just fine with for some reason, maybe because they view the 50 and 10-tooth cogs as only being needed for special occasions, AKA when you blow up or when you're commuting on the road.


The inside of the shifter assembly - this is the part of the gearbox that needs the most maintenance the cables need changing ever so often.
You're looking at the C.Line shifter assembly. While a traditional system sees its indexing take place inside the shifter, this is where it happens on the Pinion gearbox.
Matt Wragg photo

The Pinion gearbox is a constant-mesh system that's said to be able to run for years and years on just an oil change or two, which is where the nearly maintenance-free promise comes from. It calls for an oil change after 10,000 miles, which is insane when a traditional drivetrain can be trashed in less than a season of hard (mis)use.

Shifting is done via the Pinion twister that's secured to the right side of the handlebar by way of some too-small setscrews that preload the clamp, and the system requires two cables because you're constantly pulling the selector one way or the other; there is no derailleur spring to counteract cable tension. Also, the indexing actually happens inside the gearbox, not the shifter. No, you can't have a trigger shifter yet, although I've been hearing about one for ages now.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
There is no return spring as you'd see on a normal derailleur. Instead, the Pinion 'box requires two cables, and each pulls on the actuator in the opposite direction.


This thing isn't light - Pinion claims that it weighs 2,100-grams on its own - and it requires that funky twist shifter and two shift cables... so why use it? There's that promise of an essentially maintenance-free drivetrain (you still have a chain to lube and eventually wear out, of course), no silly cassette and derailleur out at the axle should mean less unsprung weight, you've got that dreamy, dead-straight chainline, and you can have a zero-dish rear wheel that should also be nice and strong.

And the shifting! You can change gear while you're coasting, back-pedaling, not moving at all, or upside down and spinning around with only your right hand on the twist shifter. Pretty neat. What you can't do, however, is shift under pedaling load, but I'll get to that later on in the riding impressions. Want to know more about Pinion's gearboxes? Our own Matt Wragg visited their headquarters, which is near Stuttgart, Germany, to meet founders Christoph Lerman and Michael Schmitz, and to learn more about the inner workings of what could be the derailleur's worst nightmare.




Geometry and Sizing

The Taniwha's geometry is mostly what you'd expect to see on a 160mm-travel bike made to smash into things, with a slack angle up front and a steep angle out back. Its reach isn't as forward-thinking, however, with a somewhat conservative 445mm number for my large-sized test bike that's not crazy short but is certainly shorter than many other bikes of similar intention. Unlike some who believe that longer is always better, I'm of the opinion that, for the most part, there is no right or wrong when it comes to geometry, but the onus is on the buyer to make sure the numbers gel with them. I'm 5' 10'' on a good day and prefer a bit more of a compact bike than some other people, so I felt good with the Taniwha's 445mm reach.


Zerode Taniwha


That not-too-lengthy reach, as well as the 74.5-degree seat angle, go a long way to making the 65-degree head angle feel far more usable than a 65-degree head angle ever should. The bottom bracket sits at a not excessively low 352mm off the deck (there's 5mm of drop), and the wheelbase is an equally reasonable 1,202mm. Zerode does vary headtube lengths by 10mm between sizes, too, with this large sporting a 120mm height.

Metz has, wisely, in my opinion, been somewhat conservative with the Taniwha's geometry, and the bike will likely suit a wider range of riders, terrain, and needs because of that fact. It also means that a guy of average height like myself can choose between the large (445mm reach) and extra-large (a much, much roomier 475mm reach) sizes to best match their intentions, although the seat tube length on the XL may be a limiting factor when it comes running a longer travel dropper post. If I was an enduro racer type, I might want the longer bike as I have legs and arms that don't quit, but the large makes the most sense for my style, trails, and because I'd rather skid sideways through a corner than race through a corner.




Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
The Taniwha's 160mm of rear wheel travel is controlled by a relatively simple single-pivot, linkage activated system and a Cane Creek DB air IL shock.


Suspension Design

For all its gearbox-ness, the Zerode is a relatively conservative machine overall, and that theme continues when it comes to the bike's 160mm-travel suspension layout. It's a single-pivot, linkage activated setup, with the main pivot sitting inline with the top of the chainring to keep the action quite neutral. Metz certainly could have used a Horst Link if he wanted to - the design is open and free for all now - so why not go that route?

''The frame itself uses a simple, effective and proven suspension platform. This, combined with a fixed chainline, optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range,'' he explained to us back in 2016 when we cornered him with a Taniwha prototype. ''It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design. A sleek full-carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty with modern geometry.
''

While the alloy rocker link manipulates the rate, the bike's gearbox and constant chain position means that Metz was able to dial-in 'the ideal' amount of anti-squat throughout the bike's 160mm of travel that he was looking for. That consistency is impossible to get with a normal derailleur system, with the always changing cassette cog sizes altering how the chain tension effects the rear suspension.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
The aluminum link determines the Zerode's suspension rate. There's a pedal-assist switch on the Cane Creek shock, too, which is a good thing.


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Specifications

Specifications
Release Date 2018
Price $9500
Travel 160
Rear Shock Cane Creek DB air IL
Fork Cane Creek Helm, 160mm
Headset Cane Creek 40 ZS
Crankarms Pinion Forged
Chainguide Pinion KS1.2
Chain Wipperman 808
Shifter Pods Pinion twist shifter
Handlebar Syntace Vector Carbon
Stem Syntace Mega Force
Grips Syntace Moto Gripz
Brakes Magura MT Trail
Hubs Zerode 12x142 / Project 321
Spokes Sapim
Rim Derby DH 35i
Tires WTB Convict / Trail Boss
Seat SQ Lab Active Ergowave
Seatpost 9point8 Fall Line



Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.






Test Bike Setup

How many completely stock builds don't include a single component from SRAM or Shimano? Surely not many, but the Zerode is one of them. The eclectic parts list includes less commonly seen bits like the lightweight Syntace cockpit that oozes understated class (except for the questionable Moto Gripz), an interesting and comfy SQ Lab Active Ergowave seat, a Wipperman chain, WTB rubber, and the Canadian-made 9point8 Fall Line party post. There's also a set of Magura MT Trail brakes that employ a four-pistons up front and two out back, Derby's DH 35i carbon rims, and Cane Creek suspension, with an air-sprung Helm on the front of the bike and a DB air IL looking after the back end.

There's far more to the Taniwha than it's Pinion gearbox, it seems, but I could also see the distinct build kit possibly putting some riders off who prefer the known over the exotic. That'd be a shame, too, because there's a ton of off-the-wall stuff out there that performs very well, and the Zerode's parts list is a perfect example of that.

It also highlights how used to the norm we can be. My fingers know exactly how a set of SRAM or Shimano brakes or shifter feel, I can nail the ideal pressure of a set of Schwalbe or Maxxis tires with my calculated thumbs, and setting up a RockShox or Fox fork and shock requires close to zero brain cells.

Mike levy
Mike Levy
Location: Squamish, BC, Canada
Age: 37
Height: 5'10
Inseam: 33.5"
Weight: 157lbs
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @killed_by_death

So it took me a few extra rides, and a few extra stops to make trail-side adjustments, to get the Zerode to feel like home, which is pretty much the gist of my early time on the Zerode. More so than any other of the countless test bikes I've ridden over the last decade, the Taniwha requires an open mind and a willingness to re-learn what to expect and how to get the most out of it.

If you believe that a gearbox drivetrain is a forward-thinking approach that's 'The Answer,' you sure as hell better be okay with having to re-learn how you do a lot of things on the trail. And if you're okay with that big, fat disclaimer, then the Taniwha might be right up your alley. Let's get to it, then.



Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Pedaling the Taniwha up big ascents is, well... it isn't made to be a killer climber, so it's no surprise that it doesn't excel at that task.


Climbing

Keeping expectations relative - this is a 160mm bike with a 65-degree head angle - the big Zerode feels surprisingly not that big on rooty, tight climbs. Its wheelbase isn't crazy long, and neither is its reach, which certainly helps matters, and the rear end delivers traction that would make a Pinzgauer jealous, so she'll get up all sorts of things if you have the skill and power. Take those wide lines, take your time, and take a well-deserved break at the time.

While the bike's slow-speed handling is better than I assumed it would be, the Pinion gearbox pretty much refuses to let you grab an easier gear under any sort of pedaling loads. Picture yourself halfway up a steep face and needing to go one gear lower to get up and over whatever's in front of you... Now imagine not being able to do that unless you essentially stop putting any power down through the cranks. Yeah, it can get tricky, and I was frustrated during my first few rides aboard the Zerode until I had it drilled into my head that I needed to plan much farther ahead than I'd ever need to while using a traditional drivetrain.

All that said, while you do need to drop the watts down to close to zero, I should emphasize that you don't actually need to stop pedaling to shift into an easier gear.
bigquotesIf this were a test bike that had a derailleur-based drivetrain that shifted like the Pinion gearbox, I wouldn't be a happy camper. So why is it acceptable in a more expensive, heavier package? Harsh, maybe, but it's the truth.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Reach down for the Cane Creek shock's Climb Switch and take your time. This isn't the bike for someone who likes to feel sporty on the climbs, and it only gets worse as the trail gets steeper.


Serious shifting foibles aside, it does relatively well on singletrack climbs despite a shock that seems to want to sit into all of its stroke when things get steep and your weight bias moves rearward, especially at the 30-percent sag figure that makes sense for this type of rig. You'll use the Cane Creek shock's Climb Switch often, and the rear end tends to wallow enough that not even I can begrudge that anodized gold cheater lever. I kept feeling like I wanted an even steeper seat angle than the 74.5-degree number the Taniwha sports, but again, this is solely down to rear suspension that's eager to sit deep into its travel.

Pedaling performance isn't anything to brag about, either, but the Taniwha's anti-squat is designed to keep things active and traction at a maximum, not firm up the suspension so you can get to the top of the climb thirteen seconds before your buddies who don't even know that it's a race. It's not a race up anything when you're on the Taniwha, just so you know, but swapping out the heavy tires (the Convict weighs 1,239-grams; the Trail Boss weighs 1,050-grams) for something in the 800-gram range would be a smart move if you want some more pep out of this machine.

I've read all sorts of comments about the bike's weight not mattering, but I'd challenge anyone who believes that to do a few 5,000-foot days on the Taniwha and still sing that silly song. I tell you, I wasn't singing any songs while pedaling the nearly 35lb Zerode up my climbs, and the bike feels more and more sluggish and slow as the grades get steeper and steeper.

It makes an HD4 (pictured at right), one of the best climbing all-mountain bikes, feel like a damn rocketship in comparison, and even a Slash or Patrol will come across as light duty trail bikes after pedaling the Taniwha up a few soul-crushing pitches.
Ibis
Compared to an HD4 or even a Slash, the Taniwha feels slow and uninspired while climbing. Point it the other direction, however, and you'll find all the inspiration you need.

But the Taniwha isn't designed to make climbing easy, is it? No, of course not. Metz has made this thing to be a beast on the descents, not to make you feel like a beast on the ascents, so I'm not sure how much it matters that I'd rather be aboard pretty much any other 160mm-travel bike if I have to pedal to the top a big mountain. Anyway, it doesn't get a free pass just because it has a gearbox, but I'd recommend putting less stock in my feedback on this front if you're the kinda guy that wears hardshell kneepads during the climb or routinely packs a few trail pops and a Mars bar in your backpack.

Sometimes I get a bit jealous of riders who don't give a toss about climbing performance. This is one of those times because, when you do point this monster down a proper trail, any painful memories of having to hump the Taniwha to the summit are forgotten in a way that only the deep stages of dementia should be able to accomplish.




Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Now we're talking. The Taniwha is unflappable when it has a head of steam behind it, and it's like you could literally ride through a brick wall when you're up to speed.


Descending

Forget everything I moaned about when being forced to type out my notes on climbing - you won't give a single shit after riding the Taiwha how it was intended to be ridden. On a rough, fast trail, the kind that you maybe get a little nervous to ride, this thing will make other bikes feel like a Mumford & Sons song that you play quietly in your Yaris with the windows rolled up because it's Mumford & Sons. But the Taniwha? It's you cranking Slayer to 11 from the speakers in your Abrams tank while tearing up the grass at your old high school. It's tank donuts.

This is a downhill bike. Not really, but also really. Okay, suspension first because it's why you're in that Abrams. The Taniwha's 160mm of rear wheel travel feels deep and controlled, with a level of bump devouring ability that I can't recall any other 160mm bike displaying. Small, high-frequency impacts nearly disappear between the tires and your feet, and the back of the bike doesn't skitter around on such things as other bikes do. Thing is, I wouldn't have said that other bikes do such a thing before having ridden the Zerode at ten-tenths, but now I know that they do. Traction is always there, too, whether you're braking or crossing over an off-camber bit of dirt, and while I'm not convinced that I was getting on the binders any later compared to other bikes, I sure as hell felt like I was full of indestructible teenage courage and angst.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
With traction for days and tank-like stability, you can go wherever you want when you're riding the Taniwha, trail or not.


Hard hits that push the DB IL to the end of its stroke felt muted, too, with no worrying clanging or smashing to report. I have a hard time believing that the suspension's performance is solely down to the lack of a 400-gram cassette and a derailleur, but it has to be a factor. There's no clutch, no freehub, and less weight, and the back of the Taniwha is unreal, so it is what it is.

The Helm is quite the thing as well, but much like the bike as a whole, it's a fork that performs best when a skilled, fast rider is giving it balls and taking chances. The damping is firm and controlled - I had the compression settings nearly fully open, whereas I'm often somewhere in the middle when using a Pike or 36 - and you can get enough ramp-up out of the Helm to keep the biggest, most aggressive riders smiling. It's the smaller, more timid types that will find the Helm to be over-damped, however, so keep that in mind. Again, just like the entire bike, the Helm performs best if you really know what you're doing, so be honest with yourself.
bigquotesIt tracks the ground better than some of us keep track of our first love that long ago moved on, got married, and looks happier with that dude who owns a jet ski and lifted Dodge than she ever did with you. But you know that it's just the idea of her that you're so infatuated with, and that there are damn good reasons why she's with that Steve idiot instead of your non-jet ski owning ass. I feel the same way about the Taniwha - like a lot of us, I love the idea of a gearbox bike, but things aren't so rosy in the real world.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
If you're going to over-shoot a transition by a few dozen feet, the Taniwha is the bike to do it aboard.


And the cornering... dear God, please feed me all the corners when I'm on this bike. With more traction than should be possible, and a planted, if a bit uninspiring way about it, the Taniwha can crush corners like grade 12 math crushed my mom's hopes for her only son's post-secondary education. The bike has a stability to it, or maybe a calmness is a better way to put it, through all sorts of corners that makes a rider feel like they're more skilled and brave than they might be.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows, however, as the Taniwha can feel like it transforms from beast to burden as the ground levels out and the speeds drop. Accelerating from a near-standstill out of a tight corner is a chore compared to other bikes, and I found that it drained my enthusiasm pretty quickly.

The bike is heavy and it acts heavy, which makes it far from the ideal machine if you frequent flow trails or fancy yourself to be the kind of rider who plays and pops off of everything they can during a ride. Of course, it'll leave the ground if you want it to, and a skilled jumper will still be able to make anything happen, but the Taniwha is the embodiment of a bike that goes through things rather than over them. When you do leave the ground, it's Queen Mary-stable through the air, much like it is on the deck. This ain't no jet ski.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
The big Zerode feels every bit of its nearly 35lb weight when the trail doesn't point down at a decent angle. If you don't have the gnar at your doorstep, the Taniwha won't make much sense.

The Taniwha is a bike that, at least for me, elicits some strong riding impressions. Hey, the more unique a bike is, the more polarizing it'll tend to be, and my own judgment of the bike isn't exactly as glowing. With that in mind, I reached out to Neil Flock, owner of Cycle Monkey, the American distributor for Zerode that provided our test bike, for some feedback on my assessment of the Taniwha. Here's what he had to say:

''We think the Taniwha is a great 'one bike' option for riders who prioritize descending technical terrain and big mountain adventures. It is happiest when trails go up or down, without a lot of concern for more mellow terrain. Mike rode a fairly burly Taniwha build, one that intentionally skews toward the aggressive end of the spectrum, with thick casing tires and DH rims. Why? Our philosophy is to ride as aggressively as possible, and when equipped with a super durable gearbox, we don’t want the failure of any other component to stop us - especially when racing, traveling to remote places, or getting lost in the backcountry on an all-day adventure. All our demo and media bikes are built up similarly, as we want the parts spec to reflect the upper limit of what this bike can do.''

''That said, you can also build a Taniwha much lighter without any price difference. Rob Metz’s personal bike weighs 32lb, and with the right parts kit, you can get a bike down to the 30lb zone... And if this doesn’t sound like you, stay tuned as the Zerode range expands.''


Zerode Taniwha
The burly built kit of my test bike adds up to well over 34lb, but there are some obvious ways to bring the Taniwha down to around 30lb if you care about such things.


I guess the best way to put it is that the Taniwha sacrifices a whole bunch all-around ability to be one hell of a bruiser when you need a bike like that. Asking it to do otherwise would be like asking Anthony Joshua to cut 50lb and drop down a bunch of weight classes; it's not what he's made for, and that's not what the Taniwha's made for, either.




How does it compare? And what about that shifting?

Compare to what, exactly? There aren't exactly a load of gearbox-equipped bikes out there for me to say that the Taniwha is better or worse than, but I bet you're more interested in how the Zerode fares against a top of the line all-mountain sled with a derailleur, anyway. You probably want to know if this bike is the 'The One' that will deliver us from the oppression of our derailleur-based society, and if the Zerode makes derailleurs seem like the antiquated joke that they sure look like.

Well, it's not, and it doesn't.


Trek Slash review
Rocky Mountain Slayer
The Slash is a top-end 29'' wheeled enduro race bike, while the Slayer is one of the best pedaling enduro bikes on the market. Both are much more well-rounded than the Taniwha, even if the latter feels more solid and stable when it's extremely rough and fast.


There's a lot to love about the Taniwha, especially how dump truck-solid and stable the bike feels when things are hectic. And it tracks the ground better than some of us keep track of our first love that long ago moved on, got married, and looks happier with that dude who owns a jet ski and lifted Dodge than she ever did with you. But you know that it's just the idea of her that you're so infatuated with and that there are damn good reasons why she's with that Steve idiot instead of your non-jet ski owning ass.

I feel the same way about the Taniwha - like a lot of us, I love the idea of a gearbox bike, but things aren't so rosy in the real world.

Gearbox devotees like to talk about how weight isn't everything, and that a gearbox bike hides its heft well because it's centralized between your feet. There may be something to that - the Taniwha's rear suspension is quite the thing, after all - but there's no hiding the fact that this $9,500 USD bike weighs 34lb 4oz without pedals. If you spent nearly ten grand on a Slash, Slayer, Enduro or whatever else, they'd likely weigh five or six pounds less, and probably feel like they weigh ten pounds less on the trail. I'm sorry, but it does matter, and the Taniwha comes across as sluggish and uninspiring in many scenarios compared to any high-end enduro bike.

I want a machine that lights a fire under my ass to sprint for a gap, or to make the most out of all the natural poppers and lips... the Taniwha doesn't do this as other bikes do, and I often had less fun riding it because of this fact.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
There's a lot to like about the Pinion 'box, but having to essentially back off to zero watts so you can shift to an easier gear isn't one of them. You also need to ease off the power to get into a harder gear, although not by nearly as much.


''But you can shift whenever you want, Levy,'' you say. Well, no, not even close. Sure, you can grab a gear while coasting or back-pedaling or while the wheels are off the bike and you have a bubble tea in one hand and the twister in the other, but you can't shift to an easier gear if there's even a hint of load on the drivetrain. And when does one often want to shift into an easier gear? While pedaling up a hill, of course. ''You can't shift under heavy load while using a derailleur, either,'' you say. Bullocks. I do it all the time and have no issues other than causing some bad sounds, but you also only need to back off a touch to nail a shift up to an easier gear under load. With the Pinion gearbox, you essentially need to drop down to zero watts to make it happen.
Mountain biking can be a scrappy, unpredictable sport, and having to shift at inopportune times is part of the game... unless all your ascents are gravel roads, that is. Mine aren't.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Shimano XT M8000
Pinion has taken heat for only offering their gearbox with a twist shifter, but I got used to it quickly. Would I prefer a trigger shifter? Of course, but this isn't a deal breaker for me.


You can adapt to get the most out of the Pinion C.Line gearbox, and I found myself using two different approaches to shifting that helped matters. When faced with the need to grab an easier gear on a tricky singletrack climb, I'd preload the twist shifter ever so slightly - remember, the indexing is in the 'box rather the twister, so it just feels kinda like the changer is up against a hard stop when you do this. Then, when the time was right and I was able to ease up on the pedals without dabbing or coming to a complete stop, the gearbox would shift into a lower gear, at which point you can begin to put the power down again. All of that can happen in only a few feet of distance on the trail when you get it down pat, and it begins to feel like far less of an inconvenience that it sounds like. Still, I can shift pretty much whenever the hell I want with a derailleur as long as my cranks are spinning around. Also, the throw of the twist shifter feels excessive when you want to grab more than one or two gears at a time; tighter spacing and more pronounced indexing (which happens in the gearbox) would be a nice change.

The second approach is, er, less delicate, and involves simply gassing it so you have some momentum and the chance to lift off so you can make the shift happen. Or you can man up and not look for that lower gear, but at well over 34lb with pedals and angles that emphasize going the opposite direction, I bet you're gonna want it.

I guess the question that needs to be asked is just how much of an emphasis a potential Taniwha owner is going to put on climbing, or just shifting under load, period. At the risk of riding headlong down Stereotype Street, I don't think it's out of line to assume that a guy on a 160mm-travel all-mountain bike that weighs 34 pounds and change might not be nearly as fussed as I am about how and when to shift the Pinion gearbox, and there's nothing wrong with that thinking, either.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Not being able to shift under pedaling loads is quite annoying, especially when you're already halfway up a tricky climb, but some riders won't care about this issue.

If that sounds like you, then I think you'll see more upside than downside to the Zerode's derailleur-free drivetrain. After all, the promise of 10,000 miles before the Pinion gearbox even needs a five-minute oil change is pretty appealing. As for me, I can't remember the last time I killed a derailleur or even bent a hanger, so this whole thing is a real hard sell, especially given the shifting idiosyncrasy. I don't think I'm alone, either... We ran a Pinkbike Poll back in 2016 questioning the reliability of derailleurs, and over 6,500 of the 10,000 replies stated that it had either been more than two years since they broke a derailleur, they couldn't even remember the last time they broke one, or that they've never even had an issue. And over 9,000 readers also said that they rarely have troubles at all, or that they're at least moderately happy with their current drivetrain.

Here's another way to look at it: if this were a test bike that had a derailleur-based drivetrain that shifted like the Pinion gearbox, I wouldn't be a happy camper. So why is it acceptable in a more expensive, heavier package? Harsh, maybe, but it's the truth. Neil Flock, owner of Cycle Monkey, did make a counterpoint to that thought: ''If a person who only ever drove an automatic car tried to drive a manual, would they be likely to leave with an impression that a manual transmission doesn’t really work?''

Touché, Neil. He also pointed out some pretty reasonable sounding benefits to running a gearbox in his retort: ''A gearbox doesn’t shift exactly like a clean, well-adjusted derailleur. It shifts differently, which takes some adaptation, but once you have learned the muscle memory for shifting a gearbox, you unlock a myriad of benefits. These include almost no routine drivetrain maintenance, shifting never comes out of adjustment, fewer things to damage in a crash, the ability to shift where a derailleur cannot: coasting through corners or across rough terrain, the ability to shift through large groups of gears nearly instantly when the trail changes direction rapidly - THE fastest multi-gear shifting on the market, and class-leading suspension performance due to reduction of unsprung mass,'' he explained to me in an e-mail.

Denkendorf Germany January 2017. Photo by Matt Wragg
Very different cogs and very different performance.
Matt Wragg photo

His comparison of automatic and manual transmissions does hold some water, too, as neither are designed to work or feel the same, and many of us are just fine with that: ''It’s one thing to be disappointed when a derailleur bike doesn’t act like a derailleur bike. This bike isn’t intended to act like a derailleur bike and makes huge gains because it doesn’t!''

