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What happened to Belt Drive bikes?

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What happened to Belt Drive bikes?

Old 07-07-14, 01:30 PM
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what does wear out is the light weight cog wheels . our LBS has a example of one, crankset end, that broke in half.

a bit more rugged Is one that Florian Schlumpf made , the profile gives grit someplace to fall out of ,
between the tips of the "teeth"

https://www.radmarkt.de/nachrichten/s...-riemenantrieb

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Old 07-07-14, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel
Belts don't rust. That's my primary reason for being interested in them. If all I did was summer riding I wouldn't care. They are also quiet and don't require periodic lubrication.
The rust issue during winter riding was the main reason I was looking into them as well. They are quiet for some people but when I was researching there were a lot of people having issues with squeaking too. I finally just decided it was easier and cheaper to throw a new chain on my winter bike at the beginning of the season, and if it's rusty by spring it really didn't matter because I would just replace it before next winter. At $20 per chain I can go a lot of years before I'm spending what the additional amount a belt drive bike costs.

Just my opinion. I looked into it and decided it wasn't for me.
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Old 07-07-14, 03:06 PM
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Photo of bike?

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Old 07-08-14, 08:20 AM
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Belt drive is a solution looking for a problem. Chain drive is cheap, reliable and readily available.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Tundra_Man
I finally just decided it was easier and cheaper to throw a new chain on my winter bike at the beginning of the season, and if it's rusty by spring it really didn't matter because I would just replace it before next winter. At $20 per chain I can go a lot of years before I'm spending what the additional amount a belt drive bike costs.
Same for me; replace the chain once a year after approx. 5000 miles. Cost is under $10 for chain for IGH bike. Takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

Belt drive at present is for those seeking an "elegant" solution for a non-existent problem, and who choose to ignore any non elegant problems associated with belt drive.
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Old 07-08-14, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Same for me; replace the chain once a year after approx. 5000 miles. Cost is under $10 for chain for IGH bike. Takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

Belt drive at present is for those seeking an "elegant" solution for a non-existent problem, and who choose to ignore any non elegant problems associated with belt drive.
On the flip side, my motorcycle uses a belt and I love it. Quieter and lower maintenance than a chain. Lighter, better looking and again lower maintenance than shaft drive. I give up a little bit of efficiency with a belt versus a chain, but my motorcycle already has more power than I really need so it's not an issue for me.

But for a bicycle I'll stick with my chain.
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Old 07-08-14, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Same for me; replace the chain once a year after approx. 5000 miles. Cost is under $10 for chain for IGH bike. Takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

Belt drive at present is for those seeking an "elegant" solution for a non-existent problem, and who choose to ignore any non elegant problems associated with belt drive.
For me rust and chain lubrication is a real problem that I'd rather do without. It's not as much of big deal with the IGH and rust resistant chains in the winter as when I was using a derailleur bike but I'd rather not have to deal with it all. It's an elegant solution the same way a garage door opener is, - not really necessary but definitely convenient.

As to the non-elegant problems with belt drives, some of those seem to have been solved since the first generation. And just maybe what other problems remain are worth it to some folks. The problems with chains are real enough to me that I remain open minded about belt drives as a possible solution. I'm not 100% convinced so that is why I'm in wait and see mode.
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Old 07-08-14, 10:15 AM
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^ i too am keeping an open mind about belt-drive. it does seem like it would take some of the nuisance out of maintaining a chain during the wet and sloppy winter/spring seasons. from what i've read about efficiency loss, a SS belt drive only consumes ~1 extra watt of power over a SS chain drive. that's probably a big deal to a track racer, but i think i would struggle to ever notice that lost watt.

now that my commute is soon to be radically shortened down to about 4.5 miles one-way (and no more lake michigan shoreline riding with its seemingly ever-present epic headwinds), i day dream about a new SS all-weather short haul commuter:

- non-steel frame
- drop bars
- single speed
- belt drive
- disc brakes
- clearance for studded tires & full fenders
- sliding drops for belt tension (i've had such rotten luck with the EBB on one of my current bikes that it has soured me on the entire concept)


does anyone know if there is anything off the shelf on the market right now that hits all of those?

