EB14: Pinion Expands Gearbox Range, Centurion Builds 31Lb Belt Drive Gearbox Fat Bike Prototype

Pinion 12 speed gear box  (3)

Originally making their mark with a single 18 speed internal gearbox, Pinion has drastically expanded their line up with 3 new gearing options. While most of the bicycle drivetrains are seeking more and more gears, the new Pinion boxes make do with fewer gears in order to make the drivetrains as light as possible but still offer excellent range.

In addition to the P1.18, Pinion now offers the P1.12, the P1.9XR and the P1.9CR each with its own unique application. Initially fairly limited in the amount of bikes that were equipped with Pinion gearboxes, Pinion states that there are now 50 different brands with bikes to take advantage of the sealed drivetrain design. Thanks to the new gearing options there are a number of bike styles taking advantage of the gearboxes, but one category seems perfectly suited to a box with a belt – fat bikes.

More details on the new gearboxes plus a few of the different applications next…

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Pinion 12 speed gear box  (1)

Visually, none of the new gearboxes look any different from the original P1.18 with the exception of the width of the case where the cables attach. To allow for the extra gearing, the 18 speed box has an additional 2 gears inside which results in the extra width. Otherwise the mounts and the casing remains the same. Inside the gearboxes the P1.18 is a 6×3 transmission while the P1.12 is 4×3 and the P1.9 XR and CR are both 3×3. Fewer gears means less weight with the original P1.18 at 2700g, the P1.12 at 2350g, and the two 9 speed boxes coming in at 2200g.

As far as their intended purpose, the original 18 speed gear box will now be marketed towards world travel due to its extended 636% range. The latest version sees updated shifting that results in noticeably smoother shifting into the 7th and 13th cogs which results in 18 speeds with wider range than most 3×10 drivetrains. The new P1.12 is geared towards standard mountain biking and touring and offers a slightly smaller 600% range and 12 gears. Comparatively a 2×10 drivetrain has about a 535% range and an 11 speed IGH about 409%. The P1.9XR is a 9 speed gear box with an extended range which will find a home on enduro mountain bikes and e-bikes. The XR allows shifts of up to 5 gears at a time and offers a broader 568% range with larger gear steps to work well with aggressive mountain biking and e-bikes apparently. Finally, the P1.9CR is the Compact Ratio version of the 9 speed gearbox which is designed for urban bikes with a tight 364% range.

Pinion 12 speed gear box  (2)

Pinion 12 speed gear box  (7) Pinion 12 speed gear box  (6)

Due to the conditions fat bike typically encounter, it seems like they are the perfect candidate for a belt drive gear box which is probably why there were a few floating around the show. Nicolai has been showing a Pinion fat bike for awhile, but we had a chance to check out this P1.12 equipped version and take it for a quick spin. Shifting was quite smooth though a few gears you need to let off the pedals before it can shift into the next gear. Pinion manufactures a special fat bike spider for the drivetrain that offsets the chainring in order to clear the larger tires. Since the spider is standard 104 BCD standard chainrings or belt drive rings can be used.

Pinion 12 speed gear box  (5) Pinion 12 speed gear box  (4)

The Nicolai uses sliding dropouts and a split seatstay/dropout junction to allow for the belt.

Pinion fat bike centurion (2)

Pinion fat bike centurion (3) Pinion fat bike centurion (8)

Centurion had a fat bike prototype on displaythat was built up to 31.46 lbs (14.27kg)! The weight is even more impressive when you consider the bike is running 4.8 Schwable Jumbo Jim tires and the heaviest P1.18 Pinion gearbox.

Pinion fat bike centurion (4) Pinion fat bike centurion (9)

The frame uses an interesting rocking dropout design that not only tensions the belt and keeps the disc caliper centered, but allows for a belt drive to be used.

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Alutech was showing off the potential of the P1.9XR drivetrain with a prototype Sennes DH bike. To accommodate for chaingrowth on suspension bikes the gearboxes use a chain tensioner just behind the crankset.

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Comments

groghunter - 09/03/14 - 11:10am

God, I’d love to see one of these brands field a WC DH, or heck, even an XCO team. people start seeing these on TV, & other racers start seeing their competitors gaining an advantage because of them, & we’ll see a revolution, and quick.

Ben - 09/03/14 - 12:01pm

Efficiency vs traditional setup?

wako29 - 09/03/14 - 12:06pm

@groghunter: For competition use, I’m a little worried about power lost due to the inherit friction and drag with a gear system like this.
That being said, this is a pretty awesome setup for fat bikes. Totally internalized gears and a belt drive? I’m in.

lonefrontranger - 09/03/14 - 12:56pm

yeah I’ve ridden Gates drive systems and they do actually have a considerable amount of drag compared to a standard chain SS. Add a gearbox to that and I’m not sure how efficient this would be for XC or anything else requiring lots of quick burst accelerations.

The drag was so bad on my Gates commuter that I sold it in favor of a traditional SSCX bike. I’m sure the Spot team guys might argue but from what I’ve seen they could race a Schwinn springer from the 50s and still do well here locally because they’re burly enough to compensate.

