A trip to the Pinion factory near Stuttgart for a training session and an introduction to their new product, the C-Line gearbox.
The company has two floors of a factory unit on an industrial estate, with production, assembly and shipping on one floor and design and sales on another. They employ only 22 people, as most of the elements of the gearbox are delivered pre-assembled.
Our day started with a talk where they gave us some background to the history of the company, the technology behind it and the production process. Then we were given time to test ride some bikes around the local area. I was particularly impressed with the Azub Ti-Fly, which is a full suspension machine with a Pinion P1.8 gearbox.
We were then given a tour of their production facility. Most of the elements of the hub are delivered pre-assembled, taking advantage of local suppliers working in the automotive gear industry - both Mercedes and Porsche have large factories in the area. That means they only have to do final assembly, packing and shipping. Since May 2015 every hub has been put through a specially built test machine which runs through every gear and uses high resolution rotation and torque sensors so that in two minutes it checks all the gears, measures tooth accuracy and quality, idling resistance, efficiency in every gear and torque of shifting under load.
In the afternoon we had a training session where we all learned how to change the cables.
The new C-Line gearbox has a new, compact body made of cast magnesium which is 33% lighter than the aluminium cover on the P-line. The Q factor on the C-line gearboxes are 8mm narrower. This is achieved by having a maximum of 12 gears as this means the gearbox case only has to accomodate 4 x 3 gear sprockets. It is also available as a wide range 9 speed for electric bikes or a 6 speed which is aimed at freight bikes. No colour options, it only comes in black, but it is considerably cheaper than the P-line.