Last edited by Steely Dan; 07-08-14 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 07-08-14, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel
For me rust and chain lubrication is a real problem that I'd rather do without. It's not as much of big deal with the IGH and rust resistant chains in the winter as when I was using a derailleur bike but I'd rather not have to deal with it all. It's an elegant solution the same way a garage door opener is, - not really necessary but definitely convenient.
Belt drive is no "solution" at all if the cyclist wants to use a derailler bike.
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Old 07-08-14, 10:53 AM
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does anyone know if there is anything off the shelf on the market right now that hits all of those?
Moots , in Titanium? they dont have off the shelf stuff though ..

Bike friday if you can accept steel .. the Silk has sliding dropouts . and takes a Belt.
they are made to order too ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-08-14 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 07-08-14, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Belt drive at present is for those seeking an "elegant" solution for a non-existent problem, and who choose to ignore any non elegant problems associated with belt drive.
This.

Belt drives seem to appeal to those who want to overthink the whole bicycling thing.

Adds $250 to the retail price of a bike compared to the same bike with a chain. That alone dictates that belt drive bikes will sell less well. And you have less options for adjusting the gearing to suit your needs.

What I really love are the belt drive bikes (belts are cleaner!) which come with, er, belt-guards. As clean as they are, they didn't manage to figure out how to make it so they wouldn't suck in a pant-leg or shoestring...

Regarding non-elegant solutions -- I think Trek went through three different designs for the rear dropouts in as many years on the District before they just dropped it altogether.
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Old 07-08-14, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Belt drive is no "solution" at all if the cyclist wants to use a derailler bike.
No, but not all bikes are derailleur bikes and I think gear hubs, single speeds and fixed gear represent a growing market.

Personally, I don't use a derailleur bike in the winter for some of the same reasons I'd like to find an alternative to chains, - so for me that's a non-issue.

Does a new option have to be the best in all cases in order for it to have a place?

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-08-14 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 07-08-14, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mconlonx
This.

Belt drives seem to appeal to those who want to overthink the whole bicycling thing.

Adds $250 to the retail price of a bike compared to the same bike with a chain. That alone dictates that belt drive bikes will sell less well. And you have less options for adjusting the gearing to suit your needs.

What I really love are the belt drive bikes (belts are cleaner!) which come with, er, belt-guards. As clean as they are, they didn't manage to figure out how to make it so they wouldn't suck in a pant-leg or shoestring...

Regarding non-elegant solutions -- I think Trek went through three different designs for the rear dropouts in as many years on the District before they just dropped it altogether.
If I was strictly a non-winter cyclist I'd have little interest in them. I'm not overthinking this at all. Chains rust when exposed to salty slush and work poorly when they get sand and grit worked between the rollers, pins and plates. Sand and salt is what they put on the roads around here.

My rear rim will get this rust colored coating all over it and my bike will literally drip rust colored water from the chain after a sloppy ride when temps are within 10 degrees of freezing. It can take less than a few days for this to happen after cleaning and lubing the chain.

It is very weather dependent though. If it stays really cold and dry it's not as much of an issue. Yes, I could minimize the problem by spending more time on chain maintenance but that's exactly what I don't want to have to do.

From a maintenance standpoint since I've switched to an IGH, brakes and the chain have become the biggest maintenance issues on my winter bike. I've experimented with different types of brakes, why shouldn't I consider an alternative to a chain?

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-08-14 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 07-08-14, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Belt drive is no "solution" at all if the cyclist wants to use a derailler bike.
Yes, but that is something I particularly did not want. I was looking for as little maintenance as possible; as such, no matter which way I went, I was looking at internal gears (and I really wanted to try a Nuvinci). On the same note, I wanted a dyno driven headlight.

The main reason that I wanted a belt was cleanliness. Yes, Chains can be replaced easily; but, form the first time they are lubed, and forever on, they are dirty and anything that touches them gets dirty. Yes, I can give in and always wear black pants; but I prefer to wear khakis.

