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First Look: Zerode Taniwha

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About this time last year, Kiwi brand Zerode Bikes dropped the bombshell that was the Taniwha Enduro bike. Built around the Pinion gearbox system, the Taniwha (pronounced Tani-Fa) delivered a more conventional frame design compared to Zerode’s previous high-pivot downhill bikes, while still aiming to offer the same benefits associated with a bottom bracket-mounted gearbox.

Following the news announcement, we got up close and personal with the Zerode Taniwha at Eurobike, where owner and lead engineer, Rob Metz, took us through all the details in a video that you can check out here.

zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
The latest model from Zerode Bikes; the Taniwha.

Now we have the real deal in all of its carbon fibre, Pinion gearbox, enduro-worthy glory, ready for a proper bit of testing on our local Calderdale trails. You’ll be able to read the full review of the Taniwha soon, but before we get ahead of ourselves, lets have a closer look at some of the details that make up this unique machine.

zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
It’s a carbon fibre enduro bike, with a twist.

In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won’t have” – From Zerode Bikes.

zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Rob Metz, owner and lead engineer of Zerode Bikes, is a big believer in gearbox systems.

Zerode Taniwha Features

  • Carbon fibre frameset
  • 27.5in wheels
  • Clearance for up to 2.8in wide tyres
  • 160mm rear wheel travel
  • Linkage-driven single pivot suspension design
  • Designed for 160mm travel forks
  • 65° head angle
  • 74.5° seat tube angle
  • 430mm chainstay length
  • 12-Speed Pinion Gearbox
  • 142x12mm dropouts w/singlespeed rear hub
  • Internal cable routing
  • Claimed frame weight: 2580 grams (medium frame without gearbox)
  • Frame sizes: Medium & Large (X-Large at a later date)
  • Complete Bike RRP: From £5799

In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
You can get the Zerode Taniwha as a frameset with the Pinion gearbox, or as a complete bike.
Equipped with 27.5in wheels and 160mm of suspension travel front and rear, the Zerode Taniwha is a purpose-built enduro bike. Or All Mountain bike. Or long-travel trail bike. Or whatever people are calling it this week.

It’s been crafted out of carbon fibre, and is setup with plenty of modern numbers including a 65° head angle, and a 74.5° seat tube angle. Curiously, it’s on the shorter side in terms of reach, with the Medium frame coming in at 415mm. Compare that with a Medium Bronson (425mm) or a medium Whyte T-130 (449mm), and the Taniwha looks a touch short.

zerode taniwha enduro geometry
Zerode Taniwha frame geometry.

With that in mind, we have a Large size frame on test, which has a roomier 445mm reach measurement, while still being fairly compact in the seat tube length. Andi is currently testing the Taniwha, and he stands at around 178cm tall, making the Large size Taniwha a good fit.

In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
Slipper Kashima-coated Float X rear shock. BOS Kirk and Float X2 shock options are available.
There’s 160mm of rear travel out back, with a Fox Float X Kashima-coated shock doing the slidey slidey. It’s driven by a machined alloy rocker linkage, which connects to the carbon fibre seatstay via a large sealed bearing pivot that features an expanding collet to keep it tight.

In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
160mm of fork travel up front to match.
Up front is a matching gold Kashima-coated fork from Fox, with 36mm diameter stanchions and a FIT HSC/LSC damper offering the big-hit control. It’s also got 160mm of travel and an adjustable air spring that can be tuned via volume spacers. UK Zerode importers, Stif, gives you the option of several different fork and shock options on the Taniwha, including models from Fox, RockShox and BOS.

In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
The drivetrain is singlespeed, but there are 12 gears inside the gearbox.
So far, so standard. Where the Taniwha builds intrigue is in its Pinion gearbox drivetrain. Rather than a conventional derailleur-based drivetrain, the Pinion system locates 12 gears inside a bottom bracket-mounted gearbox, keeping weight low and central in the frame. There’s still a chain to link up the rear wheel, but it runs in a singlespeed configuration, leaving all the gear shifting to the gubbins inside the gearbox.

In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
The Pinion Gearbox helps to lower and centralise the bike’s overall mass, reducing weight at the rear wheel.
In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
German engineering.
The gearbox Zerode has specified on the Taniwha is Pinion’s P-Line box, with 12-speed shifting inside. It’s a fully sealed unit that isn’t meant to be pulled apart by the user. Instead, all you have to do is open up a small port on the gearbox to drain out some lubrication oil once a year (or every 6,200 miles – whichever comes first), and refill it with 60ml of fresh fluid.

