In 2010, the first Pinion gearbox was fitted to a motorcycle that was cycled across the Himalayas. By 2012, the world’s largest bike commerce show, Eurobike, had a handful of bikes constructed around the 18-speed Pinion P1.18 gearbox, impressing bike travellers – myself included. Right now, over one hundred bike producers build their frames across the seven totally different fashions of Pinion gearbox.
A Pinion gearbox is a totally sealed oil tub of cogs situated on the crankset which provides 6, 9, 12 or 18 totally different gears masking a wider gear vary than most 2x and 3x drivetrains. The Pinion system bolts instantly onto frames designed to accommodate the know-how, which means there isn’t any probability for a retrofit to your present frame.
The Pinion Gearbox is integrated with the crankset and inside are two gearing sub-transmissions. If you pedal, power first travels along the decrease crankshaft before transferring to one-of-six cog sets in the 1st sub-transmission. The power is then despatched along the higher shaft to the 2nd sub-transmission which provides a high, medium or low version of the preliminary six gears (6 x Three = 18 velocity). The power then makes its method back right down to the crankshaft again the place it may be sent directly to the surface chainring (these three output cogs are free-floating on the crankshaft). The job of the gearbox is to vary the chainring velocity based mostly on the gear selected, which means the chainring all the time spins quicker or slower than the crankset. Fairly cool! If this description made no sense to you, take a look at THIS video describing the process in far more element, or THIS collection of diagrams on the Pinion web site.
On this useful resource, I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of the Pinion gearbox, then I’ll examine it with the Rohloff hub, and lastly, I’ll be nerding out on all the things else you possibly can probably find out about this engineering marvel!
Notice: This article was originally revealed in September 2012 however has been utterly overhauled April 2019.
1. The Ultra Broad Gear Range
The important thing function of the Pinion P1.18 gearbox is its 636% gear vary. In comparison with some other drivetrain, you’ll have easier gears for the steep mountain roads (4km/h) while also having more durable gears for the high-speed descents (50km/h+). As compared, different gearboxes out there just like the Rohloff 14-speed gear hub measure in at 526% and the Shimano Alfine 11-speed hub at 409%. A 30-speed derailleur drivetrain is the only choice that can get near this vary (620% most).
2. The Sealed Gear Unit
Pinion gearboxes are a totally sealed gear system, making them impervious to mud, grit, mud, snow and sand. In case you spend plenty of time driving in harsh circumstances, these gearboxes may be your savior.
Three. The Maintenance-Free Design (Virtually)
The one maintenance that it’s essential full to the gearbox is a 60ml oil change every 10,000km (or every year, whichever comes first). This job is straightforward enough to do your self in distant areas so long as you carry the appropriate syringe, line and oil.
Four. The Sturdiness
Pinion drivetrains have only a few elements which might be prone to exterior injury. You’ll find no uncovered derailleurs, delicate hangers or brittle cassettes on a Pinion-powered bicycle. This is especially useful for those who fly together with your bike, as baggage handlers are notoriously ruthless with the best way they throw round bike bins.
5. The Minimal Drivetrain Cleaning Required
Getting the brushes between your cassette tooth, derailleur pulleys and chainrings is time-consuming and annoying on a motorcycle journey. You possibly can keep away from virtually all of this nuisance with a Pinion gearbox, especially in the event you pair it with a carbon belt drivetrain.
6. The Capability To Shift Your Gears With out Pedalling
This can be a notably useful function for a loaded touring bike. For instance, you possibly can decide your gear earlier than you’re taking off on the visitors lights, or choose the appropriate gear for beginning on an incline.
7. The Potential To Change Many Gears At Once
Because of the Pinion gearboxes twist shifter, you possibly can change multiple gears in one go; the limitation is the range of motion in your wrist. It is best to have the ability to change about eight gears directly, which I’ve had to do beneath speedy deceleration on sandy roads.
8. The Equally Spaced Gear Ratios With Small Gear Steps
There is a fixed 11.5% leap between each gear, making gear modifications very predictable. These gear steps are additionally very small, permitting you to fine-tune your pedalling cadence at whatever velocity you’re travelling (P1.18). As compared, the Rohloff hub has a slightly greater bounce between every gear (13.6%).
