Utah Trikes Site Banner
Nationwide Sales & Service
Mon-Fri 9-5
Toll Free: 866-446-2065


Shifting Perspectives: Exploring the Power of the Pinion Gearbox on Recumbent Trikes


Welcome back to Utah Trikes. We here at the shop have been decoding the complicated world of the Pinion internally geared hub. Breaking it down piece by piece to find the best way to explain how this top of the line hub works, and the ways you can implement it into your trike riding experience.

Weíve got a lot to talk about today from; the inner workings of the hubs, and how it compares to a rear gearing hub like the Rohloff 14-Speed transmission, all the way to an upcoming model that will change the game. So Let's get into it.

Here at Utah Trikes we rant and rave about one of our favorite internally geared hubs, the Rohloff. But there's one hub that doesn't get enough love and that's the Pinion.

The Pinion is an internally geared hub that is a contender for highest quality hub in the cycling game. The Pinion is modeled after proven automobile transmission technology. Utilizing evenly spaced gears inside of the hub. These gears are specifically paired with corresponding cogs that all work together to deliver a very wide range of internal gearing.

The Pinion comes in 4 different gear set ups for a wide range of gearing options. These setups are 6, 9, 12, and 18 speeds. That's a 295% gear range at the lowest model and a whopping 636% gear range on the 18 speed which is the largest gearing range on the market.

What that means is that this 18 speed hub has the highest high end and lowest low end of any hub gearing that you can buy. Meaning you can go faster with more resistance, and slower with less resistance. And you can't get that level of range anywhere else.

The Pinion brings the smoothest internally geared hub experience to the table with their real gear zero overlap design. Providing a large range of models for any type of ride you want, as well as the most expansive gearing range to date.

Despite all of this you may be wondering why the Pinion isn't as talked about here at Utah Trikes and that's because it's a unique case of an internally geared hub. Compared to other hubs we can see that they are mounted differently. A Rohloff and an Enviolo are both hubs installed into the rear wheel replacing the rear gearing on a trike. Whereas a Pinion replaces the front gearing of a trike and is mounted right at the pedals.

This unique mounting position gives the pinion some unique challenges and included benefits. As some of you may know an internally geared hub is usually mounted inside of the rear wheel specifically mounted inside to replace the rear gearing. When a hub like this is inserted into the wheel it creates a sturdy design, but is very difficult to remove.

If you ever want to swap your rear wheel through either an upgrade to a different wheel or just having multiple wheels for different riding conditions you are either going to only have your Rohloff on one of your wheels, or have a Rohloff for every wheel you own.

This is a hassle and quite costly if you go the multiple Rohloff route. With a Pinion this is not the case. As you can see the Pinion is mounted separate from any of the wheels and just replaces the front crankset which is where your pedals are. This set up makes tire swapping or hub replacement a heck of a lot easier.

Installing a pinion is usually much easier as well. When you order a Rohloff install kit from anywhere else they would just send you the hub and other components and tell you goodluck. You would need to thread the Rohloff into the wheel which is very time consuming and is a pain to do, ask our mechanics.

With a Pinion when you order your install kit all you have to do is install your new hub onto your Pinion specific boom that came with your kit and then hook it up to your gearing. You avoid a lot of the hassle that comes with your standard hub upgrade this way, but there is something to note.

Here at Utah trikes we do make a Rohloff install easier for the customer though. When we send you your Rohloff kit the Rohloff is already threaded into the wheel. Saving you a lot of the time that would come usually. But either way the Pinion install is simpler and does not make you jostle around with your wheels.

The placement of the Pinion does come with some drawbacks though. The most glaring one being that with a Pinion installed you canít have a standard mid drive motor.

When most people get an internally geared hub like a Rohloff they usually pair it with a motor like the Bafang or any of the pedal assist only motors we carry like a Bosch. But these are exclusively mounted on the front crankset replacing the front gearing which creates a conflict with the pinion.

Pairing a motor with an internally geared hub gives you support for the extra gearing you're getting with your hub. Allowing you to go faster and utilize your extra gearing to the fullest. Which is why it can be frustrating finding a setup for the Pinion.

A solution to this problem is to not get a mid drive motor at all but to instead get a hub motor. A hub motor works because it isn't installed on a trikes front gearing like a mid drive, but instead is threaded into the rear wheel replacing the rear gearing.

This allows you to replace your front gearing with the Pinion hub and still have a motor set up. This is great, because with the 18 speed Pinionís 636% gear range you may need a bit of extra help to hit the highest highs.

