Designed and built in Germany, the Pinion gearbox is designed to be reliable and virtually maintenance free. Four different versions with up to 18 gears with a regular spacing of 11.5%, and an overall range of 636%, all enclosed in a frame mounted gearbox.
Apart from the huge range of gears and regular steps, this design gives numerous other advantages. The weight is well balanced within the frame. Keeping the gears away from the rear wheel keeps the back end light for a more manoeuvrable bike, and it allows the use of a strong single speed wheel. We offer 28 bikes with the Pinion gearbox and 18 trikes.
The Pinion Drive is extremely low maintanance, all it should need is an oil change every 10000km. Shifting is very smooth and light, it will shift smoothly under load on the upshifts but requires slightly less pressure on the pedals on the downshifts. There are two gear steps (6/7 and 12/13) where shifting is only possible when the cranks are completely unloaded. On the other hand you can shift into any gear you like when freewheeling, and as the gear is not engaged at all, freewheeling has much less resistance than with a hub gear.
There are two ranges. The P-Line is the original high specification gearbox.
The P1.18 has 18 gears evenly spaced with an 11.5% increase per gear. This means smaller gaps between gears compared to Rohloff’s 13.6%. - 636% increase from the smallest to biggest gear. This is wider than a conventional 30spd setup (620% maximum), a Rohloff hub (530%) or Shimano Alfine 11s (409%). Weight is 2700g.
The P1.12 has 12 gears with a range of 600%. Gaps are 17.7% and the weight is 2350g.
There are two 9 speed gearboxes. The P1.9XR is the wide ratio version with 568% range and is aimed at the e-bike market. For town and touring the P1.9CR has a range of 364% with gaps of 17.5%. Both weigh 2200g. For a convenient way of checking the different possible ratios and comparing with other systems we have a handy interactive spreadsheet.
The new C-Line gearbox has a 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
Pinion recommend an oil change every 10,000kms, or once a year. They expect it to last over 60000km, and they have given it some hard testing, but it will be some time before we wil know how long it lasts in real world conditions. If it fails it should be easy to replace as it is held on to the special frame bridge by just six bolts. The weight is 3064g for the gearbox, crank arms and the hub/rear cog. Once you factor in the additional frame weight of up to 300g (depending on manufacturer), you are looking at 500-800g more than a Rohloff touring bike, and up to 1500g more than a Shimano XT touring bike. Somehow having the weight centred in the frame makes it less of an issue; because the handling of the bike is unaffected, the machine actually feels lighter. And if you are loaded touring or just want a super reliable commuting bike, you won't mind the weight penalty.
The only shifters currently available are twist grips which are not everybodies favourite. They do have the big advantage is that you can move across a lot of gears with one sweep of the lever and with such small gaps between the ratios, that might be very useful. It means that in theory it cannot be used with drop handlebars, but we have fitted twist grips to drops in the past by customising the handlebars. There are rumours that somebody might be working on some STi shifters...
We think the Pinion Drive will prove itself to be a reliable gear system for very long distances and harsh conditions. It feels great from straight off and it has minimum maintenance and superb function. Extreme climates, gravel, sand, water and many thousands of kilometers should not be able to damage it. The enormous range of gear ratios coupled with equally, very finely graded gear changes gives you smooth, comfortable travel at your perfect cadence. The Pinion system bolts directly onto frames designed to accommodate the technology so if you want a high quality steel frame touring or commuting bike see the bikes we offer with the Pinion Gearbox. We also have some experience with chopping existing frames and building Pinion geared bike frames from scratch. There is a brief test of the Pinion on road.cc.