Flock brings up an excellent question: is the shifting worse than with a derailleur, or is it just different? Zerode's own Rob Metz and Ali Quinn both argue that the bike is about much more than simply how it shifts, and they stress that they're not trying to compete against the traditional drivetrain, either. ''We didn't set out to make the derailleur die. We just wanted to build the perfect bike for the kind of riding we love; something confidence inspiring that encourages you to get off the brakes, and that is unashamedly most at home on fast, rough, and steep trails, Metz says. And they've certainly accomplished that goal, regardless of how the bike shifts. Metz's continues: '' A bike with absolute reliability that won't let you down mid-race stage or four hours into a backcountry epic. In this setting, the gearbox is about a whole lot more than just shifting. It's the suspension game-changer of unsprung mass; it's low center of gravity corner railing and its 10,000 miles between services.''


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Whether you think the Pinion 'box shifts worse or just differently compared to a normal drivetrain will come down to what you expect from your bike.


Rob also argue that how the bike shifts is less important than how it performs as a whole, and that performance is only possible through the use of a gearbox. ''It's not surprising that the gearbox conversation always circles back to shifting; after all, that's its basic function. It's different, and it's almost always the first thing people notice about the bike,'' a point that he and I clearly agree on.

''Some love it immediately, and some take a while to get accustomed to it. But after a while, muscle memory takes over, shifting fades into the background, and the true benefits of the gearbox shine through. At the end of the day, no one high fives each other about the perfect shift, but that perfect roosted corner, that drop you've always been nervous about hitting or just waiting an extra ten seconds at the bottom of a hill for your mates is what brings home the real smiles.''




Technical Report

WTB tires: If I'm honest, WTB was probably near the bottom of my list of tire brands that'd I choose to run, somewhere after a set of Nokian Gazzaloddis that have gotten hard as decade-old Haribo, and somewhere before those Marzocchi tires that have clever 'M's for knobs. Yuck. But I was wrong, again, and I ended up getting along just fine with the WTB Convict and Trail Boss rubber on the Taniwha, even if the latter isn't exactly the best wet-weather option. You can read all the words about them in my review. Summary: I liked 'em.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Turns out I like WTB tires again. Or, at least the ones that came stock on the Taniwha. Derby's 35mm wide (internal) carbon rims were trouble-free, as they should be for $445 USD each.


Derby DH 35i carbon rims: Wide as hell, no pretentious stickers exclaiming your carbon rimmed superiority over your loser friends and their alloy hoops, and not a hint of trouble. Oh, and they don't cost more than a bachelor's degree, either. Isn't it strange that $445 USD is an ''acceptable'' amount of coin to some riders for a single rim? Weird times, indeed. The Derby hoops were reliable, sure, but it'd be hard for me to choose them over a set of aluminum rims if I was spending my own coin.

Magura MT Trail brakes: The set of German stoppers that came on my Taniwha test bike might be the best performing brakes that I've ever used... In my life. Seriously, they're that good. Magura has combined immense power with gentle modulation that makes most other heavy-hitting brakes feel like all you're doing is jamming a golf club through your bike's spokes when you yank the lever. If you often face wet or very dry and loose conditions, I can't recommend the MT Trail brakes enough.


Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
Zerode Taniwha review test. Photo by James Lissimore.
The bike's MT Trail brakes, with a four-piston front caliper and two-piston rear, are unreal performers. There's just as much power as anything else, if not even more, but it's how Magura combined that with otherworldly modulation that makes them the best stoppers that I've ever had my fingers on.


Things I'd swap out: If the Taniwha were mine, the bike's Syntace Moto Gripz would be in the bin quicker than I can say "My hands deserve better than this.'' The odd shape just doesn't feel right to me, and that raised outer collar rubs the edge of my sweaty palms in the bad kind of way. I'm also on the record shitting on remote levers many times over the last few years, and while I do stand by that, I think I might want to install Cane Creek's Opt sliding remote to firm up the DB air IL shock. The Taniwha's hefty weight and run-of-the-mill pedaling abilities don't exactly inspire, so an on-the-fly crutch wouldn't hurt the cause. Or you can just reach down and flip the switch, I guess.




Pros

+ Feels incredibly solid and rousing on steep, rough ground
+ Class-leading suspension performance... if you have the speed and terrain for it
+ Gearbox reliability and 10,000 miles between oil changes
+ Can't deny that this thing is cool, uncommon, and unusual
+ No derailleur to smash into things

Cons

- Shifting to an easier gear requires essentially zero drivetrain load
- It feels like A LOT of bike in most settings
- It's heavy and it feels heavy
- Hope you're good with twist shifters


Is this the bike for you?

It is if everything I said about the Taniwha's shifting foibles and heft sounds whingy to you, and if broken derailleurs and worn out drivetrains routinely ruin your ride and empty your wallet. The Zerode is also an extremely capable and solid-feeling bike that best suits fast, rough terrain. So, yeah, if that sounds like you and your 'hood, then the Taniwha might be the teammate you've been looking for.

But if your trails are more rolling than steep, and more smooth than rough, I suspect that you'll be better off on a lighter weight, more playful 160mm-travel bike, derailleur and all. My advice is to just be honest with yourself when it comes to your abilities, how you ride, and the terrain that you frequent. Do yourself a big favor and don't make the Taniwha's gearbox the main reason that you buy this bike; there's much more to its performance than that.



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe Taniwha is probably the most important bike that I've reviewed, and it's equally as important to acknowledge what's been created: an off-the-shelf gearbox bike that, cost aside, anyone can buy and enjoy. And in a world that's beginning to feel like it's full of carbon-copy bikes that all kinda do the same thing, this is worthy of praise in and of itself. We need people like Zerode's Rob Metz to design these kinds of things, to create new and different ways to approach the same old problems, and to make us question convention.

But the Taniwha is far from perfect and, in a way, it's perfectly flawed. It's so unique in how it performs that some riders will look past its shortcomings or, perhaps, not even see them at all. I'm not one of those riders, however, as my eye is far too critical to give the bike's imperfections a free pass.
Mike Levy







652 Comments

  • + 390
 "...first love that long ago moved on, got married, and looks happier with that dude who owns a jet ski and lifted Dodge than she ever did with you."

Mike, wanna talk about it?
  • + 647
 No
  • + 33
 #lonewolf
  • + 16
 #blastinslayerat11
  • + 32
 @mikelevy: What's a "lifted Dodge"?
  • + 35
 @Grmasterd: there aren't many over here and the owners of those very few are terribly discriminated. Wanker and Small Dick shaming of lifted truck drivers is so common and preposterous that I sympathize with them.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Hahaha. Exists here a bit too. But at the end of the day, whether I'm hauling 1200lbs of water up a steep mountain pass to dig (and still passing civics or non turbo subies that are struggling) or shuttling with 12 homies and DH rigs up to flying monkey, I'll take the big ass diesel every day. Pretty easy to ignore the shit talking outback drivers when them, their five friends and two dogs are all hitching a ride and climbing into the bed with their backcountry ski gear for another lap.
  • + 7
 @mountainyj: Smile Jokes aside though, in Europe, the pick up trucks are virtually useless since most duties you describe can be handled by Volksvagen Transporter which is cheaper and more practical in every possible way, as long as it can get to the point of destination, which is fairly easy in most cases Smile You may actually find a set of needs that would justify owning one, but it's so extremely unlikely that wanker just stuck. In Sweden, plenty of small building contractors buy these as company cars and I can respect that to some extent, because those fkng small lorries like Kangoo or Caddy are preposterous and all too common.
  • + 25
 @Grmasterd: ahh thanks. No not that popular over here. We would probably call them raised. Lifted means stolen to me.
  • + 18
 @BedsideCabinet: lifted also means stolen here - why does English have to be so f'in weird!! Jokes aside where I live, southwest Colorado, 4x4 and ground clearance are good things to have
  • + 9
 @WAKIdesigns: Prius drivers, over compensating for their enormous penis/twat? bc women drive too
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: hahaha. I'd love to have a little Sambar or something for around town, seems almost like a more convenient go-cart. Not towing a 5-ton excavator with that though! Fortunately I can walk or ride to most of my jobs/errands once the weathers a bit nicer again.
  • + 11
 @mikelevy: I just love the way you bring the; "Nearly 35lbs." Every chance you get.
You have been riding cross country 29er bikes for too long.
  • + 0
 @mountainyj: What about the sh*t talking Prius drivers? Al Gore III driving his Prius 100 mph in SD.......I can't think of a label to put on Prius drivers!
  • + 10
 ok ok guys, can someone explain me why does it happen so often that Prius is mentioned by occasion of talking raised pick up trucks? Because to a European it sounds like a few farmers are about to sodomize a hippie? Big Grin
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: Do you guys not have big trailers you haul around? Growing up we pulled a ~30 foot camp trailer all over the western United States, along with bikes, motorcycles, toys etc. I'm not familiar with a van that is capable of pulling that kind of weight. Not to mention clearance on mountain roads here in Utah. Just curious, I've never been to Europe so I'm not familiar.
  • + 21
 @jazorblast: Let me just begin wit saying how extremely excited I am to be the ambassador of Europe on this decent forum Big Grin

No, haven’t seen too many 30ft camp trailers. For many people VW Caravelle/ California is more than enough (actually there’s plenty of those quasi mini vans like VW Sharan or Picasso) , but there are many full on camper vans on the roads in the summer. They are no longer than 25ft. Trailers are rare. I think the difference between Europe and US comes down to two factors: in US you have much bigger travel distances and No.2 you have much more personal storage space to keep such behemoth. Simply put: you have more space.

For instance, if tou got to my garage under a block of flats, you will quickly see how disproportionally big is a “small” pick up like Hilux or Navara. My V70 is a damn big kombi, one of bigger cars on the roads here, but it looks tiny next to Hilux.
  • + 10
 @WAKIdesigns: wouldn’t owning a 30’ caravan in Europe kinda lump into the gypsy crowd also? As far as I can tell Europeans talk shit about gypsies as much, or more, than they do about Americans.
  • - 1
 @WAKIdesigns: making board generalizations but it's the Prius lovers that embraced the "You have a small penis bc you drive a huge truck compensation" thing. It probably makes more sense if you lived in the USA where big trucks are really popular
  • + 9
 @BedsideCabinet: aka: daily commuter in alberta
  • + 11
 @Grmasterd: If one of those turns up at some trails anyone in the car park will start singing 'tiny penis' over and over to the tune of Bread of Heaven, it just starts, no prompting needed. Round here a fifth hand Ford Transit that scrapes the ground is vehicle of choice.
  • + 1
 @Grmasterd: naah. prius is a minicab car. and it usually smells too....
  • + 3
 #stevessuck #amiright
  • + 3
 @enrico650:

agreed 100%

15kg for a bike is pretty reasonable imo
  • + 28
 Commercial vans like the Mercedes Sprinter can haul heavy loads and be outfitted however you like making them 10× more versatile than a truck. They come in a 4x4 option. Brass Generalization Alert: Europeans-right tool right job. North Americans- 10×overkill tool for a something thats not even a real job. When I travel NA 98% of the trucks I see on the road are empty or at most have a small tool box and a cooler of beer. Overkill. But then again I understand the farmers who do use trucks as the right tool or the people who live out west where pavement or asphalt does not exist or so called "Jeep trails". Some of those roads are scary AF where a normal car would end up breaking in half. But the Biggest Idiot in the World award goes to those stupid AF coal rollers. F*uck them.
  • + 26
 @enrico650: 35lbs is heavy AF. The Rallon I have right now is 6lbs lighter with a coil-sprung shock. Weight isn't everything, but it's certainly something.
  • + 14
 @nordicMT: Agreed, him and his jet ski can suck it.
  • + 13
 @9M119M1: 35lbs is reasonable? Maybe to some people, but not me.
  • + 1
 metaphorically speaking...
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: This. A single van can carry 9 people + a trailer with 9 bikes to the top of San Romolo Wink ... And can also get you there from a shitty country in the east in 15h including crossing the Alps Wink
  • + 1
 @mikelevy:
The new kona process is a expensive porker also. Better than this? And as much fun as the old one?
  • - 2
 @mikelevy: How much does it weigh?
Was not going to read all this if they have not got weight down to match standard drive, as it can be done!
  • + 2
 Sooooo, thinking about selling my bike and buying a jetski That ALWAYS happens..... douche bag Steve
  • + 4
 @aljoburr: Holy hell, nearly the entire article is about the weight and it's effect. You could probably find out in 30 seconds of reading, unless it takes you 2 minutes to read 1 sentence.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: if you mean the new rallon great looking bike but with an exposed rear air shock stanchion that you can polish like a saint crank Im still wondering who designed that!
  • - 18
flag Ryanrobinson1984 (Mar 28, 2018 at 15:37) (Below Threshold)
 @mountainyj: they all talk shit about us because they all hate their miserable f*cking lives
  • - 25
flag Ryanrobinson1984 (Mar 28, 2018 at 15:38) (Below Threshold)
 @Fix-the-Spade: and that is why everyone thinks you guys are gay as f*ck
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Should the Derailleur Die? YES!!!! YES!!!! HELL FRICKIN YES!!!!
600% RANGE - SICK
UNSPRUNG MASS (making the suspension track better) - RAD
NOT BREAKING DERAILLERS $$$ - DOPE
grip shift- SUCKS but we will let that slide (for NOW)
0.01% CHANCE TO DROP A CHAIN - GNARLY
The list goes on.......
lets just kill the derailleur NOW!
  • + 3
 Two of my close friends ride a gearbox and they have both broken then within a year. One of them twice and the other one. They do like them and I approve of innovation, however, with a several week to two month turn around regarding fixing the problems they are hardly reliable.
  • + 8
 @mikelevy: first world problems? Get into the working man's shoes just for once Mike. I ride a 2014 Rallon, and weights 14.1 kg in 1x11. It's perfectly capable, and it has an acceptable weight. I'll be doing a 110 km Alpine trip with it starting tomorrow, at the Córdoba sierras.
  • + 7
 @WAKIdesigns: pass the ferrero rocher
  • + 6
 @Ryanrobinson1984: But we're also known for our sense of humour.
  • + 1
 @BedsideCabinet: I call them Jacked Up.
  • + 2
 @markg1150: I rode both the 29er and 27.5 Process bikes. The big wheeler is an aluminum frame and has a mid-range parts spec, so she wasn't light. I think both were a bit heavy but in the ballpark for weight. That Process 29er is a badass, by the way.
  • + 1
 @donpinpon29: Never thought of that! I wonder if it'd be an issue in the long run? My tester will be around for the whole season, but it has the coil on it, so who knows.
  • + 2
 @rockchomper: Forgot to mention that I did drop a chain once while riding the bike. Not sure how it happened, but it wasn't a big deal.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I need to try that Process 29er when the demo truck comes through next month. I’m a bit baffled because you described it as a surprisingly playful for the size, while some other reviewers have said it’s one of the least playful bikes in the category. I’m hoping I agree with your take!
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: I think a good amount of your weight concern and climbing issues could have been pretty quickly addressed with the swapping of the tires to pretty much any other brand/model. That combo is 1.5 pounds of overkill. $120 might have dramatically affected your experience on the bike
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Agreed. Got a new carbon bronson a few months ago, my previous trail bike was 36.3 lbs..... Heavyweights
  • + 1
 This can hit 500 comments. Come on people, do it for ML. Cant wait to see the response from VF and RC. Not to mention MW.
  • + 31
 With all due respect, my pretentious carbon bike with coil shock is 32.5 lbs with 1,5 ply tyres and pro core in the rear. that's my "everyday" setup. And it is 100% function, no weight saving BS but also no pseudo bomb proof stuff. I'd gladly drop in a coil Helm or RXF36 fork in the front. Then if I further add 2 ply tyres in the front I am easily on 34lbs for Enduro Racing/ Bikepark.

If you run a 160 bike, weigh around standard 170lbs and don't run at least 1,5ply tyres then I don't know how the hell you don't get flats, how do you hit berms at speed and ride through rock gardens without squirmy tyres robbing you off confidence to push the bike. And Enduro/DH tyres alone, easily push your bike into 33-34lbs zone. That is a reasonable weight. A 30lbs for a 160 Enduro bike IS NOT a reasonable weight. Anyhoo, we got a reasonable 32-33 lbs bike and we add a gearbox to it. That makes us end up at 35lbs which is REASONABLE for a gearbox equipped Enduro bike.

Bejesus... weight weenies on Pinkbike... lift some iron and do sprints for fks sake, it's 2018.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: my hairy legs will polish a kashima for sure. If is coil it would be the opposite. Leg depilation hahaha
  • + 0
 @lightsgetdimmer: amazing $113 for such an assxxx act. Hooe they ban weapons in the usa at lest in the cities
  • + 3
 @Ryanrobinson1984: I don't like your comments because they give power to the people in Priuses by proving their point... I don't want that.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: It is a good idea for an e bike?
  • + 1
 @9M119M1: it really depends. When the top of the line bike weight 15kg it means the affordable one is in at 19kg.Feels like an e-bike.
  • + 1
 @southoftheborder: your 14.1kg bike is 31lbs. 2lbs heavier than the Rallon Mike mentioned, and 4 lbs lighter than the Taniwha. By saying 31lbs is ok, you just proved mike's point that 35 is a lot Wink

@mikelevy: could you comment on drag?
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: if we could all afford lifted fully kitted out 4x4 sprinters, the world would be a better place. Unfortunately some of us have to make do with a cheap 4x4 truck. I do agree with coal rolling though, that needs to die.
  • + 1
 @mountainyj: a lifted trick is worse for all of those things.
I respect a truck that is made to do a job. I am lucky to be about to borrow a 2500 Chevy when I need it.
But most of the time they are wasted space. My minivan had a3.5 v6 and manages to do just about everything I could ask. Plywood sits flat when the seats are out. It pulled a uhaul trailer full of crap from Utah to NY through Colorado. I can throw a couple bikes in the back or put them on the hitch rack.
When all is said and done I can't justify a truck. And neither can 80% of truck owners. They just want one cuz they are cool.
But if I could I'd get a raptor.
  • + 5
 @mikelevy: I guess I'm confused about the weight issue. Where the weight is matters quite a lot, IMO. Right now, my Sentinel sits at 33.8lbs (with pedals and good tires) and since it has light wheels and good suspension, it climbs faster than my SB6.

Throw a water bottle on your lightweight 'enduro bike' and boom, 2lbs added. No one seems to complain there. Where and what it does matters most with weight as does stiffness, fit, and climbing position. My guess is that between the gearbox, WTB tires (which in my experience roll quite slow) and a slacker STA affected the climbing more than the actual weight itself.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I also think the roads in Europe are more narrow than in the U.S.

People forget how much older Europe is.
  • + 4
 @sml2727: yes that's another thing. I remember Windows 10 showing me a welcome picture with a regular two lane mountain road somewhere in US. Then I noticed there is a pick up truck on it. And it looks like a kids car. Sweet Jesus the road width could easily take 3 lanes of an average European country road and then some more Big Grin And it's also an issue in city centers, even in my town where we have an overbuilt infrastructure. Even my V70 feels big to park sometimes. Italy in a pick up truck? Forget it. An offroad vehicle in Italy is called Fiat Panda 4X. that's why if you are a MTBer guy travelling with bikes, it is hard to beat the smaller VW Transporter, because it has "loads" of space and it is no longer than VW Passat. Then if you travel a lot with friends, you just buy the longer Transporter (or better Multivan) and you have 2 rows of seats, 6 people, their luggage and 6-7 bikes without taking the wheels off. If you travel 2 people, you can sleep in the back.

But I must tell you the nastiest camper porn I have seen... hmm... move on... was in Val Di Sole. A family showed up in a camper with 2 carbon Bronsons on the back of it, and they were towing a trailer with Lotus Elise on it. That was a one of the biggest "get the fk out of here you lucky mdr fkr" moments in my life.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: agreed 35lb is not bad for a burly build. My 29HT is 32 with EXO's. If I ever get a FS bike I would expect it to be mid 30s easily. I'm with Paul Aston on that one - weight is what it is (for what and where and how you ride).

PS we don't have rock gardens in the SE (UK), only mud and roots. Hence light tyres work most of the time.

PSS @rockin-itis - one more towards 500...
  • + 1
 @enrico650: @mikelevy: yep. My yeti 575 is 32lbs with a standard 2x9 setup, a dropper, and a lyrik.
  • + 2
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: The used Sprinters are affordable. Even more affordable are the ones from other makers like VW, Renault, Ford etc. Outfitting them shouldnt be too expensive either if your handy with power tools. I've seen some really cool designs that make it a work van Mon-Fri, and a livable camper van on the weekends/holiday. The only limiting factor is skill/creativity.
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: But Sprinter is fkng big and eats a lot. You can use it for shuttling people. Far from the best choice as a personal car. VW transporter family FTW. Not the cheapest but reliable, comes with strong engines and is quite compact for what it takes inside. I am jizzing everytime I see a nice Multivan in metallic. I was considering it, but went for V70 for price, reliability external/internal size ratio. Mondeo is very close, almost the same car, and if not my wife being a Volvo proponent, I’d go for a Mondeo ST Combi for the same money as V70. Almost same size but cooler to drive. A6 is great too, but out of my financial reach, especially when it comes to maintenance. When kids grow up a bit, I’m buying a freaking multivan
  • + 1
 In my opinion, it's better than the zeroed, but not by much. They actually feel quite similar to me. These are the two bikes that feel extreme exhausting to do any climbs on.
  • + 1
 @Uuno: good point, I didn't do the math. Thanks for making it clear.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: my kids are getting bigger and so are their bikes. We are also looking at getting a VW Beach (multivan with pop up roof) but the wife(accountant) is still holding out. #$%₩#. But at the same time that allows us to start saving for the 2020 VW Buzz, I want one, but on a T6 frame. Or Mercedes coming out with the hydro fusion cell soon. What ever we do buy next it will not be fueled by OPEC. F*ck them.
  • + 2
 @sml2727: ...and the cost of fuel is much less. Relatively low fuel costs have turned most U.S. drivers into horsepower junkies. For many years, the focus from manufacturers for increasing fuel efficiency for the U.S. market has been weighted toward more horsepower rather than increasing miles per gallon.
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns: Americans like to get away from it all and take it all with them when they do. Don't try to apply logic here. It doesn't work.
  • - 1
 @Boardlife69: actually it took me some time to find a non-diesel v70. Funny thing is, annual tax in Sweden for a car with 2.4L diesel is 440€. Porsche Carrera 4S costs 170€ In annual tax, interesting! As to electric cars... how come a biblical amount of highly toxic batteries made of rare Earth metals can be better for the planet? All I know is, it will initially make the air in the cities cleaner... but it terrifies me what will happen in with all this genuinely toxic dump in 20 years. Big portion to become Ocean fill granted.
  • + 3
 @taletotell: check out Carli or Thuren fab. Proper suspension can strike a good balance of work truck and fun. Levy is obviously referring to the fad of lifting a truck 12” and bolting on a bunch of bullshit useless parts though.
A lot of people have larger trucks than necessary because that was your only real option for a truck until recently. The big 3 will all have diesel half tons available in the next year, and the new Colorado diesel will hopefully prove popular enough for Toyota to sort out getting a diesel Taco in the states.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Tom Delonge is going to solve all our energy problems. If he doesn't end up in an institution.
  • + 1
 @mountainyj: A diesel Colorado, Hilux, and Ranger would be nice. I think there is legislation limiting how small they will go with a diesel in the US. Different emission standards for bigger vehicles.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: the same would actually be true in the states but somehow Volkswagen decided not to sell vans to americans and you can 2 or 3 pickups for the price of a Sprinter van which are popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
For a while i drove one of these monsters courtesy of my Company. Besides the always paying for two cars when i tried parking downtown i got really sick and tired of getting my shit stolen of the bed. Maybe that's just LA/OC...

