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effigear mimic

The New Effigear Mimic 9-Speed Gearbox: Better Than Pinion?

The Effigear Mimic is an exciting new addition to the growing range of bicycle gearboxes.

You might not have heard of this small French gearbox manufacturer before, but they’ve actually been in the gearbox game for around a decade.

The Effigear Original was larger in size than the Pinion P1.18 gearbox, it had a smaller gear range and fewer gears. While Pinion began by pushing their 18-speed gearbox drivetrain into the touring and urban bike markets, Effigear was forging their own path into the mountain bike world with just nine gears.

And this was for good reason.

Unlike other gearbox systems, the Effigear Original had a separate output drive sprocket from the crank assembly. Image: Cavalerie Bikes

Unlike the Pinion gearbox, Effigear had its drive sprocket located separately from the crank assembly. This allowed full-suspension frame designers to build their swingarm pivots around the upper axle of the gearbox, creating a simple and silent drivetrain (with belt drive) but also reducing the effect of chain forces on the rear suspension (this is known as ‘pedal kickback’).

The downside to building frames around a large-volume gearbox is that it significantly restricts what frame designers can do with their linkages, which largely determines the ride characteristics of a full-suspension bike.

The Starling Spur is wonderfully simple in its design. Image: Starling Cycles

Instead of waiting for bike manufacturers to adopt their gearbox design, Effigear actually created their own bike brand, Cavalerie Bikes, to showcase the potential of their drivetrain.

While a few brands did adopt the gear system (notably Nicolai and Starling Cycles), Effigear gearboxes have remained very niche over the last decade as a result of the gearbox packaging.

But that’s all about to change.

The New Effigear Mimic Gearbox

The Effigear Mimic uses a much more compact design than the Original, which provides more flexibility when it comes to frame design.

You’ll find nine gears inside the gearbox, with the equivalent range (469%) of a 1X drivetrain using an 11-50 tooth cassette (455%).

As the output sprocket has been moved to the crank assembly, the weight has also been reduced by 15% compared to the Original design, making it competitive with Pinion’s 9-speed gearbox.

Effigear stickers are used for the prototypes but the branding will be laser etched on the production units.

In fact, the Mimic will now install to the same frame plate as a Pinion gearbox (it’s an open design). As the Pinion frame plate is used by over 100 bike manufacturers, Effigear can now sell its gearboxes to a much larger market.

This means we finally have a choice of crankset gearboxes too (and there’s another budget gearbox in the works).

Before we dive into the defining features of the Effigear Mimic, let’s discuss why gearboxes are a fantastic drivetrain for some bikes.

Why Gearbox Drivetrains Are Great

Inside the new Effigear Mimic gearbox.

1. There’s much less maintenance. Gearboxes don’t ever need to be adjusted and there are just two sprockets to clean. The gears themselves are sealed away and impervious to mud, grit, snow and sand. All you need to do is periodically drain the oil and fill it back up.

2. The components are less susceptible to damage. With no exposed derailleurs, delicate hangers or brittle cassettes, you can stress less about rocks, sticks and the aftermath of your crashes. I also love travelling with gearbox bikes as the drivetrains cannot get damaged by baggage handlers.

3. There are fewer wear items. The gearbox is designed to last 100,000km and the external chain and cog wear at a significantly reduced rate compared to a derailleur system.

4. The straight chain line. The chain line on an Effigear drivetrain is perfectly straight, resulting in less chain wear. This equates to a longer chain life; expect more than 10,000km.

5. It’s belt drive compatible. Belt drivetrains can last more than 30,000km, are silent, lightweight and require very little cleaning and lubrication.

The Effigear Mimic is being marketed to both mountain bikers and gravel riders. Image: @batiste.nos

6. There are instant gear changes. You can make gear changes without pedalling, and you can even shift up to the harder gears at max power. You will need to back off on your power for a fraction of a second when shifting down though.

7. There’s less unsprung mass at the rear wheel. On full-suspension bikes, the rear swingarm can respond quicker to ground forces when there is less weight at the rear wheel, offering better small bump sensitivity.

