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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 02-09-13, 02:36 AM   #26
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And the belt drives haven't dominated the motorcycle market - still a ton of chains and shafts.
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Old 02-09-13, 07:36 AM   #27
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From being a mechanic: Belt drives seem to be just fine. All tensioning issues aside (Which manufacturers have very elegant solutions to) I would gladly recommend them. Just make sure that the store you purchase from (Or your LBS atleast) is comfortable with working on them and that they are willing to order / stock parts for you.

All in all I would recommend them for basic commuting. Personally I am never gonna do one because I just like my 2X10 drivetrain too much, but if I was going to invest is a real "set and forget" bike, that is what I would choose. Dealing with chain and cassette wear is one of my biggest monetary expenses on my bike (And I need to be sure I catch the chain wear before I eat the cassette). Just go with a belt from a reputable source (Like a Trek SoHo or something).

My overall recommendation is that if you go with a belt drive, don't cheap out on the purchase. Get something from a reputable brand and save yourself the un-godly headaches that a crappily designed bike induces.
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Old 02-09-13, 10:45 AM   #28
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Get something from a reputable brand and save yourself the un-godly headaches that a crappily designed bike induces.
+1

I just put in an order for a Spot Ajax. Once I get it, ill put the pics up.
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Old 02-09-13, 11:21 AM   #29
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That looks like an awesome bike. I look forward to seeing the pics, and hearing your impressions.
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Old 02-10-13, 01:51 PM   #30
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My centertrack Gates belt and IGH just goes and goes and goes.......in any weather.
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Old 02-10-13, 02:05 PM   #31
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My centertrack Gates belt and IGH just goes and goes and goes.......in any weather.
I was already excited when I put in the order but now that one response just has me more excited. I should have it by Saturday if my LBS get's it from Spot by Wednesday. They are doing a few other things to the build but it's gonna be a simple commuter but with a porteur style rack in front instead of a rear rack.
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Old 02-10-13, 08:23 PM   #32
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I was already excited when I put in the order but now that one response just has me more excited. I should have it by Saturday if my LBS get's it from Spot by Wednesday. They are doing a few other things to the build but it's gonna be a simple commuter but with a porteur style rack in front instead of a rear rack.
What bike?
I have the Novara Gotham with NuVinci n360 hub. So quiet and smooth...........
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Old 02-10-13, 09:36 PM   #33
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What bike?
I have the Novara Gotham with NuVinci n360 hub. So quiet and smooth...........
I put in an order for a Spot Ajax. It comes equipped with a 8spd Shimano Alfine IGH but the LBS that sells them will be converting it to an 11spd.
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Old 02-11-13, 05:23 AM   #34
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I put in an order for a Spot Ajax. It comes equipped with a 8spd Shimano Alfine IGH but the LBS that sells them will be converting it to an 11spd.
Nice!!
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Old 02-12-13, 08:57 PM   #35
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love my belt drive. Center track, alfine 8, jtech combo. It was a little more expensive to run a belt drive, but worth it. Quiet, smooth and nearly maintenance free. Even with the center track there was a learning curve to setting belt tension, but once you get it figured out, its a set it and forget it system. I had my LBS owner give me a lesson on removing the rear wheel before I put a lot of miles on it and it really is not as bad as others make it out to be. After a couple tyre swaps I had it down almost as fast as a qr and derailleur. I've not noticed excessive wear on the front cog wheel, but dry and dusty conditions combined with too much tension early on did a pretty good number on the anodizing. The rear cog is stainless so no issues there. The ride is so smooth and quiet that I really need incentive to get on my well maintained road bike. A quick shot with the hose is the only "maintainence" I've had to do really. I have a more detailed review in the CX forum.
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Old 02-13-13, 04:01 PM   #36
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I put in an order for a Spot Ajax. It comes equipped with a 8spd Shimano Alfine IGH but the LBS that sells them will be converting it to an 11spd.
Gates now has a free Iphone app to set your belt tension with. You pluck the belt and it listens to the harmonic to tell you what your tension is. Nice touch!
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Old 02-14-13, 10:59 AM   #37
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love my belt drive. Center track, alfine 8, jtech combo. It was a little more expensive to run a belt drive, but worth it. Quiet, smooth and nearly maintenance free. Even with the center track there was a learning curve to setting belt tension, but once you get it figured out, its a set it and forget it system. I had my LBS owner give me a lesson on removing the rear wheel before I put a lot of miles on it and it really is not as bad as others make it out to be. After a couple tyre swaps I had it down almost as fast as a qr and derailleur. I've not noticed excessive wear on the front cog wheel, but dry and dusty conditions combined with too much tension early on did a pretty good number on the anodizing. The rear cog is stainless so no issues there. The ride is so smooth and quiet that I really need incentive to get on my well maintained road bike. A quick shot with the hose is the only "maintainence" I've had to do really. I have a more detailed review in the CX forum.
I agree that removing and replacing the wheel itself does not in and of itself pose any significant difficulties and is actually quite easy to do after the first couple of times. However, the re-tensioning remains a PITA after putting the wheel back. I think part of the reason is that the belt does wear a tiny bit between every flat-fix, which moves the tension sweetspot just a smidge higher (in terms of the frequency obtained with Gate's iphone app) every time I go through this. Instead, it would be nice just to be able to rely on a predetermined tension frequency that works forever (which I know is unrealistic since there is no such part that will not ever incur any wear). The other thing that seems to affect proper tensioning is the wear on the rear cog, which on my bike, is aluminum and seems to wear a lot quicker than the steel ones Gates is shipping with centertrack now. So that's another thing you have to compensate for during tensioning, but this shouldn't be so much of an issue with centertrack.
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Old 02-14-13, 11:26 AM   #38
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Motorcycle belts are wider.. motor has more power .. apples and pomegranates.

