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  1. #1
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    Belt Drive and Fixing a Flat

    Hi Folks,

    I'm starting to consider a belt drive for my next bike, and I'm curious about something that doesn't seem to get a lot of coverage. How challenging is it to fix a rear flat? More specifically, is it easy enough to remove the rear wheel while on the road? Or does a flat necessitate a call to AAA ;^) ? Presumably that depends at least somewhat on the specific frame. Are there particular hangers or other approaches that make it easy or hard?

    Thanks in advance,

    Stephen

    Updated with additional comments below

    Thanks to folks for the replies. The original post should have noted that I was wondering about an IGH along with a belt drive. My main questions are the difficulty of aligning and tensioning the belt correctly. From the comments it seems like it's manageable on the road with a little practice in advance.
    Last edited by sathomasga; 05-09-14 at 06:57 AM. Reason: Update

  2. #2
    OlyCommuter babaluey's Avatar
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    The belt itself doesn't make wheel removal any more difficult than with a chain. But most belt-drive bikes use an IGH on the rear wheel (unless it's a single speed bike). This means that when you remove the wheel, you are also removing the gear unit, and that in turn means you need to disconnect the cable from the IGH first. It's not a big deal, just read through the procedure once or twice, maybe practice it once at home and you'll get it. It's most easily done with the bike upside down.

  3. #3
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    Most flats don't require removing the wheel.

    These are the steps I learned riding a horizontal drop bike with fenders, an IGH and a fully covered crankcase.
    1. Pull tire off one side of rim.
    2. Locate hole in tube
    3. Check tire for obstruction that caused hole in tube.
    4. Remove obstruction in tire
    5. Patch hole in tube.
    6. Reinstall the tire on the rim
    7. Inflate
    8. Carry on.

  4. #4
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by babaluey View Post
    ...you need to disconnect the cable from the IGH first.
    Getting slightly off-topic, but that's not always the case with IGH. If the cable housing is attached to the frame with QR tabs, you can often get enough slack to remove the wheel by simply de-attaching (is that even a word?) the housing from the first 2-3 tabs.

    Regarding frames, don't all belt driven bikes come with a break in drive side rear triangle, otherwise you wouldn't be able to remove or install the belt?

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  5. #5
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Some tires are easier to get back on than others. You may not be able to reinstall a difficult tire without removing the wheel. Finding the cause of the puncture is sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. Finding the difficult culprits is much easier with the wheel off the bike. With a large puncture or tear at the valve stem, a patch may not work. In the wet, a patch may not adhere. You may need to replace the tube, which requires removing the wheel.

    I always remove the wheel for reparing a flat, but don't use a belt drive or IGH.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    All depends on the frame designer's technique chosen for tensioning the belt .

  7. #7
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    Some tires are easier to get back on than others. You may not be able to reinstall a difficult tire without removing the wheel. Finding the cause of the puncture is sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. Finding the difficult culprits is much easier with the wheel off the bike. With a large puncture or tear at the valve stem, a patch may not work. In the wet, a patch may not adhere. You may need to replace the tube, which requires removing the wheel.

    I always remove the wheel for reparing a flat, but don't use a belt drive or IGH.
    I totally agree, unless I'm riding a horizondal drop bike with fenders and a full chaincase. Then, all those things you list are less hassle than removing the wheel.

  8. #8
    OlyCommuter babaluey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juha View Post
    Getting slightly off-topic, but that's not always the case with IGH. If the cable housing is attached to the frame with QR tabs, you can often get enough slack to remove the wheel by simply de-attaching (is that even a word?) the housing from the first 2-3 tabs.

    Regarding frames, don't all belt driven bikes come with a break in drive side rear triangle, otherwise you wouldn't be able to remove or install the belt?

    --J
    yea, I suppose that's possible, thanks for the clarification. But I think it would be less hassle to just detach the cable than to try to work on a wheel that is still tethered to the bike - like I say it isn't that big a deal.
    And yes, you do need a break in the rear triangle to remove/reinstall the belt, but fortunately you don't have to do that to change a flat. I've had my Spot Ajax for almost two years and have never had to remove the belt. And only had one flat, then mounted some Schwalbe Marathons. Smooth riding since.