In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
Maintenance is minimal – just drop out the old fluid and fill it up with fresh oil once a year.
In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
A small spring-loaded jockey wheel is integrated into the Pinion gearbox to take up chain slack as the suspension compresses.
In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
The jockey wheel also acts as a lower chainguide, keeping the chain tight.
In Māori mythology, Taniwha (Māori pronunciation: [tanifa]) are highly respected protective guardians, or in some traditions, stealthy, predatory beings. The Zerode Taniwha could be seen as both of these. Fundamentally the Zerode Taniwha is about making the mountain biking experience better. Nothing inspires us to ride more than a quiet, low maintenance, confidence inspiring bike The 12 spd pinion gearbox offers a huge spread of gears that goes well beyond today's 1x11. Whether you are grinding up an epic backcountry single track or blasting down a high speed fire-road there is a gear to do the job. An unexpected pinch climb will never be a problem again, changing gear is effortless and immediate. A significant reduction in unsprung weight ensures suspension performance that is undeniably better than any Enduro bike equipped with a rear derailleur. Symmetrical spoke angle ensures a very strong, light rear wheel that further improves suspension performance. A simple, effective and proven suspension platform combined with a fixed chain line optimizes pedaling performance through the entire travel range. It is difficult to approach the elegance and performance of this layout with any virtual pivot design.A sleek full carbon frame offers excellent stiffness, reduced weight and flawless beauty in a modern geometry. Maintenance and tuning of gears are almost nonexistent, sprocket and chain life are massively extended. On a Zerode, that brand new drivetrain feeling happens every day. For those that ride for fun, the Zerode Taniwha will inspire you to ride in any conditions on any trail. If you are racing, whether it for an EWS podium or for bragging-rights amongst mates, the Taniwha provides an edge your competition won't have.
No cassette and rear mech makes for a lighter and narrower rear end for the Taniwha.
To achieve the right gearing, Zerode has spec’d its own sprocket on the rear, being a 30t size. The external drivetrain is effectively a singlespeed setup, with the rear wheel rolling around a 142x12mm singlespeed hub. This helps to build up a stronger rear wheel thanks to the wider spoke flange spacing, and it also reduces unsprung mass by removing the traditional cassette and rear derailleur off the rear axle. The concept here is to deliver more supple and responsive suspension action, by allowing the rear wheel to move out of the way faster. Other advantages of the singlespeed setup include a constant chainline, which has allowed Zerode to optimise pivot placement without need for consideration of other gear ratios.

zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Pinion’s gearbox shifter is of the gripshift variety – a necessity due to the dual cable operation of the gearbox.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Our test bike features a Burgtec cockpit.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Chunky Burgtec stem.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
SRAM Guide RSC brakes and a KS Southpaw dropper post lever. Grips are glued and wired on.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Internally-routed KS LEV Integra dropper post.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Loads of mud clearance out back, with room for up to 2.8in wide tyres.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Internal cable routing for the two gear cables that run down to the Pinion gearbox. External routing for the rear brake hose.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
A small port on the other side of the head tube for the dropper post line.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Top tube detail with Kiwi-themed graphics.
zerode taniwha pinion gearbox
Is a gearbox in your future? We’ll be testing the Zerode Taniwha to find out why it may very well be.

You’ll be able to read our full review of the Zerode Taniwha soon, though make sure you check out the video below, where we chat with Stif’s Zerode main-man, Sammy, about the Taniwha.

You can get more information about build kit options and such via the Stif website, or head to the Zerode Bikes website for further information about the Taniwha and the brand.

Zerode Taniwha Specifications

  • Frame // Carbon Fibre, 160mm Travel
  • Fork // Fox 36 Float Factory Series RC2, 160mm Travel
  • Shock // Fox Float X Factory Series
  • Hubs // Hope Pro 4, 110x20mm Front & 142x12mm Singlespeed Rear
  • Rims // WTB Frequency Team i25, 32h, Tubeless Compatible
  • Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 3C 2.35in & Minion DHF EXO 2C 2.35in Rear
  • Drivetrain // Pinion P1.12 Gearbox
  • Shifter // Pinion Rotary 12-Speed
  • Cog // Zerode Custom 30t
  • Brakes // SRAM Guide RSC, 180mm Front & Rear
  • Stem // Burgtec Enduro 35, 50mm Long
  • Bars // Burgtec Carbon Enduro 35, 800mm Wide
  • Grips // ODI Longneck
  • Seatpost // KS LEV Integra, 150mm Travel
  • Saddle // WTB Volt Race
  • Size Tested // Large
  • Sizes available // Medium & Large
  • Claimed weight // 15 kg (33.1 lbs)

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