@mountainyj i have a couple of riding buddies who where more than happy to hide their bikes inside my hatchback while the Sheriffs where looking for us because we rode something we were not supposed to... Our record so far Stands at 5 Bikes in Focus. I guess there is advantages in everything...
  • + 1
 @donpinpon29: yes, should have been a bigger fine for sure, just for sheer stupidity.
  • + 1
 @richierocket: Interesting. What brand and model?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns:

Funny thing is I've never seen so many American cars in Europe as in Stockholm, the kind you have to import.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Well gear boxes are less efficent, so will never climb as well, so does not really matter
  • + 1
 @miguelcurto - wait until you get to Norway Wink actually there is a Charger parked behind my car in the underground garage Smile next to it stands the old Citroen. Also there’s quite a few A-Team style rape vans driving around
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Maybe you should jump into one of those rape vans with your bike. You might get a new Capra or free anal examination.
  • + 1
 @lightsgetdimmer: makes more sense.
  • + 1
 @taletotell: you can get a Colorado with a 2.8L mini duramax in it. It’s a pretty highly reviewed truck also, great power and towing for its size. Downside is, they start at $40k.
Cummins also offers a new 2.8L crate motor. Swaps have been popular with that. Still dropping $10k for it though.
Ford had a ranger diesel back in the 90s, wouldn’t be surprised to see it return in a couple years. Ford keeps teasing a new ranger.
  • + 1
 @mountainyj: I’ve read the North American Ranger returns early 2019 with only one engine option - 2.3L direct-injection turbo 4cylinder. Nice looking truck in the photos though.
  • + 3
 I can't believe a fully pimped out Mercedes Sprinter van with 4x4 is being proposed as a legitimate vehicle choice compared to a truck. There aren't that many dentists in this forum are there?

Do way too many people drive trucks in the US that don't need it? Absolutely. I've seen way too many clean and pretty trucks without a spot of dirt on them, extended cab extended everything, commuting and driving their kids to school/soccer practice etc. That said, no van is going to have the same level of offroad capabilities that a truck has unless you're talking triple the price. You're not getting up some of our backcountry mountain roads without 4x4 and at least 'decent' clearance without seriously risking damage to the underside of your vehicle.

And sure, you can still fit 5+ people with 5+ bikes in a van but I'll take the ability to hose down a muddy or dirty truck bed everytime in addition being able to haul whatever I need to (dirt, mulch, water, tools, everything I own, farm equipment, etc.). For the record I drive a 2WD hatchback and envy everyone with 4x4, clearance, and the ability to just throw the bike in the car.
  • + 2
 @RXN059:
If you own farm equipment i assume you are a framer in which case a truck makes total sense.

For most people living in cities i don't think it does. Personally i will never see the advantage of an open loading bed on a massive car that consumes exorbitant amounts of gas.
You can also hose down the back of a Van but still my shit is less likely to get stolen or just fly away at freeway speeds.
You can sleep inside.
You don't need to clean snow of the bed in winter time.
You can keep my bags inside in the dry even if i bring 4 other people along for the drive when its raining.
Most people don't need off road capabilities, most trucks are sold in rear wheel drive with which to my limited experience it is already a challenge to drive straight on a wet or slightly snowy road as there is no weight on the back wheels.

Anyway this is another topic where you will never find common grounds. Two different schools of thought.
US like trucks and the rest of the world uses vans but how the hell did we get her form a gearbox bike?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: you may not like my comment but...I like yours
  • + 1
 @Boardlife69: I really hope it works out for you
  • + 1
 @alexhyland: I know!! I guess no one gets my humor, as I was totally kidding in my comment.
  • + 1
 @BedsideCabinet: It is a dodgy red neck vehicle with big tires and that has been lifted Wink
  • + 2
 @mountainyj: Why the hell would you want to do that? You can get the Cummins before they add the Urea crap to for for mid 20's with under $80K. Even the newer ones for low 30's. I was shopping a bit and found a 2015 4x4 with 35K on it for $32K in Texas. I will just keep my old truck....
  • + 1
 Keep in mind Levy is in Squamish where lifted RAM 3500s are a right to passage or some crap.

I6 Duramax is a neat idea for the '19 1500 BowTie twins. Wonder how the front end suspension components will hold out with the added heft of a diesel? Remains to be seen how much one of them will cost compared to a 3500. Difficult to sell diesel in NA since drivers here tend to keep vehicles for the duration of a lease/finance cycle so the price increase isn't justified over the ownership period. In Central America all the Japanese pickups and SUVs we have in NA are available in diesel down there.

Have a sled on the way for next winter so unsure if I'm going to add a trailer to my SUV or go to a Fullsize (or "Full-Ton" like the GF calls them) and a sled deck?
  • + 1
 @downhillnews: agreed. Why I drive an 02 Cummins. If you’ve got the money and don’t need a full size, the smaller diesels are pretty rad.

@gonecostal: get a truck...life’s easier. We’re also not allowed to tow trailers up the pass here in the winter. So if we want to sled certain areas, truck is the only option. Can always get a camper shell for the summer and basically have an suv anyhow
  • + 1
 @BedsideCabinet: As soon as you visit any rural US or Canadian community, you'll know.
  • + 2
 @mountainyj: True it is just insane how much trucks cost these days. Then again a mid grade MTB costs as much as a KXF 450 while its on sale so go figure.....
  • + 1
 So I've shifted a shimano Alfine under load with a trigger shifter. Use one of those instead of the overpriced pinion, Aluminium frame, a lighter build spec and that's most of the negatives solved.
  • + 1
 Why do all gearbox designs have a separate b.b.? Why not build around the b.b. like the axles of a hub gearbox.
  • + 1
 @choppertank3e: you mean like the original zerodes. Mount a gearbox above the BB in the front triangle. It wouldn't interfere with the pivot placement either. May get in the way of the shock tho.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: this was addressed in the article.
  • + 1
 @taletotell: I was talking generally rather than specifically to the Zerode.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: in that case I agree. Might as well take advantage of chainline. I suspect moving the chaining up an inch from the spindle would make a huger difference, but only if you have an engineering department big enough and a budget friendly enough to try a bunch of different linkage configurations.
  • + 106
 I really appreciated the honesty and cander of mike in the comparison. I wasn’t expecting to here such positivity about the current crop of enduro bikes compared to the zerode so good on ya!
  • + 2
 I know! An honest product review! If I ever meet Levy I will buy him all the donuts he can eat!
  • + 6
 @oscartheballer: that's a hell of a lot of donuts you've commited to right there....
  • + 4
 @Ozziefish: So. Many. Donuts.
  • + 74
 "don't make the Taniwha's gearbox the main reason that you buy this bike"

Seems like that's the only reason someone would buy a bike that costs over $9k bike and weighs over 34lbs
  • + 3
 Exactly my thoughts
  • + 34
 Ability to shift while coasting, no drivetrain noise on rough descents, centralized weight within the bike, suspension that isn't affected by drivetrain bind.... All sounds to me like this gearbox was intended for a DH bike.
  • + 7
 @cstishenko: I still want to resurrect something like the hammerschimdt, but give it 5/6 gears and a 230% spread. Then it could work on most standard DH frames, but without 2 kgs sitting on your rear axle like a hub transmission. You would have that insane rear suspension performance that Gwin talked about when he broke his chain, but even better unsprung weight, stronger, 'correctly' dished rear wheel, centralized, low weight, and low maintenance. All perfect for DH.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: I had a Hammerschimdt on a 2011 Transition Covert, that thing was awesome...it worked flawlessly!
  • + 1
 @cstishenko correction, you have to shift while coasting. They’re neat bikes, but to me that’s where it ends. Just a nomad geo copy, with a real well done single pivot and a gearbox with a silly shifter. That all together costs an arm and a leg.

Getting stuck on a surprise pinch climb and not being able to shift is pretty annoying. Can’t run my brake lever setup the way I wanted with the shifter as the lever hit the shifter.

The bike that Rob Metz actually rides looks a lot more fun with a real high pivot.
  • + 1
 @WhatToBuy: I had one back then too. It was a great product. There was a little drag in the overdrive, but since its the higher gears it didn't really matter. If they iterated it and shaved a bunch of weight off, I would prefer using a road/dh cassette with a tiny rear derailleur paired with a hammerschmidt 2.0 than a 12 gear, 500 gram dinner plate cassette and long-cage eagle derailleur.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: i don't think you'd totally get "that insane rear suspension performance that Gwin talked about when he broke his chain" because I think a lot of the benefit of chain-less is the removal of pedal feedback.
The chain interfering with the suspension is the same with a gearbox, with the same suspension design

I totally agree on a revised HammerSchmidt for downhill being a great idea, could be retrofitted too
  • + 1
 @andrew9: The chain interferes because of chain growth moving against the resistance of the derailleur. This is especially troublesome with clutched derailleurs. A tension pulley (like on this zerode) can be tuned to have much less resistance and therefore much less of an effect on suspension performance. Maybe not 100% like a true chainless, but pretty close, plus you dump the weight of a cassette and derailleur.

Other gearbox designs (like effigear) allow you to have a rearward axle path and still have a concentric main pivot, giving 0 chain growth and therefore 0 effect (other than the weight of the chain/belt) on the rear suspension:

images.singletracks.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/DSC06306.jpg
  • + 2
 @hamncheez:On most current bikes i'd have thought it was the pedal kickback that mainly interferes? Anti-squat creates pedal kickback, it binds the suspension to some extent, but it also creates a small amount of forward momentum so it's not all bad.
The cranks go backwards on most bikes as you push down on them, no?

I would have thought the "elastic band" effect of the chain growth on the derailleur to be less significant, even with a clutch
  • + 8
 @andrew9: Ive had the taniwha for a year, you actually do get that kinda suspension performance. because theres only one "gear" youll ever be in (meaning the chain ring and rear cog wont ever change) they can design the pivot locations and frame around that. Your bike with a traditional drivetrain will have different levels of growth depending on which gear you're in.

There's benefits to the gearbox on this bike but the truly amazing benefits come from what he can do to the suspension, that no traditional drivetrain can actually achieve. You don't normally hear conversations about this stuff because the rest of the industry can't solve it.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: Someone rode a Nicolai G19 w/effiegear on the WC circuit last season; mid-high single pivot, able to use traditional trigger shifters.
I was really interested in this frame as the prototype form w/ high idler pulley. Hope to see the G2/G3 make a comeback soon. I really am into the idea of that bike or the mentioned G19 as a replacement for my V10C
  • + 3
 @gonecoastal: I remember that, I also remember the effigear failing toward the beginning of his run at one of the races!
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: I recall that as well. Claudio and Rob were really puzzled by his run. About half way into it they figured out he was on a gearbox bike and had an issue with it.
Here is Beniot Coulanges N19/20
www.vitalmtb.com/photos/features/PIT-BITS-Leogang-World-Cup-Downhill,9054/Benoit-Coulanges-Nicolai-ION-20-EffiGear-Belt-Drive-World-Cup-DH-Bike,93075/sspomer,2
  • + 1
 Even if it was a e bike?
  • + 1
 @aljoburr: I suspect pinion would be foolish not to make a motor you could swap for that gearbox. Think of the money they'd make.

Not saying either way about e-bikes. Only that it would make money.
  • + 2
 @taletotell: They dont offer a motorized gearbox (would be surprised if they arent already working on this) but they do have a motorized rear hub that obviously works with a gearbox pinion.eu/en/e-bike
  • + 1
 @lusenator: I actually emailed them to ask. They basically responded "no comment."
  • + 3
 @taletotell: There's rumor they're making electric shifters too. Pinion sees the demand and they're working on it, it takes a long time for a company to get to the point where they can announce and show a new product. Especially considering that they're so much smaller than sram/shimano and they also dont have the years to have all these secret side projects going on all the time until they're ready to be shown.

Were definitely in the "early adopter" phase of gearbox bikes but I have to say its definitely worth it! such a fun bike, and thats what really counts in the end!
  • + 2
 @taletotell: YO! looks like maybe they had that whole integrated project at some point www.electricbike.com/pinion its a little old but its there

also on that link I showed you earlier, on their site, they do talk about the benefit of having the motor on the hub so there's not extra motorized stress on the gearbox so maybe thats why they're doing it that way now, kinda makes sense
  • + 1
 @lusenator: They appear to have no idea what they're talking about with regards to the advantages of a rear hub mounted motor.

It seems like an easy option for another company to fit into, the pinion mounting standard seems to be gaining traction. Build an E-motor with a frame that just bolts into that.
  • + 1
 @bonfire: my thoughts on the frame standard exactly. The e bike market could drive down the cost it these frames and more options besides.
  • + 54
 In a parallel universe where gearboxes were the norm, people would laugh off the first derailleur. Why would you want to significantly impair your suspension performance, spend more time wrenching, and spend more money replacing broken/worn parts all for the sake of dropping 1.5 lbs.? I think a lot of the negativity comes down to a unwillingness to learn the nuances of a new shifting system.

Rob Metz's quote seems to sum this up pretty well: "But after a while, muscle memory takes over, shifting fades into the background, and the true benefits of the gearbox shine through. At the end of the day, no one high fives each other about the perfect shift, but that perfect roosted corner, that drop you've always been nervous about hitting or just waiting an extra ten seconds at the bottom of a hill for your mates is what brings home the real smiles."
  • + 5
 (insert beer cheers emoticon) In response to Rob Metz' quote though... This is what my current "enduro rig" is all about. 170mm travel, steady uphill - unshakeable DH shenanigans down. The bike that makes you want to hit it harder next time down......

...... I paid $2500 CAD ($1900 usd), years ago as SRAM 11 Speed was just on the rise. Maintenance? I use a citrus degreaser and a hose. A leaf blower to get the water off? A little bit of chain lube before each ride? Still the original derailleur and cassette, which are the only things that are different than the gearbox equipped bike. I have no measurable suspension bind from drivetrain input, and i've never replaced my ancient wear laden technology.

It seems as though this gearbox bike is an exercise in engineering. Something where with units sold - they can afford to continue the development. Some people want to be a part of that. I respect that.
  • + 6
 "In a parallel universe where gearboxes were the norm..."

You mean like our universe? Gearboxes are the norm pretty much everywhere but bikes! The first person to think they wanted multiple speeds on their bike had plenty of gearbox knowledge to choose from. Think about it, gearboxes were so bad that they went with derailleur anyway and so has almost everyone since!

That said I hope pinion finds it niche so it can keep up development and narrow the performance and price gaps. More options are more better!
  • + 3
 @cstishenko: Ever have the chain slip-off the largest cog in a back-pedal/pedal ratchet situation?
  • + 0
 There is not just the weight penalty but also about 5% efficiency loss compared to derailleur, about 8 watt difference at 200 watts.
  • + 7
 I have one and have no issues shifting. It really is just changing your mindset. You can change down a gear when your pedals are vertical ie there is no load through them - it just requires your brain to unlearn derailleur habits. Another point is that you can dump as many gears as you like - when getting to a pinch climb for example.
  • + 1
 @gonecoastal: I get this all the time and that's with a 36 cog. 42 is way worse.
  • + 1
 @gonecoastal: actually no. I run a 28t front on an X01 Process 167 (plenty of steep climbs) I've read that larger cogs will produce this issue though.
  • + 1
 @in2falling: only 5% ??
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: @cstishenko: Never encounter this when running mix and match 1x10 32/11-36 on a hardtail and 6" AM bike: X.0 trigger and mech, XT cassette, Chromag ring, KML chains. Or when I switched to a WTC 40T. Swapped the hardtail to X.01 with KML chain and Chromag X-sync ring and the issue popped up. Can't recall if it went away now or not. Maybe I did some fine tuning. Talked to a KML rep at Whistler CWorx and he said the issue could likely be from the running the smaller ring. The angle the chain takes from the largest cog down to the small chainring causes more teeth engagment. Who knows. Running a 1x11 setup on the G16 now. Shimano XTR trigger, XT mech, 11-46 SunRace cassette, BS TrailX guide and oval 32t ring with KML chain and no issues with this one.

Who really knows...
  • + 55
 Scroll to bottom... "It's heavy and it feels heavy"... nope, let's keep the derailleur for now.
  • - 13
flag ruffrider21 (Mar 28, 2018 at 8:20) (Below Threshold)
 Agreed, no need for all the apprentice if the bike is gonna ride heavy.
  • + 41
 I wonder how the review would change if it came with some 800g tires
  • + 10
 @LaXcarp: Yeah what a joke! No way a slayer or a slash would weigh 5 or 6 pounds less with the same tires and rims!
  • + 13
 They did mention that it could hit the 30lb mark with the right parts list. This could liven up the ride.
Looking at it - my #1 question was... Why not more than 160mm? It looks and is built like a damn DH bike.

The one thing that will be hard to get around is the price though. $9500.
That's $12,300 CAD before taxes (gulp) at todays exchange rate. I can buy a couple great bikes for that price.
  • + 33
 @LaXcarp: A 160mm bike is serious overkill for any terrain where 800gr tires would survive. If you don't need need Double Down or DH tires, you'd probably be having more fun on a lighter, shorter travel bike.
  • + 4
 Doesn't everyone say the weight is hidden since its all low and around the BB? Can anyone else chime in besides Mike Levy and comment on any handling benefits of such a low center of gravity?
  • + 5
 @LaXcarp: This. A lot of what Mike was on about comes down to the tires on the test bike. Many of his positive and negative comments can be attributed to just the pros and cons of aggressive, DH weight rubber.
  • + 41
 TL-DR, Zerode made a Freeride bike, a really, really good Freeride bike, but still a Freeride bike. Sounds like a really good bike for riding in the Alps around Les Gets, where the trails echo to the sobbing of broken 30lb 'Enduro' bikes.
  • + 16
 @Fix-the-Spade: Accurate
  • + 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: do you think the new YT Capra would be sobbing lol
  • + 10
 The distributor F'd up by giving Levy a bike with DH rims, heavy tires, and a heavy build. Mike probably would have liked it better with 200g off each wheel. Know your audience.
  • + 9
 @LaXcarp: @mikelevy: it would have made sense to swap a few parts out and test it as a lighter setup for a fair comparison.

I get the burly build for DH but would like to see how far you could push it the other way. Maybe this is something the distributer could arrange.
  • + 7
 @JustinVP: I have to disagree on that one. I've spent plenty of time on many bikes with 1,000+ gram tires, and the rims aren't heavy.
  • + 5
 @fartymarty @LaXcarp - I've ridden plenty of bikes with a similar build and intention, and even have a few on hand right now. I often run heavy rubber during the winter and wet conditions, too. Some of my favorite tires weigh well over 1,000 grams.
  • + 2
 @dthomp325: Guess it depends on the rider and riding style. At 150lbs, my tire set up of Magic Mary and DHRII on a 160mm bike is spot on at 850ish grams. Pisgah National Forest and bike park riding. I couldn't imagine pushing around a 1200g set.
  • + 3
 @LaXcarp: I can't imagine riding the Slash or Slayer with 800gram tires either, the tires would give out far before you reached the limits of the suspension. If I can get away with lighter weight tires for the terrain, then I'd rather be on a more nimble 120-140mm travel bike too.

I ride 29er, so my consideration of weight may be off for 27.5. A double down or DH style 29er tire is usually in the 1-1.2kg range, while a light-weight trail tire is around 800-900grams.
  • + 1
 @cstishenko: No shit! I'm out on that merit alone.. I'd never pay that... Especially knowing I'd still bitch about the ride..
  • + 2
 @bohns1: So...
$9,500 for a bike with 600% gear range in a heavy package that doesn't climb well, can't be shifted under power, and really is just meant for the downs? Am I missing a point here? The emphasis is on the gear box, which doesn't seem to work very well doing the things that gear boxes are supposed to do. Who cares if you can shift upside down or when peadaling backwards if you can't do it when you need to?

I applaud the effort, and it really does look like excellent machining. But it needs to be lighter and you MUST be able to shift when driving power. Nylon gears perhaps would address the weight. the addition of a clutch or something for the shifting?
  • + 4
 @mtemp: By run 10, quite probably. I've seen plenty of busted Capra mk1s out there. Also, a Capra Pro Race with dual ply tyres will weigh about 2lb less than one of these, it's not exactly a flyweight.
  • - 3
 The article says the Ibis HD4 is one of the best pedaling AM/Enduro bikes out there. What about the Naild R3ACT – 2 Play Wolf Ridge or that other 650b Polygon one? Its so blantantly obvious that all the 'reivews' and media coverage of that flexy design with poor leverage curves are all paid advertising. The most important part of how a bike pedals is first the tire/rim choice and second the efficiency of the drivetrain (both of which on this Zerode belong on a true DH bike, not a bike meant to pedal uphill). All this hype in that new Naild R3ACT – 2 Play garbage really bugs me. Rant over.
  • + 9
 It seems like many of the complaints about this bike it that the creator just wanted to make a really downhill oriented bike. A different person would have made a 140mm travel bike with more pedal friendly suspension. Hopefully that's what they are alluding to with "stay tuned as the Zerode range expands."
  • + 3
 @hamncheez: True, that Polygon is insanely efficient - I forgot to mention that bike. It wasn't a stiff bike, but it wasn't too flexy for me, either. Some other testers would disagree with me, I know.

Also, have you ridden that Polygon? In a lot of ways, it's a bit like the Taniwha in that its performance is so unique that it's hard to compare it to others. The bike pedals as well as a lot of 130mm-ish bikes. Unreal.
  • + 0
 @hamncheez: Every one of those bikes that I know have blown up. Poorly designed rear suspension paired with big side loads on the shock. I know a guy who blew at least two up and then switched to a better bike.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Mike, a comment and a question. Comment: IMO (and experience) 35# vs 29# makes an enormous difference on a enduro/AM bike. question: What about driveline drag? I had a Hammerschmidt briefly 10 yrs ago. Although the weight was a problem, the bigger deal was the noticeable friction in the system when climbing. Is this an issue with the Pinion box?
  • + 1
 @mtemp: I personally see these bikes sobbing, and several other direct and non direct brands sobbing when ridden in places that aren't groomed and soft.
  • + 1
 I too have a 35lb enduro bike - but its XL, aluminium everywhere, and cost 1/3 of what this Zerode did.
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: It corners very well. It is also very easy to balance when in the air or say manualing the bike. In the rough stuff, it is very planted and its suspension being so active makes it smooth out the trails very well.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: It would still be interesting to see how far it could be pushed in the XC direction - maybe a long term test project altho I don't think you sound willing.

Surely the feel of the bike can be changed by tuning / changing the shock / forks.
  • + 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: This. The Taniwah is the best climbing Freeride bike out there. I'll even race Nino. By the time he starts to warm up, I'm already at the top of the lift. Win. Lol
  • + 1
 @warhorse: To defend the Hammerschmidt (which I owned and loved) it only had drag in the overdrive. I did all of my climbing in the low gear, which bypassed the transmission and was comparable to a traditional crankset efficiency. I don't really care about a little drag in the overdrive (unless riding on the road home from a trail)
  • + 2
 @dthomp325: Great point. But, the market is driven by epidemic levels of over-bike-itis. Half the riders out there on their 160mm enduro bikes are running Racing Ralphs... and they get away with it because that O-ring never moves past half way.
  • + 38
 I have been riding a Taniwha for nearly a year now. I will echo much of what Mike has said. It is a bike focused on a mission. If you want a true all rounder, this may not be your best option. That said, I've done some pretty epic back country rides on it and enjoyed it.
I see 3 main issues with the bike, 2 of which are directed at the Pinion gearbox:
1) Surprisingly not mentioned by Mike is the coarse take up (points of engagement) in the gearbox itself. If you never backpedal, you won't notice it when riding, but if you do, it is very noticeable and compounded by POE in the rear wheel. This can through you off your game when riding some tech stuff.
2) Shifting under load. It is definitely a skill you need to relearn since you can't do what comes naturally with a derailleur bike, but once you have it sorted, most of the time you can bang off shifts while climbing or whenever you need, and you don't need to preplan. If you are following another rider on a climb and the pace is slow for your cadence, it can be near impossible to pause pedaling sufficiently to do a shift though. That said, I can grab as many gears as I want, even when climbing, and after the split second shift I can immediately go to full power and don't have to soft pedal to wait for the chain to thread up on the cassette. Don't get me wrong, I would love it if I could do a down shift while under at least light load, but it isn't a deal breaker once you acclimate to it IMO. It does complicate things when you have more than one bike and only one is a gearbox bike. Definitely took a couple of rides this spring to go from the fat bike to the Taniwha and get the shifting technique dialed back in.

