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.