The Anti-Chain: Carbon Belt Drive Upgrade for Bikes

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

In a column last year, “Belt Drive Mountain Bike,” I covered the bike-chain-replacing Carbon Drive System from Gates, writing that “the humble bike chain — greasy, gunk-prone, finicky if not lubed and maintained — has been standard equipment for decades, but belt drives, which employ a flexible loop of polyurethane embedded with carbon-fiber cords, give bikers a new option.”

This week, Gates (www.carbondrivesystems.com) announced a new option itself and an upgrade from the belt-drive system I reviewed last year.

gates - CenterTrack Belt Drive 2.jpg

gates - CenterTrack Belt Drive.jpg

Gates’ CenterTrack belt-drive system

The company’s CenterTrack system, which recently debuted on bicycles from Spot Brand, has a new design said to offer a 20-percent tensile strength increase and a slimmer profile from the current Gates system.

CenterTrack, officially called CDX-CT, includes a complete pulley and sprocket redesign. The side flanges have been removed and replaced with a center track where the belt aligns.

gates copy.jpg

Carbon-laced belt now has center track groove

Other upgrades: The rear pulley is now stainless steel instead of alloy, and the new belt design is slightly wider, both strength-increasers according to a company rep.

spot mountain bike with carbon belt drive.jpg

Spot Brand mountain bike with belt drive

Spot Brand, which is based in Golden, Colo., began shipping bikes with CenterTrack to shops in May, including single-speed mountain bikes and internally-geared commuter models. Other brands will introduce CenterTrack-equipped bikes this summer, a Gates rep says.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by bo - 06/24/2011 08:31 AM

looks great, now put a link in it so everyone can use it!

Posted by Paul - 06/24/2011 12:10 PM

Bo, links are points of weakness. the belt is a continuous span, and its strength is due to the fact it has no “weak links” to fail like a chain.

Posted by jpea - 06/26/2011 02:24 PM

Since it’s an aftermarket setup, how do the split-frame dropouts work? Is that a prerequisite for adapting your bike to this?

Posted by Paul - 06/27/2011 09:49 AM

Carbon Drive isn’t just an after-market setup. There are 90-plus bike models from multiple brands that spec Carbon Drive in 2011. Most are built with a split in the rear triangle so the belt can be installed. Check out this video if you want to learn more about how to install or work with Gates Carbon Drive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPoKawd1y9M

Posted by Dan - 06/27/2011 10:56 AM

As a framebuilder and a quiet proponent of singlespeeds, I’m attracted to the simplicity of the belt drive.

However, there are two issues that really keep me far, far away from it:

1. Cost.

2. Problems with icing in the winter months will cause the belt to get thrown/damaged and need replacing.

I have not experienced #2 personally, nor seen it happen, but have heard about it from 2 independent sources that I trust. (If Gates wants to send me some hardware for testing, they’re more than welcome to.)

Posted by jpea - 06/27/2011 01:23 PM

Ah, so this isn’t an aftermarket setup at all – it’s saying that Gates themselves came out with a new product and are wanting more frame builders to hop on the bandwagon. The article made it sound like it was a consumer add-on. Gotcha.

Posted by jdaun - 06/29/2011 08:06 AM

Besides Spot brand bikes, where can I find the other bike brands/models that are coming out with Carbon Drive in 2011?

Posted by jpea - 06/29/2011 12:17 PM

There’s a pretty decent list on Gates site but I’m not sure how up-to-date it is these days – Gates had a ton (over 50 I think?) of different bikes on display at last years Interbike and I would think they’d have even more this Summer at the 2011 one.

Posted by jdaun - 07/08/2011 08:58 AM

Thanks for the list jpea!

Posted by Grazriaz - 06/02/2012 10:34 PM

Gear changing? How do you increase speed?

Posted by jpea - 06/04/2012 03:39 PM

Grazriaz – it is either being used in single-speed bike setups or, if you would like gears you can use internally geared hubs like shimano’s alfine, deore, nuvinci or sram. Almost all major component manufacturers have internally geared hubs in their lineup now for applications like this.

Posted by Dani - 01/30/2013 04:26 AM

Un invent que temps que tinc al cap,ja tinc un cuadre amb punteres regulables i ara falta trobar aquest sistema be de preu.A alemania esta per 250 euros.
Ja t´explicare.

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