With the 2023 SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion, the Austrian manufacturer is introducing the latest evolutionary stage of their popular, versatile Rapcon platform. But what’s so exciting about it? The brand new Pinion MGU motor/gearbox unit! Read the full review to find out what SIMPLON’s latest eMTB is capable of.

SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion | Pinion MGU E1.12/720 Wh | 170/170 mm (f/r)
25.3 kg in size M | € 8,999 | Manufacturer’s website

If there’s one bike in SIMPLON’s portfolio that stands for versatility, it’s the Rapcon. The Austrian manufacturer relies on the same platform for several models: the analogue Rapcon enduro rig, the Rapcon Pmax TQ light eMTB, and the full-fat Rapcon Pmax CX eMTB with Bosch Performance CX drive. The latest descendant of the Rapcon dynasty is called the Rapcon Pmax Pinion eMTB. We’re starting to think that the Austrians are so happy with the Rapcon name that they can’t be bothered to find new names – who knows! What we do know is that the new Rapcon Pmax Pinion was designed around the brand new Pinion MGU E1.12 motor/gearbox unit. For their debut motor, the German gearbox specialist wrapped a motor and a drivetrain into one package to deliver around 85 Nm of torque and 12 gears. But more on this later…

The new carbon frame was developed from the ground up and the geometry adapted specifically to the requirements of the new bike. As usual for SIMPLON, the spec can be freely customised using the manufacturer’s online configurator. The Rapcon Pmax Pinion is available in four sizes, S to XL, and two versions: one model with 150 mm of travel front and rear, and a more capable version with 170 mm of travel, which tips the scales at 25.3 kg and retails at € 8,999. We tested the latter.

Wider than your X7 – The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion 2023 in Detail

When developing the new Rapcon Pmax Pinion, SIMPLON didn’t skimp on the carbon. The burly frame and wide down tube make for a rather imposing look, with the massive head tube and burly bottom bracket area adding to the beefy appearance. The ventilation grilles on the head tube are claimed to improve air circulation, allowing the battery to stay cool and ensuring a rather aggressive race car look. The paint finish, on the other hand, is quite discreet, combining a pale grey and light pastel blue. For the rear suspension, SIMPLON rely on their proven four-bar linkage, which they employ across the entire Rapcon range. The cable routing of the SIMPLON is rather well thought out, with the cables running through the upper headset cover directly into the frame and all the way to the bottom bracket area. At the transition between the main frame triangle and swingarm, they’re routed externally with secure clamps at the ports, only to disappear into the chainstay again up to the exit point, where they run to the rear brake calliper in a wide arc through an additional clamp on the seat stay. If you’re wondering where the chainstay protector is, you should think again: remember: it’s a belt drive, which doesn’t use a chain and, as a logical consequence, doesn’t require a protector. The motor, on the other hand, is well protected by a generously sized cover.

After leaving the frame through a cable port on the chainstay, the brake line is secured with a fancy guide.
The huge head tube area with the striking grille makes for a rather aggressive, beefy look.

The new Pinion MGU E1.12 motor/gearbox unit of the 2023 SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion

In the cycling industry, Pinion has long become synonymous with gearboxes and is often used to refer to an entire product category. But the German manufacturer clearly wanted more, so they developed an ebike motor with integrated gearbox: please all welcome the Pinion MGU E1.12 motor/gearbox unit! In this review, we’ll just give you a quick overview of the new motor, as we’ll dive deeper into the details in a separate article.

Guess what MGU stands for? Motor Gearbox Unit!

The newly developed motor has 600 W peak power output, and according to Pinion, delivers an equivalent of around 85 Nm. Unlike conventional chain drive motors, it’s impossible to make a blanket statement about the amount of power delivered by the drive at the chainring, as the power has already gone through the gearbox. If we were to measure the torque with a direct gear with a 1:1 ratio, we would get a reading of around 85 Nm. In terms of raw power, it falls roughly into the same category as the Bosch Performance Line CX motor and Shimano EP8 – at least on paper. The motor provides up to 400% support, packing a punch while pushing you up the hill. The whole motor/gearbox unit tips the scale at 4,100 g. For the batteries, manufacturers can choose from a whole range of FIT batteries. Depending on the configuration, the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion is available with either a 720 Wh or 960 Wh battery, which can be removed from the down tube using a key lock. That said, the 960 Wh battery is only compatible with the bigger frame sizes L and XL. If that’s not enough, you can expand the standard battery with a big 470 Wh range extender, giving a potential capacity of a whopping 1,430 Wh. The charging port is positioned on the left hand side of the down tube, just above the motor, and is tightly sealed against the elements. Once you’ve turned the motor on, you can choose between four support levels: ECO, FLOW, FLEX and FLY, whereby the adaptive FLOW and FLEX modes regulate the motor power progressively. All four modes can be customised using the FIT ebike control app. To control the motor of the bike, SIMPLON provided our test bike with a FIT Display Compact and FIT Remote Basic.

