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  1. #1
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    Official Belt Drive Q&A Thread

    I have found it difficult to consolidate information regarding Belt Drives. A Sgt. Joe Friday 'Just the facts' thread.

    I have found it quite difficult finding anyone in a shop who wants to discuss anything in true detail that is not on the shop floor let anyone who has first hand knowledge with Mechanic ride experience. I have met no one here in SoCal who rides a belt. Even at the best shops in OC etc...

    So I am going to throw out a number of questions that come to mind in hope of an objective discussion.

    Besides Spot Brand and the new Norco Judan, are there other MFGs who make a Belt specific Frame? http://www.norco.com/bikes/mountain/29er/judan-belt/ http://www.spotbikes.com/

    Is the "split" between the stays on these frames problematic? (loosening; stiffness)

    Is belt tension different than traditional chain drives? Is there one tension(ing) system better than the other or are they all the same?

    Are the belts suitable for Clyde's like me who ride a big frame and push hard and create big load climbing? Does frame flex push the belt off drive?

    Is Gates the only carbon Belt MFG? http://www.carbondrivesystems.com/ And do they OEM all the Production bikes

    What is the longevity?

    I think I have figured out that the sprockets are designed to fit hubs and crank arms alike...and that the belt itself requires bigger rings front and rear in general.


    Thanks up front here for the input.

    Regards

    IT
    Why are there so many threads about cheap ass bikes?

  2. #2
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    I will try to answer some of you questions, we work on a customers Spot Longboard at our shop and I just built up my custom belt drive and a few rides on it myself

    Besides Spot Brand and the new Norco Judan, are there other MFGs who make a Belt specific Frame? not too many off road bikes, Raleigh and Specialized make belt drive commuters, Ventanna's new El Toro is belt compatible but if I remember correctly there are only a few different ratios available. Also there are a few custom builders making belt capable frames

    Is the "split" between the stays on these frames problematic? The first generation Spot dropout is crap, it worked for what they were trying to do but they have since redesigned a much better dropout system, The Ventana system is stout.

    Is belt tension different than traditional chain drives? the belt uses in my opion less tension than my chain drive SS, but I have seen many people ride with droopy chain drives , as far as tension

    Is there one tension(ing) system better than the other or are they all the same? I prefer a sliding/swinging type dropout, the first Spot split dropout required you to re-tension the chain if you need to remove your wheel (fix a flat) which could cause problems on the trail (belt line is very critical and too soft of tension it will pop/skip under load) With my Swinging drop-out I can pop my QR and drop out my wheel, than put the wheel back in the drop-out with the belt on both cogs and then it is set up at proper tension and aligned properly

    Are the belts suitable for Clyde's like me who ride a big frame and push hard and create big load climbing? Does frame flex push the belt off drive? I would say that frame flex would be your biggest concern, I'm 210 and push 2:1 evey where I ride I have very stiff cranks (FifteenG) and my builder used the biggest tandem chainstays he could find to help eliminate flex. The alloy Ventanna should be a very stiff frame

    Is Gates the only carbon Belt MFG? And do they OEM all the Production bikes Yes, they developed the system and are the only MFG of compatible parts, and supply OEM parts

    What is the longevity? Mine is still too early to tell but the Belts claimed life span is about 8-10,000 miles with NO maintenance, not sure on rings and cogs
    Quote Originally Posted by thefuzzbl
    aluminium has a tendency to fail when you need it most. i.e. you end up with a bad day.

  3. #3
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    What is the longevity of the Belts?

    I have read that the belts last as long as Scooter quoted, 8-10,000miles and the rings and cogs last half as long. So a 2:1 ratio as a guide.

    I found another Manufacturer of a Carbon Belt system on youtube, cant remember the name of the company but its featured on an Interbike vid.

    Check Gates Carbon website for more info regarding frame builders that support this system. There are roughly 6-8 to memory including Seven Cycles.