The bike with the gearbox is clearly a bit heavier, and it shows through at times when riding it, and no matter how you slice it, the gearbox is going to add a bit more drag since it hasn't eliminated the chain or jockey wheels but has added the gears and seals in the box. That said, once it is broken in, it isn't that noticeable. The lower the gear, the less noticeable.
That is the downside, but on the upside, the traction is on another level and the balance of the bike is good.
Though I have broken a few derailleurs over the years, that was not a factor. Current derailleurs are acceptably reliable, but they will not outlive the bike like the gearbox should.

For the Taniwha itself, as Mike has said, it is not the most explosive bike when jumping on the pedals. I put this down to the bias of the rear suspension design to maximize traction.
Sizing is a bit odd, but if the bike fits, no issues. I'm 6'-1" and ride the large. I would say it is a touch short in the reach for me, but not enough that I'd go to the XL.

I think this is a excellent bike for what it was intended to do, break new ground. With that comes some benefits and some side effects. I think each person needs to decide for themselves if the benefits are worth the compromises. Sadly, I feel for most that just have the opportunity for a short test ride, the compromises will out shadow the benefits.

I feel in time, the technology is likely to evolve to address most of the down sides. In the meantime, I remain happy with the bike but recognize there remains room for improvement.
  • + 4
 Grab an Onyx hub bro. Instant engagement at the hub. I haven't ridden my Zerode without an Onyx but I'm certain it helps. A lot. And the silence. You won't go back.
  • + 3
 @lordchewington: I have an I9 120 POE hub in the back. The engagement of the rear hub is not the issue, its the engagement within the gearbox which is about 14 POE. It is really the combination, but the 120 in the back is insignificant to the 14 in the front and the 1:1 ration front to rear. Only noticeable if you back pedal, but then very noticeable.
  • + 1
 Have you tried the bike with a lightish build?
  • + 2
 @fartymarty: My bike is currently at 33 lbs with pedals. That is with 2.6 DHF tires. I've tried lighter tires but ended up back with the DHF's as the best compromise. It is definitely not as light as my previous Tracer T275c which was 27 lbs all in. Pros and cons to both bikes.
  • + 27
 Works flawlessly for years.
Needs an oil change every other year
Bomb proof
A tad heavy
Perfect match for my open bath Marzocchi forks!Smile
Wait a minute.
Parts that don't need upgrading or replacing for years.
Can't have that.
  • + 26
 In the Simpsons episode "Oh Brother where Art Thou" Homer's lost half brother and head of Powell motors recruits Homer to design a vehicle that meets the needs of real people. The result was the "Homer," an expensive monstrosity with fins, a dome, and several horns that played La Cucaracha. The car bankrupted the company and Homer's half brother left the episode destitute.
  • + 2
 Best comment.
  • + 3
 The Zeorde's horn plays Reign in Blood on the downhill, but on the uphill...?
  • + 3
 @PinkyScar: Mandatory Suicide.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Is it really an e bike with out a battery?
  • + 1
 STRONG AS A GORILLA...but soft and yielding as a Nerf ball
  • + 1
 @PinkyScar: f*cking great album. It's just got sooo much groove.
  • + 1
 I need to watch this now.
  • + 0
 @winko: Close to the right uphill song, but this is more accurate: youtu.be/smVn7L2sTmg
  • + 23
 Well, the review has few good points but also few misses.
I bought this bike a few months ago (fox build tho) and I must say I never rode a better bike. The suspension is just the best thing ever. It rides like a dream. It sticks to the ground; the grip is there, always! Jumping is smooth and super stable.

Then we come to shifting. For me, first few rides were a constant struggle. I had to think about shifting all the time, and I got caught in the wrong gear more than once. But the ”You cannot switch under load” sounds terrible, but it’s pretty far from the truth. After you get your muscle memory dialled in, you unlock new dimensions. You figure out that if you reduce the pedal pressure for a split second, you can change gear(s) without an issue. More time you spend on the bike, better and more efficient you become at it. Now I enjoy the grip shifter. It allows you to open all powers of the gearbox. Trigger shifter would give another choice and help with adoption, but I don't need one and will not switch to one even if available.

Let me compare it with my previous derailleur bikes. It happened more than once that when I suddenly hit the pinch in high gear and badly needed to switch, I couldn't. Grinding through gears didn't work, it was too steep. I couldn't spin the chain enough to get to the lower gear. But the worse was yet to come. I had to step down from the bike, lift the rear end, hand pedal and shift to get it done... If something like this happened to me now, I would release the pressure for a split second and pedal forward with correct gear Smile

When we talk about benefits of a gearbox bike, people keep mentioning bent/destroyed rear derailleurs (quite uncommon). What about cassette/chainring wear? Winter riding in muddy/sandy conditions that accelerates wear. Shifting adjustments/tunning, etc. Pinion gearbox requires an oil change every 10k km. How many cassettes and chainrings would you replace in the meantime?

There is no ideal bike and guess what; this one isn't either. Has + & - and each should decide if it suits them. If XC would be my regular riding, then this bike wouldn't be my first choice. Since I enjoy downhills way more than I ever will uphills, I consider this bike perfect for me. No bike will make going uphill highlight for me, so I'm going to stick with something that puts a massive grin on my face at the bottom of the hill.

I'm looking forward to getting more gearbox bikes on the market that will make them more affordable to the crowds.

Thanks, Rob! Keep up the good work!

PS: The build that Mike Levy had is just one of the options. In states, Fanatik Bike offers custom bike builder where you can setup your custom Taniwha build: www.fanatikbike.com/products/bike-builder

And in New Zealand, you can order a custom one directly from Zerode.
  • + 4
 I completely agree with with your review. These perfectly echo my experiences with my Taniwha. No bike is perfect and I understood the short comings going in. Must say it has been the perfect ride for me. So stoked with it.
  • + 21
 I’ve had a taniwha for a year, without a doubt the best mountain bike I’ve ever had.

Only thing I would argue about is that once you learn how to shift it on pincher climbs i find it better than a traditional drivetrain. You can’t shift under load but if you time it well you back your pressure off the pedals and shift through your gears simultaneously, and since you don’t have to “pedal through a shift” (wait for the chain to shift to the gear you picked) as soon as you click you’re in gear.

It’s amazing and simplifies so much more than you’d think. I want all my future mtn bikes to have gearboxes, and I know they’ll only get lighter and better!
  • + 23
 Can't shift under load, deal breaker.
  • + 4
 They should come up with some sort of clutch if they want to make the gearbox more viable
  • + 1
 @Lookinforit: I wonder if they can eventually develop syncros to allow shifting under load like with a manual transmission car. Yeah sure you still use the clutch but you *can* shift without it...
  • + 1
 @jonbrady85: That would be the dream eh
  • + 1
 In one of pinions interviews with pink bike they had said that they can add an electronic shift system into the current design and it would be able to shift under power with greater power than can be achieved with just a cable but they have not released a production version of this yet.
  • + 1
 18 months on my Taniwha. Awesome bike. 4000k on all kinds of tracks. Shifting the gearbox is so superior to the stupid antiquated derailleur there is no comparison. There are a hell of a lot of brainless comments from stubborn fools who have no ability or right to judge as they have no experience on a Zerode, and clearly no wish to obtain any. Keep your derailleurs.
  • + 18
 Mine weighs 36lbs..... These are a for DH riders who get forced to buy a bike they 'can pedal up'....if they have to. I have owned mine for 8 months and would never buy a bike with a derailuer again. That horrible clunk that haunts you on every bump. No thanks. Zerode Rules.
  • + 5
 Actually to me modern enduro bikes with a clutch, smart chainstays design and some tensioner ride very very quiet even on DH courses. Clean back end looks great though and suspension performance might be superior indeed...
  • + 1
 @grishag3r:

Adhesive backed Velcro (the hook side) all over my chainstay keeps things incredibly quiet. Blends in well on a matte black frame.
  • + 6
 @grishag3r: Agreed but there are inherent flaws that make derailuers noisey and effect the suspension in ways aside from the additional unsprung mass mentioned here. ( I rode Sram Eagle for a year on my Nomad ).

The clutch on a derailuer works well to quell some noise / slap however the clutch resistance adds a resistance to the suspension movement upon compression ( as it holds the chain / prevents it from growing slightly ) thus effecting the bump compliance. Every hit.

Also the derailuer will slap itself against the B screw limiter as it is allowed to pivot from the mounting bolt. I used to zip tie hack my sram derailuers to the chain stay on my V10 and Nomad so it could shift cleanly but not pivot at the mount. ( worked well )

I actually had the chance to ride both the 2018 Slash & Hightower LT yesterday and session a gnarly section of trail back to back ( my Zerode included ) and the result was that the derailuer/ cassette combo on the Slash & LT was killing the performance of those bikes. The difference was huge.
  • + 1
 @jpcars10s: Thx bro. but the clunk comes from the derailuer flopping about on gnarly sections of trail with successive hits. The added weight and design simply can't keep up with the wheel movement.

Try some 3M mastic tape on your chainstay too. It washes up a bit better and looks pretty much factory.

Ride On.
  • + 2
 I always liked riding chainless.
You gained speed so fast trough a lot of stuff and trough pusing the bike because the suspension wasnt affected by the chain.
It was smooth and quit- only tyre noise.

Might give singlespeed / chainless a try on my Delirium for bikepark laps- less to break down= less expensive Wink
  • + 1
 @NotNamed: Yup chainless feels great and same here: I was suprised how you could actually ride down with momentum only
  • + 1
 @lordchewington: Yes definitely a big chunk of rear suspension performance is being killed by current design. I am myself on Scott Genius LT+ which is single pivot, good one though. I really like gearbox idea executed this way and would love to try it myself. However there some issues here like added weight and old school fr uphill aproach as shown in this review. I don't care too much about uphill myself but sometimes you have to commute to the trail via fire roads etc. I wonder how this bike would work to push it to the top/carry on your back and then go down high mountain slow, steep and technical. We've come a long way from 16-17kg freeride kind of bikes so current enduro bikes are kind of relief although surely not perfect
  • + 17
 Is there really an epidemic of broken drive trains going on? i've been riding for the last 20 years both enduro, DH racing, DH park, Trail, and DJ. I've broken a derailleur once and that was street riding. I think I think I've broke a chain maybe 5 times. For me, the gear box is fixing a problem that doesn't exist. Its cool and i can see the benefit and its a great piece of engineering but you have to ask yourself what are you giving up for a gear box. I'm a big fan of Santa Cruz bikes mainly because of the suspension design and haw the bike feels and fits. i'm not going to potentially go to a less desirable suspension or bike frame to get a gear box. Maybe if they come up with a box that will integrate into any frame
  • + 12
 I've broken two in the last two years, and have bent many cages and hangers. I live in an area that has lots of high mountains with rutted rocky trails. I may be in the minority, but some of us see open gear transmissions hanging off the lower side of the rear wheel as ancient roadie tech. I appreciate the efficiency, weight, and slick shifting of a good derailleur, but I want to see parallel development of gearboxes.
  • + 3
 This is always what I think when this concept is discussed. I'm not the rowdiest rider, but in 14 years riding I've damaged 1 derailleur, bent 2 derailleurs and snapped 2 chains. I carry a chain splitter on longer rides and managed to bodge a "get me home" repair in every single one of these cases

Derailleurs and chains are pretty easy for an amateur mechanic to work with. The only real benefit I see of a gearbox is reduced wear rate
  • + 5
 @Rhymer: I was like "Where do you live that has all this?", clicked your bio and realized we live in the same area, lol. The Zipper will destroy pretty much anything hanging off your bike.
  • + 3
 @Thustlewhumber: Ha! Zipper for sure. But lots of sliding down scree slope stuff. Out of bounds at Silver!
  • + 1
 Totally agree with you. I live in an area with the 3 closest dh resorts planted on the Canadian shield. That's South Western Quebec baby! We ride steep trails that have an all- you- can- eat buffet's worth of granite boulders with the odd root section LOL . That said, If you butcher your line you will likely send your derailleur to mars. I've snapped a chain or 2 in 15 years, meh. We fear stanchion scratches over busted drivetrains any day. And that's downhill....a gear box on my enduro bike??? yea right.....
  • + 6
 3 drive trains in two years for me. I can't wait to buy a bike with a gear box. I would rather ride around a 34 pound bike then scooter push a 27 pound bike 20 miles home . Derailleurs are my largest expense every year. They work great until they don't...
  • + 2
 Remember when that effigear bike blew up at a world cup DH race last year? Or was it the year before?

Just because something is a gearbox does not AUTOMATICALLY mean that its going to be more durable.
  • + 1
 @dwmetalfab: I have a newfound respect for kids on strider bikes after cross-threading a pedal and it failing 4 miles from home.
  • - 2
 You must use shimano
  • + 2
 I think the lack of parts that have the potential to be broken off is simply a bonus / plus side to having a gearbox.

I'm certain the main reason for the box is to get the unsprung mass down which is the single biggest factor in suspension performance increase regardless of linkage design.
  • + 0
 heard that. Also have been riding bikes for............gawd, can't remember now and have never blown up a rear der or broken a chain, ever. Never even had to replace a der hanger, ever. Hope I didn't just jinx myself. haha
  • + 2
 Easy way to see is to read an EWS race report to find all those competitors sidelined with broken derailleurs.
  • + 2
 Yeah, it totally depends on where you live. I moved from San Diego to Seattle area a couple years ago. I went through derailleurs and hangers so often in SD that I kept a stockpile of both for spares. I haven't even bent a hanger here in the PNW since moving up.
  • + 1
 @fpmd: i live in Southern CA and have only broken 2 dearailleurs, both on DH bikes. One time was defnitely me not realizing it had come loose and the resulting damage on a burner of a run. Bet if I had put on some loctite, I'd still be riding it.
  • + 2
 When I was riding and racing downhill predominantly, yes, there were a lot of broken derailleurs. They went along with the broken arm, wrist, knee, pelvis, collar bone, fingers. It's part of the game. Now I'm 40 years old and more cautious and maybe ruin a derailleur every few years, with a couple of hangers as well. But the fact is, if you ride rugged terrain, you will inevitably blast your $200-400 derailleur. It seems absurd to me that the derailleur is still the standard (as good as they are in current iteration). I get that maybe this bike isn't catering to the most en vogue segment of the market, but I totally applaud Zerode for going out on a limb and pushing the boundaries of what a bike is. This seems like a perfect bike park or shuttle rig and I will totally consider one when in need for a new one.
  • + 1
 @MD-dh-rider: $200-400 For a derailleur??? And ok, so a broke derailleur happens with a broken arm, wrist etc. That is why you never hear about it. Because the racer never makes it down. But a a broke derailleur, along with a limb, is the least of your concerns. Certainly nothing to make you move to some janky drivetrain. I can't recall a single WC race where the rider came down with a broke derailleur.
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: you don’t just need to be racing to have drivetrain issues when riding DH. Skyline BikePark in Queenstown is my local and in the last 2 years i have only broken one derailer but it’s all the broken gear cables that attach to the rear derailer as well, not a big expense but does ad up and is luck of the draw sometimes when riding a lot of rock gardens steep techy sections in rocks. Only run Zee derailers just so it is inexpensive when the next one needs to be replaced! Can definitely see the advantage of not having the whole derailer issue hanging off the back of a bike. Whether the Zerode option is the answer I’m not sure.
  • + 1
 @Prh: I had a great many broken cables before the DH specific drivetrain came out (now it's pretty rare). Doesn't a cable also connect to the gearbox though? From my experience, 95% of drivetrain issues come from the chain or cable. So what exactly is the advantage of a gearbox since they use them too?
  • + 1
 @MD-dh-rider: Why not save yourself $10k and just remove the derailleur, cable/shifter, chain, and cassette if all you want is to ride along DH? All the benefits with no cost. WC DH races have been won without pedaling afterall.
  • + 2
 @Rubberelli: "$200 - $400 for a derailleur???" Dentists, Doctors, and Lawyers...
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t: He's reviewing a $10K bike...the derailleurs that go on $10K bike cost $200-400. Apples to apples.
  • + 1
 @MD-dh-rider: hold on a damn minute. An Eagle XO1, top of the line, is $220 msrp and an XTR, top of the line, is $150. You're all exaggerating here.
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: retail on an Eagle XX1 is $300. XTR is $230. XTR Di2 is nearly $600. You may not pay those prices or have those parts, but that is retail pricing for the parts on other $10k bikes. That’s all I’m getting at.
  • + 0
 @MD-dh-rider: XX1 is an XC derailleur. XO1 is top end Enduro. This bike is most certainly not XC. XTR is $139 at Jenson. The most I see it for on Google is $179. Does this Zerode have electronic shifting? Apples to apples here.
  • - 1
 @Rubberelli: a) the XX1 Eagle is on plenty of high-end enduro bikes, which this Zerode is. It’s not a downhill bike. b) this bike has hydraulic, not cable shifting, so an alternative shifting mechanism, like electrical, should be part of the conversation about improving drivetrains. c) bringing some last-generation sale item into the conversation when you specifically brought up MSRP is not at all apples to apples. I don’t think you know what that term means. Trolls be trolling.
  • + 1
 @MD-dh-rider: im a troll for pointing out that derailleurs do not cost $400? Meanwhile fans of the bike are trying to vastly over state how often derailleurs break and how much they cost to replace. XO1 is top end enduro, XODH is the top end dh derailleur. XX1 is for XC per SRAMs website. And just because this bike costs $10k does not mean it compares to some superbike with electronic shifting. After all, according to this review the bike weighs more than a low end $2000 build of another bike and shifts much worse too. The Zerode obviously descends better to Levy, but it doesn't seem fair to compare the climbing ability. Realistically, they are only going to sell this bike to those who have a problem with derailleurs.
  • + 17
 Well, I never expected Mike to give a positive review of the Taniwha because he has seemed to be highly critical of gearboxes in the past. So when you take that into consideration I didn't think the review was that bad.

The problem is that people expect a gearbox to function the same or better than a derailleur. There are always compromises with these sorts of things.

I've owned one for over a year now and brought it for the low maintenance and suspension performance and in that regard it's been pretty good. I'm the sort of person who doesn't mind trading a bit of weight and a gripshifter for the best preforming suspension I can get my hands on. The bike is perfectly suited to the rough tracks that we have around here. It's very confidence inspiring and has got me out of trouble more times than I can count.

I've built my bike up pretty heavy because I don't like it when things break. Would it be nice if it was a little lighter? Sure. But I prefer reliability. There is nothing stopping you building one up light though. There are a few Taniwha's around where I live now and I've seen some pretty light builds if you care about the weight. I wouldn't let the weight argument put you off buying one.

Now onto the gearbox. The gearbox isn't perfect - but neither is a derailleur. Would it benefit from more points of engagement? Yep - but you can offset that by using an Onyx rear hub and then you just get used to it. Would I prefer a trigger shifter? Yes probably - but the gripshift isn't that bad at all. Can't shift under load? Well you get used to that too. I actually find it easier to change gears while climbing steep hills with the gearbox. Being able to shift without pedaling is pretty good too. I've ridden one of these antiquated Santa Cruz bikes since owning a Taniwha and the shifting just seems clunky.

You need to remember that the pinion gearbox will improve over time and as long as the mounting standard doesn't change you can swap out the gearbox with a newer version - just like you can swap out your derailleur now.

Whether you buy one or not depends on what sort of trails you ride and what sort of rider you are I suppose. If you are anal retentive about weight probably not. If you mostly ride smooth easy tracks then probably not. But if you ride proper tracks and want the best descending bike you can get then you should seriously consider it.
  • + 6
 Pinion is in its infancy. Mechs are (I would say) at the end of their development lives. Pinions will only get better, mechs wont.
  • + 16
 Probably worth noting. My buddy who races DH and Enduro and spends a lot of time with his wheels off the ground took a Zerode to a local jump park and really liked how it handled in the air with the weight centered in the BB area. He said it felt like a mini dirt bike when jumping.
  • + 15
 Shit, my Kona Process weighs that much and I have to unload pressure from a conventional drivetrain when shifting too, as to not snao chains. I must have missed the memo on 25lb enduro bikes and pushing 1000 watts when shifting being ok.
  • + 16
 Awesome review. Unfortunately for the trails I ride (New England) it sounds like it's as useful as a DH bike. That's to say, not at all what I'm looking for.
  • + 4
 Slight hint in the article about an expanding range of bikes..... If they come out with a Process 111/ Evil Following style ride, I am so down.
  • + 14
 We're almost there. I dream of the day I don't have to think about bending a hanger or breaking my derailleur. Or worry about getting a perfect chain line and setting this screw or that screw to tune my shifting. I hope the industry keep iterating on this and it become more mainstream sooner than later.
  • + 6
 It's the cleaning of the mech and cassette that get my goat. Pretty much after every ride this winter. Also the wear you get as a result of shitty conditions.

If they could just ditch the tensioner I would be happy even at the expenses of suspension performance (you can always tune it out with the shock)
  • + 2
 @fartymarty: There is no possibility of ditching the tensioner in this particular frame design. The tensioner makes up for the chain growth under suspension compression. Without the tensioner - you'd be breaking chains.

With an adjustment to the frame / pivot design, this may be possible.. But at that point i'd like to see Gates Carbon drive for the ultimate in low/no maintenance.
  • + 1
 Strange. I never worry about my hanger or derailleur. I just ride. Done well with that for the last 20 years.
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny:In 20 years you've never crashed or laid the bike down on the drive side?
  • + 0
 @srghyc: I try very hard not to do just that. When I have to lay it down on that side, it is usually up against a bush. as for crashes, I've had plenty of crashes, but have never managed to wreck either part. Maybe I'm doing it wrong? Big Grin
  • + 1
 @cstishenko: I meant changing the design so there was no chain growth.
  • + 2
 @cstishenko: Robs' personal bike is currently running a Gates Drive, still has a tensioner.
  • + 13
 As you can imagine I take these reviews very personally, The Zerode Taniwha is an amazing and fun bike to ride. The suspension is second to none, they are at home in the park, back country, up, down should you choose an appropriate build. So as you can imagine I have a few issues with this test:

Firstly, when you put DH rims and tires on a bike it gets heavier. I run appropriate components on my XL and it is a hair over 31 pounds. These are not heavy bikes. They can be heavy if you put heavy components on them, they can be light if you put light components on them. This is not hard to figure out!! If the bike isn’t set up for the riding you are doing them change the set up!

Secondly , if you are going to test a bike and give your opinion to the world, you should be able to ride a bike to it’s potential and offer quality feedback. I’m afraid this is a case of garbage in equals garbage out. I just stumbled onto this www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DtmjT9mMeM I’m sorry but I have to be honest, I do not intend this to be a personal attack, BUT Mike does not know how to ride a bike! I had to note his efforts at 1.08 , 4.20 I had to call it quits at this point. Stabbing your brakes mid corners is what absolute beginners do, if you are doing this you are not in a position to think clearly and logically about where, when and how to shift or even comment on suspension performance, geometry etc!! and clearly you are going to have issues relearning a shift procedure (which you did on a mech) if you are so preoccupied with doing the basics badly!

I could go on and on about this “review” but I won’t. Instead I suggest you talk to a Zerode customer, check out my facebook page and website or contact me. If “reviews” like this dictate the future of mountain biking then mountain bikers should be afraid!
  • + 10
 *grabs popcorn and waits for Mikes reply*
  • + 20
 Classy comment, Rob, as is reposting it four times throughout the comment section Wink The rims weigh 545-grams, so no, they're actually not that heavy. Yes, there are much lighter wheels out there, but that's a more than acceptable rim weight for a bike of the Taniwha's intentions. As for the tires, some of my favorite rubber weighs over 1,000-grams, including tires that I use often on everything from enduro bikes to short-travel bikes. What I'm getting at is that I know how heavy wheels and tires react and perform.

I do find it humorous that you cited a video intended to be more of a comedy, tongue in cheek type of thing that was really just an opportunity to get Brendan on film talking about how to ride a bike fast. Not that I'm overly concerned about what you make of me, but all of the pre-lesson riding in that video was exaggerated to show the difference between it and post-lesson from Brendan. To be honest, I was a little concerned about exactly what you've described, but then I realized that it was just for a fun little video. Hey, I wonder how you'd look on film compared to Fairclough? Amazing, I'm sure!