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Old 02-14-13, 11:32 AM   #39
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They also apply dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times the amount of torque through the belt to move a machine that weighs 30 times as much or more than a bicycle. Of course a motorcycle's belt will be wider!
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Old 02-14-13, 11:45 AM   #40
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Actually, I'm not so sure the instantaneous torque outputs (the output on the highest torque point of the downstroke (or power stroke on a motorcycle engine)) are *THAT* different. And that's what would determine when things break. Gearing comes into play here, though.
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Old 02-14-13, 12:06 PM   #41
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Perhaps torque wasn't the appropriate term to use. Horsepower would be more appropriate. The amount of work being done through the belt in a motorcycle is MUCH higher than a bicycle. I don't know how many horsepower a human can generate (probably less than one), but even a very modest motorcycle will make around 40 horsepower. Many belt driven motorcycles are 100+ horsepower.
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Old 02-14-13, 12:21 PM   #42
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For belt tensioning, a sliding vertical dropout seems to be the no 1 choice.
You can get an iphone app to measure the belt tension from the frequency of pinging the belt.
The centre track rear cogs are now stainless steel rather than aluminium which is good since the 3-tab fitting was designed for steel. There have been a few cases of aluminium tabs snapping because they were overloaded.

2 of the "round the world" speed records have been set with belt drive bikes.
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Old 02-14-13, 12:42 PM   #43
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But, how fast is the belt spinning?

What stresses the belt isn't (usually) speed, it's torque applied (and, increasing speed reduces torque applied for the same power). You use gearing to multiply that torque (trade RPM for torque at the same horsepower) or divide it (trade torque for RPM at the same horsepower).

When the engine's useful power range is from 1000ish to several thousand RPM, not from 80 to 120 RPM...
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Old 02-14-13, 01:06 PM   #44
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I must be the only person who can't get reliable readings from the iPhone app. If I try several times in a row, I get readings from 20hz to 120hz.

On the other hand, the mechanic at the shop where I bought the bike told me to tigghten the belt until I heard a clicking or clunking noise from the IGH (Alfine 8), and then back it off until the noise stopped.

