gearbox choice

9 speed vs 12 Speed

Choosing the correct gearbox can seem tricky so we have put this together to give you some help. There is no right or wrong here and both will do an outstanding job so don’t worry about picking the wrong one. It really just comes down to you riding style and the places you ride.

The two gearboxes you will be looking at for your Taniwha or Katipo are the Pinion C1.12 or the Pinion C1.9XR. Pinion also has the C1.6 however the gear range is not applicable to trail or enduro riding. To start off let’s break down the two gearboxes quickly. The 12 speed (C1.12) has a massive 600% range with 17.7% steps between each gear. The 9 speed (C1.9XR) still has a massive range of 568% but with 24.3% steps between each gear. It is also 100 grams lighter than the 12 speed. 

The important thing to note with gearboxes is that the steps are the same between every gear. It differs from a derailleur where the steps between gears vary from gear to gear. This is due to the cogs on a cassette having to be a whole number. For example you can’t have a 17 tooth cog jump up to an 18.6 tooth cog to keep the consistent steps, you have to go up to a 19 tooth. The result is different steps between all gears. The nice thing about a gearbox is that all the steps are the same and consistent, so when you change gear the increase or decrease is what you are expecting. 

Back to what gearbox to pick. Although the steps on a 9 speed look large on paper, when it comes to practice they are a nice match to proper single track riding. Whether it is a technical uphill or a good down hill, the 9 speed feels great. It still has a massive range and the lowest gear is seriously low. It’s the same ratio as the lowest on the 12 speed and lets you crawl up anything without hassle or getting too much of a sweat on. Dropping that extra 100 grams is also nice if you are someone who’s concerned about that sort of thing. I also like that when you do change gear you get a decent change, say if you come to a sharp pinch climb you can just drop 3 gears instead of 5.

The 12 speed is great for someone who rides more gravel roads and terrain with only minimal changes in gradient. The greater number of gears spread over a similar range allows you to keep your cadence when the terrain is changing only slightly. You also obviously get the benefit of having more range too, however this extra range the 12 has over the 9 speed is at the top end so it isn’t that often that you use it. You have to be going very quick to need to use it. 

We send out the majority of our bikes with 9 speed gearboxes as they have a massive range, are slightly lighter and work well in trail and enduro riding applications. If we were to recommend either the 9 or 12 speed gearbox, we would recommend the 9. This doesn’t mean the 12 isn’t good or isn’t better for some people it’s just that’s what we prefer for the riding we do and what most of our customers prefer. 

If you're unsure what gearbox would suit you please get in touch and we will be more than happy to discuss and help you further. 

“When pedaling I expected a noticeable drag from the belt drive and gearbox, but if there was any it was almost indistinguishable. Furthermore, once you factor in chain twisting in lower gears on a 1x system and mix in some healthy dollops of mud, efficiency felt no different from a regular drivetrain.”.

Skip Jamieson
San Francisco, CA