Everything in one place: both the motor and gearbox encased in a single housing.
The charging port has a spring-loaded cover, which seals it tightly, protecting it against the elements.

The integrated 12-speed gearbox has a 600% overall range with 17.7% gear increments across all 12 speeds, and shifting is via a thumb shifter, as with a conventional cable-operated rear derailleur. However, the Pinion shifter is electronic and connected directly to the gearbox via a wire. The rubberised surfaces and slight resistance when pressing the shifter ensure good haptic feedback. Unlike the analogue Pinion gearboxes, the Pinion MGU E1.12 allows you to shift under load and features two automatic shifting modes alongside the normal manual mode. When coasting without pedalling, Pre.Select mode automatically shifts to a gear that matches a predefined pedalling cadence, making sure you’re always in the right gear when you start pedalling again. Start.Select mode, on the other hand, shifts to a predefined gear when setting off from a standstill.

The shifter is easy and intuitive to use and offers excellent haptic feedback.
The FIT Display Compact allows you to select the support modes and also lets you activate the Pre.Select and Start.Select functions.

The Pinion motor/gearbox unit was designed with two goals in mind: to run smoothly and to require minimal maintenance. For this purpose, the belt drive forgoes two very exposed, vulnerable components – the chain and the rear derailleur – reducing the service effort significantly. According to Pinion, the oil needs to be changed every 10,000 km. The belt wraps around a crank sprocket and a gear cog at the rear, while an additional tensioner prevents it from falling off. The belt tension can be adjusted externally by means of a spring mechanism.

The industrial-looking bottom bracket area is different from anything else we’re used to see in the eMTB segment.
As you can see, there’s nothing to see! The Pinion gearbox forgoes a rear derailleur altogether.
The MGU is pretty much maintenance free and only requires an oil change every 10,000 km. According to Gates, the belt lasts 3 times longer than a chain.

A la carte – The spec of the 2023 SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion

As usual, SIMPLON allow you to customise the spec of the Rapcon Pmax Pinion, letting you choose from many different components. For this occasion, however, the Austrian manufacturer specced our test bike with components of their choice. RockShox supply the suspension, combining a finely-tunable 170mm RockShox Zeb Ultimate fork and a RockShox SuperDeluxe Select+ air, which offers only a few adjustment options but is still a great shock if you’re not too much of a setup nerd.

Countless adjustment options vs…
… not so many adjustment options.

SRAM DB8 brakes provide powerful and reliable deceleration, and are the only stoppers in SRAM’s portfolio to rely on mineral oil instead of DOT brake fluid. The brakes are paired with a 200 mm rotor at the rear and huge 220 mm disc at the front, which provides some helpful extra torque. The 185 mm BikeYoke Revive dropper post ensures plenty of freedom of movement on the bike, while the Swiss DT Swiss HX 1501 alloy wheels stand out for excellent reliability. SIMPLON make no compromises when it comes to tires, delivering our test bike with Schwalbe Magic Marys, both in the robust Super Gravity casing and soft Ultra Soft rubber compound – an awesome setup that provides tons of traction and good puncture resistance. The only drawback is that the very soft rubber compound wears out rather quickly at the rear.

The SRAM DB8 brakes are the only model in the American manufacturer’s portfolio to rely on mineral oil.
The Schwalbe Magic Mary tires in super-soft Ultra Soft rubber compound generate huge amounts of traction – excellent choice!

SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion

€ 8,999


Motor Pinion MGU E1.12 85 Nm
Battery FIT Ultracore 720 Wh
Display FIT Display Compact
Fork RockShox Zeb Ultimate 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox SuperDeluxe Select+ 170 mm
Seatpost BikeYoke Revive 185 mm
Brakes SRAM DB8 220/200 mm
Handlebar SIMPLON Carbon Riser 800 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss HX1501 29"
Tires Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Gravity Addix SuperSoft 2.4"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 25.3 kg
Perm. total weight 140 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 114.7 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

Specific Features

New Pinion MGU Motor Gearbox Unit
Modular Batery Concept

The geometry of the 2023 SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion

The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion is available in four sizes, S to XL, and is slightly longer and slacker than its predecessor. Nevertheless, reach values are still on the conservative side, growing by 30mm from size S to M, and then in 20 mm increments between all other frame sizes, from 424 mm in size S to 495 mm in the biggest XL frame size. The Rapcon Pmax Pinion combines a slack-ish 64.2° head angle and relatively short 447 mm chainstay, which is possible thanks to the compact motor housing. At 440 mm in size L, the seat tube isn’t overly long and – in combination with the long-travel dropper post – ensures good freedom of movement on the trail.

