For years we’ve been hearing about how gear box bikes may obsolete the traditional drivetrain. It hasn’t happened yet, but with bikes like the Zerode Taniwha we may be getting closer. To be clear, the Taniwha was not new at Sea Otter this year, what is new is that the bike will finally be available in the U.S. with the help of Cycle Monkey distribution. That said, it still might be difficult to get your hands on – the first bikes sold globally were all part of t a preorder which left only a handful of frames left. Cycle Monkey will soon have a number of them in stock in their California warehouse, but don’t expect them to last long…


Conceptualized around the Pinion P.12 gearbox, Zerode claims this is the first carbon fiber enduro bike built around the Pinion drivetrain. Obvious benefits include an encapsulated gear mechanism with an oil bath, and with the majority of the weight centralized around the bottom bracket area.

Of course there’s no longer a rear derailleur to snag on anything at the back end as well. What you will find is a small chain tensioner located just behind the chainring where it should be mostly out of the way. True to form, gearbox bikes like the Taniwha remove much of the unsprung weight of the drivetrain and relocate it as sprung weight on the frame -which should have a positive effect on suspension performance. It also makes for a stronger rear wheel since a 12 x 142 single speed hub can be used with wider flange spacing and more even spoke tension. Not to mention perfect chainline since it never moves.

It’s worth noting that in a number of short test rides, this was the smoothest shifting I’ve felt from a Pinion gearbox yet. Either they are getting better, or the others were poorly set up. That alone made me much more hopeful for the future of the gearbox bike. I’ve ridden a few where the shifting just felt clunky and uninspiring. This bike was different – in a good way.

Built around a full carbon frame with an aluminum suspension link, the Taniwha features internal cable routing including dropper post, 160mm travel, 27.5″ wheels with 2.7″ tire clearance, a 65° head tube angle, and a build weight of 32-33lbs. Offered as a complete build or as a frame and gearbox, pricing for completes starts at $6,500 in M, L, and XL frames.


  1. Would love to try this! Gearboxes sound great. Derailleur drivetrains are so in need of replacement. I’m guessing cost is the only reason these haven’t taken over?

    • I can’t speak for recent Pinions, but the drag on most internal systems is significant enough that it’s noticeable while riding . Derailleurs are significantly more efficient.

      • Regards Pinions and drag, when new they have noticeably more drag than a derailleur system. However they definitely wear in over time, after a couple of thousand kilometers they feel very smooth, as smooth as normal set up. If you measured it there would still be more losses than a derailleur set up, but it’s not the feeling of pedaling into treacle many fear.

        • oh ill just ride 2k before using it for real then. tbh that seems weird, if that were the case why wouldnt they pre-bed it with a machine given its the one most common issue

          i would also like to try the zerodes though

          • Turn that question around, why would a company supply a machine that they have pre-worn? 2000km works out at around 25 weeks worth of riding for me, the more/less you ride the less/more of an issue that drag would be. Pinion claim a service interval of once a year or 10’000km and warranty the box for 5years, they clearly have high mileage users in mind.

      • Incorrect. Derailleurs are an antiquated very flawed drive system and their real world advantage over a pinion gearbox is insignificant. I know having actual ownership of both, the pros of a pinion hugely outweigh the cons.

    • Gearboxes are a total of around 1000g heavier than a derailleur setup, maybe more.
      Derailleurs are also modular- any derailleur from any company- SRAM, Shimano, Microshift, Box- works on any frame and frames are almost always built around them. In other words, derailleurs are the incumbent, which is important. Cost is also an issue.

      • The weight issue always get’s brought up. Most of us don’t freak out if we put on a kilo. The gearbox at least puts the weight in the right place, low and centered. It’s always the experts who’ve ridden one once or read something about them that are the naysayers.

        • i definitely feel +1kg.. like. really, really feel it in the climbs. that include if its 1kg on my body too lol.

          that said, i wouldnt mind if the gearbox was otherwise much better everywhere else (granted that its in fact more like 600gr than 1000gr added, too anyway)

      • Cost and a lack of standardised frame fittings are the big hold ups. A mech hanger is a mech hanger, but G-Boxx, V-Box and Pinion mounts are different. Although with the success Pinion are having and their steady march towards a practical sub $1000 gearbox we might find Pinion mounts becoming the normal for Gearbox bikes.

  2. I have ridden a gearbox bike one time a few years back and you had to stop pedaling to shift. Is this still the case? If so, seems that would be an issue, especially if you wanted to downshift going up a steep hill.

  3. All bikes will eventually be pinion gearbox types. I am already on this and it’s great. No more problems, built really tough, third world touring tough! No more bent derailleur hangers. More gears too!

    • I don’t see it ending up on any road bikes. That’s one application where the lower weight and lower loss of a chain and derailleur system are real assets; the vulnerability of the derailleur on road bikes is also not a serious minus.

      • The weight will drop after some time, carbon and aluminum parts. Transmission bikes are our future. Pro’s will ride what manufacturers make light weight enough for them to race on. Look at disk brakes….

        • Will the weight drop 700 grams, or even just 500g? There already has been a weight reduction- they went from P-series gearboxes to the lighter C-series ones. It’s something like a 250g reduction. How much lower can they go when we’re talking about a system whose core is a complex of stainless steel toothed wheels? Your logic seems to be “disc brakes used to be heavy but now are light and used to be used by racers, so the same must happen with gearboxes”. I’m not saying gearboxes aren’t better or worse either way, I’m just saying they have a long way to go before they can take on the entrenched, lightweight, cheap, massively available derailleur systems in the real world (as opposed to just technical benefits).

  4. The only thing that piqued my interest in this article was the bird’s nest of cables at the front. Are there more cables with the pinion or did they not think to shorten them up a bit?

    • If you think about it, there is the same number, they just need to trim better. Front Brake, rear brake, dropper post, and two shift cables. Normally there is one cable for front and rear derailleur coming from different sides of the bar so it just looks unusually busy on the right side.

  5. Pinion C1.16 is 1800gr plus shifter.
    Other systems are not much lighter especially if you run 2x or go for belt drive on Pinion.

    Consider 11s such as XT.
    There’s 350=450gr cassette, 300-500gr of derailleurs, bottom bracket plus spindle is at least 200gr, chain is 200gr over belt…

    Furthermore, derailleur systems need heavier rear wheel for same strength due to dishing required by the cassette so you can shave some on lighter hub, spokes and rim with Pinion.

    As it was mentioned before, weight is centered and low plus immobile.

    So the total difference is just around 700-800gr with a rear wheel that’s that much lighter.

    As I see it the only drawback is the price of entry nothing more. It’s probably cheaper over few years for someone who rides a lot.

  6. Unfortunately Santa Cruz design influence is also displayed in geometry chart. Zerode needs size XXL just to be on par with most manufacturers XL and even L of some other ones.

What do you think?

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