I've talked to more than one Zerode customer that, for the most part, agrees with my take, not to mention the riders who've been fortunate to just test ride the bike. But that's neither here nor there because, as we all know, every bike has fans and has haters. And when a bike is as unique and special as yours, it's bound to be far more polarizing than a run of the mill bike. You should probably get used to that if you're going to keep doing this whole gearbox thing.

Sorry that I didn't like your bike at all, Rob, but, unlike you, I did stop short of referencing garbage as that's not exactly a tactful approach in a public forum. If it were me, I might have gone with ''hot dumpster fire,'' though. Anyway, I know that there are many others out there who do like the Taniwha, regardless of my "review," and I know that you're obviously extremely passionate about what you do. If more people had the passion you do, we might actually have gearbox bikes that perform well enough for all sorts of use... but we don't. Yet.
  • + 11
 @mikelevy: First, that cornering at 4.20 was god awful.

Secondly I think that Rob does have a valid point with you crying about the weight of a bike, where it was speced as a freeride bike with a porky 2kg+ fork, DH rims, and DH tyres with a combined weight of ∼2350g. As other commenters have mentioned you really should try comparing apples with apples, especially when you want to make comparisons with a bikes that are speced with a fork, rims and tyres which alone would reduce the weight to the tune of 1kg.

FWIW I briefly rode a mates Taniwha a couple of months back, this one was speced with some single ply tyres, a Lyrik, some lighter Wheelwork x Onyx wheels and a Push Elevensix. The thing came in around 14kg. Didn't feel terribly heavy to me. Was like riding on a cloud thou'.

All in all, Rob comes across as passionate and somewhat incensed by a fairly harsh and somewhat flawed review. Your response this was petty and does a disservice to you and PB, as it reads as little more than swinging dicks.
  • + 12
 @mikelevy: I must admit when you wrote in the review that the taniwha didn't jump well that i wondered if you'd actually ridden it much, or if your suspension setup was off. It jumps bloody well. Also changing gears is easy, climbing or descending. You can change while pedalling no worries once youve gotten used to it. I've done plenty of big vert days on mine and its about as much of a pig climbing as any other bike that you'd actually want to ride down a hill. Compare it to a Capra or Nomad with DH tyres, weight and climbing ability are pretty similar but the Taniwha will outlast, out corner and out descend them both. Did you actually set this bike up properly and ride it a lot? Because it doesnt sound like it. Not one mention of the pinion POE issue either, how could you have not noticed that?
  • + 6
 @Murdoch-the-Horse-Fracker: I'm going to have to go against the grain here and support Mike as while I haven't personally ridden the Taniwha his comments do reflect a lot of what I've heard from many owners and people who have test ridden the bike. I know Rob takes much pride in his work (as he should) but this reply, and particularly to attack Mike personally is entirely uncalled for. The Taniwha while incredibly clever has flaws inherent to its gearbox, deal with it.

And for what it's worth, no disservice to the Taniwha, but my Capra will out climb and out descend this bike (it has 180mm of well engineered suspension), and it weighs closer to 28lbs.
  • - 4
flag LeetusBee (Mar 29, 2018 at 4:57) (Below Threshold)
 @Zerodeguy

I'm honestly surprised, that a person from the bike industry expected a "review" from this media outlet. Just from visiting this site one can quite quickly establish that the "content" here falls somewhere between infotainment and advertorials.

And one Vernon doesn't change the overall picture.
  • + 5
 Agreed.... If you don't like stufff, change it. Like Paul Aston does when he tests a bike.
  • + 18
 @Zerodeguy give me a break. If you are going to make a product you need to take the good commentary with the bad. Sure there was some negative feedback here, but there was also a lot of positive commentary on the bike, especially when it came to descending. Your design, much like anyone else's, has trade-offs and people will view those trade-offs differently. @mikelevy is free to assert his opinion on those trade-offs and how he feels your bike compared to other bikes and his PERSONAL preference which is quite clear and may differ from others. There is risk in giving someone your product to review - the reviewer may or may not like aspects of your product.

I appreciate your passion and commitment to trying to find better solutions for a MTB. MTB, in general, benefits from innovative thinking like yours. However, this type of response from company leadership demonstrates a lack of maturity that should give any customer pause when it comes to evaluating the longevity of your brand which makes it real hard for me to invest 9500 in a bike of yours.
  • + 0
 @mikelevy: That was a great video. I'm glad he linked it, I learned a lot. (And you're more than qualified to evaluate a transmission.) If you do another, it'd be great to see some slo-mo footage of Brendan to learn how he's positioning his weight. There's a lot even the best teachers don't articulate.
  • + 2
 Gold.
  • + 9
 @mikelevy: sorry dude but the pedaling when shifting thing is not a point. You can't shift a conventional drivetrain under load without stressing link plates at any rate. The review was decent but there are some points that are incorrect. You HAVE to unload torque when shifting no matter what. Even in..... Cars.... Lol.
  • + 6
 @NickB01: the Capra will out crack and out break it too!
  • + 38
 @mikelevy: This one is to Mike Levy and all of you Pink bike viewers out there that are interested.

I genuinely believe that for a section of the mountain bike community the Zerode Taniwha is the best and most fun bike they can possibly own. Early on in this journey I tested the Pinion gearbox, modified how I ride and shift and whole heartedly believe that the advantages of the Pinion outweigh the disadvantages. If I hadn’t come to this conclusion the project would never have got off the ground.

It takes a HUGE amount of commitment and risk both financial and personal to make a project like this happen. Anyone that has attempted a similar thing in their life time will understand what this feels like, those of you that haven’t please take the time to think about it. As a result it is very difficult not to take any criticism very personally.

The best place for me is in my garage creating or on my bike riding! Not dwelling on the fact that I don’t have the resources and marketing power etc etc of much bigger brands or that I can’t bring out a new model every few months. I know if I spend time on the interweb taking in what the rest of the bike industry is doing these frustrations become very real to me. Every minute we are exposed to the new best thing ever! 5 seconds later we are looking for something new. I use a handful of rules to ensure I can carry on doing what I love and making bikes and not stressing about what I can’t do. Rule number one is that I don’t look at bike related websites and never look at comments.

Yesterday I broke that rule, the attachment I have to this epic project that has consumed me for years made some of Mikes comments feel like a personal attack on me and it didn’t seem fair that because the large voice he has should expose a huge number of people to his opinion and thoughts on the bike and that these opinions and thoughts differ to mine. Having dug a little deeper I understand that Mike is fully capable of testing a bike to its full potential and I just have to come to terms that he didn’t gel with the shifting and set up in the same way that I do or my customers do. I would prefer that the bike Mike tested was built up with lighter parts that may well be more suited to the style of riding he prefers. But the point of this reply is not to argue or get my point across. It is to say sorry to Mike and that I appreciate that he is also doing the best job he can, his thoughts and opinions are valid and well thought out and I need to obey my own rules not to get upset by people that don’t agree with me or see my point of view.

I hope this helps you all understand what it is like to be in my position and why I said what I said.

As of now I will engage rule number one again. If you have any questions about Zerode bikes or just want get in touch you can email me at rob@zerodebikes.com I’ll be in my garage, riding my bike and answering emails and will happily respond to anyone. Forums are comments are not my happy place so I will not be here in the future!

PS. Apparently I posted a comment four time! Put that down forum incompetence.

Happy trails.

Rob
  • + 7
 @Zerodeguy: Well done Rob, glad you have taken time to reflect and made an appropriate apology. It is clear from many of the comments from Taniwha owners that a lot of Mikes critiques were possibly just due to lack of time on the bike. I think for such a radically different bike that a more in-depth review was called for and that your input in setting up the bike and providing answers to any of his questions/concerns was probably called for. Clearly from the amount of interest over 500 comments on here already your bike has everyone interested and a follow up review could be something Mike or another Pinkbike reviewer should strongly consider. How about inviting them to come to NZ meet you in person, set up a test bike to their liking (componentry) and take them riding. That way you could provide direct feedback and provide a more informed review. Alternatively send them a test frame to set up to their liking and ride over the course of a month so they can get used to the gearbox as opposed to standard drivetrain that they are used to?
  • + 5
 @NickB01: Mate i owned 2 capras. Both had multiple cracks within 3 months. They weighed about 34lbs once all the weak flimsy parts failed and had to be replaced (a couple of weeks). They are good in a straight line downhill but the taniwha descends and corners significantly better, and so far has outlasted them with ease. And I probably do an average 10,000m vertical descending a week in my job so i know what works and what doesnt.

I doubt Mike did ride his demo taniwha much. If he couldnt figure out how to shift it while pedalling up and down - something that takes at least a month to become natural at - that's a give away. And it's been winter up there.
  • + 5
 @Zerodeguy: I can personally attest to the utmost passion and unrelenting customer service Rob has delivered time and time again. One very happy customer here in every way and I am sure there are hundreds worldwide too. Thanks for making this bike a reality Rob.
  • + 2
 @Zerodeguy: good on you Rob, glad there's people out there like you, doing what you do!
  • + 9
 @mikelevy
I have a Taniwha and couldn’t go back to a traditional drivetrain now. I think the pros of the gearbox easily outweigh any cons. Not sure why that one you rode weighs that much. My Specs as follows:

Weight: 14.5kg / 32lbs
Size: XL - 475 reach, 460 seat tube (custom shortened by Rob). All new ones will have the shorter seat tubes.
Dropper Seatpost: 175 ks (try putting that in a slash)! SDG ti fly saddle.
170 Lyrics, Fox X2
Saint brakes, 203, 180
2.6 Maxxis DHF & 2.4WT DHR on carbon 30mm Roam rims.
Joystick 35 stem and carbon 790 bars.
This is a fairly burly, but not too heavy by any means.

Previous bike was a SC Nomad. Zerode is much better imo.
I cannot understand how you could struggle so badly adapting to the gearbox shifting. Maybe some adapt easy and some don’t?

From day one I didn’t have any issues changing up or down. I guess i naturally ease off the weight on the pedals for a split second as I change, but still keep pedals spinning. Total non issue.
Hitting a sudden pinch climb in a big gear used to mean grunting through a couple of pedal strokes while a derailleur changed down (without braking chain), but with the Taniwha you don’t try grunt through it, you just relax for a split second and dump instantly into whatever low gear you want, in a fraction of the time of a traditional setup. Maybe you were trying to grunt it out? And Bagging 12 gears over a 600% range? It’s perfect I think.

Geometry is similar to my nomad, weighs about 1kg more so climbing not that different. Decends way better!! Way more stable. Way quieter and way cooler I think.

Maybe I just have a better setup or something ...
  • + 3
 @Prh @Murdoch-the-Horse-Fracker

I put somewhere between 25 and 30 rides (didn't record a few in my notes) on the Taniwha during the last three months, and I'll likely do a few more on it before I get it back to the US distributor, Cycle Monkey. I would have liked to squeezed more rides in but our winter was horrendous and I managed to get a month-long ''cold'' that I thought might kill me. It was possibly the bird flu, I'm not sure. Or Ebola.

You'd be surprised if you knew how little time many industry testers spend on a bike - not to attack any other reviewer out there, but it's not uncommon for a bike to get as little as 3 or 4 rides. I blame it on time constraints and the pressure to "Get it posted before someone else does! GET IT POSTED!" That's not the case for everyone, of course, and we strive for at least a full month of riding a bike before a review gets posted, which is why each PB editor only posts one bike review per month. Thankfully, we have the staff to still post a bike review every week, which isn't possible if the crew is smaller or has other responsibilities.

Anyway, I feel like the review was reasonably in-depth, but I also have a follow-up video to come where I talk more about the bike and get challenged by some legit questions. The Taniwha is an important, special bike, and I agree that it deserves more attention than most others. As for setup, I'm intimately familiar with Cane Creek's suspension and heavy tires, so we're all good there Smile
  • + 1
 @Zerodeguy: Rob,

I would love to see a mid travel 29 Zerode trail bike. Hopefully one is in the works.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: Thanks for the reply and it is reassuring to hear the process (time) you take to review each bike. (More than ever you now have my dream job!!) I didn’t recall seeing it mentioned in the article how long you had tested the bike for and had assumed it was less. I think you are in the enviable position of getting to ride many different rigs to see what bike (bikes) you like the most. Where most of us research countless bikes without having the benefit of being able to ride them trying to make the decision what will be the next bike that will replace the current one. As such you tell yourself that the new bike is definitely the best one out there and the rest are crap to justify the money you just spent and I think this mentality can influence a lot of people’s posts (my bikes way better than yours ha ha)........and no I don’t own a Taniwha.
  • + 2
 @atrokz: Amen!
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: It would be a useful section at the start of the review outlining how long the bike was tested for and where and the types of trails.

I think this is necessary on a bike like this which is definitely not the norm.
  • + 2
 @fartymarty: Yup, I agree. We'll definitely consider doing more of that in the future.
  • + 2
 @NickB01: there is no way your Capra, good bike though they are, will out descend a Taniwha on difficult terrain. That is a complete fallacy.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Your review was yours Mike but the negativity was unfortunate. I still ride my Transition Smuggler on occasion but am quickly reminded of the huge superiority of the Zerode. I am 60, and weigh 65kg, and ride three times a week. I do a lot of climbing, the Zerode is not sluggish, I do not understand that comment. When the technology is understood the shifting is automatic, and has very big advantages. My Taniwha has had brake pads, an oil change, and seal services. Thats all. Its as tight, quiet, strong and amazing as the day I bought it. It is the best bike I have ever owned, no question. And I have to say Rob Metz is an amazing fellow who will personally help anyone who asks. He is a gem of a man and understandably passionate.
  • + 0
 @Rembrandt: you're entitled to your opinion, as is Mike, as am I. I maintain my 180mm Capra would be my pick for difficult terrain over any other enduro style bike, and over some DH bikes. If you doubt me pick up the recent edition of NZ Mountainbiker...
  • + 13
 www.pinkbike.com/video/485762

My buddy Tim put this video together from last fall on his Taniwha. I've spent a small amount of time on this bike and will agree the descending and cornering prowess of this bike is on another level. Sprung weight vs. unsprung weight is probably a factor along with geos and suspension design.

Relative to pedaling and shifting it does take time to learn the system. You can become efficient with it when timing your shifts relative to pedal positions and load. When learned there is very little compromise with shifting to an easier gear while climbing. Traditional drivetrains also have their quirks that we have largely just become accustomed to.
  • + 4
 Your buddy is sick, there were some wicked lines and hucks!
  • + 2
 @winko: He's one of the most technically skilled riders I know. There's always something he pulls off each ride that makes my jaw drop. I'm a pro level rider myself and he challenges me each ride out. Fun to ride with him.
  • + 13
 Love this concept and the constant push to reengineer the way bikes have been build the last 30 years. Seems like the focus has been on multi link designs and defining what wheel size is best. Looking forward to seeing where this goes in the next few years.
  • + 12
 I have been riding a Taniwha for well over a year now, my build is 31 lb using pretty standard components. It is a great climber in technical rooty stuff as the rear wheel just floats over obstacles. I often climb out of the saddle and there is zero bob.
Downhill it is the best bike I have ever ridden, the rear wheel tracks the ground brilliantly. It's weakness is tight and twisty XC single track; there are many bikes that accelerate quicker.
Shifting is no big deal once you get used to it, just stop spinning momentarily before you shift. The cool thing is that you can shift as many gears as you like in one go. I'm sure that there is some friction associated with the gearbox, but it would take a strong rider to notice it.
  • + 12
 Yes, derailleurs should die. Don't know if Zerode will be the ones to eventually do it, but they sure as hell have a lot more vision than the commenters in this section. "Things can't be done, otherwise they would already have been done." Well whoopee, why bother getting off your couch at all... hell why bother waking up in the morning? The sport should have come to this point twenty years ago already. That this guy, in a tiny shop in his little island paradise, has poured his time and money into this and come up with a working result at all is pretty frickin fantastic. If anyone asked you guys in 1987 whether we should stick with derailleurs based on Deore XT m730's performance, you'd have said no too. It takes a hell of a lot of work and a lot of iterations to work something out. Derailleurs have had most of a century to get where they are today. Expecting a cycling-specific gearbox design to be everything everyone ever dreamed of all at once in its first few attempts is absurd. But you don't get to the refined version without the early versions, and I don't see any of the rest of the biggest companies, companies who could actually afford the R&D, doing the work it takes to get there. If Metz' bike rode like waterlogged driftwood and only lasted for a half a season before wearing out, it would still be more ambitious and successful than anything else on the market. To think MTB used to be the sport of wild and reckless innovation... and is now full of stuffy judgmental curmudgeons... no way.
  • + 2
 Yea man!!
  • + 11
 I've ridden the Zerode on multiple occasions. My first ride might have been a little similar to the review. Takes a while to get used to it, after my third ride I honestly never even noticed the shifting. The only time is under super hard uphill efforts when you need that last couple gear changes. Other than that its easy, the suspension is amazing, and the benefits of never having to make adjustments or do excessive maintenance can only be appreciated in the long term. As for pedal bob, the bike is very efficient yet stays active in its travel to give a whole lot of traction on the ups. You'll notice the feel of the consistent anti squat and 1-1 gear ratio on the cogs. From an unbiased person who's ridden the bike as well as the newest crop of latest and greatest enduro bikes I can say this review doesn't do the bike justice.
  • + 13
 Sounds to me like, "cool concept, let someone else pay for the the beta testing, wait for it to become lighter/cheaper/better."
  • - 6
flag Rubberelli (Mar 28, 2018 at 22:22) (Below Threshold)
 Perhaps you missed the part where you can't shift at the moment you will most need to?
  • + 5
 @Rubberelli: Tho me and everyone else that own a bike with a pinion box in this tread say its not a problem? Wink

Just ride more, gett stronger and plan your shifting a bitt... Cant dump 2-3 gears under full power with a normal bike eather and not lose momentum or have the chain jump over cogs..
  • + 0
 @mini: seems to me like an inescapable flaw that would prevent many technical climbs. Levy says, "If this were a test bike that had a derailleur-based drivetrain that shifted like the Pinion gearbox, I wouldn't be a happy camper. So why is it acceptable in a more expensive, heavier package?"
  • + 4
 @Rubberelli: But its not a bad derailleur bike.. Wink

Traction is amazing on it, and i dont shift that mutch in climbs anyway so it not a problem for me. How often do you shift alot in a climb? Technical ones for me is more about staying in one gear to keep momentum and traction. If i need to shift i do it when i have to backpedal or lift the back wheel over a rock anyway.

Its a different system, it need to be used in a different way.

Ther are pros and cons to both.
  • + 9
 This one is to Mike Levy and all of you Pink bike viewers out there that are interested.

I genuinely believe that for a section of the mountain bike community the Zerode Taniwha is the best and most fun bike they can possibly own. Early on in this journey I tested the Pinion gearbox, modified how I ride and shift and whole heartedly believe that the advantages of the Pinion outweigh the disadvantages. If I hadn’t come to this conclusion the project would never have got off the ground.

It takes a HUGE amount of commitment and risk both financial and personal to make a project like this happen. Anyone that has attempted a similar thing in their life time will understand what this feels like, those of you that haven’t please take the time to think about it. As a result it is very difficult not to take any criticism very personally.

The best place for me is in my garage creating or on my bike riding! Not dwelling on the fact that I don’t have the resources and marketing power etc etc of much bigger brands or that I can’t bring out a new model every few months. I know if I spend time on the interweb taking in what the rest of the bike industry is doing these frustrations become very real to me. Every minute we are exposed to the new best thing ever! 5 seconds later we are looking for something new. I use a handful of rules to ensure I can carry on doing what I love and making bikes and not stressing about what I can’t do. Rule number one is that I don’t look at bike related websites and never look at comments.

Yesterday I broke that rule, the attachment I have to this epic project that has consumed me for years made some of Mikes comments feel like a personal attack on me and it didn’t seem fair that because the large voice he has should expose a huge number of people to his opinion and thoughts on the bike and that these opinions and thoughts differ to mine. Having dug a little deeper I understand that Mike is fully capable of testing a bike to its full potential and I just have to come to terms that he didn’t gel with the shifting and set up in the same way that I do or my customers do. I would prefer that the bike Mike tested was built up with lighter parts that may well be more suited to the style of riding he prefers. But the point of this reply is not to argue or get my point across. It is to say sorry to Mike and that I appreciate that he is also doing the best job he can, his thoughts and opinions are valid and well thought out and I need to obey my own rules not to get upset by people that don’t agree with me or see my point of view.

I hope this helps you all understand what it is like to be in my position and why I said what I said.

As of now I will engage rule number one again. If you have any questions about Zerode bikes or just want get in touch you can email me at rob@zerodebikes.com I’ll be in my garage, riding my bike and answering emails and will happily respond to anyone. Forums are comments are not my happy place so I will not be here in the future!

PS. Apparently I posted a comment four time! Put that down forum incompetence. On my part! ( user incompentence!)

Happy trails.

Rob
  • + 10
 my nicolai with the pinion was around 5k way cheaper then this, i don't understand how this is over 10,000cdn. seems to be a rip off on a carboplastic bike. my carbomyhydrates are fine with alu
  • + 2
 Do you have issue with what @ccolagio discusses above?
  • + 2
 @gonecoastal: no i don't think so but sometimes i speak without thinking
  • + 3
 @nfa2005: Ha.
I talked myself out of a G16 gearbox last season. Went with the MOJO G16 instead.
  • + 3
 Yeah CDN pricing is up there. Its much better value down here, and comparable to a lot of other top shelf bikes from the big brands. Maybe you guys are getting stung due to low volumes, shipping, taxes etc? Zerode is a tiny company so economies of scale just dont exist.
  • + 1
 @Murdoch-the-Horse-Fracker: The NZ to CDN exchange rate plummeted around the time this bike was announced.
  • + 12
 In my mind it is inevitable for the derailleur to go away. It is such a weak point in a bikes design.
  • + 10
 Gearboxes are like nuclear fusion. They are taking over ever since Rohloff came out with 14 speed unit. So 20 years now, if memory serves me.
  • + 1
 Please list out famous derailleur failures in World Cup DH. A broken chain happens to so me one seemingly every race. What does that tell you?
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: It tells you that the way the deraillieur works, is to apply a side load to the chain while it is under stress!
  • + 1
 @Tague: so chains don't break with gearboxes?
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: They probably do, but I have not broken mine since Dec2016, yet I have broken them on previous bikes. You keep breaking chains....my argument is that a single chain line puts the chain under stress in one direction; the derailleur adds side load. Common sense tells me the chain has to be more susceptible?
  • + 1
 @Tague: well, isn't it the same as a moto? I'm not a FMX rider or anything but from my youth, I seem to remember they fall off, if anything. I don't know how often it happens. I see this bike has a tension pulley just like a derailleur to try and prevent that. I break a chain on my bike every couple of years.
  • + 13
 a very thorough and thought provoking review. well done.
  • + 8
 Mike...you have discussed how the bike is different to everything else, the rear suspension works so well with less weight...then put a massive rim and tyre on it and said it doesn't climb! Duh.

If the bike is so different, treat it that way. You have a dishless back wheel that needs a light and stiff rim with a 2.3 tyre maximum (DHR), this way you actually take advantage of the system. if you still need a bigger tyre up front go for it, but how many people smash their front wheels up...exactly so keep that light and stick a 2.4 on it.

People looking at this bike are going to be experienced riders, they should know how to corner and pump and ride high lines. they will be looking down the trail and will learn that if they read the trail well, they can dump as many gears as they want when they round a bend and see a pinch climb in about 2 seconds of time. the same people don't need plus tyres to stick a high rooty line and will revel in the bikes ability to descend.

I completely agree this is not a bike for everyone, and it is not flawless, but you have completely misunderstood this bike. Biking for most of us is about having fun...even when we are racing. This bike has it in spades and the hill climbing is not an issue. I spend way less time maintaining this bike and thus have more time to enjoy it.

I have owned this bike (version 1 with the P1 gearbox which is heavier) since December 2016. I ride with all the same friends and group rides on trails that regularly feature in EWS (who Ride SC/Transition/Yeti/Intense) as I always have. I have good and bad days in the skills dept., very rarely shuttle and like to earn my downhill, I have also recently done a 5 day backcountry riding trip with no issues and lots of smile time.

