18 July 2011 - 23:18Getting Belted
The time has come for me to step into the ring as it were with my thoughts and opinions on the Gates Belt Drive system. Almost everyone has an opinion about it, wether they have any real experience with it or not. I just put together my first bike with the new Center Track belt.
The bike actually belongs to Mandy. Her travel frame from Caletti finally arrived, and it was time to get it built. We decided that it would be built up with the belt first, as there is still plenty of time to learn about setting it up, or find any would be problems before she heads out to SSWC Ireland. We know the traditional chain and chainrings work. At the moment, there is only one option available for gearing, a 46/28, which is something like a 32/20 with a traditional chain set up. Not ideal for Mandy, but it will work until there are more options.
So the frame itself is actually quite nice. Very nice attention to detail, clean welds and beautiful paint. The build is pretty stock, I9 hubs laced to Stan’s Crest rims, a new 2012 Fox Fit RLC fork with the ultra slick Kashima coating, the cranks are old Truvative Noirs, the drivetrain is the aforementioned Gates Carbon Drive, headset is a Cane Creek 110, BB is a King, Easton EC90 carbon seatpost, Niner carbon bar, Ergon BioKork grips, and some Hayes Stroker brakes.
Ironically, I did not weigh the bike. Mandy and I were far to excited to see how the belt would work. It was literally being ridden seconds after it left the stand.
There has been a lot of stuff said about the belt. Some good, some bad. It seems everyone has an opinion on it, wether it is based on any real world testing or mere supposition. As with anything new, there will be haters out there. The Center Track is the latest refinement in the design. It features a thin ridge in between the teeth of the cogs, which was designed to help the belt track better than the previous iteration.
There are a couple of key things to consider when putting this system together. One would be the chainline (beltline?). It needs to be arrow straight. I seem to have managed this without too much hassle. Belt tension is another. There is a nifty iPhone app that will help you “tune” the belt. I had a hard time getting mine to “hear” the belt twang, so I just gave it my best shot. The crank turned freely, as did the rear wheel. There was no unnecessary tension or drag in the driveline. Snaps for me!
But how did it work? Apparently, it worked flawlessly. Mandy got a ride in shortly after picking the bike up, and reported zero issues. We will be discussing this topic again soon.