Eurobike 2016: Zerode’s Taniwha Gearbox Enduro Bike

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It wasn’t that long ago since we brought you the news about the brand new Zerode Taniwha gearbox enduro bike. But during the 2016 Eurobike show, we had a chance to see one up close and personal for the first time, whilst also scoring some time to talk with its designer and Zerode Bikes owner, Rob Metz.

The Taniwha is Zerode’s first enduro mountain bike. It’s a carbon fibre full suspension bike that has 160mm of rear wheel travel, with a frame that it is purpose built around the Pinion internal gearbox. This gives it a super clean aesthetic thanks to its single-speed chain setup. Rob travelled all the way from New Zealand to display his bike at the Pinion booth at Eurobike, so we whisked him and his bike away to shoot some photos and learn a little more about this unique machine.

zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
The Taniwha is Zerode’s first enduro mountain bike. Up until now, Zerode has only produced a downhill frame, so the Taniwha will be breaking new ground for the one-man New Zealand brand.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
There’s 160mm of rear wheel travel with the Taniwha, which is delivered via a single pivot suspension design, with a swing link driving the Fox Float X2 rear shock.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
The Taniwha (pronounced “Tani-Fa”) is a 100% Kiwi design by Rob Metz of Zerode Bikes. Whilst it’s unique because of its use of a Pinion gearbox, the Taniwha is a little more conventional than Zerode’s radical downhill frame. As such, we’re expecting a lot of riders are going to be interested in this model.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
The weight for a bare Taniwha frame is claimed at 2580 grams, which is pretty damn good for a big travel rig like this. Add in the Fox Float X2 shock, and the frame + shock weight sits at just over 3kg. That puts it at about the same weight as a Yeti SB6 Carbon, and a little lighter than a Santa Cruz Nomad carbon. It’s worth noting that this weight doesn’t include the gearbox. But then, other brands frame weights never include the weight of the drivetrain do they?
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
One of the cleanest drive sides we’ve ever seen. Thanks to the Pinion gearbox, the Taniwha uses a single-speed chain setup, with no provision for a rear derailleur, cassette, chainrings or front derailleur.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
Pinion offer multiple gearbox options, though Rob has spec’d the Pinion P1.12 option for the Taniwha. That means you’ve got a 12-speed drivetrain, with an enormous 600% range. Given that SRAM’s 1×12 Eagle drivetrain offers a 500% range, the Pinion system clearly wins out there. Pinion offer both forged and CNC machined crank arms, though the Zerode Taniwha comes standard with the lighter CNC machined option.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
There are 12 gears inside the Pinion gearbox, providing a 600% range from the lowest to highest gear. As you click up through the range, each gear increases by 17.7%, offering a smoother and more consistent feel to your cadence.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
The Pinion P1.12 gearbox is manufactured in Germany, and is designed to be entirely sealed from the elements. Inside you’ll find 60ml of splash oil that keeps all the sprockets and guts properly lubricated. According to Pinion, the gearbox only requires servicing once very 10,000km, which is basically a quick oil change.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
In terms of weight, the gearbox unit weighs a claimed 2350 grams. One you add in the necessary sprockets, crank arms, and the shifter, the total system weight is 3129 grams. Compared that to a Shimano Deore XT 2×11 drivetrain, which comes in at 2123 grams. Of course a SRAM 1×12 Eagle drivetrain will be lighter thanks to things like carbon crank arms and the lack of a front shifter and front derailleur, but the range of a 2×11 system is closer to the 600% range the Pinion P1.12 gearbox delivers. So when pitched alongside a comparable external drivetrain, the Pinion system is at a about a kilo disadvantage in terms of weight. For weight weenies, that might be a problem. For everyone else though, there are some significant advantages…
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
First and foremost, there is a lot less mass hanging off the rear wheel. Without a cassette and rear derailleur attached to the rear dropout and wheel, the Zerode Taniwha has less unsprung weight. This allows the rear wheel to move up and over obstacles with greater ease, as there’s less weight to move around. The result should be a more sensitive feel to the suspension for more traction and more comfort overall. Oh, and if you’ve ever smashed off an expensive rear derailleur, you’ll immediately recognise one of the big advantages of the gearbox design.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
Another advantage of the single-speed driveline is the ability to use a rear hub with much wider flange distances. That gets you a dish-less rear wheel that offers more balanced spoke tensions and increased overall wheel strength. The hub itself on the Taniwha is a regular 142x12mm singlepeed hub made by Pinion, though any singlespeed hub will fit – no special BOOST requirements here.
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With the chain not having to jump around from sprocket to sprocket, durability is likely to be improved on those wearing parts. Having a constant chainline helps here also, so you’re also less likely to drop a chain whilst riding too. All good things indeed.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
With no need for a front derailleur or clearance for multiple chainrings, the main pivot on the Taniwha has been built super wide to maximise chassis stiffness – just look how beefy that chainstay yoke is.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
One possible downside to the Pinion gearbox system is its reliance on a rotary grip shifter. Not every mountain biker has tried a grip shifter before, and there are plenty out there who simply prefer a trigger setup. For Pinion however, the rotary shifter is necessary because of the dual-cable design. There are two cables that connect the shifter to the gearbox, and currently a trigger shifter won’t accommodate the mechanics required to pull two cables. Regardless, we had a chance to play around on the Zerode Taniwha, and it doesn’t take long to get used to the throttle-style shifting.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
Another big advantage of the Pinion gearbox is the fact that you can shift gears without pedalling. And for riding tricky technical singletrack climbs, that is a huge plus. In use, the shifting is clean and smooth, and there is very little friction felt through the pedals.
zerode taniwha enduro gearbox carbon full suspension mountain bike eurobike
Aside from its Pinion gearbox, the Zerode Taniwha has a lot going for it. It’s equipped with a 65-degree head angle, clearance for up to a 2.8in wide rear tyre and the ability to fit a 150-170mm travel fork up front. Combined with its 600% gear range, single-speed external drivetrain, dish-less rear wheel and slick carbon frame, we’re guessing there’ll be a lot of riders interested in Zerode’s new Taniwha enduro bike.

Comments (3)

    That looks lovely. The only downside for me would be the grip shifter

    I really like the look of that.

    Drool worthy. Constructive comments: – The down tube frame protection is nowhere near substantial enough and the gear cables are going to take a beating. Rocks pinging up off the front wheel are a nightmare.
    These small pionts would not stop me pre-ordering if I had the dough.

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