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  1. #1
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    Just Curious- Belt Drive- WHY?

    SO- Spot seems to be sticking with the belt drive on their new 29er Cream bikes. Why? Does anyone really use one in conditions other than commuting? Nobody here in the northeast that I know uses one. Just curious why the application is still considered viable for a serious MTB setup vs. a commuter where I can see its application.

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    Zero maintenance for 10,000 miles.
    Full rigid SS, Hardtail SS, Hardtail Geared, Full Suspension Geared.

  3. #3
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    Curious- what kind of conditions do you ride in? If this were the case I'd think more people would be riding them. As I was thinking about it- the carry an extra belt element may also be a big reason. Do you carry a belt with you just in case?

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    I don't have a belt bike, but the belts are lasting that long now. Do all the Harley Davidson riders carry an extra belt?
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  5. #5
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    The reason they are not that popular is chains are 98% efficient and belts are 93% efficient. Changing gear ratios on a belt bike is expensive and requires more parts. You have to have a specially designed frame. To be approved by Gates, the frame can only flex a limited amount under pedaling forces. This can make it harder to get a good ride quality.
    Full rigid SS, Hardtail SS, Hardtail Geared, Full Suspension Geared.

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    Im with you on this. I see belt bikes from time to time. Its more of a gimmick to me on mtn bikes. I know the benefits crazy long life, less parts wear, super quiet, and basically maintenance free. It just doesn't improve enough on the chain for it outweigh its cost and awkwardness in the mountain world.
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  7. #7
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    I have a belt bike. Its not maintenance free. And yes, I am doing it correctly. My friend that works for Spot said so. I have also broken a belt. I walked home. No thanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    If I told you I saw a unicorn ****ing a leprechaun trail side, you'd probably be suspicious.

  8. #8
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    I have wondered how the drag is on a belt drive compared to a chain.
    I use to race Remote Control cars and bought a belt drive transmission and the drag was so bad it was hard to gear the car so the batteries would last a full race.
    Oh and to the above question "Do Harley Riders carry an extra belt ?" I never did and never broke one on my 1991 soft Tail Springer and I rode it hard for 14,000 miles.
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    I'm on my second bike fitted with a belt drive with no issues so far. I ride a lot of rocky tech sections here in AZ where I've snapped multiple chain links on my geared bikes doing climbs. Granted there are drawbacks to a belt drive system, as mentioned, but there are pros and cons to everything bike related. I'm hoping not to have to hoof it out someday if the belt snaps, but until then. The good thing about frames made to take belts is that I can always switch to a chain system if I needed to.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by yourdaguy View Post
    Zero maintenance for 10,000 miles.
    That's a pretty good reason over there.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by yourdaguy View Post
    The reason they are not that popular is chains are 98% efficient and belts are 93% efficient. Changing gear ratios on a belt bike is expensive and requires more parts. You have to have a specially designed frame. To be approved by Gates, the frame can only flex a limited amount under pedaling forces. This can make it harder to get a good ride quality.
    V belts have a 95% efficency, but synchronous belts, such as gates drive, are 98-99% efficient. V belts use a wedging action to drive the cogs, but synchronous belts and cogs are timed (notched).
    Synchronous belt drives are equally as efficent as a chain drive, have ZERO stretch(in theory), require no lubricant, are impervious to water, dirt and oil and handle misalignment better.

    However, this is all based on my industrial machine building experience and knowledge. I've never owned or ridden a belt drive bike. But chains and belts are chains and belts, no matter what type of machine it is.
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  12. #12
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    Even Gates admits that the efficiency of there belts is 93%. Chains flex more easily around the gears and the Gates belts have high and low interlocking areas that cause friction.
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  13. #13
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    I had two belt driven spot's and they both equally sucked. I'd throw the belt on steep climbs and on some quick bursts. I took both to the LBS to have them look at it to make sure I set everything up correctly, and neither of us could find a flaw in either bike. Sold 'em both and when I got them this was a new thing, so I luckily didn't loose too much. I'd call it my biggest bike related waste of money. Maybe they have gotten better, but I'm not throwing another dime at that mess.
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  14. #14
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    The original belt drives were absolutely beta stuff that should have never been sold. The belts would come off unless they were so tight that the bearings were binding. This was due to frame flex and the belts were designed with the idea that they would be in perfect alignment at all times. If you want to see what I am talking about, lock your front and rear brake and step on a pedal that the crank arm is at the 9 o'clock position. You will see the frame flex. This is a normal quality of bicycles. Gates redesigned the belts with notches in the pulleys and raised areas on the belts. This allowed the frame to flex some and the belt to still stay on with reasonable (but still high) tension. But further increased frictional losses (from tthe belt, not from the bearings). The current belts do not fly off as the early ones did but have the limitations that I have mentioned in earlier posts. The current belts are also less likely to break. So the current state of the technology is that it works, but it is not efficient, it is expensive, it is hard to change gearing, you must have a frame with a break in the tubing, etc. But, they do now consistently last 10,000 miles for most users without almost any maintenance.