Size S M L XL
Top tube 552 mm 584 mm 606 mm 627 mm
Seat tube 390 mm 410 mm 440 mm 460 mm
Head tube 108 mm 108 mm 118 mm 126 mm
Head angle 64.2° 64.2° 64.2° 64.2°
Seat angle 78.7° 78.7° 78.7° 78.7°
Chainstay 447 mm 447 mm 447 mm 447 mm
BB Drop 25.5 mm 25.5 mm 25.5 mm 25.5 mm
Wheelbase 1,210 mm 1,244 mm 1,269 mm 1,302 mm
Reach 424 mm 455 mm 475 mm 495 mm
Stack 628 mm 633 mm 643 mm 670 mm

Who nicked my drivetrain? The 2023 SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion in our practical test

As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion places you in a pleasantly upright, not too sporty pedalling position. The plush suspension complements the comfortable position, absorbing bumps and potholes without bobbing excessively. On steeper climbs, however, you’ll have to actively weight the front wheel to keep it tracking. The motor pushes you uphill willingly, while the integrated gearbox allows you to shift gears whenever you want, even under full load. When pedalling slowly and without putting too much pressure on the pedals, you can feel the gears engaging, both at the top dead centre and bottom dead centre of each crank spin. Gear shifts are often accompanied with a loud clunking noise, but according to Pinion this is normal and not a cause for concern. When shifting between gears 4 and 5 – the most fitting gears for uphills – the shifting process takes slightly longer, which is due to the internal shift logic and the cog arrangement, which sit on two separate shafts. After shifting these gears, the pedal drops slightly, which can be a little irritating at first.

When gravity takes over, the SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion makes you feel at ease from the get go, placing you in a central riding position and allowing you to move around the bike easily. Handling is intuitive and takes no time to get used to. Like on the climbs, the rear suspension swallows up bumps and small trail chatter, releasing its travel eagerly and gluing the rear wheel to the ground, thus generating excellent traction at the rear. However, this could also be due to the lack of a rear mech and cassette, which ensures a lower unsprung mass at the rear wheel, so determining how much this contributes to the sensitivity of the rear suspension is difficult. Regardless, the rear suspension works spontaneously and sensitively. We’ll have to ride a few more eMTBs with the new Pinion MGU E1.12 before we can tell you how and to what extent the motor/gearbox system affects suspension performance. On faster trails, the SIMPLON inspires lots of confidence, which makes it suitable for inexperienced riders. Seasoned trail veterans, on the other hand, could do with a little more support and feedback from the ground, because the plush suspension sucks up the rider’s input a bit too eagerly. As a result, the Rapcon Pmax Pinion requires great physical effort to pump through rollers and implement spontaneous direction changes. When the trail reduces to a fall line, you no longer feel as safe as on moderate trails. This encourages you to lean far back over the rear wheel to prevent dreaded OTB moments, which costs braking traction and control at the front.

Who should take a closer look at the 2023 SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion and who shouldn’t?

The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion is an excellent choice for anyone who’s looking for a comfortable eMTB for both uphill and downhill sessions. When gravity takes over, the SIMPLON’s handling works best for those with a more leisurely riding style. Aggressive, active riders, on the other hand, are better off looking for a bike that provides more support and more feedback from the ground. The innovative motor/gearbox unit also makes it a great alternative for all those riders who are fed up with a conventional drivetrain. Misaligned rear mechs, rattling chains and broken shift cables are a thing of the past with the new Pinion MGU E1.12.

Our conclusions about the 2023 SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion

The SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax Pinion brings a breath of fresh air into the Austrian manufacturer’s portfolio. The Pinion MGU E1.12 motor/gearbox unit impresses with a powerful character, minimal maintenance and smart features – rear derailleur adieu! On the trail, the SIMPLON convinces with intuitive handling and a high level of comfort, inspiring lots of confidence both up and downhill. For active, aggressive riders, however, the plush suspension lacks support.


  • Minimal drivetrain maintenance
  • Comfortable both up and downhill
  • Intuitive handling


  • For active riders the suspension lacks support
  • Little control and confidence on steep trails

For more info, visit the simplon.com website

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Words: Felix Rauch Photos: Peter Walker