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My Gates Belt Drive Broke!

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My Gates Belt Drive Broke!

Old 04-01-24, 05:16 PM
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LV2TNDM: Van Duzer destroyed his belt by not following directions. In other words it was totally his fault. Alee from cyclingabout rode more than 20,000 miles before his belt broke. Chains stretch and belts don't. Belts weigh 1/3 of what a chain does. My Co-Motion Pangea Rohloff is more than 10 years old and I don't miss derailleurs or the chain. I don't miss the cleaning of my bicycle. I don't miss missed gear shifts and starting up a grade in to high of a gear.

Last edited by Rick; 04-01-24 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 04-02-24, 06:34 AM
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Location: Loveland, CO
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Bikes: Co-Motion tandem; Bilenky tandem; Trek Domane SL6

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We have a Co-motion Equator bought new with a Rohloff hub and Gates belts. Unloaded, the tandem weighs about 38 pounds, and we’re a team total of 290 pounds. Loaded for touring about twice each year for a couple of weeks or so, the bike is about 75 pounds (before souvenirs gathered along the way &#128518. We ride 35mm (actually 38) Schwalbe Mondials so that dirt sections are not an issue. We live on the Colorado front range, so we do a fair amount of climbing. I don’t know if we’ve just been lucky with the belts, but maybe carrying the spares is like carrying an umbrella so that it won’t rain 😜. Including my single bike, I ride about 18,000 miles a year (we’re retired).
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Old 04-02-24, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by LV2TNDM
After reading about some of these failures and other experiences I've encountered elsewhere (Ryan van Duzer belt failure, ending his CO Trail trip), I'm not 100% convinced belts are the solution. Sure, I totally get the lube-free advantages. But with today's immersion & drip wax options, the typical "black grimy chains & components" can really be a thing of the past. (On one of our previous trips, one rider's drive train was immaculate. Yup, immersion waxing. He never had to do a thing to his chain during our 2-week trip.) So this is a "solution" looking for a problem. But with additional downsides. I really do not like the un-repairability of a belt. With a timing or main chain, spare links are a simple fix. And I've experienced all of ONE tandem chain failure in 30 years of road and off-road tandeming (after having blown up six rear hubs, I'm not exactly "gentle" on our tandems either). Stick or rock tossed up into our timing chain which broke it. Quick fix and we were back riding in no time. And since virtually all "belt drive" tandems are only timing belts, you're using a chain main drive, so you are carrying a chain tool & quick links anyway. With a belt, you're carrying an entire replacement in addition to the chain stuff anyway. Doesn't make that much sense. However, if I were specing a new tandem today, I'd be VERY tempted to opt for two belts and Pinion or Rohloff because of the cool factor.
I run a belt for timing, and a waxed chain for the drive, for the following reasons:
1. Belts never stretch, so I never have to fiddle with tensioning the timing chain, (aside from pulling and lubing the eccentric once a year to prevent seizing). They don't require cleaning, lubing or other maintenance. Because they don't need lube, they are always clean--which makes loading and unloading a joy. They save weight. They are efficient, with minimal drivetrain power loss.
2. While I've been tempted to consider a belt for the drive side, I really don't like how inefficient internal hubs are--and how limited the gear ranges are. So, I use a chain. But waxing has revolutionized my approach to drivetrain maintenance. Waxing is clean like a belt. It reduces drivetrain wear, which saves money. Wax saves significant watts compared to conventional lube.

Had I not already moved to a belt for timing before I started waxing my chains, I might have considered staying with a timing chain and just waxing it. But belts require less maintenance, don't mind getting wet, don't need frequent tensioning, etc., so I'm not going back to a chain. I also wonder how tricky it would be to properly tension a waxed timing chain, since the wax fills in the roller spaces, and then compacts over the course of the first few rides--possibly leading to the need to re-tension frequently after waxing.
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