    I will soon be fitting a Belt to a Blacksheep Ti frame using the HACS horizontal adjustable chain stays to tension the belt. It will be one of only two that James has set up and I will hopefully have it operating in the next 2 weeks.
    "Be the Gear..."

  4. #4
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    Shouldn't a thread like this become a sticky for the belt drive guys.

    Scooter, never did see a pic of the new frame build up.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazy8
    Shouldn't a thread like this become a sticky for the belt drive guys.

    Scooter, never did see a pic of the new frame build up.
    Patrick Cycles 69er belt drive
    Quote Originally Posted by thefuzzbl
    aluminium has a tendency to fail when you need it most. i.e. you end up with a bad day.

  6. #6
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    It would be good if there was a sticky or a special forum for belt drive.

    I have done a few belt drive conversions so I can answer some of these questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ike Turner
    ...Is the "split" between the stays on these frames problematic? (loosening; stiffness)
    Bikes have been made with a split since the beginning, and most utility bikes in Asia and Africa are still like this. Their seatstay is bolted at the rear dropout. Also if you look closely at many bikes using carbon seatstays you'll notice that they are disguising the joint. Many of the fancy joints you are seeing on the new crop of belt drive bikes are too fancy in my opinion, excessively technical when all that is needed is a simple pin joint which would be cheaper to produce and use less material.

    The simpler the joint the less trouble is likely to happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ike Turner
    ...Is belt tension different than traditional chain drives? Is there one tension(ing) system better than the other or are they all the same...
    I set my belt tension using hand pressure and it doesn't feel much different from my chain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ike Turner
    ...Does frame flex push the belt off drive?...
    Frame flex is the biggest enemy of belt drive. If you think of the belt a series of parallel lines, then when the frame flexs, then these arrive at the rear cog at an angle to it. This means they do not slot into the grooves and try to ride up on the cog.

    One of the bikes I built had a lot of flex. I rode it in the SSUK and the flex was so bad that I had to walk a lot of stuff I could otherwise have ridden. Since then I have experimented with various systems to get round this. The best so far has been a preventer pulley which does not engage with the belt until it starts to rise. The position of this pulley is critical, but it enables the belt drive to work on a frame which is otherwise too flexible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ike Turner
    ...Is Gates the only carbon Belt MFG? http://www.carbondrivesystems.com/ And do they OEM all the Production bikes...
    I think they are the only one that has done a specific bike application.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ike Turner
    ...What is the longevity?
    Haven't broken, worn one out yet, but that's a very small sample.

    Here's a previous post I did some time ago
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  7. #7
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    [QUOTE]Frame flex is the biggest enemy of belt drive. If you think of the belt a series of parallel lines, then when the frame flexs, then these arrive at the rear cog at an angle to it. This means they do not slot into the grooves and try to ride up on the cog.

    One of the bikes I built had a lot of flex. I rode it in the SSUK and the flex was so bad that I had to walk a lot of stuff I could otherwise have ridden. Since then I have experimented with various systems to get round this. The best so far has been a preventer pulley which does not engage with the belt until it starts to rise. The position of this pulley is critical, but it enables the belt drive to work on a frame which is otherwise too flexible.[QUOTE]


    Velobike,

    I had some fears that my Ti frame may be too flexible for the Belt Drive, however it was pointed out to me that the frame would need to remain flexed in one position for a duration longer than normal in order to derail the belt. Hence the frame would be constantly flexing for and aft this would apparently rid any such derailment issues.

    It appears with your extended knowledge that this isnt exactly true.....now Im worried again. Doh!

    When you said you walked sections at the UKSS that you would have otherwise ridden, were you suggesting that the belt was derailling or slipping?
    "Be the Gear..."

  8. #8
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    Here is the link to the other system available from Delta C at Interbike.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9jbmxI6jE8
    "Be the Gear..."

  9. #9
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    [QUOTE=-Muz R-]
    ...When you said you walked sections at the UKSS that you would have otherwise ridden, were you suggesting that the belt was derailling or slipping?
    It was trying to.