    I know all this because i was an early fan that wanted them to be a great success, but I will never pull the trigger until they solve the many problems. I have followed many threads for several years about this topic. If you want a zero maintenance drive system and don't care about cost and are building a frame and efficiency is not a priority then this is your ideal choice. For everyone else, (which is 98+% of all cyclists) don't even consider this.

    So the the original poster, this is why you don't see this!
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  15. #15
    meh... whatever
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    both chains and belts have pros and cons.

    the original CDC gates belt drives required too much tension and ate hub and bottom bracket bearings. they also could be hypersensitive to alignment issues. the new CDX system doesn't suffer from these maladies.

    i have two spot brand bikes now, a rocker and HB, am in the process of building a cream, and also recently converted a karate monkey ops to belt drive (with nothing more than a hacksaw). so needless to say i'm a fan. it's quiet, maintenance free, no transfer of chain lube/gunk to legs or anything else, absorbs tight spots in the drivetrain making them disappear, and is very smooth.

    it's a very viable option for "a serious MTB setup" if running a singlespeed, but somewhat less if gears are desired since an IGH is generally considered less desirable for a "serious mtb". i plan on building a serious belt drive mtb with a sram 8sp IGH just for giggles since "serious" often depends more on the rider than the machine.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeopleForScience View Post
    I have a belt bike. Its not maintenance free. And yes, I am doing it correctly. My friend that works for Spot said so. I have also broken a belt. I walked home. No thanks.
    two options: either you got a defective belt or you're doing it wrong.

    if you broke a chain on a traditional bicycle would you give up on that too? ever had a flat tyre on a bike? still running pneumatic tyres on it? you get the idea...
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  17. #17
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    I guess you cannot read. My friend that works for spot set them up. They are center track belts too. I've broken multiple chains, and repaired them trail side and rode home. Good luck repairing a belt.
    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    If I told you I saw a unicorn ****ing a leprechaun trail side, you'd probably be suspicious.

  18. #18
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    I don't have one. I really want a Redline Monobelt though. Here's why:

    1.) Quietness -- definitely number one. I love quiet bikes.
    2.) Uniqueness -- fun to try something different in the MTB world.
    3.) Simplicity -- IMO, while less efficient, a belt is simpler and more elegant than a chain.

    Cycling is a hobby for me, and trying different types of bikes is fun. Belt drive has a lot of tilt, and even if the cons outweigh the pros, there's a good chance I'd still be happy with a Monobelt. I wouldn't be worried about 5% loss in efficiency, singlespeed (or internally geared hubs) are generally not going to be the fastest option anyway.

    As far as the spare belt goes, I think I would definitely carry one except during, e.g., a singlespeed race. Seems like you could zip tie it to the seat stay or down tube easily enough. Probably a matter of time before you see some sort of commercial cage mounted belt holster. I also snowmobile, and even though belts don't break all that often, I don't think I would take my sled a half mile without a spare belt. Peace of mind.

    With all of that said, I don't think I would get a belt drive as my only bike. More of a 3rd or 4th bike kind of situation.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeopleForScience View Post
    I guess you cannot read. My friend that works for spot set them up. They are center track belts too. I've broken multiple chains, and repaired them trail side and rode home. Good luck repairing a belt.
    at no time did you say your friend at spot set them up. you said, "i am doing it correctly, my friend at spot said so" which in no way implies anyone other than YOU set it up. in addition to not comprehending what you yourself said, you seemed to also fail to comprehend that i wasn't disputing whether or not your belt was set up correctly.

    perhaps next time get your facts straight before being such a tool, eh?

    neither chains nor belts are failproof, but belt failure is possibility vs. probability. is it possible for a non-defective and not worn out properly adjusted belt to fail? certainly. is it probable? nope.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    at no time did you say your friend at spot set them up. you said, "i am doing it correctly, my friend at spot said so" which in no way implies anyone other than YOU set it up. in addition to not comprehending what you yourself said, you seemed to also fail to comprehend that i wasn't disputing whether or not your belt was set up correctly.

    perhaps next time get your facts straight before being such a tool, eh?

    neither chains nor belts are failproof, but belt failure is possibility vs. probability. is it possible for a non-defective and not worn out properly adjusted belt to fail? certainly. is it probable? nope.
    I'm not am expert in language but this line petty much Sums up you saying that it's my fault. "two options: either you got a defective belt or you're doing it wrong."