Ion20effi - 09/03/14 - 12:57pm

Groghunter, Nicolai has a junior team racing the World Cups on the Ion 20 Effi. They have some photos and videos on their Facebook page.

Tim - 09/03/14 - 1:18pm

Would love to see this with lighter carbon cranks, and mounted on a lighter carbon frame, but then these are not really geared towards (sorry!) people looking for lightweight stuff.
Two questions:
-How does the total weight of these compare to that of bikes of similar material but using derailleur setup?
-What kind of bottom bracket do they use?

groghunter - 09/03/14 - 1:45pm

That’s a good start, @Ion20effi, but I’d like to see a full team with actual adult-elite racers.

@Tim: They’re getting competitive with a standard drivetrain weight wise, especially when you start considering that it moves almost all of your transmission weight to one of the best spots on the bike, due to it being sprung, central, & low.

They don’t have a BB in the traditional sense, but I think they’re essentially using ISIS crank arms, if that’s your question.

Tim - 09/03/14 - 2:37pm

@groghunter- that’s true, it’s good to have the weight in such a location. Def. better than hanging at the end of a swingarm, like with an IGH. Do you use it with a chain or belt? Do you feel a big difference between them?
The ISIS axle standard I guess is OK, although it has been surpassed by stiffer and lighter axles since. ISIS bottom brackets had problems with bearing life- hopefully Pinion uses bigger bearings…
One last thing- do you know when Pinion gearboxes first came out?
There’s so much money and refinement in traditional derailleur systems- they work really well, with positive clicks and shifting that’s accurate even in bad conditions and are light, to boot. The real issue is the vulnerability of the rear derailleur, which however only costs 70 bucks. It’ll be interesting to see if Pinion or some other underdog/ thinker outside the box can match or exceed highly refined old tech across the board.

groghunter - 09/03/14 - 2:52pm

At least one other gearbox maker has claimed they need to use a belt in order to make it weight competitive, FWIW. With a belt drive, you can machine the hub shell & drive cog out of one single piece of aluminum, if you put the freewheel section in the gearbox, though I don’t believe Pinon does that.
I don’t have one, but I freaking want one.
Pretty sure I remember seeing press about them at least 4 years ago. and sure, some derailleurs are only $70 (or less) but I hate the fact that one of the pieces of a bike I’d be the most inclined to spend extra money on, I can’t justify because of how easy it is to completely destroy it, even if it doesn’t actually happen in practice that often. The main reason I don’t have XX1 isn’t the cassette cost: it’s that a derailleur over $100 is beyond the limit of something I can go pick up immediately if I break it.

Ride-More - 09/03/14 - 3:23pm

I’m 100% behind this technology. amongst all the high tech manufacturing, materials and suspension technologies the derailleur is a joke. come on, how long do we have to wait for a perfect gear box thats light and efficient, with faster pick up and maybe even electronic shifting to do away with the two cables and grip shift. knowing how creaky press fits are i have my reservations about this being bolted to my frame, so i’m liking what effigear are doing. Are Nicolai doing an Ion 16 effi?

JasonK - 09/03/14 - 4:56pm

Lonefrontranger: Your neighbors at Friction Facts (Boulder, CO I think) addressed this pretty definitively, and Gates belt drive systems extract a whole extra watt compared to a chain drive:

http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/chain-drive-or-belt-drive-whos-faster

But if you’re putting out more than ~208 watts, a belt drive setup is *more* efficient than a chain drive.

I don’t doubt that you had issues with your belt drive bike, but it sounds like those may have been due to improper setup.

Tim - 09/04/14 - 3:49am

@JasonK- I am not initiated… is a watt a lot?
Also, with the freewheel up front, the belt, or chain, has to rotate the whole time, extracting some more effort. With a derailleur system, the only thing constantly rotating is the rear hub.

Mark - 09/04/14 - 5:49am

The Pinion gearbox has a freewheel in the gearbox, but most bikes also use a freewheel in the hub to provent the chain (or belt) to keep turning and possible shred things.

What will the step between the gears be for the P1.9CR? I guess slightly higher than the P1.18, which would be a pity for me.

JasonK - 09/04/14 - 9:47am

Hey Tim,

No, a way isn’t very much at all. When I’m just spinning easily on my road bike going 15 miles per hour, I’m putting out about 150 watts. A pro my size (5’9″) on the final climb of a Tour de Famce stage might generate about 400-450 watts. Does that give you some context?

JasonK - 09/04/14 - 2:07pm

In my post above, it’s watt, not “way.”

Richard - 09/04/14 - 5:45pm

I’ve been riding an effigear box for nearly a year now, it has ISIS crank interface, but it runs 20*32 ballbearings which are floating in the gear oil, so unlike all the derailler systems the BB bearings are still mint.
I expect other Isis cranks wouldn’t have enough clearance near the mount point to work, but the effigear ones are fine.
The Pinion cranks have a similar interface to shimano XT / old Bullseye cranks – a spline with preload bolt and pinch bolts, on both sides.

Tor A - 09/05/14 - 11:36pm

Jason K,
208 W crossover point refers to a belt setup with only 2 lbf tension, not a real world setup with 85-110 lbf.

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