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  1. #1
    JustFoldIt ChainlessRev's Avatar
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    Chainless (Belt + Shaft) Folding Bikes!

    Not sure if this is the right place to post this so please kill this thread if this is not the right place.

    Want to let everyone know that our chainless folding bikes (Abio Bicycles) are now at Bloomingdale's (flagship store in NY on 59th St & 3rd Ave) & also Tumi Stores' (NY also) window display in support of Bicycle For A Day (BFAD) (www.bicycleforaday.org)!

    Come check out our Shaft & Belt drive bikes! We'll be riding on this Sat Sept 20th at BFAD's launch so see you there!

    Full disclosure: I'm a member of Abio Bike's start-up team!

    ChainlessRev
    www.abiobikes.com

  2. #2
    JustFoldIt ChainlessRev's Avatar
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    Here are some pictures of the abio's chainless bikes....

    Green bike (Verdion) is a belt drive
    Purple bike (Penza) is a shaft dive

    Enjoy!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3
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    Interesting. Someone's offering one up on Craigslist and I'll admit, these bikes have a compelling design mix. The frames don't seem to be anything unusual; from what I can see they seem like typical stamp-your-own-brand-name-on Chinese frame..... telescoping saddle, fold-down stem/handlebars, center frame-fold, folding pedals. For a commute bike, they have several features that are potentially attractive:

    -Internal cable routing.
    -Internal rear hub (Shimano Nexus 3spd or 4spd).
    -choice of shaft drive or strida-like greaseless belt drive.
    -Fenders with full coverage to prevent splash-up.

    A CL ad this week mentioned a retail price of $790 though, and for that much I'd be more likely to get a better Dahon or a Brompton.

    Also, I'd want to see videos of how difficult/easy it is to change a rear tire on one of these things.... for both the belt drive and shaft drive versions.

  4. #4
    Bicycling Gnome
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    People on this forum would want to know the weight of the bikes and the gear ratios available.

    I could have missed these, but they don't seem to be covered on the site.

  5. #5
    ...poet... timo888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilV View Post
    People on this forum would want to know the weight of the bikes and the gear ratios available.

    I could have missed these, but they don't seem to be covered on the site.
    http://www.abiobikes.com/models.html

    29 lb
    184% Shimano 4-speed Nexus

    Regards
    T
    novis rebus studentem

  6. #6
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    there is wear on shaft drives and of course on belt drives ...One should find out to get spares before to clunk down substantial money .....

    Also if the belt drive works in the rain ( slippage and howling screaming noises) are indeed known problems with the genre

    thor

  7. #7
    Life in Mono
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    Quote Originally Posted by brakemeister View Post
    there is wear on shaft drives and of course on belt drives ...One should find out to get spares before to clunk down substantial money .....

    Also if the belt drive works in the rain ( slippage and howling screaming noises) are indeed known problems with the genre

    thor
    Sorry Thor, but you really seem to have it in for these alternatives ... what is your evidence for such sweeping statements ? (apart from they not being from Dahon ) .

    FWIW shafts and belts are are in widespread use on motor bikes and bikes (Kawaski, BMW, Harley ... ) . And judging by the recent bike show reports, Belts are becoming very popular on mountain bikes and single speed bikes. On belt drive bikes the belt does NOT wear out, if anything its the pulleys that wear - very gradually. They are light, quiet and above all clean - pretty vital for a folding bike taken on a crowded train.

    Likewise shaft drive motor bikes; couriers here in London still choose old Honda 'kettles' (watercooled shaft drives), Kwackers (shaft drives), even though these are often 20 years old ... just to avoid the hassle of chains (motorcyclists here will understand ). The slight added weight of a shaft on a bicycle may well work for some folk - a simple way of getting an all enclosed, zero maintenance drive.

