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Thread: Belt drive

  1. #1
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Belt drive

    I'm quite sure this has been done before so would we like to have another argument about it?
    **pulls pin, tosses handgrenade, ducks behind sandbags**

    Belt drives for bikes. Are they a viable option for fixed gear riders?

    The article that triggered this being Trek's latest bulletin

    Nov 18, 2:38 PM EST

    Trek introduces chainless bicycles

    By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM
    AP Business Writer
    AP Photo
    AP Photo/Steve Helber

    Ditch the Chain, a New Type of Bicycle Is Here

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Pedalers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

    If you've ever been riding down the street and had your pants cuff ripped asunder, there may be a revolution at hand.

    Trek Bicycle is part of a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in an era of belt-driven bikes that might have the inventors of the self-propelled transportation Schwinning in their graves.

    Wisconsin-based Trek is introducing two models this holiday season that are chainless, instead using technology most often found in things like motorcycles and snowmobiles. While some smaller custom bike makers have used them before, Trek is the first to use the technology for mass-produced bicycles.

    The nation's largest domestic bike manufacturer is hoping to capitalize on a new group of urban pedal-pushers who are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of gas prices as well as health and environmental concerns.

    The U.S. bicycle industry was a $5.4 billion industry in 2007, including the retail value of bicycles, related parts, and accessories through all channels of distribution, according to research funded by the National Sporting Goods Association. More than 43 million Americans age 7 and older were estimated to have ridden a bike six times or more in 2005, the industry group said.

    "People are really finding bicycles to be a very simple solution to some very complex problems that they face every day," said Eric Bjorling, Trek's lifestyle brand manager. "Anything we can do in our design to really help them and help them live that lifestyle is probably better for both the consumers and us."

    Bjorling said the new belts are a low-maintenance solution to a chain, which has roughly 3,000 parts including all the links and connectors.

    Aside from the whisper-quiet ride, the lighter and longer-lasting carbon-fiber composite belts won't rust, can't be cut, won't stretch or slip and won't leave grease marks around your ankles. A guard over the belt-drive and the construction of the system makes getting your pants stuck an unlikely scenario, Bjorling said.

    One version of the chainless bike, called the District ($930), is a single-speed, complete with a silver body, orange accents and brown leather seat and handles. The other, called the Soho ($990), is an eight-speed bike that uses an internal hub to adjust the speed rather than gears.

    Bicycles have come a long way from the "boneshakers back in the 19th century," said Orin Starn, a professor at Duke University who teaches a course on the anthropology of sports. Some companies have used direct drive or drive shaft bikes that provide some of the same benefits as Trek's chainless bikes, but those models have yet to replace the age-old chain.

    "Certainly for the last 40 or 50 years we have this iconic image of the traditional bicycle that includes the chain," Starn said. "We've seen this evolution in different styles and stuff, but the chain has been a cultural constant."

    Bjorling admits chain-driven bikes are still efficient, but said an urban rider won't have to worry about greasing or cleaning the chain. The belt can be cleaned with a normal cleaning agent and rag, and the bike sprocket is designed to push through any snow, dirt or grime. And one belt will typically last three years - the life span of three chains.

    How riders will take to the new bikes remains to be seen, since they are not out for sale yet. The District model will go on sale in December, followed the next month by the Soho. There may be those in the biking community that may take issue with swapping bike chains with newer technology.

    "Bike purists are going to take a look at it and say 'oh, you know it's another option to a chain,'" Bjorling said. "Are we going to see a ton of people switching from a chain to a belt drive? I think in some urban environments yes, but it's definitely not the coffin that's gonna bury the chain."

    Over the years there have been many changes in the bike industry, specifically materials that have made products lighter and stronger, said David Oakley, a manager at Agee's Bicycles, which has been in business in Richmond since 1910.

    While some may question the chainless bikes, Oakley pointed to the initial skepticism, and eventual success, of mountain bikes.

    "We all know that putting gears on a beach cruiser to be able to ride back up the hill turned out to be a pretty good thing," Oakley joked of the bike industry's most popular segment.

    Oakley said there's a general excitement behind the new technology, but cautioned that the notion may not ring everyone's bell.

    "From a maintenance standpoint, it's huge," he said. "If this really, completely takes off, the lubricant industry is probably not going to be excited."
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

  2. #2
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Viable? Yes. Desirable? In my opinion, no.

