Belt Drive or WI freewheel?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Belt Drive or WI freewheel?

    Ive been riding my XXIX belt drive a couple years now and its been great so far. Id be scared to guess how many miles I have on the original belt geared at 32x18 or the belt I ran when I changed the gearing to 32x16. It quiet and maintenance free. But I've recently been riding an older Jamis Exile 26er SS with a WI freewheel and I enjoy it. I guess cause I have a soft spot for American craftsman ship in that small component. Just something about it I like. I really feel like its way more efficient than the belt drive. I have to tighten the belt up pretty good so it doesn't slip vs the chain can stay a little looser. Those WI trials freewheels with 72poe really caught my eye and will allow me to run a single speed specific rear wheel.
    Im getting a nice high end steel frame that will except the belt drive but I'm struggling with running it vs the freewheel. Other than a somewhat cool factor and you don't see many bikes running them why should I run the belt?

  2. #2
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    Because you don't want to be able to make repairs on the trail? Practically speaking I can't really think of a reason, but I would still run the belt if I could - always thought they were cool, especially for low maintenance commuting setups and the like. But I know a guy who broke two belts on a mountain bike and had to hike out of the woods both times (he's since gone back to a regular chain drive).

    Why can't you run an SS specific rear wheel with the belt drive? If you need a cassette cog for the belt you should be able to use one of those short body cassette hubs.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexCuse View Post
    But I know a guy who broke two belts on a mountain bike and had to hike out of the woods both times (he's since gone back to a regular chain drive).
    And here I thought they were supposed to be indestructible and more quiet. I don't know this person, by my assumption is that the walk out of the woods may be laden with loud expletives.

    I've always wanted to try a belt drive, but haven't had the frame to do so. If you have had good luck with it, why not try it out on the new frame before making a decision. That said, the WI freewheel is bombproof which is why I got a eccentric eno rear hub and I can't wait to lace it up. Only you can make this decision, for looks or for advantage is the eternal question if you have money to spare.

    Can you build a rear belt wheel with more POE if that's what you're after?
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  4. #4
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    White also makes the Duo Eno hub, which is even more unique and niche-cool. A dinglespeed setup with one of those is cool (I talk about dinglespeeds too much).

    I would say two things:

    1) Hiking out from a broken belt drive doesn't seem like that big a deal to me, since you can still coast down all the downhills. It would only be slightly slower. I think the odds of breaking a belt have been 9as reported here and elsewhere) on par with catastrophic hub/BB failure. Possible, but unlikely and not the norm.

    2) The Eno freewheel is super cool, but changing ratios would be expensive. I like my traditional cassette body with splined cogs and spacers because a new ratio is always like $50 away. That may or may not matter to you.
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    Not my picture but... check your pulse- if your heart's not racing, you're dead!



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  6. #6
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    I've never ridden a belt drive ss but own a Exile also.
    It's set up wth a Salsa steel fork, 27.5 wheels and WI freewheel /surly hub.
    My favorite bike !
    Go for it, it's a class act

  7. #7
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    I understand that belts can break just like everything. I have probably close to 2500 miles on the original belt yet my local shop owner has less than a 1000 miles and broke his. There are factors involved that the person you know hasn't mentioned I'm sure. Just like my shop owner. Everyone thinks it just broke. But what they don't know is he can't cross a log for shit and slams his front chain ring into the log and the belt takes the direct hit. Im not 100% that was the cause but it surely couldn't have helped.
    I have both setups so I won't have to really buy much except another WI freewheel with say 20t to give me some options. For the belt drive I have 3 rear cogs and 2 belts so I'm covered on all the gear ratios depending on the terrain or how in shape I am. I was mainly looking at a dishes rear wheel with a Paul hub then get the trials freehub. Or if I run the belt ill put a set of I9's on with their SS rear hub setup.
    But the frame is a Reeb Dikeyelous so I almost feel like the belt has to go on it. Just curious if anyone preferred one over the other and why. Ill be selling the Releigh if I decide against the belt so I won't always have the belt option.

