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Will we see belt drives more often on touring bikes?

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Will we see belt drives more often on touring bikes?

Old 03-16-11, 08:56 PM
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h_curtis
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Will we see belt drives more often on touring bikes?

I was thinking about building a touring bike at some point that can be fully loaded, belt drive and a hub gear setup. Now I am sure people are touring with internal gears, but belt? What do you think?
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Old 03-16-11, 09:41 PM
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I'm buying lottery tickets, hoping for a Co-Motion with Rohloff and belt drive. Neat and clean. Have no idea how practical a belt drive would be for touring, but as belts have driven car parts for many years, don't see why it wouldn't do the same for a bicycle.

I hope internal gear hubs and belt drives will eventually be common place on bicycles, even for the mass market. Especially for the mass market. Just too many advantages.
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Old 03-17-11, 05:07 AM
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Too expensive for now, regardless of any relative advantage. The derailer / chain bike is pretty efficient.
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Old 03-17-11, 05:14 AM
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I used to have a motorcycle that had a chain and I changed it out to a belt. No oil and no mess. It was great and very smooth. I hear you on the expense though.

I do want to point out that the US lags way behind on internals. When I was riding in Finland, it was commonplace, but so many over there ride in all weather.
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Old 03-17-11, 06:13 AM
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I think eventually, yes belts will be part of the touring standard and maybe preferred. But so far every test of a belt drive I have seen has shown there are too many problems for it to be considered for "expedition" type touring where you are in BFE and a belt replacement isn't an option. They slip and alignment or walking on the cog is a problem. Pedaling style too seems to have something to do with it. Durability is suspect although no one is really pushing a belt so far. I hear there are belt drives (have been or might be?) on the Tour Divide so that a good test of how a belt performs.

Motorcycle belts are different animals. They are wider for one which helps with alignment, they are made very different construction wise and they do cost considerably more. And they won't hold up well under high performance, high endurance conditions either. Erik Buell used a belt on his high powered sportbikes but when he went racing, he switched to a chain drive.
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Old 03-17-11, 01:45 PM
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Not enough of the market to make a difference. If you want it bad enough a custom builder is out there who will do it for you.
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Old 03-17-11, 02:15 PM
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Gates claims the belt drive has a real-world life of 10,000 km (6,200 miles).

So, you can expect to have to replace the 3 parts every 6,000 miles, at a cost of ~$280.

I typically get twice this mileage (or better) out of a Shimano 9spd drivetrain, and would be replacing a chain, cassette, and one or two chainrings, at a cost of ~$130. So, $65 every 6,000 miles.

So you will probably pay a significant premium for the belt drive, and you'll have to order parts, or carry spares with you.

Belt drive would definitely interest me if it didn't require purchase of a new bike frame, a new Internal Gear Hub, and if the maintenance cost was only 50-100% more, instead of the more likely ~500%

http://aebike.com/parts-accessories-...stems-c652.htm
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Old 03-17-11, 02:42 PM
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Frames for belts need to have couplers, or design changes... unless they have break-apart belts now
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Old 03-18-11, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
Gates claims the belt drive has a real-world life of 10,000 km (6,200 miles).

So, you can expect to have to replace the 3 parts every 6,000 miles, at a cost of ~$280.

I typically get twice this mileage (or better) out of a Shimano 9spd drivetrain, and would be replacing a chain, cassette, and one or two chainrings, at a cost of ~$130. So, $65 every 6,000 miles.

So you will probably pay a significant premium for the belt drive, and you'll have to order parts, or carry spares with you.

Belt drive would definitely interest me if it didn't require purchase of a new bike frame, a new Internal Gear Hub, and if the maintenance cost was only 50-100% more, instead of the more likely ~500%

http://aebike.com/parts-accessories-...stems-c652.htm
Keep in mind is something gains popularity and becomes more common and competition gets going, the prices will come down. I am not talking about this happening this year. I am talking about 10 years? Just wondering what the trend will be. Seems possible to go the route of a belt. Sure are some nice internal gears out there, but still too heavy. Someday they may not be though.
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Old 03-18-11, 04:47 PM
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re: internal drives, I havent ridden a modern internal drive bike (just the old ones from the 60s or 70s) with the old ones I remember clearly feeling how inefficient they were, so would be curious to see how modern ones feel compared to chain drive.
On a regular chain drive train, I too have really no wear issues, they last and last, and a $10-$15 chain every so many years isnt an issue cost wise. I can however see how in inclement weather, it would be nice with internal drives, and then a step up with belt and hence even less maintenance.

guess it really does come downto cost and reliability. I still am curious to feel how they ride.
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Old 03-18-11, 05:13 PM
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Maybe eventually, but I don't see touring bikes leading the way. For one thing they don't have sufficient volume of sales to drive any new development. But I also don't see much of an advantage for most touring cyclists. For commuters and other daily utility cyclists there's a big plus in having a cleaner drivetrain, minimal maintenance, and robustness when the bike is knocked down or bumped by another in a bike rack. IGH and a clean belt would allow you to just hop on without concern for messing up pants legs and would make the bike more acceptable when maneuvering in crowded pedestrian areas. And many (although certainly not all) commuters and utility cyclists know little about bike maintenance so the infrequent maintenance of IGHs and elimination of chain lubrication/cleaning is a selling point. OTOH, a slight decrease in efficiency is not a big issue.

But a touring cyclist is likely to be using special clothing anyway and probably isn't as fussy about an occasional chainring 'tattoo'. Furthermore tourists are more likely to be decent bike mechanics so they're more likely to go with the system that may require more tinkering but is also almost always fixable well enough to ride to the next town. Ready availability of parts is also more of a concern for touring cyclisst so until every bike shop stocks an assortment of belts, IGHs, and associated parts they're likely to stick with chains and deraileurs.
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