Pinion and Drivetrain FAQ

Why is a Gearbox better?

There are several positive reasons for choosing a gearbox design:

  • Weight is centralised in the frame.
  • Unsprung mass is reduced by 40%. This is directly related to the wheels ability to respond to an impact which speeds up its return to the ground. As a result the wheel is able to track the trail better than a conventional system.
  • Huge gear ratio range – 600% overall range with equal spacing.
  • No rear derailleur. Chain tension is controlled by a tensioner mounted on the gearbox. No need to carry spare hangers anymore.
  • Chain line is always straight. As a result, drivetrain wear is reduced, due to lack of side loads.
  • Suspension performance is optimised for all gear ratios. We are able to tune the anti-squat and negate pedal kick-back, knowing that it is the same for all 12 gear ratios.
  • Hermetically sealed, and simple, once a year, oil changes.
  • 5 year warranty.
How does the Pinion Gearbox work?

It works in a similar way to a car gearbox, using spur gearing and clutch mechanisms that select the required gear. To simplify the design, there is an input shaft, an intermediate shaft and an output shaft (which is concentric to the input shaft). The input shaft, connected to the cranks, on the twelve speed gearbox has four spur gears fixed to it. This drives four selectable gears mounted on the intermediate shaft, where a ratchet clutch connects one of these gears to the intermediate shaft. Following the power flow along the rotating intermediate shaft there are  three other selectable gears which are in constant mesh with the three output gears. Again a ratchet clutch connects any one of the three gears to the intermediate shaft’s rotation. The final step is the output shaft rotation, which is mounted over the input shaft, allowing for a concentric input and output shaft.

Further information and some detailed diagrams…

Is grip shift the only option?

Right now, Yes.

Grip shift actually works very well for a drivetrain that allows you to shift through gears without pedalling and that changes gear instantly. You can select your gear at anytime without pedalling, this means you never get caught in the wrong gear. If you are in the wrong gear you simply need to back off for a split second and twist through as many gears as you need.

It does take a little getting used to, but after a couple of rides it’s hard to imagine going back.

Saying that – we know there are some riders that can’t get their heads around grip shift (if that’s you we encourage you to book a demo and see how suited it is to the gearbox) and we are working on a trigger shifter solution.

How many gears are there and what is the range?

12 gears with a 600% range and equal 17.7% gear steps. That’s more range than any modern 1* mountain bike drivetrain including SRAM Eagle. As a comparison, this is equivalent to a 32T front sprocket with a 58T rear sprocket, and 10T sprocket in the highest gear ratio.

Does the Pinion Gearbox result in any extra drag?

Any gearbox system will have some form of efficiency loss (i.e. drag). When the gearbox is brand new there is a “bedding in” period of around 500miles – the gearbox noticeably loosens up after this. Our testing has established around a 12% efficiency loss. This compares to a 3-4% efficiency loss for a traditional derailleur system in optimum conditions. This sounds like a lot. However, with the Pinion Gearbox you always have a perfect chain line and it is a fully sealed system – so in reality it doesn’t go much lower than the advertised efficiency loss – when compared to a traditional derailleur system there are many circumstances (cross gearing, dirty drivetrain) where the operating conditions are far below optimum. Therefore “in the real world” the losses from both systems are comparative and you simply do not feel any drag.

How does the weight compare with a traditional derailleur system?

A Pinion C-line Gearbox weighs in at 2100grams. This is a bit heavier than a premium derailleur based system – however, we move the weight from the rear wheel to the bottom bracket which means handling and cornering is improved and un-sprung mass on the rear wheel is reduced – resulting in better suspension response. Our UK build comes in at under 33lb (15kg) with a ready to rip (i.e. proper tyres with sealant) set-up. Anyway – we guarantee the advantages make up for the small weight gain over a traditional drivetrain…

Is the chain system noisy?

It’s no noisier than a rear derailleur set-up, but there is a sound with any rotational system. After the 500 mile “bedding in” period the gearbox is noticeably less noisy.

Is the Pinion Gearbox reliable?

Yes. Each Pinion Gearbox is made to the highest standards in Germany. They have been tested extensively by Pinion and by us. We are extremely happy with their reliability in the real world. In the unlikely event that there is a problem – the gearbox is backed up with a 5 year warranty.

Does the Pinion Gearbox require any maintenance?

The Pinion C-Line Gearbox requires a once a year oil change. You can do this yourself or send it off to a Pinion service centre.

Does the Pinion Gearbox have a warranty?

Yes, it has a 5 year warranty. In order to maintain your warranty you must service your Gearbox once a year. If you do this yourself simply keep the receipts for the specialist Gearbox oil.

Why does the chain run on an idler/tensioner system?

The idler is built into the frame and the tensioner is a one-piece bolt on unit which can be replaced. It bolts directly onto the Pinion Gearbox. This system enables the Guide to utilise a high pivot point and still have desirable anti-squat characteristics. It also serves to eliminate pedal kickback from the system. The chain tension does not affect the suspension performance. All spare and replacement parts including jockey wheels are available from our website.

Read more about our suspension innovation…

Can I run a bash guard?

The tensioner system has an integrated (but replaceable) plastic bash guard to protect the front chain ring from rock strikes. You can purchase a replacement plastic bash guard from our website.

Can I run a chain-guide?

The Guide’s drive system does not require a chain-guide. The tensioner idler system result in high tension on the chain (this tension does not affect suspension performance) and feeds the chain onto the front chain ring – we also have huge chain wrap on the front chain ring which helps keep the chain in place. We have NEVER lost a chain.

What chain rings do I need to run on the Guide?