Of course, I have also lost several pairs of pants to the hungry-hungry chainrings. That orange Alegro in the background is particularly hungry. I won't eve try to ride it in anything but shorts at this point.

And the requested Picture:
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Old 07-08-14, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Robert C
The main reason that I wanted a belt was cleanliness. Yes, Chains can be replaced easily; but, form the first time they are lubed, and forever on, they are dirty and anything that touches them gets dirty. Yes, I can give in and always wear black pants; but I prefer to wear khakis.
I found a simple solution to "dirty" chains. It is the same solution I have for hot stoves and sharp objects: I avoid contact. It ain't that hard. Think chainguard.
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Old 07-08-14, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel
Does a new option have to be the best in all cases in order for it to have a place?
No it does not, but it helps to produce added value besides being something different. I believe the question of "Is there a market for this pricey so-called innovation?" has been answered by the market with a resounding Yawn.
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Old 07-08-14, 04:37 PM
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The reason that there is no market for belt drives is because most people have recognized that it's just another expensive gimmick with no real advantages...I have seven Canadian winters behind me and I find chains to be very reliable, easy to maintain and cheap to replace. Why change something that works very well ??.. And even if my chain did break , then all I need to do is get my chain tool out and fix it with a spare chain link which I always carry with me.
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Old 07-08-14, 06:37 PM
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I have found my Gates drive Spot to be an excellent commute bike. Losing the chain makes everything run so smoothly, and silently, that it feels like a whole other experience from all my other bikes. The fact that I commute in my business clothes and the fact I always find a way to rub against a chain at stops, etc. the belt works very well for that. I have actually put more miles on the Spot since getting it than on my Cervelo R5 and Calfee combined as it is just what I tend to grab as it is such a smooth, no fuss ride.
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Old 07-08-14, 06:45 PM
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I wonder if a chain bike with a full enclosed chainguard might not be the best solution. Cheap and efficient chain, low maintenance since it stays clean and dry, no pant cuff fouling.

If the chainguard included an oil bath - like maybe the bottom part of the chainring rides in oil - then who knows how long a chain might last?

Only thing is, how do you repair a flat? I'm thinking the answer might be for the sprocket to stay with the bike when the rear wheel is removed.

Last edited by jyl; 07-08-14 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 07-08-14, 06:48 PM
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I'd love belt drive on mine.

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Old 07-08-14, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl
I wonder if a chain bike with a full enclosed chainguard might not be the best solution. Cheap and efficient chain, low maintenance since it stays clean and dry, no pant cuff fouling.

If the chainguard included an oil bath - like maybe the bottom part of the chainring rides in oil - then who knows how long a chain might last?

Only thing is, how do you repair a flat? I'm thinking the answer might be for the sprocket to stay with the bike when the rear wheel is removed.
Partly dismount the tire and patch the tube.. Easy Peasy!
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Old 07-08-14, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider
Partly dismount the tire and patch the tube.. Easy Peasy!
Yeah sure...That would only work in a nice weather...Try patching a tube when it's below freezing, snowing or raining.
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Old 07-08-14, 08:11 PM
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belt drives are around, your not gonna touch one for less than about 8 times what your Motobecane costs.

They are made in mostly very high quality bikes. When I get an extra 4 grand I will buy one and that will never happen lol.
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Old 07-08-14, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
Yeah sure...That would only work in a nice weather...Try patching a tube when it's below freezing, snowing or raining.
And/or dark and the wind is blowing... how do you even know where the leak is?
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Old 07-08-14, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl
I wonder if a chain bike with a full enclosed chainguard might not be the best solution. Cheap and efficient chain, low maintenance since it stays clean and dry, no pant cuff fouling.

If the chainguard included an oil bath - like maybe the bottom part of the chainring rides in oil - then who knows how long a chain might last?

Only thing is, how do you repair a flat? I'm thinking the answer might be for the sprocket to stay with the bike when the rear wheel is removed.
Well, on motorcycles: the wheel drive chain is outside, like bicycle, and lasts around 20,000 kilometers.

The cam chain is inside the engine, bathed in oil, half as thick as the drive chain and lasts 3 to 4 times as much.
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