9. The Immediate Gear Modifications With No Probability Of Gear Skipping
As quickly as you modify the gear on the shifter, the gearbox is instantly engaged in the next gear and able to go – there’s no dilly-dallying around here! As the Pinion gearbox doesn’t require tuning like a derailleur, so there’s no probability of drugs slipping both.
10. The Straight Chain/Belt Line
The chain line on a Pinion drivetrain is perfectly straight, leading to less chain wear. This equates to an extended chain life; I do know individuals who’ve toured for 10,000km+ with a single chain. Select carbon belt drive together with your Pinion gearbox and also you’ll doubtless obtain 20,000km+.
11. The Close to Zero-Dish Wheel Build
The Pinion gearbox lets you use a single velocity rear hub design. As the cassette body section of a single velocity hub is shorter, it allows hub producers to offer a wider hub shell, resulting in a close to zero-dish wheel build. What this implies is that you simply’ll have additional wheel power and sturdiness because of the extra even rigidity across the spokes.
1. The Gearbox Design Is Heavier Than Most Drivetrains
The Pinion gearbox adds 200 to 700 grams when compared to the equivalent Rohloff hub, and 600 to 1100 grams when compared to a 3x touring drivetrain (the load variance is dependent upon the gearbox mannequin). The Pinion-specific frames additionally add a couple of hundred grams. But keep in mind to maintain these numbers in perspective; when you consider the load of a motorcycle loaded with baggage, meals and water, these figures are moderately insignificant. My precise drivetrain weight analysis could be discovered HERE.
2. They Are Less Environment friendly Than Derailleur Gears and Rohloff Hubs
The Pinion has further frictional losses when in comparison with other drivetrains. I’ve truly estimated it to lose Three-4 minutes per 100km when in comparison with a Rohloff hub or derailleur gear system. You possibly can read my full evaluation HERE.
Three. The Worth
There’s no beating around the bush here – Pinion gearboxes are the costliest drivetrain you should purchase. Anticipate to pay a minimal of €3000 for a motorcycle full with a P1.18 gearbox. You’ll be able to somewhat justify the cost of shopping for a motorcycle with a Pinion gearbox understanding that you simply gained’t want to switch anyplace close to as many cassettes/chains/chainrings – however you’ve received to journey your bike for a few years to get that payoff. Luckily the gearbox will in all probability final as long as you do!
4. The Devoted Frame
Whereas an inner gear hub might be fitted to virtually any frame, Pinion gearboxes require a devoted body design that’s specific to its six-bolt design. This primarily means you could’t change your mind and go back to derailleurs (or an inner gear hub) down the monitor.
5. The Need To Send The Gearbox In For Restore
Within the event of some type of mechanical failure, you’ll need to ship your Pinion gearbox to Germany for restore. I can understand that this can be a deterrent for you in the event you spend a whole lot of time in remote places. That stated, many people have already travelled to a few of the hardest-to-access elements of the world with Pinion gearboxes, and the consensus is that complete failure is very unlikely. I do know a couple of individuals who’ve had oil leaks on their bike trips (fortunately this in all probability gained’t stop you with the ability to experience), and there have been some early issues with the crank arms working themselves unfastened. However year-on-year the Pinion gearboxes are getting extra reliable.
6. The Spare Elements Need To Be Shipped In
Want a brand new cog, some cables or some gearbox oil? You’ll be able to’t simply go to any previous bike shop to select them up. More often than not you’ll need to plan forward of time and order any alternative elements online or by means of a vendor.
7. The Twist Shifter
The twist shifter divides individuals; I personally love twist shifters as I can dump many gears directly. The excellent news is that when you use flat bars you can now change to some aftermarket trigger shifters. And for these with drop handlebar bikes, there are a number of good aftermarket shifter choices for you too!
8. The Reality You Can’t Shift Beneath Load
Whereas it’s not greatest apply to shift beneath load on any drivetrain, a derailleur has a much larger tolerance for it. There’s a method to shifting with a Pinion gearbox the place you’ll have to again off on your power for a cut up second to make the shift. This takes a little bit of time to master but becomes second nature very quickly.
Pinion 18-Velocity P1.18 Gearbox
– Pinion gearboxes have a wider gear vary at 636% compared to 526% for a Rohloff hub.