    My fixie is already quiet as hell. And I have no desire to SAW THROUGH MY FRAME to put on a belt.

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    yeah, how do they get the belt on there?

  4. #4
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evan811 View Post
    yeah, how do they get the belt on there?
    I am not sure how Trek does it on their stock models. I am sure I could find the info if I looked. But I am lazy. If they are smart, then they put on the belt before they weld the frame.

    If it isn't stock though, yes, you have to saw THROUGH your chain stay to get it on.

  5. #5
    bum style sneaky viking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by devilshaircut View Post
    I am not sure how Trek does it on their stock models... If they are smart, then they put on the belt before they weld the frame.
    Lol.
    Quote Originally Posted by coppertop4646 View Post
    it sounds like a jet engine behind you supposively

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    Quote Originally Posted by evan811 View Post
    yeah, how do they get the belt on there?
    the whole dropout is removable apparently so it IS possible to put the belt there on those specific frames. i doubt the pros will warrant people suddenly modifying their current frames for a belt drivetrain.

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    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneaky viking View Post
    Lol.
    I Googled to see why this was so funny, and I see that the chain stays aren't welded at all, in fact, not connected at all.

    IMO it makes an already undesirable bike even less desirable.

    At least the colors are sexy?

  8. #8
    Cycling afficianado keesue's Avatar
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    Here's one...
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    Ridin' the back streets of San Fran on a Lemond Zurich, Torelli Tipo Uno, Cannondale F600, Specialized Enduro, a Dawes SST and Puch MTB to fetch beer .
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  9. #9
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Guess I just don't see the appeal. Not against it intrinsically, but I don't see the value of upgrading a bike to use a belt drive when a chain works great already.

  10. #10
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    I'd forgotten about fitting the stupid thing, it was looking like a good move until then (cost aside of course).

    Richard
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

  11. #11
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    I'd forgotten about fitting the stupid thing, it was looking like a good move until then (cost aside of course).

    Richard
    I am not sure why fitting would be a huge problem. You already need a specialized cog and crankset ... so I am sure the fitting of the belt comes in a variety of sizes to fit this, and however far they are distanced. Not as easy as taking a link from a chain, but hell, you are already doing a lot of work for the upgrade, this seems minimal by comparison.

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    Quote Originally Posted by devilshaircut View Post
    I am not sure why fitting would be a huge problem. You already need a specialized cog and crankset ... so I am sure the fitting of the belt comes in a variety of sizes to fit this, and however far they are distanced. Not as easy as taking a link from a chain, but hell, you are already doing a lot of work for the upgrade, this seems minimal by comparison.
    Besides actual size, what about how to get it on to the bike? (Some people say fitting to mean installation.) Of course as mentioned, you cannot convert any existing bicycle from chain to belt, you MUST have the frame that has seperated chainstays, as the belts do not come apart like chains do.

  13. #13
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miahmiah View Post
    Besides actual size, what about how to get it on to the bike? (Some people say fitting to mean installation.) Of course as mentioned, you cannot convert any existing bicycle from chain to belt, you MUST have the frame that has seperated chainstays, as the belts do not come apart like chains do.
    From what I've read when belt drives were first being popularized, you can retrofit a bike with a belt drive ... but you have to saw a gap in your chain stay and refill after the belt has been installed.

    My understanding is that advocates of belt drives say it is better not because of efficiency but more because of the low maintenance associated with them. But sawing through your frame every 3 years (the expected lifespan of a belt) and re-welding ... imo ... is WAY harder than cleaning and re-greasing a chain a few times a year, and replacing a chain takes all of 10 minutes. I've never done any welding, but I am gonna guess that takes (EDIT: typo) significantly longer.

    Of course, on the Trek, the chain stays aren't welded to the seat stays, so it isn't as much of a problem. Still though, I don't see what this bike has to offer over my current bike, which cost about a third of a Trek District.
    Last edited by devilshaircut; 11-19-08 at 09:05 AM.

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    The pic's I saw show a removable section of the seat stay just above the drop-out. Not a hole or something that needs to be welded. Just a few bolts to remove. That part of the bike sees mostly compression anyway, so it is not a huge deal to put some sort of coupler in there.