  9. #9
    contiuniously variable TransitBiker's Avatar
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    On shimano hubs the cable can be unhooked in like .5 seconds, it has a lil directional screw that clamps down on the end & anchors into a slot, just pop it out of slot and you're golden. Be sure to thread the cable around the hub properly when re-instaling, or you'll end up not shifting correctly & possibly damaging the mechanisms inside.

    - Andy
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  10. #10
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    This is kind of elementary, but everyone should do a dry-run flat repair on any new bike and immediately pick up all the stuff you used and throw it in you bike bag.
    Not very much fun on the side of the road wondering about something as the sun is going d
    .................................................................................................... .........................o
    .................................................................................................... .............................w
    .................................................................................................... ................................n
    .................................................................................................... .................................

    That also means some cheap readers for we oLde people

    But I agree with the posts about not removing the wheel at all once you learn your bike. I havent had a flat that required a tube/rim removal in almost a decade. KoW!
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  11. #11
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    The biggest problem with belt drives is that the rear wheel has to be 100% centered and aligned in the rear drop outs or else the belt will keep falling off the rear sprocket. This was a problem when the belt drives first came out. I don't know if the manufacturers corrected the problem or not...There is nothing wrong with chain drives. Chains are simple and easy to maintain or replace when they wear out. Why waste money on something that has no advantages...As for patching a tube without removing a wheel. Really ?? ...Try patching your tube in sub-freezing temps with snow and sleet or pouring rain.

  12. #12
    contiuniously variable TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    The biggest problem with belt drives is that the rear wheel has to be 100% centered and aligned in the rear drop outs or else the belt will keep falling off the rear sprocket. This was a problem when the belt drives first came out. I don't know if the manufacturers corrected the problem or not...There is nothing wrong with chain drives. Chains are simple and easy to maintain or replace when they wear out. Why waste money on something that has no advantages...As for patching a tube without removing a wheel. Really ?? ...Try patching your tube in sub-freezing temps with snow and sleet or pouring rain.
    With the older plain tooth belts it would wander & possibly come off especially if it wasn't 100% aligned, but they have a center track design now, which keeps the belt centered on the ring/rear sprocket. The belt still has to be within a reasonable degree of alignment or it will climb off.

    As for belts vs chains, chains are noisier, and stretch and corrode and wear the teeth of the ring & sprocket out. Belts, especially the center track design, have nowhere for debris and road go to sit, so now it's even simpler to maintain.

    As for patching tubes, i don't think anything involving elastic and adhesive should be done below 38-42 degrees...

    - Andy
    Last edited by TransitBiker; 05-08-14 at 03:05 AM.
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  13. #13
    Bike Gremlin Slaninar's Avatar
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    I believe chains have less loss of power than belts (more pedal power gets to the rear wheel).
    Evviva il comunismo e la libertà.

  14. #14
    contiuniously variable TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
    I believe chains have less loss of power than belts (more pedal power gets to the rear wheel).
    Perhaps, but someone i know who knows his stuff said he might get a single speed belt drive after riding one... I like the idea, especially with the new design. I myself may convert my bike to belt drive, since i all ready have the N360, would make the drive train worry free.

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  15. #15
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
    I believe chains have less loss of power than belts (more pedal power gets to the rear wheel).
    That's true with a perfectly clean new chain and the way the Gates system is recommended to be set up (with a tension preload). If the belt drive system were to use no pre-load and a tensioner instead, the belt system would become more efficient once the rider starts putting out 200 watts or more.

    Again, that's with a new, clean chain. To me a belt drive is attractive because it is less effected by exposure to the elements. My chains can be in pretty rough shape during the winter between cleanings and I'm guessing a rubber band might be more efficient at times.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  16. #16
    Bike Gremlin Slaninar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    That's true with a perfectly clean new chain and the way the Gates system is recommended to be set up (with a tension preload). If the belt drive system were to use no pre-load and a tensioner instead, the belt system would become more efficient once the rider starts putting out 200 watts or more.

