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Author Topic: Belt Drive Bicycles  (Read 1429 times)

jdrouin

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Belt Drive Bicycles
« on: September 27, 2010, 04:30:49 PM »
Thought some of you might be interested to know that belt drive bicycles are starting to gain traction in the commercial world. Like Harleys, bicycles with belt drives carry the following advantages over chain drives:

+ Almost zero maintenance drive train
+ Impervious to snow, salt, mud, dirt, and damage from inclement weather
+ Mechanically efficient
+ Light weight

Just for the hell of it, I spent a morning at a local bike shop testing stuff out, and at one point took a ride on the Trek Soho even though I'm looking for a different kind of bike. Much to my surprise, it has been reviewed at Knee Slider:

http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2009/03/09/belt-drive-bicycles-trek-soho/

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this bicycle was reviewed in a motorcycle blog, because it feels just like the Bullet -- sit up and beg position, easy reaching, sloped back, low rise bars, neutral yet precise steering, very smooth ride despite the aluminum frame. It also has beautiful classic looks with the large fenders color matched to the frame (slate blue). It's really light, too, not that I care about weight. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face the whole time I was on it.

Overall I liked the belt drive system. It's really efficient, and the Shimano Nexus 8 speed internal hub provides a very good range of gear ratios (with a couple of jumps that are questionable). It also shifts surprisingly quickly at low speeds, and you can shift while stopped. The only drawback was that it sometimes wouldn't shift when I was cranking hard. I'd have to pressure back a little bit and that was a pain. I think the 8 speed Alfine hub is better with that, and the new 11 speed one is supposed to be an even bigger improvement.

Anyway, serious commuter bikes are starting to have more in common with motorcycles, like disc brakes. The Civia Bryant seems ideal in that it has both a belt drive and discs, but it's pretty expensive:

http://www.ecovelo.info/2010/01/03/short-term-road-test-civia-bryant/

Jeff
« Last Edit: September 27, 2010, 08:16:39 PM by jdrouin »

single

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2010, 08:10:27 PM »
Well,I am ok with just one cylinder,but that is as far as I go.

cyrusb

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2010, 08:30:02 PM »
Those tranny hubs are really inefficient, and have been around since I was a kid(they were 2 and 3 speeds then). Planetary gearing is lossy and really noticeable when you are the power source. As far as the belt goes, they do break,with no warning, and there is no way of fixing them unless you carry a spare. But,if the people of SOHO will keep their exspensive Italian cycling trousers clean, mission accomplished.

jdrouin

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2010, 08:43:01 PM »
When I lived in England I bought an old 3 speed with internal hub gearing, and yeah, it was a bear. But I have to say this new bike was a completely different animal. I don't know what the differences are between the older internal hubs and these new ones, what their mechanical efficiency is, etc. But as far as my experience goes, riding that Trek was effortless. Maybe it was simply the reduced weight that made it feel that way. But I keep my 9-speed chain/derailleur bike in good mechanical shape, and it doesn't *feel* as efficient as that Trek.

It would be interesting to see an article on actual vs. perceived efficiency in different bicycle drive train types.

Eamon

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2010, 09:38:49 PM »
Those tranny hubs are really inefficient, and have been around since I was a kid(they were 2 and 3 speeds then). Planetary gearing is lossy and really noticeable when you are the power source. As far as the belt goes, they do break,with no warning, and there is no way of fixing them unless you carry a spare. But,if the people of SOHO will keep their exspensive Italian cycling trousers clean, mission accomplished.

I don't think you've used a modern internal geared hub, such as the ones Shimano, Alfine, or even sturmey Archer make nowadays.  They are really quite wonderful.  Even on older bikes, while there were cheap inefficent ones, I have rode some bikes with Sturmey Archer 3 speed hubs that were quite nice.  I have had bikes with the Shimano Nexus 3 speed and 7 speed hubs in recent years - great hubs (although Shimano's 8 speed has a better overall range thanthe 7 speed).

