What happens when two bike enthusiasts get to know each other in a Porsche development center and then decide to start their own company? Of course, a product is created that combines the finest mechanical engineering with excellent functionality: the Pinion gearbox. The founders had set themselves the goal of designing a maintenance-free, wear-free and loss-free bicycle gearbox according to automotive standards. You can find out here how they did it and whether the chic gear boxes fit you and your purpose.
What is a Pinion Gearbox?
Pinion is a gearbox that, unlike most of the competition, does not work in the hub but directly on the crank. So it is a central transmission that ensures a low center of gravity of the bike. A spur gear is installed inside, which realizes the different gears by means of two partial gears. The construction is sometimes quite complex.
Interested parties can view the gearbox on the Pinion homepage as an interactive drawing, which makes it very vivid. The technology inside is completely sealed off from the outside, which is why the drive works almost maintenance-free. The power transmission to the rear wheel is not only possible by chain, but also by belt drives. This can significantly increase the maintenance-free durability. In addition, the Pinion gearboxes are known for their high efficiency and outstanding construction quality.
Who should use the Pinion Gearbox?
Since the Pinion gearbox virtually replaces the bottom bracket shell, it needs a specially manufactured frame with a suitable mount. Retrofitting, as is possible with Rohloff or NuVinci gear hubs, unfortunately is not possible with Pinion. Thanks to the high quality and sealed construction, Pinion gearboxes always make sense when high loads are expected. This can happen by driving in bad weather (e.g. commuters) or simply because you want to travel an extremely large number of kilometers, for example on a trip around the world.
In general, a Pinion gearbox is ideally suited for all types of bikes – whether on a touring bike, city bike, trekking bike, e-bike or even a mountain bike (even up to an enduro). So if you find the maintenance of a derailleur system tedious, you simply want to pedal thousands of kilometers without worry and a sustainable, locally produced product is important to you, then a Pinion gearbox is perfect for you.
How is the Pinion Gearbox operated?
At the moment, the Pinion gearboxes only work with a rotary control handle. Some see this as the best and most comfortable shifting option, while others find it impractical and difficult to use.
The various transmission models offer between six and eighteen non-overlapping gears. The number of gears depends on the number of gears on the sub-transmissions. More gears also mean a heavier gear box. It is not possible to shift back and forth between the gears under load, but it can be done while standing and of course while rolling.
The handling and operation is very easy and does not require any special knowledge, since the circuit usually does not have to be adjusted. Therefore, you can look forward to permanently crisp gear changes.
Advantages & Disadvantages of the Pinion Gearbox
|Enormous ratio of up to 636%||Higher weight than other gears|
|All gears are free of overlap||High acquisition costs|
|Deep, central mounting of the gearbox ensures a low center of gravity||Retrofitting is not possible because a special mount on the frame is required|
|Several gears can be shifted at the same time using the rotary handle||Works only with a twist shifter, which some drivers find uncomfortable|
|The externally sealed construction makes the gearbox almost maintenance-free|
|Shifting while standing and rolling possible|
|Handling and operation is easy|
|Low follow-up costs due to little maintenance|
|Use of a low-maintenance belt drive possible|
|Efficiency higher than with derailleurs|
|Works even in muddy conditions without loss of efficiency|
|Can be combined with electric hub motors|
|The use of a hub motor protects the gear mechanism, which means that it wears out more slowly|
Pinion Gearbox Variations
The Pinion product range currently comprises two model series: the P-Line and the C-Line. The latter is the latest model that has become smaller, lighter and cheaper. Here you can choose between versions with six, nine and twelve gears. The P series, on the other hand, offers a gearbox with a whopping 18 gears and 636% gear ratio. Three further models, each with twelve or nine gears, complete the portfolio. In the following table you will find all products in detail.
|Ratio (lowest gear)||1.82||1.82||1.82||1.82|
|Ratio (highest gear)||0.29||0.3||0.32||0.36|
|Weight||2.7 kg||2.35 kg||2.2 kg||2.2 kg|
|Ratio (lowest gear)||1.82||1.82||1.82|
|Ratio (highest gear)||0.3||0.32||0.32|
|Weight||2.1 kg||2 kg||1.8 kg|
Pinion Gearbox on E-Bikes
Of course, Pinion also kept an eye on the e-bike and therefore has a solution ready. However, the resourceful engineers take a slightly different path than the competition. At Pinion, muscle power is introduced into the transmission and from there to the electric motor in the rear wheel hub. Only here is the amplification of the translated pedal force.
With conventional electric bikes, pedal power and motor power act on the gearbox in combination. However, the Pinion approach offers two advantages: firstly, the mechanics in the transmission are protected because less force is exerted on the gears, and secondly, the gears can be changed much more sensitively and in a more controlled manner. In spite of all the sophisticated sensors, humans still shift best – at least on bicycles.
Pinion, Rohloff, Enviolo NuVinci and Alfine in comparison
With Pinion, Rohloff, Enviolo NuVinci and Alfine there are different gear shifts for the bicycle. You can read about how the individual manufacturers compare in the following comparison.
|Gear Ratio||636%||526%||380%||307 – 409%|
|Gears||18||14||Stepless gears||8 or 11|
|Guarantee||5 Years||2 Years||2 Years||2 Years|
|Weight||1.8 – 2.7 kg||1.7 kg||2.45 kg||1.7 kg|
|Upgradeability||Requires special frame||Can be used with almost any frame due to individual configuration||Compatible with 135x10mm||Fits in any frame with a rear triangle with the dimensions 10x135mm. This is almost every trekking or city bike frame|
|Use in e-bikes||Works with hub motors. Automatic shifting is not possible. The transmission also does not communicate with the electronics of the engine / display.||Works with mid motors. The hub gear is intelligently integrated in combination with Bosch motors. Recommended gear shifts are displayed, in standstill the gear is automatically shifts to an easy gear to start off||Works with mid-drive motors. You can set the preferred cadence, which is then always kept constant by automatic shifting processes.||Works with mid motors. In connection with the Shimano Steps motor you can also switch automatically.|
|Maintenance||Almost maintenance-free. An oil change is recommended only every 10,000 km or once a year.||Almost maintenance-free. An oil change is recommended only every 5,000 km or once a year.||Maintenance free||Maintenance-free, sometimes shifting cables have to be adjusted on the mechanical version|
|Handle||Rotary handle||Standing, rolling||Rotary handle||“Rapid Fire” thumb shifter, in the electronic version shift button on the handlebar|
|Shifting||Standing or rolling and under partial load. In faster gears under full load.||While standing, rolling and under partial load.||While standing, rolling and under load||While standing, rolling and under load|
|Efficiency||Since there are only two gear stages, a Pinion transmission is more efficient than a derailleur. The efficiency is somewhat below a Rohloff||Offers the highest efficiency of all hub gears||The increased friction results in a slight loss of performance compared to derailleur gears||Slightly less than Rohloff Speedhub|
|Costs||starting from $700||starting from $1000||starting from $350||starting from $150|