  8. #8
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    I love WI and have them on bikes which I am sure I will keep and won't change ratio much. No need for new freewheel everytime you need to minor change the ratio either - chainrings are readily available.
    Having said that - I also have several SS which I run with cassette hubs. On some of them I am still trying new combos and some of them see frequent gear ratios changes.
    I also have a hand full of different cheap freewheels to try out new stuff.
    Never had a desire to have a belt drive - I like the looks and quiet, etc but just never appealed to me. I just like good old chain - had hard time to transition from chain to shaft on my motorcycle. Glad I did at the end but it is not a bike.

  9. #9
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    I don't really care about the circumstances. I can repair a chain on the trail, even using a ziptie if I have to. I can't repair a belt. And a 20 mile hike back to the car still sounds like a nightmare to me, even if I can coast the downhills I've never seen a belt on its own, can it be packed tight enough to easily carry a spare?

    All this said, I would still set it up with the belt to see what all the fuss is about.

    If you're mainly after a dishless rear an SS hub like the i9 is a good option - not sure if they are truly dishless (I know the DT swiss singlespeed hub is pretty close) but should result in a stouter wheel than a comparable 8-10 speed hub for sure.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  10. #10
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    With a belt carrying a spare is a necessity, a WI drive train is going to be smoother and quieter and cheaper . Belt drives are really cool though

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  11. #11
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    I just say this about the belt and move on since I sold the XXIX today and belt drive is no longer and option. There is no need to carry a spare belt. A WI drivetrain will not be smoother or quieter. Ive got thousands of miles on the original belt with out a single failure. After much reading and debating and riding both I feel like the WI freewheel with a good hub is just more efficient.
    Talked to my wheel builder today and I decided on Paul hubs, WTB KOM i25 with a 20t WI trials free hub.

  12. #12
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    I approve of your choice of Paul hubs and White freewheel.

    Edit:
    That being said, I've found getting the proper spacing for the Paul's 52mm chainline to be an utter pain in the ass. Or I'm a crap mechanic. Probably both.

  13. #13
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    I have Paul hubs, WI freewheels and a SRAM Crankset with a Boost 148 DM OneUp oval chainring. Perfect chain line.
    That being said, before the boost offset came about it was a pain getting things set up for the Paul chainline.


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  14. #14
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    the white industry dos enos are very nice,i have 2 of them,20/22 and 17/19 so pretty well covered for the area,put thousands of miles on them at this point,dont even look worn at all...well worth the money..

  15. #15
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    I have a Surly new hub with the same chainline as the Paul. I'm looking forward to lacing my eccentric Eno which should have a more suitable chain line for the middle ring so I can run a bash without using spacers and longer CR bolts. Still, very impressed with the Surly hub considering the price.

    Deano, enjoy the ride whatever the drivetrain ends up being. Happy rollin'!
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  16. #16
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    I had completely forgot about the bike and out of no where he emails me wanting it gone. So I have the Reeb now. I decided since it's set up with gears and not really a bad wheelset I'd run it as a belt drive. The guy I sold the xxix to was going to use one of the extra gears and the belt needed to run it gave it back to me. I will say of all the bikes I've had this frame rides very nice. Can't wait to get these gears off.

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  18. #18
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    I saw that. Not to mentioned I'd need a threaded rear hub. No way I'd even consider spending that much to run a belt on a freewheel then not get crazy good Poe.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deanomasher View Post
    I saw that. Not to mentioned I'd need a threaded rear hub. No way I'd even consider spending that much to run a belt on a freewheel then not get crazy good Poe.
    The nice thing with WI stuff is it is all swappable. I bought a standard WI FW a couple years ago and just bought the internals of a trials FW to get 72POE for standard money, I called and ordered the part from WI directly it was about $55 for the guts. They just snap together, real easy.
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  20. #20
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    Mine has been bombproof. Even after getting ran over by my car. I also appreciate the elegant simplicity.


  21. #21
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    I have a SS WI wheel set on the classifieds if anyone interested

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