Gearbox transmissions have been designed for use on mountain bikes for years now, but they have yet to catch on in the industry at large. They offer numerous advantages over a standard drivetrain, including higher durability leading to a much longer life due to the enclosed design, the ability to shift when not pedaling, better chain retention, and the opportunity to run a belt drive with a geared system. The latest units are also 12-speed systems, with a massive gear range.
The downsides include being significantly heavier than a standard drivetrain, and having more drag while pedaling from all the gears that are constantly engaged.
Still, many of us are sick and tired of tearing derailleurs off, replacing worn out parts, and dropping or breaking chains. The gearbox could be a great solution to many common drivetrain problems.
See Also: “Video: Are Gearbox Mountain Bikes Any Good?“
As I cruised the Eurobike expo in Germany, it was apparent that many smaller European brands are much more open to the idea of gearboxes than American brands, as I spotted them spec’ed on several mountain bikes. While it’s possible that the wet climate in places like the UK helps the popularity of gearboxes, I noticed them spec’ed on several display bikes kitted with full bikepacking bags and designed for that use–obviously playing on the durability and relative simplicity of the system.
Here are 8 gearbox-equipped mountain bikes I spotted at Eurobike 2016, organized in alphabetical order. Be sure to click through to check out all of them… number 8 is one of the coolest!
This steel hardtail sports a Pinion gearbox with a belt drive system and a classic singlespeed dropout tensioner. A RockShox fork handles suspension duties up front, with Shimano XT spec’ed for the brakes.