Eamon
Eamon in Seattle
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cyrusb

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2010, 12:42:10 AM »
I'm sure there have been advances in manufacturing that have aided efficiancies, but the fact remains that planetary gears are lossy by nature. Think conventional automatic tranny vs manual, which one gives the better mileage? Why do you think all the big guys are going to some form of automated manual ? Time will tell, but I believe we know this tune allready.

StL_Stadtroller

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2010, 04:22:55 AM »
I'm sure there have been advances in manufacturing that have aided efficiancies, but the fact remains that planetary gears are lossy by nature. Think conventional automatic tranny vs manual, which one gives the better mileage? Why do you think all the big guys are going to some form of automated manual ? Time will tell, but I believe we know this tune allready.

I'd learned that automatic transmissions get worse mileage because the connection between engine and trans via the torque converter can never be 100% efficient. not because of planetary gears.. FWIW
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cyrusb

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2010, 12:20:25 PM »
And theres that too, on older models. Modern ones lock up. There is over 100 years of development in the modern bicycle, just about everything has been tried, including hub trannys. But who knows? we may see it at the Tour de France someday.

woodboats

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2010, 04:46:45 AM »
My son just bought a push bike and it had 2 disk brakes!
I am still trying to figure out to put them on the Enfield. ;D
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beisitong

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2010, 08:54:11 AM »
I also like this track bike ~~~~~


Vests moncler

x

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2010, 10:57:29 AM »
Deleted
« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 07:15:35 AM by x »

rachaelg

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 06:59:17 AM »
I'd learned that automatic transmissions get worse mileage because the connection between engine and trans via the torque converter can never be 100% efficient. not because of planetary gears.. FWIW motorcycle-transport.net

 8)

Sunbeem

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 06:57:48 PM »
This makes me feel my age: I find it ugly. I know that ugliness also is in the eye of the beholder, but in this case it's visceral as well.
Tubes which taper delight me. These are numb.
Forks have such lovely lines. These don't.
Shaped frame lugs show me that the stresses are understood -- butt welds are cheap, and they give rise to acute temperature gradients which can cause localised changes in the metal's temper, encouraging cracks, -- so but me no butts.
I suspect the designer knows more about his(?) market than he does about bicycles.
There - I feel better now.

Sunbeem.         

tooseevee

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2013, 12:56:29 AM »
Those tranny hubs are really inefficient, and have been around since I was a kid(they were 2 and 3 speeds then). Planetary gearing is lossy and really noticeable when you are the power source.

            In the very early '50s (I was 12 in 1950) I bought my first brand new bike that I paid for myself out of my paper route profits (young Capitalist). I had had previous monster bikes of the day, all clunky, some stolen, none new.

             My new bike was the first Schwinn World Traveler, green & the first one ever sold in Cheyenne Wyoming. It had the internal hub tranny; Sturmey-Archer three speed. It served me well until I left Cheyenne in 1956. I don't remember having any trouble with it & did all maintenance myself. I was an accomplished gearhead very young as most of us were then. It did its job quite well.

          I took a little bit of a ration of shit early on because "English bikes" weren't accepted much yet in 1950s Wyoming & were pretty radical with those "funny handlebars & skinny tires".
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AgentX

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Re: Belt Drive Bicycles
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 03:59:21 PM »
Ever seen a Rohloff Speedhub?  Now that is a monster.  14 speed IIRC.  Worked best IMHO as a gear reduction in "jackshaft" bikes which used a primary and secondary chain...see the Nicolai Nucleon from the early 2000s when the idea of ditching the derailleur for downhill racing was the big rage:



(oddly, I got the image off of Google image search, but that is actually a bike I've personally ridden...pic was on Ebay and I recognized the seller as an old buddy who owned this one.)

Anyhow, as a guy who rides singlespeed mountain bikes a lot these days, I think belt drive is pretty cool in that application...light and silent.  With a good geared rear hub I could see the value, too.