  8. #8
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    lets make sure we are talking about the same apples and oranges here ... A BMW shaftdrive is indeed just slightly different than the above pictured .... ( and works well with a high powerd Motorcycle)

    A Gates Belt drive is a sweet alternative to a chain, however thats not what the manufacturer above is using. The Single speeders and high end Mountain bikes you are talking about are in excess of 2000 dlr and using the new introduced Gates carbon belt drive. Which also had problems last year in the rain maiking noises, but GAtes supposingly has found the solution for this ...

    again ..........Apples and Oranges and has nothing to do with Dahon whatsoever

    I am trying to get a Gates Drive for a Mu ... but the lenghth of the belt combined with the size of the sprocket doiesnt work out to be anything close to acceptable in gear ratio terms

    thor

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    And the 'wear' and 'Howling'

  10. #10
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    Glad to see more belt driven folders (not interested in the shaft driven ones...too heavy). Perhaps ChainlessRev could comment on how his belts compare to the gates belts?

    I personally don't buy into the "belts and shafts are cleaner" argument for folding bikes because in my experience a decent rustproof coating on a chain that doesn't need to slip sideways (ie derail) and only gets wet while in motion (ie while riding) before promptly being moved somewhere dry and warm (ie brought indoors like a folding bike) is sufficient to keep a chain operating efficiently enough while maintaining an acceptable lifespan. So I don't think these shaft and belt drives offer as much of an improvement as people say they do.

    However, while the unoiled chain kludge is likely to reduce the lifespan of the drivetrain (but still not below that of a derailed chain), I have heard that belt drives actually offer a significantly longer lifespan than even oiled chains. Is this true of the abio belts?

  11. #11
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    Belt drives sound promising to me. Shaft drives look good in advertisements, but I don't think they are appropriate for bicycles, at least not in their present form.

  12. #12
    Bicycling Gnome
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    My question about gear ratios was really directed at knowing the ratios in gear inches available. For example, my Merc has ratios of 45, 60 and 79 on its larger chain ring delivered through the SRF3 hub. Knowing the overall range of the hub in question as provided on the website, doesn't tell me whether I will be able to pedal it up the local hills. That is all a matter of the ratios available through the front and rear pulleys and the internals of the hubs. Giving the final ratios from pedals to wheels is helpful.

    By the way, I'd have thought belts of the type that operate camshafts in car engines would vastly out perform traditional straight cycle chains. The camshaft, fuel pump and water pump in a VW diesel like mine, all driven by a toothed belt consumes several horsepower - about ten I am told. They get replaced between 40 and 60 thousand miles, or about a thousand hours - call it 10,000 hp/hrs. That kind of technology ought to outlast most bikes, I'd have thought. I couldn't deliver that kind of effort in the rest of my life, riding at I do at about 1/10th of a hp. It would take me 100,000 hours to deliver all that energy. That's 600 weeks solid or eleven and a half years of non-stop riding at 12 miles an hour. I'm not an engineer, but even if I'm out by a factor of ten which I am not, the belt is a good option.
    Last edited by EvilV; 10-22-08 at 01:04 PM.

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    I like the idea of shaftdrive or belt.

    Shaftdrive is always going to be heavier, and I share Thor's concern about spare parts. You are also stuck with the ratios you get (which isn't necessarily a problem).

    Belt drive on a bicycle has a few issues, the biggest in my opinion is that they need very accurate alignment of the cogs (ie perfect "chainline"). Very few bikes have sufficient stiffness in their chain stays to maintain this - mainly because it would have been overdesign and extra weight for a chain system which has greater tolerance. The new bikes coming out for the Gates belts no doubt will have this sorted. Belt drive could bring us cleaner and lighter bikes with less maintenance.

    Of course we could have all that if manufacturers would simply go back 100 years and give us full enclosed oilbath chaincases. It should not be beyond modern science to keep them oiltight, make them out of light material, and give us a lighter chain system that would last forever.

  14. #14
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by datako View Post
    I like the idea of shaftdrive or belt.