    Again, that's with a new, clean chain. To me a belt drive is attractive because it is less effected by exposure to the elements. My chains can be in pretty rough shape during the winter between cleanings and I'm guessing a rubber band might be more efficient at times.
    Give it a test and share your experience. If belt can be OK in winter grit and rain and if average speed doesn't drop (I'm not sure how many watts I put out on commuting, since I try not to sweat too much).
    Evviva il comunismo e la libertà.

  17. #17
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Good thread. It's giving me some things to think about. I've thought on and off about belt drives and hope others jump into the thread with what they know.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  18. #18
    OlyCommuter babaluey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=(8)=- View Post
    That also means some cheap readers for we oLde people
    I have a pair in my kit! With experience comes wisdom.

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    With experience comes wisdom.
    or dismissing a contrary notion, the Delusions build on top of each other ..

  20. #20
    Senior Member jdswitters's Avatar
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    Not that interested in belt drives for the sake of having a belt drive but one of my dream commuters (aluboo commuter) has a belt drive and the break is at the bolt on drop outs.

    I have seen most of the new ones similar to this, though this isn't an aluboo.



    which really isn't that new of a technology. I have a '59 magneet that unbolts at the end of the rear triangle, it has been around for many miles before I found it and everything still holds together.
    Torker Graduate, 288 rods a day without pub detours.

  21. #21
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    When I was a kid, we didn't have quick releases. Everything was nutted.

    We always just laid the bike on it's side, removed the tire, fixed the problem, and pushed it to the nearest gas station for more air.

    Worked every time - no problem.

    But, I'm old!

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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  22. #22
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    I had the same question when considering a belt drive bike. I found a video that demonstrates exactly how it's done with a Spot Brand bike, so I thought I would add it to this old thread so future searchers can see it: acme-ajax tech 720p on Vimeo

    I ended up buying a Spot Acme. They are well designed for belt drive. The only thing I needed was a 15mm wrench multitool to get the back wheel off when out on the road. One of several fixie tools will do the job (Topeak Urban 8 or Nutter tools are great).

    The one thing I would recommend confirming before buying a bike is whether re-tensioning is required when removing the wheel. The Spots don't need it, but some others do - and that requires more tools and complexity. According to joe-bike.com, the Raleigh Cadent requires re-tensioning.

  23. #23
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    Belt drives should use a vertical dropout to maintain tension. Std derailleur vertical dropouts have no way of adjusting tension, so you need either sliding vertical dropouts or eccentric bottom bracket.
    Chain drive can use a horizontal dropout but tension is not so critical.

  24. #24
    Daily Rider Robert C's Avatar
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    I have a belt drive coupled with an N360 on my commuter. It also has horizontal dropouts, the adjustment for tension is done that the Bottom Bracket (and in about 1500 mils I have not need to adjust it at all).

    Removing the wheel is simple after removing the cables to the N360 (which is also pretty easy). It is no more complicated than removing any other single speed. The belt-break is in the chain-stay; however, it does not need to be opened for tyre changes; it only needs to be opened to replace the belt.

    So, the operation is:
    1. remove cables from hub
    2. loosen hub bolts
    3. pull wheel straight up (assuming bike is upside down)


    thats it, nothing special or hard.
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  25. #25
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    I run tubeless road tires, and carry a tire plug kit. Luckily I have only had to use it once, but it worked great. It's about the size of a co2 cannister, and fixed my flat in about a minute, didn't have to mess with the tire at all, just jammed this thing into the hole and reinflated to 100psi. On that day, I was just a few miles into a 50 mile ride, and it held air no problem for the remainder of the ride, I never had to top off the air or anything like that.

    Amazon.com: Dynaplug Ultralite Tubeless Tire Repair Tool Kit, Made in USA: Automotive

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