Pinion Is Upgrading Its Gearbox With Smart Shift

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Pinion adds automatic shifting to their combined mid-drive motor and gearbox.

Pinion Is Upgrading Its Gearbox With Smart Shift

Pinion has announced a new wrinkle on their integrated MGU—Motor Gearbox Unit. They have now added Smart Shift, a technology that allows for automatic shifting. Pinion grabbed the e-bike world’s attention when they released their Pinion MGU in the summer of 2023. The MGU is a version of Pinion’s gearbox that also incorporates a motor, merging a mid-drive motor with a transmission.

Because the shifting is accomplished electronically—no cables and shifters here—Pinion reports instantaneous gear changes that aren’t affected by whether the rider is pedaling or not. Even when the rider is pedaling at full force, shifts are immediate.

E-bikes equipped with the Pinion MGU and Smart Shift will begin shipping in the third quarter of 2024. Current owners of e-bikes with the Pinion MGU will be able to visit their dealer for a software update to add the functionality to their e-bike.

The Pinion Motor Gearbox Unit is a remarkable invention. Pinion managed to fit both a gearbox and a motor in the amount of space that most companies fill with a motor alone. Finding a way to fit a gearbox into the space seems like finding an SUV with the storage space of an 18 wheeler.

The Pinion E1.9 MGU gives riders a 568 percent gear range, which is a wider spread than any of the 12-speed drivetrains offer. The E1.12 MGU spreads 12 gears over a 600 percent range, a simply unheard-of range. Motors produce 250W nominally and peak at either 600 or 800W, depending on the configuration, while producing a maximum torque of 85Nm.

While the Pinion MGU outweighs competitive mid-drive motors such as the Bosch Performance Line CX, it eliminates the need for a traditional drivetrain. So while the Pinion MGU outweighs the Performance Line CX by more than 2 lbs. (the MGU weighs 8.8 or 9 lbs. depending on whether it is the 9-speed or 12-speed version, while the Performance Line CX weighs 6.4 lbs.), it does away with the rear derailleur, cassette and shifter, plus a Gates carbon belt weighs less than a metal chain. Ultimately, an e-bike equipped with the Pinion MGU can save a pound or more overall when compared to a mid-drive motor plus multi-cog drivetrain.

Combining the smooth power application of a mid-drive motor with lightning-fast automatic shifting while simultaneously eliminating most of an e-bike’s maintenance needs is next-level fantasy stuff, except that it’s here, and real, and available today.

Most of the manufacturers offering the Pinion MGU on their e-bikes are European lines with little to no distribution in the U.S., but there are some brands that will import or produce e-bikes spec’d with the Pinion MGU. They include Stromer, Bulls, Co-Motion and Priority.

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