    Of course we could have all that if manufacturers would simply go back 100 years and give us full enclosed oilbath chaincases. It should not be beyond modern science to keep them oiltight, make them out of light material, and give us a lighter chain system that would last forever.
    That's true and with modern materials like plastics, it wouldn't add much weight. You wouldn't even need to carry sloppy oil in the bath either. Just spraying some solvent based grease onto the chain every few months would keep it pristine, I should think. I suspect that most of my chain wear is caused by the abrasive crud that surrounds it all the time. Even when you steep a part worn chain in solvent and hang it out to dry, you can hear the grit inside it when you bend it side to side. My dad had an old Raleigh Superbe in the mid 1950s with a chain case on it. At times he was riding it about 15 miles a day and as far as I know he never did a thing to it except mend the odd puncture.


  15. #15
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilV View Post
    My question about gear ratios was really directed at knowing the ratios in gear inches available. For example, my Merc has ratios of 45, 60 and 79 on its larger chain ring delivered through the SRF3 hub. Knowing the overall range of the hub in question as provided on the website, doesn't tell me whether I will be able to pedal it up the local hills. That is all a matter of the ratios available through the front and rear pulleys and the internals of the hubs. Giving the final ratios from pedals to wheels is helpful.

    By the way, I'd have thought belts of the type that operate camshafts in car engines would vastly out perform traditional straight cycle chains. The camshaft, fuel pump and water pump in a VW diesel like mine, all driven by a toothed belt consumes several horsepower - about ten I am told. They get replaced between 40 and 60 thousand miles, or about a thousand hours - call it 10,000 hp/hrs. That kind of technology ought to outlast most bikes, I'd have thought. I couldn't deliver that kind of effort in the rest of my life, riding at I do at about 1/10th of a hp. It would take me 100,000 hours to deliver all that energy. That's 600 weeks solid or eleven and a half years of non-stop riding at 12 miles an hour. I'm not an engineer, but even if I'm out by a factor of ten which I am not, the belt is a good option.
    The problem with bicycles is that while the power is low, the torque is very high. Low RPMs, high torque. High enough that chains or cranks occasionally break. Belt drives suffer a bit under such conditions. But they are still a neat solution for utility cycling, methinks.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  16. #16
    eight spokes somnatash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by datako View Post
    Of course we could have all that if manufacturers would simply go back 100 years and give us full enclosed oilbath chaincases. It should not be beyond modern science to keep them oiltight, make them out of light material, and give us a lighter chain system that would last forever.
    The "Country"

    a chaincase made by Utopia
    http://www.radratgeber.de/Radratgebe...chutz_131.html
    is not oilbath but almost complete closed. Users say they can "forget the chain altogether". Some tell they are curious and spend a look at it about every 6 month only to see a chain that looks "new" after 1000s of km and do a slight oiling. They say the chain so will last almost for ever. I would like to see more of these or try it - also because its ultra quite - not like some voluminous chaincases which enhance every sound. Downsides are the "utopic" price (>300 Euro due to still ultra small numbers), the weight and so far - limited chainring size (38t and 44t). For a Folder it would be a must that chain is not rolled up during the fold/no tensioner - like in swift or most center frame folders.

    For a clean, reliable and maintenance free ultimate winter folder I fancy something like the swift with
    front hydraulic disc brake
    puncture free tires like Marathon plus
    Dynohub plus Led lights
    8Spd IGH
    permanent Mudguards
    Country chaincase
    what do people think - possible?

  17. #17
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by somnatash View Post
    Downsides are the "utopic" price (>300 Euro due to still ultra small numbers), the weight and so far - limited chainring size (38t and 44t).
    LOL - if the whole bike was 300 Euros, I might buy it.

    That chain cover must be almost hand made at that price.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by datako View Post
    Belt drive on a bicycle has a few issues, the biggest in my opinion is that they need very accurate alignment of the cogs (ie perfect "chainline"). Very few bikes have sufficient stiffness in their chain stays to maintain this - mainly because it would have been overdesign and extra weight for a chain system which has greater tolerance. The new bikes coming out for the Gates belts no doubt will have this sorted. Belt drive could bring us cleaner and lighter bikes with less maintenance.
    That's a good point. I never considered the fact that the side plates on a chain allow the component of an oblique force in the direction of rotation to be efficiently transmitted. Transmission of an oblique force with a belt drive, it would seem, depends on the stiffness of the side corners of the teeth on the belt.

