28 January 2008

Belt Drive Standard Chosen!

There has been a fair amount of hubbub about the coming belt drive revolution- among single speeders, at least. The idea is simple: a single-piece toothed composite is covered in rubber and slung over a matching beltring and cog. Theoretically, very low maintenance, with a nearly infinite life, there have been a couple of issues. Word on the trail is that cog/ring durability has been leaving a bit to be desired, and of course they can't shift. Of course, you'll need to order the right length belt for your frame/gearing combination (they can't be shortened), and there hasn't been an industry standard size until now.

Belt drive and bike manufacturers recently got together to hammer out a standard at Gates' UK headquarters. Gates makes OEM belts for Audi and BMW, among others. The group settled on a 10mm pitch and 11mm depth. So there.

The feel of a belt-drive bike has been compared to that of a track bike with a tightly-tensioned chain, with no give at all. Efficiency approaches that of traditional chains (98%), but the belt is far lighter. Maintenance is roumoured to be minimal, which is nice. You'll need a split chainstay (at some point to get one one, which sort of sucks. Can't say if I like the idea or not... Anything less than 95% efficiency will probably kill it. Spot will be at 24HitOP next month, so maybe we'll get a play. Of course, our local Spot dealer may well have one before long too- their Longboard looks plain hot.


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