Benefits of a gearbox for full suspension mountain bikes
At the heart of every Zerode Taniwha lies a Pinion gearbox—an internal drivetrain system that sets the bike apart from most others in its category. If you’re wondering how the gearbox works (mechanically as well as functionally) and how it compares to external shifting (derailleurs), you’ve come to the right place. This post subjectively compares the merits of the gearbox to help new users decide whether or not it’s time to ditch their derailleur for good (it is).
Whether you opt for the 9- or 12-speed option on your Zerode, the Pinion gearbox offers a reliable, user-friendly drivetrain that typically requires little to no maintenance and functions well in all weather conditions.
Pinion’s gearbox also offers a wide gear range, good efficiency, and ability to be geared low for climbing steep, technical trails. It has no external moving shifting parts, drastically reducing the potential for damage in a crash and making it an ideal choice for big backcountry missions in addition to local trail rides and bike park use.
However, enhanced suspension performance is the number one reason that Zerode uses a gearbox on the Taniwha. By removing an average of 700-800g from the end of the swingarm thanks to absence of a cassette and derailleur, the entire suspension system reacts faster to bumps with less input, creating a more sensitive & confidence-inspiring suspension platform.
Overall, there are a multitude of practical advantages to the gearbox that appeal to riders of all ability levels and disciplines.
8 reasons to ditch your derailleur for a gearbox mountain bike:
There are fewer external parts to damage from impacts
Dropping your bike is part of mountain biking, and the Pinion gearbox removes the derailleur and associated parts most likely to break in a crash or bail. The bulk of drivetrain is contained inside the gearbox and is protected from impacts that can damage external systems.
Shifting performance is the same in all weather conditions
The lack of external shifting components also ensures reliable shifting in all weather/riding conditions. Derailleur systems see deteriorating performance when it is wet and mucky, making this benefit more pronounced the worse conditions become. Unlike a derailleur, you can literally bathe your gearbox in mud and it will still function the same.
There is no need for regular maintenance or adjustments
No shifting adjustments or maintenance means you will no longer wonder whether or not your bike will shift properly when you pull it out for your next ride.
You’ll spend less time and money replacing parts
Pinion’s dramatically superior durability means that drivetrain components do not need to be replaced regularly as they do with derailleur systems. The external sprockets and chain will wear over time, but they can perform effectively with far more wear than those on a derailleur bike, because the chain is always operating in a straight line. Singlespeed sprockets like those that can be used with the Pinion gearbox feature a different tooth profile than those found in a cassette. The shape of the teeth is designed to maximize wear life, efficiency, and chain retention (which is compromised when a chain needs to be forcibly pushed off sprocket teeth). The gearbox itself can be expected to reliably cover many tens of thousands of miles with only periodic oil changes.
You can shift more quickly and without pedaling
Unlike derailleur systems, where the chain needs to move across the sprockets one at a time to reach the new gear you want to select, the gearbox will engage the new gear as quickly as you can move your hand on the shifter. You can also shift without pedaling, giving you the freedom to instantaneously drop as many gears as you would like—through corners, while transitioning from a fast descent into a steep climb, or even while in the air.
You can choose narrower, more technical lines
Without a derailleur dangling treacherously close to the ground or trailside obstacles, you can choose narrower, techier lines without fear of damaging your drivetrain and incurring a costly repair.
Your chain won’t fall off
Since the chain/belt never leave the single front & rear sprockets, it is extremely unlikely that the chain will hop off, even during the roughest descents.
The ride will be quieter
The gearbox avoids nearly all of the noise of the chain bouncing around and hitting the frame.
Ultimately, the Pinion gearbox offers Zerode riders a multitude of practical benefits both on and off the trail, and provides the basis for the ride feel we have built our name on. If you are interested in seeing how internal shifting can improve your ride, check out our demo program to experience the benefits first-hand.