The Chainlink

You may have seen my bikes at the bike swap and saw that my new model is compatible with Gate Carbon Drive and the step through bike I built for NAHBS had the belt drive on it. 

Well, at the bike swap I got a lot of people that didn't even know it existed, even some attendees at NAHBS didn't know or had never seen it. Before I built with it, I had never ridden one, but I knew it existed.

Gates has made them for a few years and are on their first major revision that eliminates the problem of slipping off the cogs. They have designed a great product that is superior to chains in most ways except price and frame setup requirements.

Has anyone had any experience with them? Good, Bad, Ugly

Do you think they will take off? Gates is making a big push with this new Center Track technology.

 

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I've been riding a Trek Soho DLX with a Gates carbon belt for a little more than two years.  So far, it's worked fine and been trouble-free.  It stays clean and never requires chain lube, and if it gets muddy you just hose it off.  It seems identical to belts I've run in motorcycles, so I would think it will stand up to stress and some abuse.  I keep thinking I should buy a Gates Krikit tensiometer to get the tension perfect.  But I suspect the bike shop who set it up for me originally did the tension by feel/eyeball and got it pretty much right.

I test rode a bike with a belt drive in December and I agree, there is much to like about the technology-the quietness and absence of lubrication chief among them. I didn't experience the cog slippage that some have complained of, but it was a comparatively short test ride. My reluctance to go with a belt drive has everything to do with the fact that in the event of failure, this is not an owner-servicable part, and whatever the manufacturer claims for mileage and durability, when this thing breaks (or gets cut), my only chance of riding away is if I've had the foresight to carry a spare belt with me. And yes, I do always carry a chain tool with me.

Was the frame manufactured around the belt? I don't see the "break" point in the frame to get the belt on/off.

Where the seat stay attaches to the dropout there is a bolt. I was able to design it into the dropout this time around so it is pretty inconspicuous.

Will G - 10mi said:

Was the frame manufactured around the belt? I don't see the "break" point in the frame to get the belt on/off.

Good point about the user serviceability. Carrying a spare with you would be awkward also.

Kevin C 4.1 mi said:

... My reluctance to go with a belt drive has everything to do with the fact that in the event of failure, this is not an owner-servicable part, and whatever the manufacturer claims for mileage and durability, when this thing breaks (or gets cut), my only chance of riding away is if I've had the foresight to carry a spare belt with me. And yes, I do always carry a chain tool with me.

Good to hear. I do have one of the Krikit devices at my workshop if you are curious about it. 

Thunder Snow said:

I've been riding a Trek Soho DLX with a Gates carbon belt for a little more than two years.  So far, it's worked fine and been trouble-free.  It stays clean and never requires chain lube, and if it gets muddy you just hose it off.  It seems identical to belts I've run in motorcycles, so I would think it will stand up to stress and some abuse.  I keep thinking I should buy a Gates Krikit tensiometer to get the tension perfect.  But I suspect the bike shop who set it up for me originally did the tension by feel/eyeball and got it pretty much right.


Nice!  I may drop by and, if you have the time, do a quick tension test.  I've never had belt slippage, and I'm guessing that those who have, simply are running a slack belt.

I haven't needed to try replacing a belt yet, but I would imagine it's no different that replacing a chain, with the one small addition of opening a bolt to slip the belt inside the frame.  I do know that new belts are packaged folded up in a little ball, like tire tubes are, so if I was really concerned--if I start breaking belts every few months--I could probably carry a spare in my pannier or backpack.  But motorcycle carbon belts last for years under much higher stresses and rpm's, so I'm not expecting much in the way of breakage.


Legacy Frameworks said:

Good to hear. I do have one of the Krikit devices at my workshop if you are curious about it.  

As a hardcore grouchy bastard I originally was all about hating on the belt drive; chains worked fine for the last hundred or so years, why go changing things?

Then I got some time in servicing and riding them and I am now a convert.  They work great, they have proven they are very durable and easy to service. 

Belt drives seem like the perfect fit for commuting somewhere flat in not great weather, i.e. winter in Chicago.  Someday I might try a conversion kit on a beater bike or just flat out pick one up if I ever see a cheap enough option that I can get the okay from the wife.  Dare to dream, I know. 

Looks pretty cool. One of my questions is how the average person would handle a flat tire with this set-up. Would an on-street flat fix be difficult or impossible for a person of average mechanical ability carrying a basic tool kit compared to a conventional chain/derailleur set-up?

Elegant frame design, BTW.

With the way I am doing it, it has vertical dropouts, like your derailleured bike, so slipping the wheel on and off is easy, there is no adjustment once it is in the dropout. And you don't have to move a derailleur out of the way. All you need is a 15mm wrench.

There is a little tension on the belt, but not very much - I was able to get it in and out without adjusting the eccentric bottom bracket and was told after that my belt tension was too high.

With this particular bike, the only other issue is the drum brake attachment. Thats the one thing I need to work out, they have been notorious for hard wheel changes.

Hope I answered your questions, thanks for the compliment. 

Good to know.  Thanks.

I'll be curious to see where you go with that frame design.  It's got great potential.

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