Questions answered:
-Yes their is a slower pick up than a normal bike
-No I wouldn't change the shifter even if a trigger was an option (I would assess the electric once produced) but it would need to change a lot of gears quickly to sway me.
-No I do not know how much my bike weighs
-The weight is centred and low and this benefits the ride
-You can shift under load, the amount of torque reduction and the time needed to shift becomes part of your riding skills.
-I am not a robot but cannot feel any drag in the system, even though i am told it is there
-Yes it is expensive, but after a year I replaced my drivetrain (Chain plus 2 x $30NZ chainrings), instead of god knows how much on a new cassette.
-Previous bikes inc SC TRC, Bronson, Nomad.
-We now have 2 in the garage and my next one will be a Zerode too.
  • + 8
 @mikelevy is this your longest review or what!

I normally hate bs in reviews, but I am a sucker for euphemisms, i love euphemisms like a fat kid loves cake, and this review is rife with hilarious ones.

You had me at,


"Forget everything I moaned about when being forced to type out my notes on climbing - you won't give a single shit after riding the Taiwha how it was intended to be ridden. On a rough, fast trail, the kind that you maybe get a little nervous to ride, this thing will make other bikes feel like a Mumford & Sons song that you play quietly in your Yaris with the windows rolled up because it's Mumford & Sons. But the Taniwha? It's you cranking Slayer to 11 from the speakers in your Abrams tank while tearing up the grass at your old high school. It's tank donuts."
  • + 4
 I'm all about BS and euphemisms Smile
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: The reference actually made me think more of Megadeth than Slayer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=m20sJNgZ17U
  • + 7
 The Taniwha is built like a tank, but a gearbox system is just 2 lbs heavier than a high-end derailleur drivetrain. If 20lb bikes can be built (think XC), 22lb gearbox bikes can be built. The gearbox still has incredible promise.

When is somebody going to launch some Pinion competition. I don't need a gearbox on my bike that can drive a small car, I just need a lighter weight gearbox that will last a few seasons. Shimano?
  • + 7
 I find this review really interesting, because I had such a different experience. I don't own one of the bikes, but I definitely would if I had the coin.

1. I found the shifting super easy to get used to. I thought was way easier to slow my pedal stroke down for a millisecond and dump a bunch of gears than it is to grind up the cassette on my xt 1x11.
2. I didn't really notice the weight, and it seemed to pedal pretty efficiently. I was able to keep up without any problem with my friends on climbs, both technical and not technical, and I thought the traction for climbing was better than most bikes I've tried. I only rode about 15 miles the day I was trying it out though.
3. I thought the Helm was super divey, way more so than my pike. Didn't get on with it at all.
4. I have to clean my drive-train weekly, if I don't want it to sound like a box of rocks, riding all year round in the winter. Less maintenance would be huge for me.
5. I thought the bike was super playful. I was able to clear some little doubles in a four-pack on evo that I've always cased on other bikes.

Besides that, I totally agree that it was an incredible descender. I will very likely buy a used XL when they're no longer so spendy in a few years and cut the seat tube down a bit for a longer dropper (I'm 6'). I was 100% sold.

I may be in the not care about speed at all on the climbs demo-graphic that Levy kept referring to in the review.
  • + 7
 I have owned my Taniwha for a few months now, it's a pretty hefty build, coil shock, double down tyres, my previous bike was a gen 3 nomad with comparable build.
I genuinely don't feel the weight holds me back when climbing, it's no xc bike, but I feel the extra weight is offset by the gear range. I get to the top at the same speed as my partner, just as I did on the nomad and if anything tend to feel fresher. We did 1000m vertical yesterday, same today, same planned for tomorrow. As for the shifting, I love it, I don't ever want to use a derailleur again, even on steep awakward climbs I manage to drop a gear, the idea of having to pedal to change gears now seems ridiculous and inconvenient to say the least in 99% of scenarios. As for descending, well, Mike nailed it, its unreal, my DH bike is for sale.
I see how some people may not gel with it, and while I disagree with the opinions in this review they are valid and understandable, this bike is not for everyone, but those who make the adjustments in riding style required and have the terrain will fall head over heels in love with it, as I am.
  • + 6
 Reasons to says " it comes across as more attainable, more real than a Nicolai, Cavalerie"????

Personnaly have a Cavalerie Anakin under my ass, and all the benefits you wrote on the Taniwha
are on the Anakin.
Light rear, huge grip, and all the others benefices. And with an shifter option for those who don't like the gripshift , and a belt option too for less mainteance on the drive drain.
Customisable paints or Anodisations if you want.
For me it certainly play in the same category as the Zerode, NO NEED to face them one against the other, they'll go in the same better ride ideology.
  • + 1
 Agree.

My Nikolai frame was 4000€ with a shock and extra belt, the same as a highend carbon frame from the big brand, BUT with a gearbox included. Total bike is around 6500€.
  • + 5
 being fortunate enough to live in NZ and have knar on my doorstep, I want a bike that I can ride up to the top of a mountain, and I really don't care how fast, and then smash steep technical descents with. And this bike would certainly fit that bill I do feel sorry for people who have to ride XC and flow trails by virtue of their surroundings and clearly this isn't going to be the bike to tackle those.
  • + 5
 How is the engagement when you start to pedal? Are you getting lag multiplied between the gearbox and rear hub? While a 10k mile service interval is impressive, doesn't that seem a little excessive and that maybe some weight can be shaved by designing around a shorter interval?
  • + 8
 I came here to comment on this and I'm glad someone already asked.

This is something that I've never read, I've never heard about, and I've never seen. And I have to tell you - unfortunately - they don't talk about it because it is pure garbage and it makes me very very sad. This past February I went to the www.nahbs.com NAHBS in Hartford, CT. Pinion had a booth setup and I got to check out this bike: blog.gatescarbondrive.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Nicolai-Ion-G13-profile.jpg

It is pure sex. I've ALWAYS loved nicolai. Unfortunately, once you start playing with the Pinion, everything goes to hell. Pinion, if I remember correctly, was developed by Porsche engineer(s). It was something that he always had in his head and he then put it to the application of bikes. From what I remember, this was not something made for bikes, but something adapted to bikes. Even though that beautiful Nicolai had a modern hubset with lets say at least 48 points of engagement, the Pinion system trumps all of that. Pinion has 13 (or was it 14?) points of engagement. No, I'm not kidding. I'm not joking at all. The points of engagement are absolutely a joke. 13 points. That means your crank arms move about 25degrees before you catch another point. It's a complete joke. I currently ride Hadley hubs with 72 POE. I would NEVER, EVER go to 13. It just feels soooo lazy. It really really made me sad to discover this because again in everything I've ever read, I've never seen someone call Pinion out on this. It just makes the whole bike feel cheap and sloppy.
  • + 1
 @ccolagio: Thanks for the info! I ride an Onyx hub so I'm an engagement snob and was just curious how this would feel out on the trail. I imagine you can get rid of the slop at the hub with something like an Onyx but if you still have that huge lag in the box, it'll still feel off.
  • + 1
 Yeah basically for hub on a Pinion bike - you could run old shit shimano hubs with 24 POE and it wouldn't matter. You cannot buy a rear bicycle hub with less POE than a Pinion drivetrain. So no matter what you do, it will feel like slop. Just super unfortunate. Took me by surprise when I had my hands on the system...
  • + 1
 It would be a lot better with an Onyx hub for sure but the worst is when the hub engagement and the gearbox engagement are out of sync and then your engagement angles are way off. It can also go the other way and shorten but overall it is just really inconsistent.
  • + 1
 @RoboDuck: how could you get a "hub engagement and the gearbox engagement [to be in] sync" ?

Pinion engagement is about every 25 degree of crank rotation. There is no hub on the market that can match that. It's just piss poor. What I'm saying is you could use ANY bicycle hub with the Pinion and your system would still suck because of the slop within the transmission.
  • + 1
 @ccolagio: yep not much engagement in the cranks and pointless to run a chris king hub to make up for it. chris king and pinion should get together and share some knowledge on that part.
  • + 3
 @ccolagio: One thing you are not taking into consideration is that the hub shell is rotating, the gearbox is not. So your poe of a single rotation at the crank changes depending on the rpm's of the hub (when you pedal, there's lag while getting the free hub caught up to the speed of the hub shell), the gearbox always stays the same.

I had a Taniwha for all of last season, and while it does feel ridiculous when standing still, the lag isn't that noticeable on the trail (I had a Hope Pro4 SS, 88poe). The weight; however, is.
  • + 1
 @ciszewski: ahhhh. good point. thanks for the insight. this makes sense. and while i was playing with the pinion i assumed all would be good when the flow/speed of the bike was there but i think the only time when POE comes in handy is when you are at a real technical trail section and moving slow. either going up hill and say you have to back pedal a bit to get your legs in better position. or maybe about to ride off a drop-off on a trail and you want to pedal kick off for more power or something. this is where i see the real limitations of the Pinion transmission
  • + 1
 @ccolagio: I counted 20 POE on mine bro.

I ride it with an Onyx hub ( which I set it up with from day 1 with the fear of the lag which I hate )

It's 'acceptable' on most rides but does suck ( as do I ) on low speed tech climbs and tight berms that require a pedal stroke. If the bike is pointing down a slope, you don't notice it at all.
  • + 1
 @lordchewington: fair enough. 18degrees vs 25degrees.

my hadley's have 5degree. industry 9 has 3degree. those feel good pointing up or down a hill Wink
  • + 1
 @ccolagio: I dont feel the POE in the box on my Nikolai G16. Its only ther after you change gear in some cases, and i do ride some xc style stuff sometimes..

The box is not spining when coasting so it starts wher you left it.

Tho more POE would be nice its not bothering me when riding. I gess the low number have to to with the way the gears work, but a short email to pinion will probably answer why its the way it is.
  • + 4
 @ Mike Levy. In the interests of allowing progression and putting this review in context...let Kazimer put his spec on the bike and ride it for the next 4 weeks? It is pretty obvious that he needs to chose a lighter spec and take advantage of what the bike is capable of....but let him decide and then write a stand alone review as you have above. I assume you have a 1 reviewer/1 bike policy but as you said "the Taniwha isn't just another 160mm-travel sled, and it's not just a carbon enduro bike, either - it's more important than either of those two common talking points can sum up"

Up vote for a second test spell with Kazimer?
  • + 4
 Props to a one man team in NZL trying to make his vision come true....I'm sure the gear box is the future of mntb. It may not be there for everyone yet but is coming. Great job and saw these bike first hand during the trans NZL....very impressed
  • + 4
 There were an uncharacteristic number of grammatical errors in the article. I'm figuring that they'll be edited... it's only been up for a few minutes. That said, this was a cool read. It seems that the last few articles about gearboxes have found that they're better on a DH type bike. Not for my type of riding, but I can appreciate the technology and creativity. Well done.
  • + 5
 Kudos @mikelevy for a fantastic unbiased review, exploring both sides fairly. Nice work. Though I'm not in the market for a bike like this, you've set the bar as far as review style goes IMO.
  • + 0
 Thanks for the props Smile
  • + 4
 Two years using belt driven pinion bike, and it’s have only one big “-“ its price tag.
It is much better than my freshly build bike with eagle.
With some practice, you can shift gears on uphill’s easier than with rear derailleur.
  • + 1
 Please explain the easier shifting...
  • + 4
 @dfiler: Pinion shift gears immediately as you release pressure from cranks for shifting moment; so no problems with gear shifting during climbs. How fast you can twist gear shifter. At same moment easy up load on cracks, and its already shifted.
Compared to my 1x11 and eagle driven bikes, it is much easier and faster in shifting. In addition, my p1.12 geared with 1-1 sprockets in size they are equivalent of 32h chain rings and its have wider diapason than my eagle with 30h chaining.
  • + 1
 @vitality: Thanks. I'm honestly curious but haven't been able to spend much time on a gearbox bike. With limited time I wasn't able to adapt. The shifting seemed much harder because the pause to downshift disrupted my climbing. But I wonder how it would perform after becoming familiar. I'm still skeptical but thanks for describing how it has worked for you. If cheaper, I'd probably give it another chance. If it worked for me like you describe, it would be worth it.

Either way, it's great to see continued pursuit of improved drivetrains. It seems inevitable that gear boxes will eventually be preferable. The question to me is only about when. Is here already? Or will it happen after I'm too old for it to make a difference? The general consensus is... there is no consensus.
  • + 4
 It has a chain, 2 cogs and a tensioner (which is in a worse spot than a derailleur) so basically all the “0 maintenance” is in fact a vaporware promise. Those elements will need lubing and replacement just as frequently as we’re doing it now...
  • + 3
 definitely not as frequently
  • + 0
 You still need to clean and lube the chain after every ride, which is pretty much all I have to do with my derailleur...
  • - 1
 You can run belt drive on them.
  • + 4
 It's the perfectly straight chain line that helps incredibly with drivetrain longevity. The tensioner placed where it is is very hard to hook up on anything.
  • + 0
 @lordchewington: It may be hard to hook up, but my past riding experiences tell me my front wheel will eventually shoot out a rock and kill that tensioner with ease. The straight chainline though is a good thing in terms of longevity.
  • + 4
 Also I gotta say (I've owned a taniwha for a year, like i've said in previous comments)

This bike actually does climb incredibly well, its just not a fast XC climber. I did trans NZ this year and was climbing long steep fireroad climbs that most riders walked, I've been riding for a while but I attribute most of that to the crazy low gear you can get into.

Despite it being a 160mm enduro shredder, it absolutely gets you to the top if you're cruising.

ALSO Sam Shaw has won XC races on his taniwha #justsayin
  • + 4
 Metz : "It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design". Forgive me if I'm wrong but the only thing that's different on a horst is the pivot location, which makes zero difference to elegance and could improve performance if placed on the chainstay. Is it just that they couldn't muster up the energy or cash to look into VPP kinematics? Not saying it would necessarily be any better, but the reasoning seems tenuous.
  • + 4
 Thanks for your always honest and entertaining reviews Mike. My trusty all mountain steed (DB Scapegoat with a one up conversion)weighs 34 lbs as well and it does suck going up but who cares, up is just like waiting in line to ride that roller coaster at Disneyland.
  • + 1
 Awesome way to look at riding a heavy bike Smile
  • + 4
 I've been riding pinion bikes for three years nearly, and a Taniwha for the last couple months. The gear shifting is an adaption in your riding style which takes time to learn, clearly more time than Mike put into it. People are quite used to the inadequacies of derailler shifting, but they are problems people have learnt to get around, so hardly notice. Last night I was riding with my kids, and watching my daughter trying to shift her shimano 11 speed drivetrain on rolling trail makes me see that the deraillers are equally learnt and riding style is developed to cope with. Add to that the 6 Eagle deraillers my wife used / broke in 13 months on her nomad and I know which I prefer.
  • + 3
 For anyone interested stif.co.uk have a £1500 gbp discount on this at the moment, in my mind with a better spec. Puts it at £4299. Obviously you Americans will have import taxes to pay, and I’m no economist, but puts it at around $6000
  • + 2
 That looks like it has the older (heavier) P1 gearbox, hence the discount
  • + 0
 @mbl77: thanks man, didn’t spot that, weighs in at something like 50lbs then!
  • + 3
 Seems like review by someone who just cannot adapt to new ways?
I have a Taniwha and couldn’t go back to a traditional drivetrain now. I think the pros of the gearbox easily outweigh any cons. Specs as follows:

Weight: 14.5kg / 32lbs
Size: XL - 475 reach, 460 seat tube (custom shortened by Rob). All new ones will have the shorter seat tubes.
Dropper Seatpost: 175 ks (try putting that in a slash)! SDG ti fly saddle.
170 Lyrics, Fox X2
Saint brakes, 203, 180
2.6 Maxxis DHF & 2.4WT DHR on carbon 30mm rims.
Joystick 35 stem and carbon 790 bars.
This is a fairly burly, but not too heavy build.

Previous bike was a SC Nomad. Zerode is much better imo.
I cannot understand how someone could struggle so badly adapting to the gearbox shifting as Mike Levy seemed to. Maybe it has less to do with riding ability and more to do with ability to adapt to new things?

From day one I didn’t have any issues changing up or down. I guess i naturally ease off the weight on the pedals for a split second as I change, but still keep pedals spinning. Total non issue.
Hitting a sudden pinch climb in a big gear used to mean grunting through a couple of pedal strokes while a derailleur changed down (without braking chain), but with the Taniwha you don’t try grunt through it, you just relax for a split second and dump instantly into whatever low gear you want, in a fraction of the time of a traditional setup. Maybe Mike kept trying to grunt it out ... or just a bit uncoordinated with his changing? And why the hell is he complaining about having 12 gears over a 600% range? It’s perfect I think.

Geometry is similar to a nomad, weighs about 1kg more so climbing not different. Decends way better!! Way more stable. Way quieter and way cooler I think.
  • + 5
 Please stop with the weight in lbs... most of the bike is measured in metric so most of the planet uses metric. So!!! The wheel size is 650. 15.4 kgs There ,, fixed....
  • + 6
 Ya I don't have 10k to blow so it looks like derailleurs are still in for me.
  • + 3
 Really good review. Answered all my questions. I wonder if there is a way to get around the shifting under load problem? Maybe adding an electrical component with a clutch? Sounds expensive and overly complicated now but it might not be in the future.
  • + 2
 That's Pinion's goal, if I recall. Twist shifting is a stopgap. And I think electronic actuation makes a lot more sense and adds a lot more value on a gearbox than on regular derailleurs.
  • + 1
 @Bluefire: I doubt that electronic shifting will change the characteristic of not being able to change gears under load. I believe that is the result of the system used in the gearbox to select which gears are engaged. It more or less work like the pawl type freehub, so when the pawls are engaged and under load, the cam can't draw them in to disengage. I don't think the method of controlling the cam from the handlebar will change this.
  • + 2
 @jackp: I feel like I recall from an earlier article/interview with Pinion, that it could in fact shift under load. It was more that the twist shifter could not generate the load required to make it happen. With electronic shifting and a reduction gear, it would probably be possible if this is the case. Levy mentioned in the article that the throw at the shifter was already pretty great between gears, so would not really be feasible to reduce it further without having an impractical amount of cable throw.
  • + 2
 @Metacomet @jackp

From Pinkbike's article April '17 article on Pinion (www.pinkbike.com/news/inside-pinion.html):

"Out on the trail you cannot shift under load. When asked about this Pinion explained that it is a question of torque, the gearbox itself will shift under load, but using a cable shifter you cannot generate enough torque to do it. However, if you were to have an electronic shifter with a servo motor of some kind, then it might be possible..."

This comment is made in the context of Pinion's quality control procedure, in which gearboxes are shifted under load by a motorized rig.
  • + 1
 @Bluefire: Thanks :-) I knew I wasn't crazy
@mikelevy
Something else I've thought about, and wonder if Pinion could actually weigh in here, is utilizing an in-line tension spring or mechism to aid in the shift timing. This might help overcome a lot of the no-shift under load drawbacks without the use of a servo.
Idea being that the spring/tension mechanism would allow you to make the shift at the shifter mechanism while under load, and the tension spring would store the energy required to make the shift. With this in place you could shift in anticipation of needing to drop a gear, but with the energy now stored in the spring the shift doesn't happen until you back off the power for an instant. This would take the critical timing out of the shift action since it will happen at your feet whenever its most practical for you to back off the power. The tension spring would have to be stiff enough that it wouldn't delay a shift if you were already off the power, but I feel like it would completely eliminate the awkwardness of having to coordinate when to back off the power and Then twist the shifter if you knew the shift was automatically going to happen the instant you backed off. There's already lots of moments when we back off the power or micro-ratchet during techy climbs, but our brains and muscle memory is programmed to make the shift happen while we are pedaling and that often happens under load even though it ideally should not. The ability to shift while not pedaling has got to be amazing for rough descents where you cant get a pedal stroke in, but you need to move through the gears in one direction or the other.
  • + 3
 My 2 cents.

Zerode guy, at first I thought you really blew it with your personal attack and inability to take criticism (Ok, you did blow it), but your later reasoned post somewhat redeems your character, in my mind. I definitely trust Mike's review more than your subjective perspective.

I basically agree with everything Mike wrote, most importantly, perhaps, that this is an important bike, and a revolutionary bike, but perhaps the technology it just not there yet.

Weight matters on a human powered vehicle. Unless this is strictly a downhill machine, or for lift assisted park riding, extra mass makes a big difference. The gearbox folks have to get the weight down. Also, the whole thing with twist shifters and double cables simply needs to be improved, on both hub and bottom bracket gear systems. Last, the engagement needs to be improved. Having so much crank movement before engagement is absurd. These do not seem to be insurmountable problems. The European manufacturers appear pretty conservative, and don't seem to get the fact that people want a light system, with a trigger shift, and quick engagement. Make it happen.

Note that I did not mention the whole shifting (or not shifting) under power thing. Sure, it would be great to shift under power, perhaps necessary for some people, but I can also see getting used to a different system.

As to the bike build (which influences the weight), the design of the suspension, and the geometry tend to indicate a gravity oriented machine, thus I think the parts choices were appropriate, and, with these parts, the bike felt heavy and sluggish to the reviewer. I do not doubt this impression.

It would be cool to see a review of the same bike with a light weight "cross country" build. I bet the final conclusions would not change too much.

Finally, if I'm not mistaken, another writer for Pinkpike, perhaps RC, some time ago wrote a price explaining why he didn't think gearboxes were going to take over. Among his reasons was the fact that most modern suspension designs employ at least some chain elongation, which makes it necessary to have a chain tensioner in the system (much like a deraileur, which is ironic). There were also, of course, the issues of weight, price, and user interface.

Chains, gears, and deraileurs are incredibly efficient. The increased traction and sensitivity from gearboxes are attractive, but until the designers address these issues, I don't think they are viable.

So, as Mike said, this is an important bike, a potentially revolutionary bike, but it comes with some significant drawbacks and compromises.
  • + 5
 "the Taniwha can crush corners like grade 12 math crushed my mom's hopes for her only son's post-secondary education"
Sounds rad....but also sad?
  • + 3
 the big travel bike target market seems to be Enduro race, bike park, big mountain epics, and push-up local downhill. Groups that either seem happy to do loads of maintenance for their posh bike on their special weekend day, or barely pedal anyway.
A trail type bike for 'cross country' (but probably not actual xc race) on trail centre type stuff would likely make more sense if the weight could be reduced - maybe by reducing the gear range.
  • + 3
 has anyone checked out Musing Petrol 5P ? im liking that one
  • + 1
 it looks nice - but seems to have been around for 2 years without any obvious reviews either from mags or owners coming up on google?
Just preview photo type things
  • + 3
 @AyJayDoubleyou: thats how the industry works unfortunately. Like Trek and Specialize. show the cash and you get mucho exposure
  • + 7
 "that, cost aside, anyone can buy". true dat
  • + 2
 A burly 140 front 130 rear travel, coil sprung 29er with the 9 speed box is my dream bike. Burly, bomb-proof, versatile, . . . I need to start selling my organs now and maybe I will be ready to buy when one is available. Nicolai g13 looks about right.
  • + 2
 So it seems like weight is really holding this bike back. So, the Pinion gearbox is exceptionally reliable, bombproof and requires almost zero maintenance over a very long period of time... but weighs a ton which leads to it being impracticable for the majority of riders. Looking at those internal shots of the gears, they definitely do look quite beefy and indestructible. There was even the quote that says "It's said to be able to handle up to 250Nm of torque, which is roughly equivalent to a small, slow car." So, why does it need to be so indestructible... it seems vastly overbuilt... why not pare that down? I'm no engineer, but it seems to me that you should be able to make those gears and such... what, maybe half as burly? And drop some real significant weight?

Or... going the other way... keep it burly as f*ck and force it to shift under load, seems like it could handle it.

It's to bad that currently you have to build a bike that is only really, really good at one thing in order to offset the significant issues with the gearbox.