The Pinion is a great option combined with rear-hub equipped eTrikes like the Sunseeker e-Fat Tad which is a factory CXS build which comes stock with a 500W hub motor.

Now you may be in a situation where you can't decide between a Rohloff set up or a Pinion Setup. Which would be the best for you? Well let's compare these two hubs and maybe it will make your decision a little bit easier.

First things first. If you're looking for gear range the Pinion is coming out on top over the rohloff. If you're looking for variety Pinion wins with 4 different gearing options. Pinions come in 6 speed, 9 speed, 12 speed, and 18 speed. Compared to the Rohloffs only model being the 14 speed, you have a lot more options with the pinion if you dont want that many gears but still want the convenience of an internally geared hub.

Not to mention that Pinion is the internally geared hub with the highest amount of speeds with their 18 speed hub. To put that difference into perspective the Rohloff has a 526 percent gear range, whereas the Pinion has 636 percent gear range. Which is the ratio between the lowest and highest gear. Meaning that the Pinion has a higher high end gear than the rohloff.

We can break down this gear range information even more with the data that the channel CyclingAbout provided in their video about the topic. Mind you, these numbers given are from testing these hubs on a bicycle, so the data may vary slightly for trikes, but it gives us a good look at the performance of these two in comparison. You can find a link to that video here.

We can see the literal translation of what this gear range translates to in his data. As CyclingAbout tested the Rohloff and Pinions low range in his video. They are the same at 3 miles per hour at 60 rotations per minute. But if we take a look at the high end the Rohloff has a top speed of 28 miles per hour at 100 rotations per minute. Where the Pinon has a top speed of 33 miles per hour at the same rotations per minute.

Something with a higher gear range could potentially just be that it has a lower low gear and a slightly higher high gear, but we can see on the Pinion that all that extra gearing went to expand the high end for even more speed and resistance.

But no matter how much higher of a gear range the Pinion has over the Rohloff we can't overlook the fact that the Rohloff is the most efficient Hub in the game.

We can prove this by taking a look at the speed range for each model and how much the rotations per minute increase per gear. The Pinions speed range for each gear increases at a rate of 9 RPM. Which isn't bad by any means, but the Rohloff increases by 11 RPM per gear shift. This makes the Rohloff 4 percent more efficient than the Pinion.

Functionality wise the Pinion will get you more range and higher top speed at the end of the day, but if you want a more efficient hub the Rohloff pulls ahead with slightly more bang per gear.

Besides functionality there are some smaller differences as well.

For more quality of life features the Pinion comes out on top. The Pinion is quieter than the Rohloff. When riding with an internally geared hub there is always the internal noise of the gears twisting and turning.

It usually is just a light whirring and clicking from the hub, but with the rohloff it gets a bit loud when you're in a lower rear gear. The Pinion does not have this probably nearly as much and comes out on top for being the quieter Internally Geared hub.

If you want the extra quality piece of mind the Pinion also has an extendible service warranty of up to 3 years on c line Pinions and a crazy 5 years for p line Pinions. Compared to the Rohloff with a 2 year warranty you are getting a lot more insurance on your Pinons durability and quality.

And another nice thing is that when you register your Pinion for warranty protection on their website they do a little extra. If your Pinion (or by extension your trike) is ever stolen once your Pinion is in their database tracking down your serial number is a lot simpler. They will even send you an email every year when it's time to change the oil on your gear box.

Speaking of oil changes On a pinion you only need to change your hubs oil every year or 6200 miles which is half as much as you would for a Rohloff which is every 6 months or 3100 miles. This decreases the amount of maintenance needed for your hub and makes it a little bit easier.

When we compare these two hubs together we can see that the Pinion has a lot ahead of the Rohloff in Gearing, Performance, and Functionality. Really making it the most high quality option for internal gearing you can find.

But what if you wanted to combine the unprecedented power of the Pinion, with the efficiency of the Rohloff? You eliminate the hassle of any exposed gearing and get double the Internally geared hub perks. And with the Pinion technically having one gear size you would be able to go past Rohloffs required 3 speed front gearing and get an even larger gear combo. Besides they are both at opposite gearing ends of the trike, so why wouldn't you go all out?

Well that might sound like a smart idea, but once you get into the nitty gritty of gearing setups it may not be the best option to go with for most riders. Both of these hubs are great, but when paired together there are some technical hiccups that can get in the way and make this pairing a bit unreasonable.