    What was happening was that the belt would start to ride up and then would slip in to place with a loud KLAAAK! I did not want to damage the belt so I walked every time I heard this process start. I did get much better at smooth pedalling which helped slightly

    I think lateral flex is the enemy rather than vertical. One superior quality of chains is that they can tolerate so much flex.

    As belts get used more we'll see frames designed properly for them rather than adapted to their use, with laterally stiff chainstays but allowing vertical flex for feel, and also designed for belt fitment without having to split the frame.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  10. #10
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    Velobike,

    My frame was originally built to use a chain and then we realized that the telecopic chainstays could be seperated to except a Belt. All my concerns were passed on to the frame builder and the conclusion was that it would be all ok. Here's to hoping.

    My initial concern was that Ti is flexier than steel and aluminium, having read comments about light Ti frames derailling chains etc As it turns out Im swapping my Garmin Edge 305 for the Gates Belt, ring and cog so if it fails I havent lost too much other than dissapointment and some weight off my bike. I dont use the Garmin too much so its no biggy.

    Scooter commented that his frame has heavier guage stays to counter act flex, I wonder what extremes Spot Brand and others have gone through to counteract lateral flex.
    "Be the Gear..."

  11. #11
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    Will these new flanges help with the belt "walking" off during heavy loads?



    http://www.spotbikes.com/news?74c6d0...5833a98e3bd0fa

  12. #12
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    I have never had a belt come off, but then I have not accumulated the miles of testing that the likes of Spot have done.

    Flanges are a bodge - a poor substitute for proper belt alignment and frame stiffness. They are probably necessary when there is a chance of user error, eg with track ends it is necessary to be very precise to guarantee perfect alignment (to the standards needed for a belt) after replacing the wheel.

    In my opinion it is bad design to use a tensioning system that requires the user to align the belt. I predict a move to EBBs if belt drive catches on, or maybe the move will be necessary before it does, because otherwise there may be a litany of woe and recrimination from users with broken or jumping belts. This will be the result of belts not properly lined up by their users.

    It's early days yet though, so manufacturers are going to prefer to build their frames with a bias towards chains.

    The simplest solution will be to build frames to the "magic ratio" and no adjustment. The bike I converted for the SSUK was done like this - it was a derailleur frame and I had to remove a tiny amount of metal from the front of the dropout to get the tension correct.
    Last edited by Velobike; 11-02-2009 at 07:11 AM.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    In my opinion it is bad design to use a tensioning system that requires the user to align the belt. I predict a move to EBBs if belt drive catches on...
    I suppose it is possible to have a bike frame so perfectly aligned that this would work. But very unlikely. Currently (as I see it) there is a NEED for some fore-aft wiggle room in the axle so ensure that the belt is not trying to run off. Flanges or no flanges.

    An EBB would allow a belt to be tensioned, yes. But how to make up for variations in frame-to-frame (presumably) vertical drop-outs? Or an accumulation of errors in BB/crank/axle/cogs? I suspect that belts will always need some degree of adjustment for run-on/run-off. I'm guessing that making frames and parts accurately enough to guarantee alignment would be prohibitively expensive and rather limiting.

    For most of us, I suspect that adjusting axle tension with some kind of tensioner will remain more effective and expedient than removing "...a tiny amount of metal from the front of the dropout to get the tension correct." (Though I respect that.)

    On the contrary (and I mean contrary... Winkety wink.) I think it is a bad design to use a drive system that requires the user to lube a chain. Or that puts drive tension on a 1.5mm thick tooth instead of spreading the load over 10mm. Or a drive system that has to be taken apart and put back together with a special and complex tool instead of slipped on a frame opened with simple allen bolts. Or endangers a user with a drive wheel of pointy spikes!

    I point this out for readers and skeptics of the belt drive.I think that we are used to the limitations of chains to the point of not even thinking of them. I don't know if a belt drive is "better" (I love mine!) but I don't like to confuse "bad" with "different".

