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  1. #1
    _CJ
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    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er

    First post here....hoping to find some help on this project.

    I've been riding mountain bikes since about 1990, and after going through most bike designs and materials, decided I just wanted a simple, minimalist bike. Ended up finding an old steel 26" frame, and built it up with a rigid fork, V-brakes, and 1x8 gears in 2008. It's been a great bike, and it's all I ride anymore, but I've always been curious about IGH and belt drive. With my 44th birthday closing in next week, I decided it's now or never.

    Yesterday I bought a 2000 Ionic Dean Johnny Rotten (pictured below), and plan to install a frame splitter, belt drive, and IGH. I'm handy with mechanical stuff, welding, and machine work, so the splitter is no big deal. Decided to stick with 26 because it's always worked well for me and I have a decent stash of back-up parts centered around that wheel size. V-brakes for the minimalism thing, and they work well enough for me.

    The build:
    -Steel 26 frame w/horizontal dropouts
    -Rigid steel fork
    -V-brakes
    -Carbon bars
    -Carbon post
    -Brooks saddle
    -Alfine 8
    -Gates belt drive

    My main concern here is the Alfine 8. I've got some people telling me there's now way it will hold up, but then I'm reading on-line about lots of people riding them and loving them. From what I can gather, the failures are mostly a result of going too low with the primary gears. My current 1x8 has 32 front and 11-32 rear, so a 1:1 low gear is all I really need. Looking at the Alfine ratios, a 39x22 or 39x24 belt drive should get me close to 1:1 in low gear.

    As for my riding style....I live at the base of the mountains in Colorado. Typically put on about 2000 miles a year, 95% dirt, 50% single-track. Average ride being twenty miles with 1500 feet of climbing.

    Am I on the right track? Gearing look right? Should I cut and run before it's too late?



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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post

    My main concern here is the Alfine 8. I've got some people telling me there's now way it will hold up, but then I'm reading on-line about lots of people riding them and loving them. From what I can gather, the failures are mostly a result of going too low with the primary gears. My current 1x8 has 32 front and 11-32 rear, so a 1:1 low gear is all I really need. Looking at the Alfine ratios, a 39x22 or 39x24 belt drive should get me close to 1:1 in low gear.


    Am I on the right track? Gearing look right? Should I cut and run before it's too late?



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    I've had two A8's in our Pugleys for 5yrs+ now with zero issues. MTBing, bikepacking, beach use, etc... Check out the link below to see the sort of abuse they been subjected to:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapp...7610461277546/

    We are running 32T x 23T. That's fine for me. For steep riding I'd probably get my GF on a 30T x 23T.

    The only comment I'd make is I think belts are a waste of time/money and are a real problem when they break many miles from the trailhead. You'll 95% of the perceived belt benefits with a chain plus it's cheap, proven and field repairable.

    Nice looking frame....enjoy the new bike....
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  3. #3
    Frt Range, CO
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    I'd go with the newer center track version that doesn't take so much tension compared to the first version. The first version needed lots of tension to work and frame flex was a big deal as was wear on the Alfine from a really tight belt.

    I'm with Vik, why bother with the expense and hassle of a belt when chains work so well.

  4. #4
    _CJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    I'd go with the newer center track version that doesn't take so much tension compared to the first version. The first version needed lots of tension to work and frame flex was a big deal as was wear on the Alfine from a really tight belt.

    I'm with Vik, why bother with the expense and hassle of a belt when chains work so well.
    Definitely planning on the center track style.

    The belt appeals to me for a lot of reasons....simple, silent, durable, no lube needed. Just make sure the tires have air, and go. More than anything, I just want to try it out so I'm not sitting in a nursing home 40 years from now wondering what it would have been like.

    Cost is a non-issue as I'll have so little into the bike with the use of spare parts and such that I could easily sell it for as much as I have invested. Using my stash of old leftover parts is the reason I'm building the bike from the frame up instead of just buying a belt drive 29er and installing an IGH.

  5. #5
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    I ditched my centertrack belt because I couldn't get it to keep silent.... too much flex in my frame/dropouts I guess? I rock a chain on that bike now.

    That said carrying a spare belt is very little weight (less than my chain tool) and changing belts was faster than linking a chain back together.