All our frames and builds are supplied with the appropriate chain ring and rear sprocket. You can run any 30T 104 PCD single front chain ring, provided the chain line is maintained. The rear sprocket is a Shimano type spline fitment. Although we strongly advise not to alter the tooth count, as the suspension is tuned for this arrangement and there is plenty of gearing range.

What cranks can I use?

The Pinion Gearbox requires the use of proprietary cranks. These are supplied with the gearbox (included with any frame or build). If you require replacement cranks please contact us.

General FAQ

Why not a 29’er? Do you have plans for one?

We think that for The Guide’s intended use that the 27.5″ wheel size is a good choice. The Guide is designed as a do-it-all bike which is suited to lots of different types of terrain from long trudges across the Scottish Highlands to big mountain riding in the Alps. Undoubtedly, there is a trend towards larger wheels which do offer some advantages particularly if you ride open rocky trails or fast rolling singletrack. However, we feel that the larger wheels are too much of a handful when it comes to the precise and technical natural riding which we encounter in the Alps. Additionally, on our local steep and slippy trails here in the UK, lots of of rapid direction changes are required and 29″ wheels feel slower to react. We’ve built this bike to work for us as guides and we think it’ll suit a huge number of riders who ride similar terrain. However, we do accept that some people prefer the 29″ wheel size and we do plan to develop a 29″ version of The Guide, which will be more of a trail bike. At the earliest this will be available in 2019. Sign up to our newsletter (bottom right) to be kept up to date.

What is the difference between the Alpine and UK Build?

There is only a subtle difference between the two builds and that mainly relates to the burliness of components rather than the way they ride.

The Alpine build has a Cane Creek DB AIR CS shock with a piggy-back for improved and more consistent dampening on long descents. It is also spec’ed with a stronger/wider/heavier wheelset and has a burlier rear tyre and a bigger disc on the front for extra stopping power. In short, these small changes make the Alpine build more suitable for riding in big mountains with long descents and some form of uplift assistance. It’s also a more suitable build if you’re riding in the UK is on very rocky terrain like the Lake District or Scottish Highlands. If your up:down ratio is usually 1:1 then consider the UK build – it weighs less and is snappier on the ascents, and still work great in the Alps.

How do you achieve zero kickback with optimised anti-squat?

We achieve zero kickback (ok, 0.25degrees from stationary to full travel) with the specific placement of the idler (optimised through complex optimisation routines). The kickback aspect of design is calculated through the relative movements of the rear sprocket, idler and chainring.
With an idler we can move away from conventional design thinking, where there is always a substantial distance between the bottom bracket and the chain line. With the idler mounted to the swing arm, the amount of anti-squat across the travel range is calculated from the vector components of the chain forces around the idler. These force vectors can be balanced, or biased in our case, for a given idler location/sprocket sizes, and an idler can be located a position to obtain zero kickback.

How much does it weigh?

Frame Weight: Frame (M): 2782g | 12 Speed C-line Gearbox: 2100g

Our UK build weights just under 33lb or 15kg.

This may sound like a lot – but this is in ready to ride condition with Maxxis HR2 Exo tyres with sealant.

What type of shock does the Guide use?

We recommend running an air shock with the Guide. You must use a metric 210mm * 55mm shock with 15*8 and 40*8 mounting hardware. Please check there is enough clearance for your shock, particularly if it has a piggy-back or a high volume air can. Email us if you are unsure. You cannot access shock adjustments towards the rear end of the shock – this makes certain shocks inappropriate. We recommend a Cane Creek DBAir CS or DBAir Inline shock. A Fox DPX2 can also be fitted.

Can I put a coil shock on my Guide?

Yes, but you must check it fits. The Guide’s leverage ratio is designed around an air shock, however, some riders may prefer the feel and performance of a coil shock.

What travel fork is the Guide designed to use?

150 – 180mm

What percentage sag do you recommend for the Guide?

30% (18mm of stroke)

What is the max width of tire can I fit on the Guide?

2.7” – but manufactures sizing is not consistent so ensure there is enough clearance before riding with a new tyre.

What rear hub do I need to use?

135mm * 12mm through axle – singlespeed specific.

ZTR, Hope, Industry 9 and DT Swiss all make singlespeed specific hubs of this sizing.

We KNOW this is not boost. Boost is a standard which was designed to accommodate wider rear cassettes – The Guide does not have a rear cassette and uses a single speed hub, so boost is unnecessary. This makes it possible to build a dishless (symmetrical) wheel with wider flange spacing than Boost making a stronger and more balanced wheel.

What type of headset does the Guide use?

The Guide uses an Inset or ZeroStack 44mm/56mm tapered headset. This is a system which allows the headset cups and bearings to be housed inside the head tube for a lower stack height and increased stiffness.

Can I run a stealth seat post dropper on the Guide?

Yes. This is the only option our cable routing allows for.

What size seat post does the Guide use?

31.6”
Insertion Depth: 280mm on the Medium, 320mm on the Large.

What size seat collar does the Guide use?

34.9mm

How big of a rotor will fit on the Guide frame and how does the caliper mount?

203mm. IS mount.

How do I change the bearings?

The bearings and twin lip wiper seals have been designed to be easily removed using conventional press tools. We have developed a set of tools that can be purchased from us in the near future.

What tools do I need to replace parts on the Guide?

There is one specific tool made by Pinion that you need to detach the chain ring spider from the gearbox. Please note you do not need to take the spider off to change the front chain ring. We have correctly torqued the spider at the factory. However, if you want you can purchase the tool on our website.

Everything else on the frame can be disassembled using normal bike mechanic tools.

What is the crash replacement policy on my Guide?

If you have an accident and damage a Guide frame within the 2 year warranty period we can offer you a replacement at cost price.

What is the warranty on my Guide?

2 years frame. 5 years gearbox.