The bike (a Civia Bryant) has sliding horizontal dropouts, with a tension adjsuting screw, so that was a piece of cake.

I have only had the bike out for a couple of reltively short rides, and that seems fine. The bike is so quiet that loudest noise (I ride at night) is usually from my clothes. That's eerie.

Still wish I could get reprocible readings from the app.

Mike
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Old 02-14-13, 04:59 PM   #45
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Motorcycle belts are several inches wide.. apples and pomegranates.
Current Harley belts are 1",I think the older ones were 1.5". Think BMW also uses 1".

Just being pedantic.
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Old 02-17-13, 02:57 PM   #46
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I agree that removing and replacing the wheel itself does not in and of itself pose any significant difficulties and is actually quite easy to do after the first couple of times. However, the re-tensioning remains a PITA after putting the wheel back. I think part of the reason is that the belt does wear a tiny bit between every flat-fix, which moves the tension sweetspot just a smidge higher (in terms of the frequency obtained with Gate's iphone app) every time I go through this. Instead, it would be nice just to be able to rely on a predetermined tension frequency that works forever (which I know is unrealistic since there is no such part that will not ever incur any wear). The other thing that seems to affect proper tensioning is the wear on the rear cog, which on my bike, is aluminum and seems to wear a lot quicker than the steel ones Gates is shipping with centertrack now. So that's another thing you have to compensate for during tensioning, but this shouldn't be so much of an issue with centertrack.
Respectfully, belt tension with the center track system is almost.....ALMOST a non-issue, and the non-center track system is likely not offered on any new bike anyway. Although you can still purchase it, anyone building up a new bike would be foolish to choose the non-center track. Yes it takes some learning, but it isn't that sensitive. I don't have an iphone so I set tension by feel. After a couple flat fixes and tyre swaps, it became second nature.
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Old 02-17-13, 03:08 PM   #47
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I must be the only person who can't get reliable readings from the iPhone app. If I try several times in a row, I get readings from 20hz to 120hz.

On the other hand, the mechanic at the shop where I bought the bike told me to tigghten the belt until I heard a clicking or clunking noise from the IGH (Alfine 8), and then back it off until the noise stopped.

The bike (a Civia Bryant) has sliding horizontal dropouts, with a tension adjsuting screw, so that was a piece of cake.

I have only had the bike out for a couple of reltively short rides, and that seems fine. The bike is so quiet that loudest noise (I ride at night) is usually from my clothes. That's eerie.

Still wish I could get reprocible readings from the app.

Mike
You aren't the only one that got mixed results from the iphone app. My builder had the same problem and basically told me the same thing yours did regarding tension with the alfine hub. I don't have an iphone and there isn't an android app that I am aware of. The method your tech told you works for me and after a few tries early on I can get it set pretty good on the first attempt with horizontal dropouts so I would think sliding vertical dropouts it should be a set it and forget it operation. Belt stretch is not an issue with the Gates carbon belts. Let the doubters doubt. Until they have experienced it, they don't know.
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Old 02-17-13, 05:00 PM   #48
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Anyone want to go count belt final drive, used on the FIM GP circuits, and Isle of Man TT Races ?


Dear Pedantic,
NB: BMW M/C have drive shafts not belts .. cam shaft is gear driven .. Owned one.

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Old 02-17-13, 05:42 PM   #49
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^^^Apples to oranges. Racing bikes change their gearing for each track,and the fat 180+ rear tires are hard to get a belt around. I've had belt drives on my motorcycles for the past 18yrs,I wouldn't want to go back to a chain.
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Old 02-17-13, 11:24 PM   #50
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... so I would think sliding vertical dropouts it should be a set it and forget it operation. Belt stretch is not an issue with the Gates carbon belts. Let the doubters doubt. Until they have experienced it, they don't know.
I think that sliding vertical dropouts are the technically superior solution. They's be on my dream bike.

When you about your builder are you talking about someone who builds custom frames for Gates drive bikes?

Mike
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