    Quote Originally Posted by datako View Post
    Of course we could have all that if manufacturers would simply go back 100 years and give us full enclosed oilbath chaincases. It should not be beyond modern science to keep them oiltight, make them out of light material, and give us a lighter chain system that would last forever.
    I don't see how a chain+oilbath+case could ever be as light as a belt.

    ...but there may be even better solutions. Oil impregnated chains and chains with sealed o-rings seem to offer all the advantages of the alternative systems while retaining full compatibility with current standard "singlespeed" chains.
    http://chain-guide.com/

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    Glad to see more belt driven folders (not interested in the shaft driven ones...too heavy). Perhaps ChainlessRev could comment on how his belts compare to the gates belts?

    I personally don't buy into the "belts and shafts are cleaner" argument for folding bikes because in my experience a decent rustproof coating on a chain that doesn't need to slip sideways (ie derail) and only gets wet while in motion (ie while riding) before promptly being moved somewhere dry and warm (ie brought indoors like a folding bike) is sufficient to keep a chain operating efficiently enough while maintaining an acceptable lifespan. So I don't think these shaft and belt drives offer as much of an improvement as people say they do.

    However, while the unoiled chain kludge is likely to reduce the lifespan of the drivetrain (but still not below that of a derailed chain), I have heard that belt drives actually offer a significantly longer lifespan than even oiled chains. Is this true of the abio belts?
    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    I don't see how a chain+oilbath+case could ever be as light as a belt.

    ...but there may be even better solutions. Oil impregnated chains and chains with sealed o-rings seem to offer all the advantages of the alternative systems while retaining full compatibility with current standard "singlespeed" chains.
    http://chain-guide.com/
    LOL. it's funny how you are now assigning certain conditions in your defense of your not oiling a chain. That's still gobbledygook. I'd take an oilbath setup over your lubeless chain any day.
    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    For a bike without a derailleur you really don't need to oil the chain at all and I don't oil the chains on any of my folding bikes.

  20. #20
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    The problem with bicycles is that while the power is low, the torque is very high. Low RPMs, high torque. High enough that chains or cranks occasionally break. Belt drives suffer a bit under such conditions. But they are still a neat solution for utility cycling, methinks.
    When I was down with Mulleady and SesamiCrunch, Mulleady went for a quick spin on the bike Alan brought over - an ultralight special Dahon. He snapped an almost new chain within half a mile with his great big hams pounding on it. It was a narrow chain, but almost brand new. He just ripped it apart.

  21. #21
    jur
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    I just realised that a belt combined with a Schlumpf speed drive is a good combination, as the torque is divided by the Schlumpf step-up ratio.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

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    And here's some quoted text from Mark Sanders 'Tips and Comments' :

    C) Strida Myths

    Myth 1. Belt drives have poor efficiency
    I recently met the guy from Gate.coms who developed the belt for Strida (and car camshafts, and
    motor cycles), he reminded me that belt toothed belt drives (like strida’s) are used to replace chain
    and V belt drives as part of government energy efficiency schemes ! He explained that Motor cycle
    manufactures (like Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki, have been using belts for years for the best life
    long efficiency and to be clean and maintenance free (chain wear on a motor bike is a real pain, and
    uses a lot of energy).
    There are more losses by using hub gears, and tensioners / idlers on bike chain drives than when
    using a belt. Allow the chain to get dirty, or use a non-aligned derailleur gear ratio and the belt wins
    hands down on efficiency.

  23. #23
    JustFoldIt ChainlessRev's Avatar
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    Belt & Shaft Drive

    Hi All,

    Thanks for the inquiries and insights! Just to clear up a couple things:

    1. Our belt drive bike utilizes Gates belts and yes they are great!

    Slippages are typically corrected by adjusting the belt tension. This can easily be done with basic tools. The bolts are located in the lower bottom bracket.

    2. We will have the replacement parts (both shaft & Gates belts) readily available.

    From our point of view, belt drive & shaft drive systems provide great altenatives to the chain!

    ChainlessRev

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