    However silent, it was not by any means.

    I had it hooked up to an alfine 11 with no problems.
    Please stop telling me about your quiver, it makes me feel unclean...

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  6. #6
    _CJ
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    So I spent a ridiculous amount of time today figuring out the details (which was fine because it's been snowing all day). Long story short, it appears that I need to do a 46/24 cog setup to attain a reasonable effective chain-stay length. This is based on a 113 tooth belt being the shortest currently available. This will net an 1st gear ratio of roughly 1:1 which is what I've been riding with my 1x8 geared combo for six years now.

    Question of the day: Will a Nexus 8 speed twist shifter work with the Alfine 8? I was an early adopter of grip-shift, and really just can't stomach the thought of using the Alfine trigger shifter.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    Question of the day: Will a Nexus 8 speed twist shifter work with the Alfine 8?
    Yes
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  8. #8
    Stubby-legged
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    I love the A8 on my pugs. If I were to do it again, I would buy the A11. my wife's A11, on her 907, has been flawless.

  9. #9
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    Nobody has mentioned the obvious. If the frame in the photo above is the one planned for the build, a belt is a non starter. I don't see an opening in the triangle.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Nobody has mentioned the obvious. If the frame in the photo above is the one planned for the build, a belt is a non starter. I don't see an opening in the triangle.
    Folks running belts are creating openings on the driveside of the rear triangle using a number of methods. So that's not a problem as long as you have budgeted the cost into the build.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  11. #11
    _CJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Nobody has mentioned the obvious. If the frame in the photo above is the one planned for the build, a belt is a non starter. I don't see an opening in the triangle.
    Not a problem for me to fab up a frame splitter and braze it in. Also going to have to notch the chainstay to clear the front cog, but again not a problem.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    Not a problem for me to fab up a frame splitter and braze it in. Also going to have to notch the chainstay to clear the front cog, but again not a problem.
    OK, sounds like you have those bases covered.

  13. #13
    _CJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1spd1way View Post
    I love the A8 on my pugs. If I were to do it again, I would buy the A11. my wife's A11, on her 907, has been flawless.
    Looking at the ratios of the A11, it only adds more top end gears. 1st gear is the same ratio as the A8, so it does nothing to improve the low end unless the primary ratios are changed, which increases applied torque throughout the entire range possibly leading to early failure?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by _CJ View Post
    Looking at the ratios of the A11, it only adds more top end gears. 1st gear is the same ratio as the A8, so it does nothing to improve the low end unless the primary ratios are changed, which increases applied torque throughout the entire range possibly leading to early failure?
    I've got a couple A8's and an A11. Given the cost differential vs. the additional top end gearing which I don't care about too much on dirt I'd buy more A8's before another A11.

    There is also no twist/grip shift for the A11.
    Last edited by vikb; 05-13-2014 at 09:49 AM.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
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  15. #15
    _CJ
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    Frame in hand....

    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-10177278_696583833732110_7999833355534602046_n.jpg

  16. #16
    meh... whatever
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Folks running belts are creating openings on the driveside of the rear triangle using a number of methods. So that's not a problem as long as you have budgeted the cost into the build.
    any of the new surly bikes with the mds system can be easily modified to accept a belt. linky and linky
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  17. #17
    _CJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    any of the new surly bikes with the mds system can be easily modified to accept a belt. linky and linky
    yup, that's pretty much the technique I decided to go with, just need to fabricate a plate to sandwich on top of the dropout after it's cut. Also decided to use a butane mini-torch to heat and bend the chainstay for front cog clearance instead of cutting and brazing. Trying to do this in such a way that it can be easily duplicated by anyone with limited tools and experience.

    Haven't made much progress other than collecting parts. I'll probably get back to it next month. Busy with other projects right now....


  18. #18
    _CJ
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    It"s been a while, but I'm finally getting back on the project. Spent a little time clearancing the chainstay for the front CDX cog yesterday and took some pictures along the way.

    With the help of the Gates belt drive website, I was able to calculate how much the chainstay needed to be clearanced, and where. I ended up using a simple propane torch to heat the metal cherry red before shaping it with a hammer. It all went very smoothly, no problems so far.

