TechnologyTell

Bike chains suck: Belt drive comes of age

Sections: Gadgets / Other, Transportation

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Spot belt drive
The squeak of a dry chain, the clatter of a chain against the steel/aluminum/carbon tubes of your bicycle frame, the ghost shifting for no good reason…chances are if you ride a bike, you’ve experienced at least two of these if not all three. There is a move afoot to change all that and it promises to mark a change in bicycle design that has stayed the same for almost a century.

Belts? Are you kidding me? Won’t they slip? What about mud? Stretch? Wear? It is never going to work.

Swimming upstream of public opinion is Carbon Drive Systems, an offshoot of Spot brand bicycles. Their carbon tensile member, polyurethane tooth and belt are setting up to redefine what a smooth drive train is. Just how smooth is this system? Here is what Mountain Bike Magazine has to say:

“As for the belt: Wow. The first thing every test rider noticed was a complete lack of a sensation of give, stretch or flex from the system–the response is as rigid and direct as a chain. But it’s also immediately clear that the system performs nothing like a chain. The silence and smoothness are incredible.”

spot longboard
Spot is building “Longboard” a 29er mountain bike and a Cyclocross bike with the belt drive system. Both look quite impressive.

My research brought me to user forums like MTBR.com where comments like, “quiet” and “works in mud, snow, rain, everywhere” seem to be the norm. Despite curious hesitation, riders seem to be coming around to idea of losing their chains.

The system is said to save weight, be maintenance free and proponents of the belt are quick to point to Harley Davidson and BMW when asked about durability and strength. Still many wait to see how it goes.

Stay tuned to Gadgetell for a full two week review of this potential game changing technology.

Product page [Carbon Drive Systems] via [Spot]

Photo lifted from here.

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  • Rick

    This is really a great improvement if it combines comfort and durability. I encounter many friends who always have problems with the chain with acumulated dirt, rust etc. Can't wait to try it out!