    Belt drive is simple in a different way than chain drive is simple.

    That being said, I would welcome a change from the track forks on my bike. Looks like Spot is making that change -- new sliders -- and other manufacturers are as well.

    --Greg
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikeabout
    ...But how to make up for variations in frame-to-frame (presumably) vertical drop-outs? ... I'm guessing that making frames and parts accurately enough to guarantee alignment would be prohibitively expensive and rather limiting.

    For most of us, I suspect that adjusting axle tension with some kind of tensioner will remain more effective and expedient than removing "...a tiny amount of metal from the front of the dropout to get the tension correct." (Though I respect that)...
    That's true. It was one of the benefits of removing a little bit of metal

    I took more off the right side than the left to get the rear axle exactly parallel.

    Then a couple of well placed smacks with a big ballpeen hammer on the flat surface* of the dropouts to bulge the leading edge forward to allow for the metal removed, plus a bit of light dressing to ensure the axle was a perfect fit.

    Sorted

    In other words EBBs plus a bit of massaging at the dropout will fix any problem with alignment.

    *with a vice for an anvil underneath
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by baycat
    Will these new flanges help with the belt "walking" off during heavy loads?



    http://www.spotbikes.com/news?74c6d0...5833a98e3bd0fa
    I have a 2009 Spot like the one in this picture. I think this design is crap for a belt drive. Those Spot Rocket tensioners are like little toys so I switched them out for some Surly Tugnutts, which work ten times better.
    I think belt tension is key. But this Spot design relies too much on how tight you can get your quick release. If the belt is too loose it will slide to the outside under heavy cranking, this will put more of a side load on the belt, and it will break. It happened to me. If the belt has proper tension and alignment, it is virtually impossible to break and it will never slip.
    I agree with another post in this thread that Ventana has a great design for the belt drive. They are going to be making the El Comandante for a belt drive. I might have to get me one of those suckers next season.
    Long live the BELT!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    That's true. It was one of the benefits of removing a little bit of metal

    I took more off the right side than the left to get the rear axle exactly parallel.

    Then a couple of well placed smacks with a big ballpeen hammer on the flat surface* of the dropouts to bulge the leading edge forward to allow for the metal removed, plus a bit of light dressing to ensure the axle was a perfect fit.

    Sorted

    In other words EBBs plus a bit of massaging at the dropout will fix any problem with alignment.

    *with a vice for an anvil underneath
    For a device to function correctly for all users there is always going to be the need for adjustments. Not everyone is going to want to dick around dremmeling their frames to accomodate a belt.

    What your suggesting is like selling a Belt Sander with no tracking adjustment and asking the customer to modify his tool to stop the belt flying off? Cant imagine it taking off too well. The likeliness of all frames being straight enough for true alignment would be slim IMO.

    I think the Flange that Spot and Gates have developed is a more versitile when used with sliding or Horizontal dropouts as it would work with all scenarios, flexy or not.
    "Be the Gear..."

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Muz R-
    For a device to function correctly for all users there is always going to be the need for adjustments. Not everyone is going to want to dick around dremmeling their frames to accomodate a belt.

    What your suggesting is like selling a Belt Sander with no tracking adjustment and asking the customer to modify his tool to stop the belt flying off? Cant imagine it taking off too well. The likeliness of all frames being straight enough for true alignment would be slim IMO.

    I think the Flange that Spot and Gates have developed is a more versitile when used with sliding or Horizontal dropouts as it would work with all scenarios, flexy or not.
    I think you have missed the point. I modified a non-belt drive vertical dropout frame with no adjustment possible. I was explaining how I got the alignment and tension spot on. This is not something that would be necessary on a production bike - at least I hope it wouldn't be!

    My point is that unless the manufacturers have a high standard of accuracy in the original manufacture AND have a simple adjustment method that maintains the parallel location of the axle and BB, there will be problems.

    A flange is a bandaid solution, not a cure.