8. The stronger rear wheel. As the hub doesn’t need to accommodate for a cassette, the flanges are spaced wider, which results in extra wheel strength and durability thanks to the larger bracing angles and more even tension across the spokes.

Now that I’ve got you all stoked on gearboxes, let’s discuss the features unique to the Effigear Mimic.

Key Feature: Variable Gear Steps

Gear steps are the percentage difference in gear ratio when you change your gears.

A bike with smaller gear steps is particularly nice at higher speeds, as you can better fine-tune your gear ratios to achieve the cadence (crank revolutions per minute) you’re most comfortable riding.

Smaller gear steps work out to be much less necessary at lower speeds, as your speed changes very little for each shift (1-2kph).

To squeeze the most out of any gear range, a drivetrain ideally starts with big gear steps in the easier gears, and ends with small gear steps in the harder gears. This is exactly how derailleur drivetrain manufacturers design their cassettes.

Currently, top-tier gearboxes like Pinion, Rohloff or Kindernay use uniform gear steps from the first gear to the last. In comparison, the Effigear uses variable steps that mimic a regular cassette.

Effigear Mimic Gear StepsBox Components Cassette (11-50t)
Gear 1-228%19%
Gear 2-324%24%
Gear 3-422%21%
Gear 4-519%27%
Gear 5-619%22%
Gear 6-721%20%
Gear 7-821%15%
Gear 8-917%18%
Average Gear Step: 21%Average Gear Step: 21%

As you can see, the lower gears on the Effigear Mimic have bigger gear steps, while the higher gears use smaller gear steps. This is not dissimilar to the Box Components Prime 9 cassette.

I covered gear steps in more detail in my Kindernay VII gearbox article and my comparison between the Pinion gearbox and Rohloff hub.

Key Feature: SRAM Shifter Compatibility

The Effigear Mimic comes with SRAM Rival levers for an extra €139.

Another big drawcard for the Effigear Mimic is that it uses SRAM flat bar or drop bar shifters (with a modified pull-ratio to suit the gearbox). These styles of shifters are often preferred over the typical twist shifters that come with most gearboxes.

You can upgrade a Pinion gearbox to trigger or drop bar shifters, but it’s not cheap. Cinq aftermarket shifters on a flat bar bike add €300 to the purchase price, and for a drop bar bike, expect to add €600.

Effigear has said they’re working on adapted Campagnolo shifters too, should you have a preference for Italian lever shapes.

Key Feature: 48 Engagement Points

Gear pickup determines how quickly your drivetrain engages when you start pedalling.

On most bikes, you’ll notice a small clunk when you apply power to the pedals at low speeds, which is usually the pawl system in your rear hub engaging. Ideally, we want instant engagement, but bike hubs usually offer between 24 to 36 engagement points per wheel revolution.

Gearbox bikes have a second freewheel built into the gearbox itself that needs to engage along with the hub, slowing the gear pickup time further.

The number of engagements varies between gearboxes. Pinion gearboxes offer between 14 and 22 engagement points depending on the gear selected, so even with a high or instant engagement rear hub, there is still a noticeable delay at low speeds.

In comparison, the Effigear Mimic gearbox has 48 engagement points in every gear, which means it’ll engage just as quick as most bikes.

Effigear Fixed Gear Hub

An even faster way to engage the rear wheel is with the optional Effigear fixed gear rear hub!

This results in the chain or belt constantly moving with your rear wheel, which could be an issue should a rock or stick jam into your sprockets. That said, Cavalerie Bikes have been using fixed gear hubs for many years now, so perhaps it’s not a problem in practice.

Also, note that a continuously spinning chain or belt will experience more wear.

Effigear Mimic vs. Pinion C1.9XR

The Effigear Mimic and Pinion C1.9XR gearboxes match up pretty closely in terms of specs.