    So here is how I see it, you are clearly better than me and most certainly must have a massive penis. I'm sorry that I ever contested that. I was just trying to save someone the time, money, and hassles that I experienced.

    Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    If I told you I saw a unicorn ****ing a leprechaun trail side, you'd probably be suspicious.

  21. #21
    meh... whatever
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeopleForScience View Post
    I'm not am expert in language but this line petty much Sums up you saying that it's my fault. "two options: either you got a defective belt or you're doing it wrong."

    So here is how I see it, you are clearly better than me and most certainly must have a massive penis. I'm sorry that I ever contested that. I was just trying to save someone the time, money, and hassles that I experienced.

    Out.
    no expert indeed. what i was suggesting is that you had a defective belt and illustrated that sometimes parts we count on fail. nor was it a personal insult/refutation to suggest that it is very, very rare for a non-defective, correctly installed/aligned belt to spontaneously break as you've reported - i.e. "possibility vs. probability".

    like you, i too know people at spot/gates and have discussed this very issue at length and was told that most of the time belt failure is due to improper handling/installation/alignment. granted, i didn't get actual percentage figures on spontaneous belt failure like you've reported, but i'm guessing it's VERY low. belts are a proven and reliable drive system in use globally on a wide array of industrial, aerospace, motorcycle, and automotive applications - and the cdx system is proving itself to be the same on mtb, road, cross, commuter, and touring bikes.

    so all things considered it would seem you're trying to "save someone" from the exception to the rule.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

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    gates vs. harley? c'mon.

    Maybe the Harley belts not breaking have something to do with the volume of belt....not a good comparison my man.

    Just Curious- Belt Drive- WHY?-1102_hrbp_29_z-2001_harley_davidson_road_glide-engine_and_belt_drive.jpg

  23. #23
    meh... whatever
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    Quote Originally Posted by jomissa View Post
    Maybe the Harley belts not breaking have something to do with the volume of belt....not a good comparison my man.
    you do know that gates MAKES harly's belts, right?

    for one thing that is the primary belt, not the final drive belt.

    for another, harleys don't come from the factory with primary drive belts. that picture is of an aftermarket conversion. in other words, the chain drive was electively removed in favor of a belt. lots of custom and performance builders go this route because belts are smoother, require less maintenance, and look cool - just like for bicycles.

    for another, it would stand to reason that an engine putting out 60-120hp would need a more robust belt to transfer power from the engine to the transmission (primary drive belt) than would be needed for a human putting out less than .5 hp to transfer power from the cranks to the rear wheel.

    for yet another, due to the advances in belt technology many of the newer harleys use 1" and even 20mm wide final drive belts. interesting when considering the gates cdx system for bicycles uses a 12mm belt.

    so in all actuality, the 12mm wide cycling belt for a .5hp (if that) application is FAR more robust for the application than a 20mm final drive belt for a 60hp application.

    so yeah... it's a good comparison, my man.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    so in all actuality, the 12mm wide cycling belt for a .5hp (if that) application is FAR more robust for the application than a 20mm final drive belt for a 60hp application.

    so yeah... it's a good comparison, my man.
    I agree, but I would probably say look at the torque and not the power. I would think that spinning a belt fast--power--would not stress a belt as much as tensile forces--torque. Regardless, the comparison still holds as you're looking at around 100 ft lbs at high RPM on a 20mm-40mm belt vs maybe 50-60 ft lbs at low RPM on a 12mm belt. Plus the motorcycle belt has to contend with engine vibrations, engine movement, parasitics of the belt tensioner, etc. The bicycle belt has to deal with frame flex and maybe off center chainri...uhm...beltrings?
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    belts are a proven and reliable drive system in use globally on a wide array of industrial, aerospace, motorcycle, and automotive applications - and the cdx system is proving itself to be the same on mtb, road, cross, commuter, and touring bikes...
    I was aware of belt-drive when I was into motorcycles.

    One big quibble: IIRC, belts fall down when they're exposed to dirt/grit/mud. Any grit between the belt and pulleys makes them act like sandpaper on each other.

    Again, just IIRC, but this is why you never, ever see belt drive on dirt bikes they're on tourers and cruisers.

    Why somebody would think that they would do well on a MTB, I don't understand...

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