– Smaller gear steps at 11.5% in comparison with 13.6%.
– 5-year warranty in comparison with two-years with a Rohloff hub.
– It runs silently in all gears whereas the Rohloff makes a whirring sound in gear 1-7.
– 10,000km oil modifications (or one-year) compared to 5,000km with a Rohloff hub.
– You possibly can change wheelset sizes (eg. 29″ and 27.5+) in case your bike permits it (as opposed to needing two Rohloff hubs).
– Straightforward to swap out your complete gear system if there’s a failure (compared to dismantling/rebuilding a Rohloff wheel).
Rohloff 14-Velocity Internally Geared Hub
– The numbers recommend the Rohloff hub is extra efficient when it comes to power transfer than a Pinion gearbox.
– Rohloff frames are a touch lighter to construct. The hub itself is 700 grams lighter than the equivalent Pinion P1.18 gearbox too.
– Rohloff bikes are round €700-1000 cheaper (that’s US $1000+).
– Quicker ‘pickup’ between pedal stroke and kit engagement (the gearbox and hub freewheel want to interact on a Pinion).
– Gear cable modifications are much easier.
– Suitable with mid-drive eBike motors.
– With over 20 years in production Rohloff have had more time to iron out any kinks in the product (Pinion have been producing gearboxes for eight years as compared).
Click on HERE to learn my article 16 Reasons To Tour With A Rohloff Hub.
The P-Line is most commonly discovered on touring and bikepacking bikes because the gear range and kit steps are unparalleled by another drivetrain sort (P1.18). In addition, the additional weight of this gearbox is nearly insignificant by the point you add gear, meals and water to your bike.
P1.18 // 18 gears. 636% range. 11.5% gear steps. 2700 grams. Greatest for touring and bikepacking bikes.
P1.12 // 12 gears. 600% range. 17.7% gear steps. 2350 grams. Greatest for mountain bikes.
P1.9XR // 9 gears. 568% range. 24.Three% gear steps. 2200 grams. Greatest for e-bikes.
P1.9CR // 9 gears. 364% vary. 17.5% gear steps. 2200 grams. Greatest for city bikes.
The C-Line might have a slightly decreased gear range and larger steps between every gear, but these gearboxes have the advantage of a 250-gram weight saving because of the magnesium body, plus they’re 8mm narrower between the pedals (q-factor).
C1.12 // 12 gears. 600% vary. 17.7% gear steps. 2100 grams. Greatest for mountain bikes and off-road bikepacking bikes.
C1.9XR // 9 gears. 568% range. 24.3% gear steps. 2000 grams. Greatest for e-bikes.
C1.6 // 6 gears. 295% vary. 24.Three% gear steps. 1800 grams. Greatest for urban bikes.
P1.18 VS C1.12
Weighing up between these two gearboxes? For touring/bikepacking, it’s advisable to go for the P1.18 as the gear steps are much smaller. This lets you maintain your pedalling velocity (cadence) rather more constant with gear modifications (most noticeable when cycling on the flat). When you’d wish to get a feel for what every of the 17.7% gear jumps can be like, you possibly can shift from the 36-42t on a mountain bike cassette or 11-13t on some other cassette.
The most typical form of chain/belt tensioner is sliding dropouts. By incorporating a small adjustable retaining bolt, you’re in a position to ensure the wheel is completely aligned when establishing, and it makes wheel installation/removing a breeze. Pictured is a stunning chrome steel dropout manufactured by Co-Motion Cycles.
Eccentric Gearbox Mount
Tout Terrain supply belt/chain adjustment up entrance by way of an eccentric gearbox mount which is tremendous neat. A small dial makes any advantageous tuning very simple.
Belt or Chain Tensioner
A handful of corporations use a roller at the gearbox which is claimed to maximise the rear triangle stiffness for belt drivetrains. Pictured is a belt pressure designed by Santos Bikes.
Belt Drive – Gates Carbon Drive
A 32 tooth entrance sprocket could be mixed with 20-34 tooth cogs in two-tooth intervals (eg. 20, 22, 24). A widespread drive ratio for Pinion gearbox touring bikes is 32-28t as that may have you ever pedalling at 5km/h with an honest cadence for climbing, and 53km/h within the prime gear on the downhills. The nearer you get to 1:1, the steeper the hills it is possible for you to to cycle – 32-32t is really helpful for off-road driving.