Let’s find out the key differences:

Effigear MimicPinion C1.9XR
Number of Gears99
Gear Range469%568%
Gear Steps21% (Variable)24.3% (Even)
Engagement Points4814-22
ChainlineTBC54mm
Q-Factor177mm166mm
Upshifting Under LoadYesLess force in 3-4 & 6-7
Downshifting Under LoadLess force requiredLess force required
Max Input Torque250Nm250Nm
Gearbox Weight~2kg/4.4lb~2kg/4.4lb
Oil Capacity60ml60ml
Oil Change Interval5000km or 1-year10,000km or 1-year
WarrantyFive YearsTwo Years
Place of ManufactureFranceGermany
Production2021-Current2016-Current

The key differences:

  • The gear range and gear steps are bigger on the Pinion C1.9XR, so it will be better suited to steeper terrain or for eBike use where you experience quicker acceleration.
  • The distance between the pedals (q-factor) is 11mm narrower on the Pinion gearbox, which might be preferred on a road, gravel or commuter build.
  • You need to back off on the power when shifting up in gears 3-4 and 6-7 on the Pinion. In comparison, the Effigear will upshift under a full load in all gears.
  • The Pinion gearbox requires less frequent oil changes.
  • The warranty is three years less on the Pinion. That said, Pinion have also had their gearbox in production for five years now, which will have ironed out any issues.

Effigear Mimic Price

When I add all of the components required to complete a gearbox drivetrain*, the Effigear Mimic is a touch cheaper than the Pinion C1.9XR and slightly more expensive than the new Kindernay VII.

Pinion C1.9XR – €1367 // $952 gearbox, $113 shifter/cables, $142 sprockets, $166 crank arms, $251 hub
Rohloff Speedhub – €1279 // €1110 gearbox/shifter/cables/sprocket, €149 crankset/sprocket, €20 BB
Effigear Mimic – €1237 // €990 gearbox/shifter/cables/crankset, 85 sprockets, 162 hub
Kindernay VII – €1168 // €999 gearbox/shifter/cables/sprocket, €149 crankset/sprocket, €20 BB

*To make this a fair comparison, I’ve made sure all drivetrains include a crankset, front and rear sprockets, a rear hub, a shifter and cables.

Effigear Mimic Drive Efficiency

Like all other gearboxes, the Mimic will transfer less of your pedal power to the rear wheel than a derailleur drivetrain in perfect riding conditions. This is simply because there are two sets of cogs that are always meshing together inside a gearbox, as well as oil moving between them.

But the type of riding conditions is key here.

In poor weather conditions, there is likely an efficiency advantage to using a gearbox system as the exposed part of the drivetrain has fewer moving parts and crevices for mud and debris to get clogged in.

While we don’t have any data on the Effigear Mimic, we do know that a Pinion gearbox with similar straight-cut gears loses an average of 6.5% across the drivetrain compared to a single-speed chain set up in a laboratory (200-watts power output).

And compared to a derailleur drivetrain, we can expect the Mimic to be around 5% less efficient in perfect conditions.

Is Electronic Gear Shifting Coming?

Effigear posted a video last year on their social media showing smartphone-controlled electronic shifting. While it’s very early days, this might give us a glimpse into what Effigear are currently working on.

What About eBikes?

Valeo Smart eBike System Effigear
The Valeo Smart eBike System combines an Effigear gearbox and motor in one.

The Effigear Mimic will comfortably handle the torque of most rear hub motors, but it’s worth noting that Effigear is also manufacturing an eBike-specific gearbox with a built-in motor!

Interestingly, the Valeo Smart eBike System uses seven-speed gearing with automatic gear changes, which will be perfect for urban use but might not be ideal for off-road use (this really depends on the software). For mountain bikers, there will be two buttons you can use to shift manually.

A cool thing is that the Smart eBike System will reduce motor torque when shifting, which allows you to downshift under load too!

Expect to see the Valeo/Effigear gearboxes on eBikes early next year.

Summary

I’m very excited to see a new gearbox on the market – fingers crossed the Effigear Mimic proves as reliable as other systems.

While the specs are very similar to the Pinion C1.9XR gearbox, the Mimic offers variable gear steps, additional engagement points, shifting under load in all gears, SRAM shifter compatibility and a longer warranty.

Pinion gearboxes, in comparison, offer a narrower distance between crank arms, longer oil change intervals, and multiple options in terms of the number of gears and gear range. Additionally, Pinion has had more time to sort out any manufacturing and design issues given they’ve been in production for five years now.

The Effigear Mimic is available for pre-order right now and will be available in December 2021.

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