  15. #15
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackD View Post
    The pic's I saw show a removable section of the seat stay just above the drop-out. Not a hole or something that needs to be welded. Just a few bolts to remove. That part of the bike sees mostly compression anyway, so it is not a huge deal to put some sort of coupler in there.
    That's on a stock Trek District. I was referring to retrofitting bikes with belt drives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by devilshaircut View Post
    That's on a stock Trek District. I was referring to retrofitting bikes with belt drives.
    WHY would you do that?

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    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackD View Post
    WHY would you do that?
    Uh, that's what I've been saying all along.

    In response to the article, which stated:

    "Bike purists are going to take a look at it and say 'oh, you know it's another option to a chain,'" Bjorling said. "Are we going to see a ton of people switching from a chain to a belt drive? I think in some urban environments yes, but it's definitely not the coffin that's gonna bury the chain."

    Like I said before, I don't think in any urban environments people will want to upgrade their existing bike to use this belt drive, contrary to what the article states. It seems like a waste.

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    For some reason I can't quite comprehend how the belt doesn't stretch with use or from environmental factors. Is there a way to adjust tension or something?

  19. #19
    jpdesjar
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    What are the belts made of are they carbon?
    I like the belt idea, why not?

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    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    I believe they are made of "carbon-fiber composite" according to the article. Apparently it does not stretch much.

    I assume the problem of tension is solved by having a variety of belt sizes.

    Anyhow, I think the point of this drive system is to use a bike specially designed for it.

    Obviously it would be on the difficult side to upgrade a bike to use a belt drive ... and for this reason I think belt drive systems are a bad idea ... I am fine with owning one of those Trek Districts ... but on any other track frame it seems dubious at best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by devilshaircut View Post
    Uh, that's what I've been saying all along.

    In response to the article, which stated:

    "Bike purists are going to take a look at it and say 'oh, you know it's another option to a chain,'" Bjorling said. "Are we going to see a ton of people switching from a chain to a belt drive? I think in some urban environments yes, but it's definitely not the coffin that's gonna bury the chain."

    Like I said before, I don't think in any urban environments people will want to upgrade their existing bike to use this belt drive, contrary to what the article states. It seems like a waste.
    I think by "switching" he means when they choose a new bike. I get the impression that there are riders who get new bikes pretty often instead of keeping the old one going. From a bike manufacturer's point of view, those are the only people that count.

  22. #22
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackD View Post
    I think by "switching" he means when they choose a new bike. I get the impression that there are riders who get new bikes pretty often instead of keeping the old one going. From a bike manufacturer's point of view, those are the only people that count.
    I dunno. But I did read articles in the past about people upgrading frames to use this drive train, and I just thought it was a bad idea.

    I don't think I would get a District either. I like the look of them (weirdly enough) but it all seems so proprietary. Not that that is always a bad thing, but still, seems like a headache.

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    Quote Originally Posted by planyourfate View Post
    For some reason I can't quite comprehend how the belt doesn't stretch with use or from environmental factors. Is there a way to adjust tension or something?
    Automotive timing belts look very similar - if they stretched at all then your car doesn't work very well, so I would say belt technology is definitely good enough for bicycles.

    And about that "saw your chainstays from your seatstays comment above" I am really surprised that there is even one person that will actually do that. Scary.

  24. #24
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miahmiah View Post
    Automotive timing belts look very similar - if they stretched at all then your car doesn't work very well, so I would say belt technology is definitely good enough for bicycles.

    And about that "saw your chainstays from your seatstays comment above" I am really surprised that there is even one person that will actually do that. Scary.
    If someone really wanted to upgrade their ride to have a belt drive, they would have little choice.

    I agree, it's crazy, and I have no idea why anyone would do this.

    To me, the chain is a more elegant solution. A frame built to accommodate a belt drive, to me, seems a more cluttered solution.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by miahmiah View Post
    Automotive timing belts look very similar - if they stretched at all then your car doesn't work very well, so I would say belt technology is definitely good enough for bicycles.

    And about that "saw your chainstays from your seatstays comment above" I am really surprised that there is even one person that will actually do that. Scary.
    timing belts and other automotive belt DO stretch, and have tensioners to compensate. so to make up for the stretch in these belts, if the are made the same materials, some kind of tensioner would be needed. and those tend to not work that well with a fixed gear. could be viable for a singlespeed, but not a fixed gear.
    of course, all of the above is invalid if the belts don't stretch that much, you could just adjust your wheel in the dropouts

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