    I also have a belt drive bike with trackends, and it is necessary to be much more particular when replacing the wheel than it is with the belt. I suspect some Spot customers have been having trouble maintaining the necessary accuracy, hence the introduction of the flange.

    If belt drive is to succeed, then very accurate frame making is going to be an essential.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    I think you have missed the point. I modified a non-belt drive vertical dropout frame with no adjustment possible. I was explaining how I got the alignment and tension spot on. This is not something that would be necessary on a production bike - at least I hope it wouldn't be!

    My point is that unless the manufacturers have a high standard of accuracy in the original manufacture AND have a simple adjustment method that maintains the parallel location of the axle and BB, there will be problems.

    A flange is a bandaid solution, not a cure.

    I also have a belt drive bike with trackends, and it is necessary to be much more particular when replacing the wheel than it is with the belt. I suspect some Spot customers have been having trouble maintaining the necessary accuracy, hence the introduction of the flange.

    If belt drive is to succeed, then very accurate frame making is going to be an essential.

    I hear you entirely, I just didnt agree that frames should be made specifcally with EBB and fixed rear dropouts when accomodating Belts. I just cant imagine the reliability of frames being made with such small tolerances and no ability to make fine adjustments.

    There have been far to many comments regarding crucial fine tuning for me to consider a frame with no adjustability.


    As for the Flange, it is indeed a quick fix but maybe a neccessary one for more flexible frames. The reason I favour its intended use is that it may well be the only way I can experience the Poly Belt as my new frame was initially built around a light weight tube set, not neccessarily in conjuction with Gates Belts. Out of curiousity, could this Flange have helped your own previous issues with derailment?

    I agree that the future of the system hovers around more belt orientated frames with greater lateral rigidity but this Flange will allow it to accomodate a wider variety of Frames including my own.
    "Be the Gear..."

  19. #19
    The Angry Singlespeeder
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    Paketa Magnesium Belt Drive SS 29er

    There's a company out of Boulder called Paketa which does custom Magnesium frames, and they use Gates belt drive. They sent MTBR a bike to test and review. I rode it for 3 weeks and the belt drive was flawless. Put it through the ultimate torque test - Slickrock Trail. Check out the review I just posted on the Paketa Magnesium belt driven singlespeed 29er.




    http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/paketa-magnesium-belt-drive-singlespeed-29er-review/
    Kurt Genshammer
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Muz R-
    ...There have been far to many comments regarding crucial fine tuning for me to consider a frame with no adjustability...
    That would be done by the manufacturer, not the user. End of problem. The result would be an ability to replace the rear wheel in a simple manner without any worry about alignment.

    The flange on a frame that is flexing or has the rear wheel misaligned is better than nothing, but it should not be necessary at all in a properly designed frame. It would be interesting to hear from a Spot owner as to whether they have been having problems, or whether the flange is simply a precaution by Spot against sloppy wheel replacement by owners.

    I did consider modifying my rear cog to take a flange or a belt guide but there is still the possibility of the belt riding up, which is why I use a preventer pulley - also a bandaid solution.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  21. #21
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    Prices of belt drive components

    Here's the current European price list for Gates belt drive bits
    Attached Files Attached Files
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  22. #22
    aka baycat
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    Velobike. Can you post pictures of some of your conversions?

  23. #23
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    Is anybody planning on building a freewheel compatable with belt drive? I would surely hate to have to get rid of 3 sets of Pauls (3 bikes worth of wheels) hubs to do this.

    Tim

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by baycat
    Velobike. Can you post pictures of some of your conversions?
    This link will show you an earlier one

    It's better than my other photos which don't show the process, just the finished article. I'm usually too impatient to photograph every part of it.

    I'm looking around for another frame to modify so I can build up a bike with my S-A S3X.

    I wonder if a 3 speed fixed wheel belt drive bike would be niche enough?
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike

    I wonder if a 3 speed fixed wheel belt drive bike would be niche enough?

    http://thebikeshow.net/fixie-killer-sturmey-archer-s2c/

    There you go.

    Tim

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