But, it is early days with these things... I'm one of those guys who just never seems to have major issues with derailleurs. But I am anal as f*ck... and never feel truly happy with how my derailleurs truly perform so I'd love to see this gearbox evolve. Maybe copying more car tech, like a CVT with shift points??
  • + 4
 @ianwish
It looks like a transmission. It is a transmission. In your modern car or motorcycle, you have to engage a clutch to remove the strain from the drive line to shift. In old days, you had to double clutch to get things to shift. They got away with that with syncro mesh gear boxes. This needs one of those things. Burly or not. Think of it as driving your car down the road in 1st gear. Need to shift to 2nd? Turn the engine off to stop the engine from spinning the flywheel. Shift to 2nd. Start engine. Rinse repeat. Kind of dumb if you ask me, considering the nature of the vehicle it is designed for.
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: Ya, it is dumb. And I guess I was kinda thinking more down the lines of a race-style sequential gearbox that uses a dog clutch rather than an H-pattern and syncromesh. Seems like it's already sequential (can't just choose any gear) and just needs a clutching mechanism. I'm assuming they must have tried this???

It doesn't really make sense to me that they would even release these gearboxes without figuring out some kind of auto-clutch mechanism. So when you change a gear, you should be able to keep pedaling, while, for an instant, it decouples power from the cranks, changes the gear, then re-couples the power to the cranks.

It just doesn't seem like a worthwhile endeavor unless you're able to do that.
  • + 1
 @ianwish: an auto clutch that would add weight and complexity, nah.
  • + 1
 @Doogster: Oh for sure it would, right now... but until they're able to add it while at the same time getting the weight way down, it's a non-starter for me... and most others (the rest are just fooling themselves). Which is why I don't think this thing is even ready for market. Maybe, maybe for DH only... but not on Trail, All Mountain or Enduro bikes.
  • + 3
 Average-height guy choosing between a L and an XL... So above-average heights out of luck. Even worse than standard of the month, the fact that most of the bike industry is run by fucking midgets.
  • + 4
 Yup, tall guys need not apply.
  • + 2
 @Zerodeguy While I think you may have gone a bit far on your original response, I can understand the passion behind it and think you've apologised well. I also understand wanting to defend a "solution", but having said that, you also need to be able to call out when a "solution partner" is letting you down....

It's pretty clear from @mikelevy's review and the comments here that the Pinion, while amazing in its own right, is letting the bike down in the mass appeal stakes. Yes, many a happy customer have adapted to the way the current gearbox works, but plenty more (like myself) are still waiting for the glaring shortcomings to be fixed. I think Mike's complaint about the lack of snappiness of the bike would be largely rectified by increasing the POE. Sure easier said than done, but super low POE sucks, and that's coming from someone whos certainly no POE junkie. I think they should be aiming for 36pt minimum, but more like 72.

It also seems like the shifter itself does not warrant it's uniqueness, given the coarseness of its operation. I'd much prefer to see a highly polished trigger shifter even if it means a couple of stabs at going through the full range, plus the ergonomic advantages of not thinking about your grip on the bar while shifting and normal grip selection. Given how nice modern shifting feels at the lever now with a cable reaching the full length of the bike, it seems the Pinion should already be on par here, not behind.

I say the above because I feel that Zerode is the brand to bring gearboxes to the masses, but that Pinion (or a competitor) need to up the gearbox game.

Sincerely,

Someone who REALLY wants their next bike to be the (updated) Taniwha Smile
  • + 1
 The gearbox and shifting are in fact very, very good. Mike did not ride it enough. The review is flawed. It took about 500k of riding, about two months for me, to be fully at home. I will never go back, the Taniwha is a game changer.
  • + 3
 @Rembrandt: The shifting is not good compared to a traditional drivetrain, period. It's slower and you can't shift under power. If it worked as well as a normal system, I'd be all for it, even if it still weighed as much as it does. But until then, the drawbacks don't outweigh the benefits for me. And I had the bike for something like three or four months and rode it a ton.

My issue is that I don't think we should be okay with going backwards in performance for the real benefits that a gearbox offers, which is better reliability and being able to shift while coasting, pedalling backwards, etc. The day that a gearbox delivers that while offering shift performance that matches a derailleur system, I'll be all for it. But until then, I'm not about to be okay with how a Pinion 'box shifts.
  • + 2
 Good piece Mike. Clearly a lot of pros and cons with this one. But the price tag is the only real issue. $9500 for a bike is stupid. If you want it to compete with the current Enduro/all mountain rigs, price it competitively!
  • + 2
 Can gett it for alot less tho. Frame with a gearbox and shock cost around 4000€. High end carbon frames + high end shifter is more or the same.
  • + 1
 @mini: So you can get a frame, shock and drive train for almost $5000 USD. Or you can ride away on this us.yt-industries.com/shopware.php?sViewport=detail&sArticle=1937&sCategory=260 ??
  • + 1
 @Mtb4joe: But if you dont want an YT? Why do anyone by anything else then?

YT may do grate bikes, but i dont care about them.
  • + 2
 Gearbox will get there, good to see they are getting close/ mostly there with a small shop attempt. I am not engineer and I can see so many potential improvements with gearbox. Beyond the low hanging fruit of stronger wheel, central mass, dropping sh%@nest off the most exposed and rattled part of bike, unsprung weight, etc. I have thought of some other less obvious to me improvements: no free hub need at wheel, shaft/belt drive? Built in chain guide, a worthwhile hydro/electric shifting target, suspension design options opened, bigger rear axel allowed. 20 years riding in I have not killed too many mechs (3) but more of concern to me is what we have all come to accept in driveline maintanence and replacement. 2000km season=2-3 chains, chainring, cables, jockey wheels, and cassette every year...basically throw it all out and start over. Never mind mud/ snow/moisture added to the mix. Good business model...but not good for user. While pinion is maybe going overkill with 50k major service (I think I saw that, don’t quote that), the future looks promising on this item with gearbox. On my last single speed I went about 6000kms on original rings and chain (heavier chain and rings then geared and perfect chain line), racing most of that, gearbox could emulate that type of performance... at 600% range.
  • + 2
 I have a nicolai nucleon tst with rohloff hub in the frame. Love that thing. I can shift when pedaling. Shifting feels amazing. And a dh frame becomes an allrounder due to the variety of gears. I would personally like more gearbox frames out there. Basically no drivetrain maintenance other than lubing the chain. The hub need very little maintenance. Specially when it is used for dh riding. Go with super light wheels. And the extre weight on the frame is forgotten.
  • + 2
 The comment about the Maguras was the best writing in the whole article!

"Magura has combined immense power with gentle modulation that makes most other heavy-hitting brakes feel like all you're doing is jamming a golf club through your bike's spokes when you yank the lever."
  • + 4
 They're so damn good.
  • + 2
 I would see no reason for the bike industry not to switch fully to gear boxes if there were a few changes made to them First of all, make them a little lighter. Then make them compatible with push shifters. And finally find a way so that you can switch gears under power. I know this is not possible at the moment, but until that happens I don't believe the benifits of a gear box really make it that much better than a normal 11 or 12 speed system.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy One of the main things i'm curious about with gearboxes you failed to mention, Is the added drag of a gearbox noticeable? Gearboxes inherently add drag and i have often seen people quoting 10% efficiency loss which is in my mind a lot when its my own power which inst that high to begin with, its not like a car where you can afford to loose some efficiency.

Is the drag actually much more than a chain and derailleur? is that drag what maybe contributes to the sluggish heavy feel you talk about as while 34lbs isn't light its not crazy compared to other burly enduro bikes. i think this is my main deciding factor as i like the idea of a gearbox (modern 11/12 speed one by chain and cassettes wear out far to quickly in my mind, and aren't cheap to replace) but if it sucks away to much of my power ill stick to a more direct chain and cassette.
  • + 2
 Great and honest writing from Mike Levy! Entertaining and informative.
Without going through all 550+ comments, one of the things that is not mentioned here (at least in the review) is while not having a rear derailleur to smash is great, and while removing all of the unsprung weight of a derailleur and 10-50t cassette is also an amazing benefit to rear suspension performance, the gearbox is virtually bullet proof and replacement proof. There are no amount of miles you can put on this gearbox that will kill it LONG before you've killed the frame or the zombie apocalypse happens. Having to replace a 10-50t cassette (ouch), chain, and chainring often is a major ongoing expense that simply doesn't happen with the Pinion gearbox. Yes, in this case, you do have to replace the chain and chainrings at some point, they will wear, but because the chainline is ALWAYS straight, the wear on the chain is less, and obviously one cog is WAY less expensive than a 10-50 cassette.
  • + 2
 I think the comparison to manual and automatic transmissions in cars doesn't quite work. There really aren't many people (at least in the US) who have gone from driving automatics their whole driving life to a manual. Over the history of the car, its gone from manual transmissions to automatics. And really, when going from a manual to an auto, it doesn't require you to re-learn how to drive. Maybe just remember that you no longer need to use your left foot. I say this as someone who likes driving a manual car but as cars have progressed, automatics have gotten faster and more efficient so there is rarely a practical reason to choose a manual especially since it is rarely even available as a choice.

I think it would be more correct to say someone would choose a gear box bike for an analogous to choosing a manual transmission in a car. They prefer the experience that the overall car or bike gives them. Otherwise I thought it was a great review and could see how the bike would appeal to the right rider.
  • + 2
 This one is to Mike Levy and all of you Pink bike viewers out there that are interested.

I genuinely believe that for a section of the mountain bike community the Zerode Taniwha is the best and most fun bike they can possibly own. Early on in this journey I tested the Pinion gearbox, modified how I ride and shift and whole heartedly believe that the advantages of the Pinion outweigh the disadvantages. If I hadn’t come to this conclusion the project would never have got off the ground.

It takes a HUGE amount of commitment and risk both financial and personal to make a project like this happen. Anyone that has attempted a similar thing in their life time will understand what this feels like, those of you that haven’t please take the time to think about it. As a result it is very difficult not to take any criticism very personally.

The best place for me is in my garage creating or on my bike riding! Not dwelling on the fact that I don’t have the resources and marketing power etc etc of much bigger brands or that I can’t bring out a new model every few months. I know if I spend time on the interweb taking in what the rest of the bike industry is doing these frustrations become very real to me. Every minute we are exposed to the new best thing ever! 5 seconds later we are looking for something new. I use a handful of rules to ensure I can carry on doing what I love and making bikes and not stressing about what I can’t do. Rule number one is that I don’t look at bike related websites and never look at comments.

Yesterday I broke that rule, the attachment I have to this epic project that has consumed me for years made some of Mikes comments feel like a personal attack on me and it didn’t seem fair that because the large voice he has should expose a huge number of people to his opinion and thoughts on the bike and that these opinions and thoughts differ to mine. Having dug a little deeper I understand that Mike is fully capable of testing a bike to its full potential and I just have to come to terms that he didn’t gel with the shifting and set up in the same way that I do or my customers do. I would prefer that the bike Mike tested was built up with lighter parts that may well be more suited to the style of riding he prefers. But the point of this reply is not to argue or get my point across. It is to say sorry to Mike and that I appreciate that he is also doing the best job he can, his thoughts and opinions are valid and well thought out and I need to obey my own rules not to get upset by people that don’t agree with me or see my point of view.

I hope this helps you all understand what it is like to be in my position and why I said what I said.

As of now I will engage rule number one again. If you have any questions about Zerode bikes or just want get in touch you can email me at rob@zerodebikes.com I’ll be in my garage, riding my bike and answering emails and will happily respond to anyone. Forums are comments are not my happy place so I will not be here in the future!

PS. Apparently I posted a comment four time! Put that down forum incompetence.

Happy trails.

Rob
  • + 1
 I mean user incompetence! not forum incompetence!
  • + 2
 @mikelevy One of the main things i'm curious about with gearboxes you failed to mention, Is the added drag of a gearbox noticeable? Gearboxes inherently add drag and i have often seen people quoting 10% efficiency loss which is in my mind a lot when its my own power which isn't that high to begin with, its not like a car where you can afford to loose some efficiency.

Is the drag actually much more than a chain and derailleur? is that drag what maybe contributes to the sluggish heavy feel you talk about as while 34lbs isn't light its not crazy compared to other burly enduro bikes. i think this is my main deciding factor as i like the idea of a gearbox (modern 11/12 speed one by chain and cassettes wear out far to quickly in my mind, and aren't cheap to replace) but if it sucks away to much of my power ill stick to a more direct chain and cassette.
  • + 1
 Cant feel any drag on the first few gears on mine but on the high gears i can feel it. Tho seems to be less over time.
  • + 1
 This heavy feeling caused by drag was why I didn't buy a gearbox bike after demoing one. I felt like it stole my energy when I put the power down. Any short sharp efforts are met with dragging resistance that just sucks the life out of you. I hate derailleurs but I'm sticking with em for now.
  • + 1
 Hmmm $9,500 for a bike that doesn't pedal well, can't shift under load, has less favorable shift jump, is moderately heavy, grip-shifts and grips that look like they were cut with a butter knife. I have so so many other choices for that amount of money that all out perform this bike. The only reason to buy this bike is if you're more concerned about starting conversations then actually riding. From the 1930's Adler 3Gang to 2000 Honda to 2018 Pinion ... based on history we still have a long wait ahead of us before this makes sense.
  • + 1
 Great review - really appreciate the details.

Is this thing already obsolete because of the short reach and 27.5 wheels?

Been asking myself this a lot since the Ripmo came out: is 27.5 dead? Are all serious mountain bikes going to be 29 soon?
  • + 2
 I'd assume that Zerode is working on a 29er, and I bet the reach is longer as well. I know that I'd prefer the bigger wheels.
  • + 1
 Hmmm. I'm intrigued by the idea of near zero maintenance, but as a trail rider I want something that climbs well. So I'd be interested to see a big wheeled, shorter travel gearbox bike. I have read that the gearbox drags, which would be a pisser - but not sure how bad or even true that is.

But at the end of the day, two things are that this is way out of my price range and the other is that as much as I like the idea of zero maintenance, frankly, I spend a lot more time putzing with my brakes than my drivertrain. So I'm not sure if a zero maintenance drivertrain really pays as many dividends in real life as it does in my imagination. And at the end of the time, in terms of time, 85% of the "drivetrain maintenance" that I do is lubing my chain. I presume you'll still need to lube the chain on the Zerode.
  • + 2
 Look at a Nikolai G13. 29" wheels and 130mm travel and belt drive.

No drag on the first few gears as far as i can tell on my G16.
  • + 1
 *sigh* I've been waiting for this review and had higher hopes. I'm not a gram counter, and I know a lot of that weight is low, centered and sprung, but that thing is heavy. And way more expensive than I am willing to shell out for. I think I could learn to live with the shifting over time. Maybe. But, overall I think it's actually pretty good execution for this early in the gearbox game, and good progress. At least someone tried something a bit more serious. Hoping for improvement all around -- weight, performance, cost -- over time.
  • + 2
 Frame is around 4000€ with gearbox tho, so can build a bike for alot less..
  • + 1
 @mini: Yeah a whole bike can be had for about $7,000 USD with a good build.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy this is probably the best review I’ve read on Pinkbike. It was interesting honest and funny and without the usual analogies that everyone uses. Your comments on the tires made me laugh.
  • + 3
 Thanks, it was a fun one to put together Smile
  • + 1
 In the eighties, Joe Murray was known to carry a spare drivetrain in his fanny pack during races. At five pounds, you could easily carry a spare chain, derailleur, cassette, a bottle of lube, and all the tools needed to install them them. Given that this is an enduro bike, lets just assume you already have the fanny pack.
  • + 1
 In all fairness to Zerode, would anyone pay $9.500 dollars for a carbon single pivot 160mm bike? Not a chance. Not unless it weighs 9.500 grams it won't.
Is a Pinion C.Line Gearbox gonna make the difference? No, not even if you replace that with 950.0 Bosch CX Watts.
Mind you, i do respect a gearbox for its marvelous engineering.
  • + 1
 I think GearBox would be a good chioce for trail and enduro or even DH bikes. BUT, I can really not accept that grip shift!! Why they don't use a electrical system to make it faster and looks simpler?? Pushing a trigger or button is much easier than turnning that grip shift, especially when riding on rough terrain.
  • + 5
 Ive ridden one. Its choice. Awesome work Rob!!!
  • + 3
 reliability and no maintenance seem to be the main USP of this, but of the two people I know who have, or have had, Taniwha's, both of them have broken gearboxes mid-race.
  • + 2
 seems like pinion gearboxes add unnecessary weight & proprietary complications. thus, i would say NO - derailleurs are simple, lightweight & easily accessible if something goes wrong.
  • + 1
 34 lbs, that's about the weight of my BMX. My mountain unicycle (MUni) is half that. Seems like quite a reasonable weight for a full suspension bike with that amount of travel, doesn't it?

And can you shift to a ligher gear under load on a modern derailleur drivetrain? I'm riding with an X9 9sp rear mech and if I try this it may work initially. Then suddenly the chain skips for a quarter stroke with a loud bang. It is much safer to first pedal a bit harder to gain speed, then back off (so you lose your speed) while you shift. I've tried gripshift in the rear for a while. It definitely allows you to shift under load a bit easier because you can use more force to shift. But I've bent a few rearmechs in the process so I'm using the X7 trigger shifter again. On my next build I plan to upgrade to ten speed (Shimano Zee) so I'm curious whether it would actually survive shifting under load.
  • + 1
 Well I’ve gone through four derailleurs since mid-July. 2 XTR 1SLX (lasted exactly one month) and 1XT. So now I’m moving on to a Saint with the one up cage. That keeps me at 10sp with a 42 bottom gear. But I’ll be able to run a very beefy short cage derailleur. So yeah I’d like this gear box thing. Less I sprung weight on a single pivot must feel great. But it sounds like there’s so much left to be worked out with the gearbox. Not ready for prime time yet.
  • + 1
 You should have good luck with the saint, I bashed the shit out of mine (with a 1-up cage on a trail bike) and it lasted through what would have killed a small fortune of trail/xc derailleurs.
  • + 4
 rad bike! i don’t mind the weight or climbing performance for a beast on the downs but i do mind the price.
  • + 1
 Good thing to bring up too:

There's really low cost over time. You dont have to replace $500 cassettes, chains last way longer (mine just lasted a year of hard use), your der will never get smashed by anything or wear out. So your overtime cost is so low compared to a traditional drivetrain.

If you're going to talk about the price being an issue, this is a really important thing to be aware of.
  • + 1
 Electric stuff on bikes has done nothing for me, but if motors & chips can lead to some kind of clutch mechanism or more precise shifting on these gear boxes to alleviate some of the existing issues then I might become very interested in electricity on the trail, outside of my lights that is. I tried a rohloff once and the shifting was terrible in a parking lot, but you could at least shift under load. Pinion fit nice on a bike, but the idea of shelling out a bunch of cash and not shifting under load sucks. That said, I would love a drive train I don't have to clean. Hate replacing chains all the time no matter how much I clean the damn thing. Chain line on short stay bikes is brutal too.
  • + 1
 The great thing about a gearbox is, the simple and clean look and the fact that you can't smash your rear mech. The shifting performance doesn't seem all that attractive after reading this article, so this would need some major improvement. I feel like adding a clutch system would make a big difference. Every car has a gearbox and in order to use it properly, a clutch is needed. So why not have one on a bike? Another interesting take would be to add electric shifting like Di2. You'd just have a remote on your handlebar and the whole two cable system like the Zerode has, disappears into the frame. My friend had a gearbox bike not too long ago and had a ton of issues with the gearbox, so that would keep me from buying one aswell.
  • + 2
 The clutch doesn't do what you think it does. It only engages/disengages the gearbox. Gearboxes - in passenger vehicles - contain helical cut gears and synchros to facilitate smooth shifting. Try driving an old car/truck that has a gearbox built using straight cut gears and no synchros
  • + 1
 Why isn't anyone talking about the chain tensioner and that it can get damaged? So you put a 5 pound lunker at the bottom bracket, say "at least we got rid of the derailleur", yet still have a chain tensioner that can bent into the tire or ripped off the bike and ruin your day. Still got to clean the crusty chain. I just don't get the advantage. Give me a cheap last year's XT cassette, derailleur and 20 Mickey D's 1/4 pounders to stuff in my CamelBack...
  • + 4
 To be fair, the tensioner is tucked up pretty tight to the frame. I'd be surprised if someone managed to damage one, but you never know.
  • + 1
 I have a medium built up at 33 lbs. with heavy tires and a 29er 36 front end. After 9 months of riding this bike, you CAN shift under some load. I just give a hard pedal and back off slightly as I go into the next gear. However, it did take some getting used to. It really loves to shred the DH, but as a do-it-all bike in So Cal...and more specifically Laguna, it's not for me. If I could afford to keep it, I would use it as a shuttle/park bike. It's perfect for Santa's Village in Arrowhead. I noticed the newer Taniwha's went with a less expensive C line gearbox.
  • + 1
 Your face when they could have had the holy grail, and they settled on the hole-E grail. There's literally no reason not to have made the suspension concentric, and had 0 chain stretch/movement, as well as trigger shifter. I always mentally joke about, "the land of the misfit toys" the last while from the classic movie, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" because that is literally my life. They could not have portrayed any better message in a movie.
  • + 4
 There's a huge reason to not make it concentric. If it was concentric it would pedal like absolute shite.
  • + 3
 all this text: "nope, gearboxes aren't better than they were last month" "see you in a month for the next 10 pages articles on gearboxes".
  • + 2
 Pretty accurate comment tbh
  • + 2
 So is it a safe summary to say "a really expensive park bike, that does not really need a chain anyway"?

This does not sound like something I would pedal around the local trails.
  • + 1
 also my comment on gearboxes, I've had two of shimanos alfine 9 speed hubs that I see he used in his previous bikes, they had no issues shifting under load. That was actually by far my favourite thing about them, they allow you to ride away from a stop full pedal to the metal while shifting up through gears as fast as you like, they're amazing and far better than any derailed setup could ever be. Its not as elegant to have a hub in the middle of your frame but shimano definitely has their gear box figured out.
  • + 4
 This is silly. What we really need is wide range 8-speed cassettes with 11-speed spacing.
  • + 3
 Which is physically impossible.
  • + 2
 @BenPea:

No, it's certainly possible. You just need a shorter cassette body and ~25% jumps between gears.
  • + 3
 @redsled137: Ah yes, you wrote spacing and I read jumps. Apologies.
  • + 1
 Sram EX1 is a wide range 8 speed system made to handle higher torque for e-bikes (and presumably would be longer lasting on a normal bike)

www.sram.com/sram/mountain/family/ex1#sm.0000jn6ggws2hfj6z5f1i4sv4tkls
  • + 1
 I'm a little late to the party.

I got sick of blowing up rear derailleurs in our rocky trails, so I came up with my own solution. In 2012, I put a Shimano Alfine internal geared hub on my Santa Cruz Nickel and made my own chain tensioner, similar to the one used on the Zerode. I've ridden this setup solid for five years now and not a single issue.

With the Alfine, you can still shift under reduced power, but the benefits of shifting without pedaling far out weigh any negatives. Being able to shift without pedaling during a rocky tech descent as you anticipate a steep climb burst is great. @mikelevy failed to recognize this.

I don't think weight is the real problem with gear box. From my experience, the only real issue is drag in the transmission. On the Zerode, he still uses a two jocky wheel tensioner, similar to a normal derailleur setup. So, the Zerode has to have more drag than a traditional derailleur. Whatever the friction from the gears may be, it's more than a derailleur.

A little bit of drag is not so bad when riding by yourself, but when riding with a group of XC jocks on a 1000 meter climb, you will definitely notice the drag.

I suspect @mikelevy was experiencing drag and naively blaming it on weight.