    Sanded off the paint in the area to be clearanced.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1709.jpg

    Marked the opposite chainstay to use as a visual reference of where the clearancing needed to be.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1710.jpg

    Heated the metal to cherry red with a propane torch.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1711.jpg

    Bent the metal while it was hot using an old body hammer with a curved face.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1712.jpg

    Verified that I had clearanced the chainstay enough based on previous calculations.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1713.jpg

    Belt line looks good with the Alfine8 in place.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1714.jpg

    Just enough clearance between the cog and stay
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1715.jpg

  19. #19
    _CJ
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    More work tonight....

    Decided to go with a 39 tooth front cog for 39x24 instead of the 46x24 originally planned. The 46x24 would have been pretty close to my current 32 front with 11-32 rear, and I've been wanting more low range. The 39x24 will be about the same as a 32 front with a 12-36 rear. Primary drive will be 1.625:1 which I'm hoping won't blow the hub apart. Everything I've read indicates people are running much lower primary ratios without issue.

    Anyhow. Here's the latest.

    I was hoping to use the outer chainring location, but needed to use the middle chainring location to get the belt-line close with the bottom bracket I ended up using. The middle location required some clearancing to mount the ring.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1721.jpg

    Added a 1mm shim to get the belt-line as close as I can.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1722.jpg

    Heavy tooth file to clearance the ID of the middle ring mounting flange.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1723.jpg

    Squared up the flange with a finer tooth file.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1724.jpg

    Frame clearance is right at the 2mm spec with the belt-line where it needs to be.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1726.jpg

  20. #20
    meh... whatever
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    looking good, cj.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  21. #21
    _CJ
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    And some more tonight.....

    Made a little paper template of the link that would be needed to join the frame back together after cutting it for belt installation
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1728.jpg

    Transfered the template to 1/8" steel.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1727.jpg

    A little shaping on the grinder.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1729.jpg

    Drilled holes, BEFORE cutting the frame, attempted to tap the hole, but gave up after destroying two taps and drilled out bigger to use a screw and nut arrangement.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1730.jpg

    No going back now.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1731.jpg

    BINGO!
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1732.jpg

    Still need a belt tensioner, but this is the basic setup
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1733.jpg


    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1734.jpg

    Belt line is dead nuts, rolls over nice and smooth.
    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1735.jpg

    It's probably worth mentioning at this point that the 39 tooth front cog wouldn't have required nearly as much clearancing as the 46 that I was initially planning to use. At the time I laid out this project and ordered the 46 front (almost a year ago), the 39 wasn't yet available. If anyone plans to do something like this themselves, I'd STRONGLY recommend going with a 39. Hopefully I didn't unnecessarily compromise the frame by clearancing it for the 46. Time will tell I guess.

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    Nice work!

  23. #23
    _CJ
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    Doing a little more work this weekend....

    Couldn't stand the uglyness of the disc brake hanger on the fork (I prefer V-brakes), so I cut it off and painted the fork.

    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1783.jpg


    Painted the bare metal spots on the frame with some old orange engine paint I had in the back of the cabinet. Surprisingly a pretty good match.

    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1782.jpg

  24. #24
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    More progress. Cut the fork to length, installed some parts. It's starting to look like a bike!

    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1784.jpg

  25. #25
    _CJ
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    I haven't built a wheel in probably over twenty years, but this went together without a hitch. Power of the internet and free on-line spoke length calculators I guess. Went with 14G spokes in a 2-cross lacing. I had an old WTB wheelset that I liked, so I took apart the old rear wheel and used the rim for the new IGH wheel, and now it's a matching wheelset for the bike with the original WTB front hub, matching WTB rims, and matching black spokes with chrome nipples.

    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1787.jpg

    Finally on the ground and looking pretty sharp if I do say so myself. About 26 pounds on my scale. Maybe a little BMX cruiser-y even, and I'm an old BMX kid from the 70's, so that'll work. Don't have the shifter installed or the rear brake working yet, but I couldn't resist taking it for a quick little test ride down the driveway in the rain. Seems to work great. Spooky smooth and silent. Can't wait to get it finished up and out on the trails!

    New build - Alfine / belt / 26er-img_1788.jpg

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