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  1. #1
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    Minivelo with 3 spd Belt Drive - potential issues?

    I'm thinking of getting this Bridgestone Mariposa Mini for my wife. She will use it mostly for family utility purposes - shopping, dropping off my son at pre-school, etc.

    http://bicitermini.com/b/2008/07/16/220/

    http://www.relaxybike.jp/mariposa/mini.html



    Anyone have experience with belt drive systems? To me the big advantages are it will be clean, maintenance free(?) - anything else, and what are the disadvantages and potential problems?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    very few people know about the longevity as they are around since a couple of years and not sold in big numbers. Gates first rideable bikes were intoduced at the Show in vegas last year, everybody had praises how it worked in the dirty dusty offroad enviroment during test days. But when they got wet they made awful noises ... I think I have read that that problem has been addressed due to a different plastic belt drive material ( sprocket in lieu of other words )
    can you get spare parts for it ..( I dont believe I just said that ...lol..... insider joke) are there more than one dealer who knows about those ? Or are you solely relying on the bike manufacturer ?

    Bridgestone has a very loyal consumer base, so I dont see any problems getting help though...

    thor

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by owenfinn View Post
    I'm thinking of getting this Bridgestone Mariposa Mini for my wife. She will use it mostly for family utility purposes - shopping, dropping off my son at pre-school, etc.

    http://bicitermini.com/b/2008/07/16/220/

    http://www.relaxybike.jp/mariposa/mini.html



    Anyone have experience with belt drive systems? To me the big advantages are it will be clean, maintenance free(?) - anything else, and what are the disadvantages and potential problems?

    Thanks in advance.
    It looks nice, price seems reasonable.. just the belt drive components alone, using Gates Carbon Drive MSRP as an example, is as much as that whole Bridgestone Mini Velo ... which probably means that the belt and sprockets are quality wise, something along the lines of the Strida .. assuming that, due to the proprietary nature, you would want to make sure that you could get spare belts and sprockets in case of failure, which could be caused by getting a rock or other hard object stuck between the belt and sprockets and either breaking the belt or damaging the plastic tooth profiles ... if it does have a similar belt tooth profile as the Strida drivetrain, then you may have belt slippage when you really pedal hard unless the belt tension is kept very tight, which will increase drag over a conventional chain setup... that all said, if you or your wife don't find any belt slippage problems (without resorting to high tensions) in normal use, belt drives are really nice .. I have been riding a Strida drivetrain bike almost nightly for many months and find the smoothness and lack of any drivetrain noise to be very pleasant when I'm out riding a local, quiet, shoreline shared use path .. the cleanliness factor is a big plus as it is in an out of the passenger compartment of my car or truck all the time... let us know how it goes if you get it..

  4. #4
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    I have a Strida, and I'm also currently test-riding an Abio bike, which has a 4 speed internal gear belt drive also. I think Bruce has summed things up quite well (as usual).

    I love the quiet and cleanliness of the belt drive. I used to have problems with slippage, but after proper adjustment, it hasn't been much of an issue. Earlier this week, I got caught in the rain on the Abio and was glad/surprised that there was no slippage on the belt, even when I had to go up about 100 ft worth of 7% grade.

    Can't comment much about the other aspects of the bike since the website is in Japanese, but the bike certainly looks nice. Perfect for a woman.

  5. #5
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    Just wanted to point out that Mariposa Mini is not a folding bike. It is equipped with a 8 speed gear hub, not 3 speed. I'm not sure if I read the Japanese description correctly, but it seems to say that the "chain" ring is oval-shaped (a la the famed Shimano Biopace and Rotor Q-Rings). Since this is a commuter bike, I'd guess the ring's ovalization is rather minimal.

    As for the belt drive, most Strida owners can vouch for its efficiency and durability. In addition, the belt drive has been used on Japanese commuter bikes for years and I believe they probably have perfected it for city cycling by now. For instance, there seems to be two belt tensioners on Mariposa Mini, while Strida has only one.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    I have a Strida, and I'm also currently test-riding an Abio bike, which has a 4 speed internal gear belt drive also.
    Photo essay ... Photo essay!! ... and don't forget the M6L B ...

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the advice and info!

    I think I'm going to go ahead and get it. I'm not worried about service or finding spare parts for the belt drive, as there are Bridgestone Bike shops on just about every other block around here.

    Should be able to get the 3 speed hub for 40,000 yen($400). I could get an 8 speed hub for 57,000 yen. Hmmm.

    Anyway, for those who have doubts about belt drive systems - this might make you a believer:

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...elmaster-23585

  8. #8
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Holy Moly! What a testimonial for belt drive! What a ride!

    Thanks for the link...

  9. #9
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    Well, I looked all over Tokyo and Yokohama for a Bridgestone Mariposa Mini in white(the only color my wife likes) and no luck. Ended up buying a Louis Garneau MV1 minivelo for $400 USD. I really thought the belt system on the Bridgestone would have been nice for her, but this'll do. Now, just have to find a nice basket and a Hamax child seat.



    specs:

    http://www.cso.co.jp/bikeshop/louisgarneau09/mv1.html

  10. #10
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    Harley has been using them for a number of years now.I know some guys running a fair amount of horse power through them(100 h.p.)no problems.

  11. #11
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    Kawasaki motorcycles use them, too. They even sell retrofit kits, I'm guessing due to the popularity. Of course not all belts are the same, but if toothed belts can reliably drive motorcycles why wouldn't they work reliably on bicycles?

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