Before we get into the negative, let's go into the positiveís and what combination would be the best to get. If you are wanting the most gearing possible while still being efficient the 6 speed Pinion in the front with the 14 speed Rohloff in the rear is going to be the best.

Out of all the pairings you could do, this one is going to give you the best possible gear range to gearing efficiency. For most people it will be way too much gearing, but for those you are really itching for the lowest lows and the highest highs it's going to be an amazing combo.

But once you start getting into the other Pinion levels is when the cost versus benefit starts to not be as worth it. As you go to the higher gears like the 9, 12, or 18 speeds of the Pinion, sure you will be getting more gearing but as the gear range gets higher the more redundant your gear pairings will get with so many options, and the overall top gear that you will be getting becomes less and less noticeable.

Like take a 14 speed rohloff and 18 speed Pinion combo for example. Your gear range is going to be massive with tons of variation in between, but gears will start to be basically indistinguishable from the ones before, and once you get to your top gear compared to the 6 speed pairing option there really isn't a noticeable difference, and now it's time to ask yourself if the cost of this setup to the performance increase your getting is worth it anymore.

The decision is up to you ultimately, but from our personal opinion anything past a 6 speed Pinion in front with a Rohloff is major overkill, and the only people that will get something out of a higher combo are the real gear heads out there.

Now some of you may be ready to walk away from this article knowing full well that for your type of ride A rohloff will be better because of its compatibility with a Mid Drive Motor. But what if I told you that there will soon be an option for a Pinion that could blow a Rohloff out of the water in this aspect too.

That may sound impossible with the way that the Pinion is set up, but it will soon be a reality with the Pinion Motor Gearbox Unit. This product is not set to release in the US until 2025 so we don't have any hands-on information for you today, but we would be doing you a disservice by not informing you of this Pinion that's going to change the game.

The Pinion MGU can be compared to the Rohloff E-14 electronic shifting system that we covered a couple of months ago, but with some standout features.

Unlike the E-14 that just puts an electric shifter on the rear mounted Rohloff and the front mounted electric motor the MGU creates a front mounted hub that contains both the pedal assist motor system and a Pinion 6 speed or 9 speed depending on what model you get. As Well as the electric shifter. It's Truly all in one.

From what we have heard the MGU will be a base 600 watt motor with an 800 watt motor upgrade available as well. Also providing 400 percent max pedal support, making this one of the most powerful pedal assist only motors in comparison to our current motor catalog.

It also is equipped with Smart Electric shifting like on the E-14 letting you effortlessly and instantly shift your gearing.While also having an auto downshift feature when stopped so you can start up from a good low gear without having to worry about manually shifting down. This will also allow you to shift without pedaling which makes the whole riding experience even simpler.

One thing that it has that the E-14 doesn't is the ability to automatically shift while cruising. While you are not pedaling and just cruising downhill the MGU will calculate your speed and what gearing you would be best to start once you pick up pedaling again, making sure you are always in the right gear.

Besides these basic functionalities from Pinion we haven't learned much else about the Pinion MGU, But it should be coming with a smart phone compatible display which will give you a lot of the similar features included on the Bosch Nyon in the E-14 setup. Just smart powered through your cell phone instead of a standalone system.

If you are interested in the Pinion MGU we will be keeping you all updated with its release so make sure to comment down below and hit the notification bell so you don't miss a thing.

In conclusion a Pinion is a high end internally geared hub that is hard to cater to a specific type of riding, but It is the best of the best out of all the hubs out there and will give you the most bang for your buck, but it comes with some drawbacks that just might not fit the riding style of more casual riders.

The Pinion will give you the highest gear range and the best feeling experience. So if you are a rider who doesn't want to depend on a motor and keep your gearing clean and simple with the best in the game. The Pinion is definitely for you and we fully recommend it, especially for you gear heads out there looking for the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows.

Thank you for watching, I hope that this article could help simplify your search for if a Pinion is right for you. It's a difficult subject to get simple information on and I would know I had to write this whole article.

If you enjoyed this article consider leaving a like down below and let us know in the comments if there's any other in depth articles you would like to see on some of our products. If you have any more questions about the Pinion and if it's right for you you can contact our sales team over email at trikes@utahtrikes.com

Thank you for reading and remember to Relax, Spin Fast, and Ride Trikes.

UtahTrikes.com is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guy Graphics, Inc.
Copyright © 2006-2024 All Rights Reserved.
Materials on this site may not be used without express written permission.