This season, I am now riding a Canfield Balance with a derailleur, my first in five years. I must admit, the more efficient derailleur setup is nicer on long climbs.
  • + 1
 The derailleur system is such old technology, but companies keep bandaiding it every year. There is better stuff out there, a little more r and d in it than we could scrap the stupid derailleur drive train.
  • + 2
 I straightened my derailleur hanger about 6 times in the last 3 months. Please can gearbox bikes swiftly move on and become the mainstream.
  • + 2
 Would love to see real, scientific efficiency testing with power meters done on a gearbox mtb vs a derailleur. Make it happen pinkbike!
  • + 3
 The derailleur system will always win since the gearbox arrangement does not eliminate the chain or jockey wheels and only adds drag from the gearbox. The benefits of the gearbox therefore needs to be in other areas. Its up to the consumer to decide if the benefits outweigh the shortcomings.
  • + 1
 Its about 5% efficiency loss over derailleur.

www.cyclingabout.com/speed-difference-testing-gearbox-systems
  • + 1
 What’s the efficiency of the pedalling system? I understand you lose 10% of the energy you exert on a Hammerschmidt. That’s like carrying a six pack of beer, but with no beer.
  • + 0
 Now that's what I call a mountain bike review, love the honesty and the work that's gone into this @mikelevy - and it confirms my expectations about gearbox bikes.
Always thought they were a bit of a white elephant, but is their real potential on DH/FR bikes or even E-bikes?
  • + 1
 I kinda dig it. I think that the technology of the gear box will improve over time and prices will naturally fall to a more affordable level. When that day comes I'll probably break out my checkbook and pick one up.
  • + 0
 Should the Derailleur Die? YES!!!! YES!!!! HELL FRICKIN YES!!!!
600% RANGE - SICK
UNSPRUNG MASS (making the suspension track better) - RAD
NOT BREAKING DERAILLERS $$$ - DOPE
grip shift- SUCKS but we will let that slide (for NOW)
0.01% CHANCE TO DROP A CHAIN - GNARLY
The list goes on.......
lets just kill the derailleur NOW!
  • + 3
 What ever happened to the good old fashioned singlespeed? You only need to service it once every infinity miles
  • + 1
 Just curious on who puts 10,000 miles on their mountain bike in the 2 year life span the industry is putting on bikes these days ?

Or is the plan to be swapping out your gear box to a new bike frame every year ?
  • + 2
 You can buy the frame without a box. So technically if a new updated 29" Zerode came out you could transfer the Pinion over to it.
  • + 1
 $9000 for a 34# bike!!! Whine whine whine. Get a HT single speed or an E-Bike if you have an issue with weight or don’t like pedaling. Progression my friends, I think this is awesome.
  • - 1
 34lbs, gripshift.....yeah progress!
  • + 0
 @drivereight: Your right, Im sure you have a lot better ideas and designs. I have a 1992 GT talera for sale its got bad ass geo and awesome stock components. and it only weighs 26 lbs
  • + 1
 I'm pissed about those stats because I love the idea of progression, but at $9500/34lbs it's just never going to happen. Buy one yourself for msrp or STFU.
  • + 1
 @it’s not gonna be the lightest, cheapest, most reliable the first time around necessarily. I could care less if it cost 10K or 20k, it’s their prerogative. You put your time, money and balls on the line to try something new and make something better and tell me how much you would charge. Just because you legs and wallet are too skinny to pedal or afford one, dosnt mean you should be angry.
  • + 0
 I took one of these bikes for a ride a while bike and the biggest let down is the gear box. The demo bike refused to shift even if you stop putting down power. I almost required you to back pedal every time in order to shift to an easier gear. It was a big disappointment.
  • + 1
 I assume in a few years or a decade maybe this will be improved, lighter and better in every way. also reduced price hopefully. I like the idea of the gearbox but definatly not for me
  • + 0
 This sounds like typical Mike Levy bias, but maybe not. At least he's given a good thing some exposure. Now, regretfully I'm gonna criticize the thing a bit. Blank Stare

Like the point made about the tensioner hanging down just like a derailleur. It's certainly not as vulnerable, but yeah, Metz you done f*cked up. Ya done f*cked it hard. If I need a tensioner of any sort then you've defeated much of the point of the box in the first place. You've lost the elegance, you've lost the reliability, because dropped chains still gonna hap now & it looks like shit. WTF dude? :s

Not a fault w/the bike but a trigger shifter needs to happen. How is it that the box looks so clean, modern, refined & that shitty grip shifter looks like a millwright made it on his break at work?

A bashguard? Also totally f*cks one of the big advantages of a box. Either run a good hollow pin/link BMX chain like a KMC 710SL or do it the right way & drop the size of the sprockets so the front one isn't below the box! Oh wait, ya done f*cked up the pivot location so that can't happen. Frown

Other than that, the bike is pretty beast. Derailleur needs to die. Gearbox needs to happen. Props out for guys like Metz gettin' after it, but until the bike industry gets its own version of Elon Musk, the better way won't have the clout behind it to force the corrupt corporations to comply. Let's hope Boivin over at Resistance keeps up the fight because that mofe has got shit super dialed already. Make that shit into a trail bike & FAAACK!

Not sure why the Pinion can't shift under load, maybe they should go ask Bob Rohloff how to solve that if they can't fig it out themselves, but not shifting in battle is at least somewhat offset by the ability to do it preemptively. Ounce of prevention bitches.

Your cherry picked poll results about derailleur reliability Levy, really? When people say they don't remember when they last broke a derailleur, that doesn't automatically mean it was over 2 years just b/c the previous option was 'More than 2 years'. If you use 'em & ain't breakin' 'em, well then you probably wore lycra at some point in your life. Maybe still do.

You don't really have any right to almost incessantly complain about weight if for the same price the numbers can be brought down to where you'd want them to be anyway, which they can. :/ Plus just look at the inside of a gearbox, there's so much opportunity to make use of Ti in there (you know like how the 'Big Ss' have done w/cassettes, freehub bodies, pivot bolts, fasteners, etc.?) it's enough to probably cut weight (of box) nearly in half & at least w/a box, it may be pricey but it'll be a one time buy. Not to mention the rest of the abundant refinement waiting to happen on the design side.

You didn't mention anything about drag/friction in all that text (I suppose b/c you wasted so much time/space complaining about weight) which is far more important than the weight. The drag will matter to everyone. Adding a tensioner adds to the efficiency loss. If drag is severe enough to be noticeable, to feel it, all the more reason for gearbox guys to give Bob Rohloff a call.

When (if) gearbox refinement runs its course as the derailleur already did long ago, then I'd like to see anyone try to even begin to debate about a winner. If anyone had the advertising budget to put behind it, into places like PB, these articles & reviews would sound a bit different. :/
  • + 3
 I haven't read this yet I'm so excited I've been waiting so long and checking every day
  • + 3
 Dreams crushed, gearboxes still suck
  • + 1
 @gavondo: man I feel so sad for you right now hahaha
  • + 3
 That was a rollercoaster of emotions. Geeked out in that review a lot and it was still fun. Nice one mike
  • + 1
 ''rollercoaster of emotions'' - always my goal haha Smile
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Great review Mike. It reads really well and I think you gave the Zerode a thorough testing. I was really hoping the Zerode would 'punch above it's weight' and come out with a more favourable score. As with any subjective review the outcome is always relative to the reviewers opinion. I for one, give your opinion a lot of weight due to your experience in reviewing hundreds of other bikes. You stated the reasons for why the Zerode did not stack up for you personaly and then also described the type of rider that the Zerode may suit. Great job on the article.
@Zerodeguy You have also done a great job at offering up an innovative solution to challenge the status quo, thank you for your ongoing passion for creating a better bike for the masses. I'm really looking forward to the evolution of gearbox bikes and what the future may look like. I can see a day when the gearbox bike will be offered with a motor assist option where you will choose to attach a 5lb motor and battery module to the bike and have a 40lb ebike or leave the motor/battery at home and ride it as a conventional bike. Something a bit like this www.facebook.com/zerodebikes/videos/1602126736523337 Watch this space!
  • + 3
 Why doesn't it use a belt instead of a chain? I'm not criticizing, I'm just curious. Is a chain drive more efficient?
  • + 2
 A belt can't work with a tensioner or you need a special tensioner like on the Nicolai ion 16 GPI.
  • + 8
 @Cavalerie-Bikes: So a belt can work with a tensioner.
  • + 0
 Single pivot suspension @ the illusive $10.000,- (Ten Thousand) price point...really? That joke wasn't funny in 1998 and still isn't. Gripshifts didn't work back then either, not shorties not halfpipes, there's a reason they died. And if gearboxes are the next big thing, why do they all come with a derailleur-like-chain tensioner? This thing's got some serious chain growth btw.

The real Gearbox is called Bosch (etc.) and its outselling the likes of Pinion 10.000 : 1
As for carbon fiber, gripshifters were made of carbon back in 1998 as were DH forks, not really a NOVELTY or boast material anymore
  • + 1
 "If you believe that gearboxes, Keith Richards, and roaches will be all that's left after a Trump versus Kim Jong Un nuclear pissing match..." Nice nod to Bill Hicks. Keith: "I saw a bright light, I thought we were on..."
  • + 1
 how can you build it up to be 30lbs, thats a lot lighter! what would the parts spec be? I want to know how much that build would cost and what that would ride like. 15000$? 20000$?
  • + 1
 I am guessing 800 gram tires, save 2lbs there. Maybe wheels that are 200 grams less and a lighter fork maybe another 200 grams. That is almost 3 lbs. You can get saddles around 150 grams pretty easily that could shave a bit as well.
  • + 2
 They really have to get past the gripshift bullshit because we all associate that with really horrible quality early sram stuff.
  • + 2
 To be fair, the Pinion twister doesn't exactly feel super high-quality, either. The throw is quite large and the indexing is vague. I'm fine with a twist shifter, but I'd like Pinion's to feel a bit nicer.
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: You make it sound so much more compelling with that statement. :/
  • + 4
 Love it. But the weight and the shifter is a no-go.
  • + 2
 "...not firm up the suspension so you can get to the top of the climb thirteen seconds before your buddies who don't even know that it's a race." I love you Levy.
  • + 5
 I love beating people who don't know they're in a race.
  • + 3
 That's silly. Its always a race !!
  • + 4
 not a single mention of gearbox drag. gearbox is a win
  • + 2
 It's there but I can't quantify it. I'd argue that there's more than with a normal drivetrain, of course, but it wasn't even on my mind after 15 minutes of the first ride.
  • + 1
 gear box DH bikes need to happen and maybe also on the big mountain long travel enduro bikes as well. it makes more sense, more traction and the weight should not mater AS MUCH if your riding 80% down
  • + 2
 @mikelevy what happened to the readers Q&A from the post a few weeks back. Looks like it has been missed from the review?
  • + 0
 I think it's going to be an uphill climb for any company to bring gearboxes to the masses. At $9k this bike doesn't hold any true advantage aside from not having to maintain it every 10k miles. At least with other $9k bikes they're a lot lighter so you can go longer and or faster. Also, there's no learning curve between switching from a trigger shifter to a twist shifter.

If i'm going to get on a bike for XC/Trail usage where I know I have to do both climbs and descents that also weighs more than 34lbs then just give me an e-bike. At least it negates the weight penalty.
  • + 2
 Ya, and anyone spending $9k on a bike doesn't often give two shits about dropping it off at the shop on the way to their Dentist office to have it serviced now and again... or for that matter, have a new derailleur or drive-train installed.

As someone else mentioned, they need to change their market focus to DH. No climbing (no changing gears under power is just stupid), weight isn't as much of an issue while the suspension advantages and central weight would be very welcome.
  • + 1
 I love the concept and have wanted one of these for a couple years. Let's have the early adopters continue spend their hard earned cash on these models and after a few pounds and a few grand are shaved off, I'll order one!
  • + 1
 Grip shifter = I'm out but maybe this is the perfect platform for electronic shifting. Of course then it would be a 34 pound $11000 dollar bike....
  • + 2
 142x12 rear hub spacing? That's going to be the death of who ever tries to ride it.
  • + 5
 why is that?
  • + 3
 @colincolin: 142 is way less fun.
  • + 10
 It uses a single speed hub. Already has wide flanges.
  • + 7
 Dishless wheel for the win.
  • + 3
 Still waiting on an enclosed CVT
  • + 1
 isn't there a pivot close to the rear axle ?
I thought single pivot didn't have one, or maybe its just to use a belt drive instead ?
  • - 1
 @mikelevy [please turn sarcasm font off, as I'm being 100% genuine] I have designed, and am developing, a drive train that will make derailleur/cassette and gearbox drive trains alike, seem silly and obsolete. It will bend minds.

Please remember this comment when it comes time for you to review it, because you'll be the first one I contact to do so!

Thanks for a good, honest review, bike review, too.

p.s. [sarcasm may be turned back on] If one the the big S companies offers me million$ for the patent, you may be out of luck, though.
  • + 1
 bewl shayat
  • + 1
 Friction box! They figured this out in the 1920's when some road race bikes went from a 3 speed Sturmey Archer to the derailleur.
  • - 1
 So true. What isn't being mentioned here is the inherent friction of such a system. Spent time on a Hammerschmidt crank setup and the friction of that was noticeable to the point where it became a dealbreaker. Not sure how this gearbox couldn't have similar issues. Would this account for the sluggishness exiting corners?

Said it before...if mtb started with gearboxes we would be gushing over the possibility of derailleurs. different isn't always better.
  • + 3
 @FarmeR57: I had a HS and I agree the drag in the overdrive gear was awful, but that's not a fact of life just because it is a gearbox. That was just a shitty implementation by SRAM.

I'm not commenting specifically on Pinion drag as I have never used one, but I owned several IGHs [Shimano & Rohloff] they did not have drag issues like that HS.
  • + 1
 @FarmeR57: Cant feel any drag what so ever on the first few gears in mine, however ther is some in the higher gears. Only been riding it for a few months do and its getting less over time.

Think sluggishness is more to do with bad suspension..
  • + 1
 @mini: thanks for the reply vikb and mini. I look forward to getting a ride on a pinion to see what's up.

btw how long before they attach an e-bike motor to one of these? Motor and transmission all-in-one?
get rid of pedals, add throttle kit, footpegs and foot shifter...see where i'm going?

that would be a pretty uncool direction for mtb but not sure what will stop it now...
  • + 2
 @FarmeR57: I know KTM and Alta motors have electrik motocross bikes.. seen one more brand i cant remember to.. Dont even need gears on the e-mx bikes.
  • + 3
 $9500 is going to make for damn sure the derailleur stays alive.
  • + 3
 Literally SRAM propaganda.
  • + 1
 Metaphorically.
  • + 2
 An additional con: the XL frame is quite wee. An XXL would be appreciated. 6'5" here and there's no Taniwha to fit me.
  • + 2
 Should the derailleur die? Nah fam, I don’t have $9,500 to drop on a drivechain.
  • + 4
 You know this is not the price of the gearbox alone right? It's an actual complete bike. So why dont you compare the price difference between two complete bikes on similar specs excluding the drivetrain, like say a Santa Cruz nomad with carbon wheels? Oh, not so much of a price difference eh? I know...
  • + 3
 @mollow: bruh I’m in college ballin on a budget, $2500 is pricey for me.
  • + 1
 @LkWebz: I know... Just don't exaggerate it to 9500 please
  • - 4
flag enduroNZ (Mar 28, 2018 at 19:06) (Below Threshold)
 @LkWebz: $2500 wont get you a wheelset these days if your a serious rider.
  • + 2
 @enduroNZ: good thing I’m not running carbon!
  • + 1
 @enduroNZ: lmfao you tool
  • + 1
 @mollow: feel better about yourself?
  • + 1
 @LkWebz: now that I know my wheelset is not expensive enough to be considered a serious rider, yes I do. Cheers mate
  • + 1
 @mollow: If you aren't riding a $15k bicycle you are nothing. /sarcasm
  • + 1
 @enduroNZ: light bicycle rims, dt 240 hubs, any spokes. home built. one grand USD.
  • + 1
 Can't wait until they perfect this so the current 80yr old 'high tech' bicycle drive train will finally and truly be high tech.
  • + 1
 These won't catch on unless they sponsor an Enduro or DH rider and they start winning races on them. People are sheep in that regard.
  • + 1
 If that bike suck that much uphill and is not a DH racing bike, why put gears in the first place ? Wouldn't it be better as a single speed ?
  • + 3
 Make a 29er and I'll buy one!
  • + 1
 Gearboxes further remove the average rider from any chance of fixing things on our own. Like a modern car vs a good old American 1960s V8. I'll pass.
  • + 1
 ????? New cars are better, more reliable, more efficient in EVERY way that older cars. Only thing older cars have going for them is cool factor. Don't get me wrong, a 1960's era hot rod is way cooler than today's cars. But not much for reliability. Much rather have a gear box once they are prefect than being concern about ripping off or smashing my $200+ derr on a rock....which there plenty where I ride in Colorado/Utah area
  • + 3
 @bman33: Cool, to each their own. I have completely rebuilt 60s and 70s engines, using a simple manual, but would be lost on a modern car with all the digital complexity, and I've worked in IT for 25 years. The analogy isn't really spot-on, but I just prefer the aesthetics of older cars and non-gearbox bikes. They look like e-bikes to me.
  • + 3
 Spam marketing executive here

"Good review Mike!"
  • + 0
 Dear Pinkbike: Even though it is often obvious, can you mention the type of rear suspension in the Specs at the top of bike reviews? ie: Horst, VPP, split pivot, DW, ABP, etc. Thanks, Nate.
  • + 3
 That 9500 can buy a whole shit ton of smashed off rear mechs
  • + 2
 The derailer should die cause it sucks.

Is this the solution? That's what the engineers are for
  • + 1
 Unfortunately these engineers forgot that people want cheap, lite, reliable, and trail serviceable!
  • + 3
 $9500 and 35lbs... derailleur sounds good thanks
  • - 1
 There is virtually no reason why a gearbox full suspension bike (or hardtail for that matter) shouldn't be able to run every wheelsize/tire combination outside of 4" fatbike stuff. The simplified chainline, ability to utilize a smaller chainring, neccesity of a larger BB area and a host of other design features inherent to a gearbox, combined with different shock lengths or linkage should allow a bike that can utilize 120mm travel up to 160mm, with tire options ranging from 275x3.8 to 29x2.8. If I spent $10k on a bike like this I'd be pissed that I was stuck using 275x2.5 tires and 160mm travel all the time, when I could bought two bikes for the price of one.
  • + 1
 Add electronic shifting that shifts in a fraction of a second and it will shift when you hit the dead spot in the pedal power curve
  • + 1
 Sure, and another $1k to the price tag LoL
  • + 0
 " compared to the HD4, one of the best pedalling all mountain bikes..."

NO. JUST NO. the HD4 is a worthless f*cking slug on climbs. I couldn't read past this blatant falsehood.
  • + 1
 Uh huh, we'll just have to disagree on that one, I guess.
  • + 3
 Hey the only thing missing is the electric motor and battery.
  • + 1
 Sounds like these gearboxes would be absolutely perfect for a DH bike. And with less need for a wide range, maybe even drop the weight of the gearbox a little.
  • + 1
 Can I SAY, that,why are bikes having growths, like cancer victims, Give that bike Cemo!
  • + 2
 I’m just here to get Mike 500 comments.
  • + 2
 A 2018 VW Golf TSI R-Line has 250Nm torque and that car is no slouch!
  • + 3
 True, good point. That thing looks fun, too.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: mind you an internal gearbox that can handle that amount of torque is downright impressive!
  • + 2
 A $ a mile until your first gearbox oil change!
  • + 0
 Very interesting review. I would have thought a rolhof drivetrain would have been a logical comparison here. Is no one using them on mountain bikes theses days?
  • + 0
 Good point. It would have been good to use a Rolhoff on a different bike to see how the two systems compared. I've tinkered with one on a work stand, but that's it. I'll see if I can get my paws on something.
  • + 1
 Would you not have changed the sprocket and chain ring to a 26 tooth to increase the antisquat?
  • + 2
 Yet I still want a gearbox bike much sooner rather than any later.
  • + 1
 Have spare gear box and a Qt of gear oil in the old toolbox.......will travel. Dont forget to put the drain plug back in.
  • + 2
 "Tank donuts" is my new benchmark for awesomeness
  • + 2
 "Let the derailleur die. Kill it if you have to."
  • + 1
 Total truth about the brakes. Other than widely expensive, quick wearing pads they are a dream. Second to none.
  • + 2
 That first paragraph about how the bike descends was gold.
  • + 1
 Since 8 years or something I want a Shimano Alfine rear hub... Just to test it.
  • + 2
 I'm riding 7sp and 8sp Nexus hubs loads for getting to work etc. Never realized that there is excessive drag. Alfine should be better. Rohloff even better (throughout the entire range of gear). Pinion even better again. So if I don't notice excessive drag from a Nexus hub, I doubt I could notice it from a Pinion gearbox. I do notice that I'm gather lots of sticky muck around the pulleys of the X9 derailleur of my mountainbike. Not sure how much drag that adds actually. What does matter most to me is how smooth the freewheel is (for coasting and pumping). And then yes, the Nexus has considerable drag. Which isn't much of a deal for commuting (as you'll need to keep pedaling most of the time anyway) but it would kill the fun on a mountainbike ride.
  • + 1
 well 10K..USD, are you able to ride out those 10 000 miles before new hub standard come? just kidding, want it or Nicolai
  • + 2
 30 Psi in my Minions, i don't care about your Pinion.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy
So to answer my own question to you, you have not placed the order for one.
  • + 1
 ...trying to work out lbs to kg..

giphy.com/gifs/reaction-BmmfETghGOPrW
  • + 2
 I’d rather invest that $10k on a 401k, buying in the SNP Index!
  • + 13
 I think you might be on the wrong website bud...
  • + 1
 @mountain-life: I kinda agree with him. You don't spend 10k in a vacuum. Paying 10k for asia made carbon is funny and fairly stupid.
  • + 8
 This is no place for such rational financial decisions.
  • + 0
 @Loamhuck: every carbon frame is made in Asia.
  • + 2
 $9000 for a 34 pound bike???
  • + 2
 on point with the analogys today
  • + 3
 Holy metaphors.
  • + 3
 Erm actually, most of them are similes.
  • + 5
 Actually actually, you were right. Lots of metaphors. Sorry.
  • + 2
 9.5K for a bike? no thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 conclusion: the gearbox bike is at its best when you don't pedal and when you don't shift when you really need to.
  • + 1
 If this transmission is so good for downhill why are no racers using it in enduro or world cup downhill?
  • + 5
 Sam Shaw from New Zealand in racing it in EWS.
  • + 2
 Last year, Benoit Coullange rode a Nicolai equipped with an Effigear gearbox in DH world cup.
  • + 1
 @AAAAAHHH: Fair enough to both of you. DId either do well?
  • + 2
 @blueninja: Sam finished 2nd in a national event a couple of weeks ago, and finished 50th this past weekend in the EWS in Chili.
  • + 1
 Because racers ride what they are given, i think many would happily ride this but most manufactures don't make gearbox bikes. If the big guns wanted to push gearboxes it would happen (just like plus bikes which aren't as fast and heavier yet they have still happened)
They are likely waiting for a better solution with less controversy to make the move towards gearboxes a safer bet.
  • + 1
 @maglor: Fat bikes do have their place though. Having ridden many skinny tired bikes during the winter over the course of my life, I'd have to say they are a bit of a blessing! Now if only I could afford to add one to my stable! LoL Smile
  • + 2
 @m1dg3t: I said plus bikes not fat bikes, proper fat bikes do have a place in the snow
  • + 1
 @maglor: HaHaHa I'm human afterall!

Haven't ridden a plus bike, but I imagine there are tangible benefits.
  • + 4
 @jackp: he also finished 10th at the Crankworx DH riding the Taniwha
  • + 2
 Remember, the indexing happens in the gearbox...
  • + 0
 'Should the derailleur die?' Not for $9500USD @ 34.xxLbs. Hell no.

Can these shift while pedaling, or do you still need to let off to make a change?
  • + 4
 You can keep the cranks turning but do have to drop down to close to zero watts.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I figured as much. As long as they continue to use straight cut gears that will always be an issue.

What do I know? I'm just a doofus Smile
  • - 2
 "What you can't do, however, is shift under pedaling load" ... this killed all hopes of a gearbox. Why the hell would I want one that was "over explained" and glorified with this enormous post when it cant simply shift under pedaling load??? Enduro riders are constantly pedaling... sorry not sorry.. piece of junk.
  • + 1
 34lbs..... $9500..... We’re not quite there yet. Eventually. But not yet.
  • + 1
 "Should the Derailleur Die?"

Im pretty sure mountain biking would die with it when no one can afford bikes anymore.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the honest review and the laughs....I am totally cranking Slayer to 11 in my tank(Subaru) tomorrow
  • - 1
 Meh. ANOTHER BB STANDARD? I will not be able to use my existing bottom bracket and crank? Down with Pinion! Down with Zerode! I dont need another so-called standard!