You may not have heard of Zerode bikes before, but from the looks of things, you’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future. Best known for the G27.5 downhill bike, Zerode has developed somewhat of a cult following in New Zealand, with the distinctive design occasionally spotted in the northern hemisphere amongst riders who have fallen in love with the bike’s unique internal gearbox and high-single pivot design.
Looking to grow the current one-bike lineup, Zerode have just announced a pre-order for the upcoming Taniwha frame (pronounced “Tani-Fa” for the non-Kiwis out there), and it looks very interesting indeed…
Marketed as an enduro bike, the Taniwha uses a more conventional frame and suspension layout than the Zerode downhill bike, and it features 160mm of travel. Like the G27.5 downhill bike, Zerode has built the Taniwha around an internal gearbox rather than relying on a traditional derailleur setup like 99% of mountain bikes on the market. Zerode is using a 12-speed Pinion gearbox, which is mounted in the centre of the frame around the bottom bracket, which it claims offers several benefits.
The first benefit is less unsprung mass. That basically refers to how much weight is over the rear wheel, which with a conventional setup, includes the rear derailleur and cassette. With Zerode’s setup, the gears are housed inside the Pinion gearbox in the centre of the frame, which takes the weight off the swingarm. This purportedly increases rear suspension sensitivity, since there is less weight that needs to move up and over obstacles when you plough into them.
The second benefit is a hub with wider flanges that increase the spoke bracing angle. Without the need to accommodate a full width cassette, the Tanwha’s standard 142x12mm thru-axle rear hub offers more balanced spoke tensions and a stiffer rear wheel build. The gearbox design also offers the benefit of having a straighter and smoother singlespeed chainline.
While 160mm travel enduro bikes are a dime-a-dozen these days, the Zerode Taniwha certainly offers a unique take on the genre. Of course it comes appointed with all the necessary featuers of a modern enduro bike, including a rangy cockpit, a slack head angle and neat internal cable routing. Because of the single chainring and rear sprocket, the chainstay length can be built nice and short at 430mm without need to accommodate multiple external gears. How it actually rides is still currenly anyone’s guess, but we’d sure love to play with one and see how the 12-speed Pinion gearbox feels out on the trail.
The Zerode Taniwha features:
- Carbon fibre frameset
- 160mm rear wheel travel
- Includes Fox Float X rear shock (Fox Float X2 also available)
- Designed for 160mm travel forks
- 65-degree head angle
- Tapered head tube
- 12-Speed Pinion Gearbox
- 142x12mm dropouts w/singlespeed rear hub
- Internal cable routing
- Max 2.8in rear tyre
- Claimed frame weight: 2580 grams (medium frame without gearbox)
- Frame sizes: Medium & Large (X-Large at a later date)
- RRP: $4995 NZD
As it stands, Zerode are running pre-orders for the Taniwha, with frames expected to be delivered in September 2016. UK importer Stif will be distributing Zerode locally, so get in touch with Stif if the Taniwha is floating your boat. In the meantime, check out the word on the new bike direct from owner and head designer, Rob Metz, who also put together this sweet 360-degree video of the Taniwha.
From Zerode Bikes:
“In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike.
The 12-Speed pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today’s 1×11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance.
A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimises pedalling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design. A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry.
Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won’t have.”