Chain Drive – Pinion Longlife
Pinion has a collection of sprockets/chainrings for travelling in excessive circumstances. The tooth of the ‘Longlife’ collection chainrings are 1mm wider and are designed for use with their additional extensive X101 chain. The entrance chainrings are available in 30 tooth, and the rear sprockets can be found in 30 or 26 tooth. A really helpful setup for touring can be 30-26t, which matches very intently to a belt drivetrain operating 32-28t.
You possibly can calculate your gear inches, or velocity at certain cadences HERE.
You’ve in all probability already observed that almost all of Pinion touring bikes are mixed with belt drivetrains. That’s because belt drive provides:
– A particularly long service lifetime of 20,000km+
– Little to no maintenance aside from a sprig together with your water bottle (and perhaps some silicone spray)
– Silent engagement just like a wonderfully lubed chain
– A marginally decreased weight when in comparison with a sequence
You will discover out all the things you ever have to find out about Gates Carbon Belt Drive HERE.
Pinion have created a particular offset spider and extra-wide crank arms in an effort to mount their gear system to a fat bike. Pictured above is a Centurion, however you can even discover Pinion fats bikes from Mi Tech, Nicolai, Ventana, Carver and Hilite (pictured).
Questioning why there is just one Pinion tandem in existence? Properly, it requires some custom machined elements plus three belts to tug it off – and Co-Movement Cycles did simply that! The problem is that you simply can’t fit the gearbox at the rear crankset (stoker) as a result of Pinion does not supply a tandem crankset. And you can’t locate the gearbox on the front crankset (pilot) because the Pinion chainring spins at a unique price relying on the chosen gear (subsequently, it may well’t be used as a tandem ‘timing chain’).
Pinion gearboxes are becoming increasingly common on touring recumbents. Pictured above is a twin suspension Azub Mini with pink Pinion P1.18 gearbox.
Along with the stock grip shifter, there are a couple of aftermarket merchandise obtainable, including the:
– Cinq5 Shift:R Street shifter & hydro brake levers for drop bars
– Cinq5 Shift:R Tour thumb shifters for flat bars
– Co-Movement Twist Shifter for drop bars
– Van Nicholas Divisible handlebar to suit the standard Pinion shifter to drop bars
Whereas you need to use any cassette hub with a Pinion gearbox, single velocity hubs are probably the most ideally suited because the space between hub flanges is wider and virtually zero-dish, resulting in stronger wheel builds. Because of the slow-ish engagement of this Pinion drivetrain, you’d ideally match a hub with as many engagement points as potential to scale back the delay between pedal stroke and rear wheel drive. Prime-notch single velocity hubs embrace the Onyx Hyperglide SS with immediate(!) engagement, Business Nine Hydra with 690 engagement factors, Pinion H2R with 120 engagement points and Chris King ISO with 72 engagement points.
Because the Pinion gearbox occupies the area of a mid-drive electric motor, it means entrance or rear wheel motors are the only suitable options. While many wonderful rear hub motors can be found, it’s value noting that the mid-drive motor design is usually considered the ‘best’ motor sort general. It’s because mid-drive makes use of your bike’s gears, resulting in optimum torque in quite a lot of situations (eg. climbing or on the flat). Mid-drive motors are typically both a bit extra efficient (higher range) and effective (particularly on hills).
You possibly can read all about electrical touring bikes HERE.
Pinion gearboxes are only out there for bike and frame manufacturers. Touring bikes with Pinion gearboxes begin at €1999 for a P1.9CR model and €2949 for a P1.18 mannequin, while most premium bike manufacturers supply builds within the €4000-5000 vary. Framesets with Pinion gearboxes are often within the €2000-3000 worth range.
When evaluating complete bike costs between Pinion and Rohloff builds, most producers cost a premium of €700-1000 for a Pinion P1.18 outfitted bike, with all other elements equal.
There are greater than 30 bike corporations that produce touring and bikepacking bikes with Pinion gearboxes. Yow will discover an entire listing of the bikes obtainable together with pricing HERE.