Gates Belts & Applications - Tips and guidelines written by Gates Industrial Engineers

Gates Carbon Drive

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

posted by Ryan at 9:14 AM

In a previous post, I had mentioned Gates Carbon Drive for bicycles. I’d like to give you a little bit more information about this great product. As a quick recap, the Gates Carbon Drive system is two sprockets and a belt. The belt is a version of our market leading Poly Chain Carbon belt. This is a polyurethane belt with carbon fiber tensile members. The bicycle belt has been optimized for operation on bicycles, and the sprockets are very specific, lightweight, machined parts. In fact, the sprockets are made to bolt directly on to existing bicycle components. Now a very important fact to mention is that while the sprockets can bolt on to stock components, most bicycle frames require the chain to pass through a rear triangle to get to the rear wheel. Because the Poly Chain belt cannot be broken and reconnected, there has to be a gap in the frame for the belt to pass through. This makes retrofitting the system almost impossible for most consumers. While this is unfortunate, there is a big light at the end of the tunnel. Because this product is a revolution in this market, bicycle manufacturers such as Trek, Specialized, Norco, etc… have jumped on board, and are building frames made specifically to accept the Gates Carbon Drive. These frames have both the break in the rear triangle that is needed, as well as an adjustment to add proper tension to the belt. Now if you are familiar with belt drives, you probably know that as important as tension is, alignment is just as important for proper operation. This means that the belt cannot be derailed, which makes typical shifting on a bicycle through a derailleur impossible. The good news is that the world of internally geared hubs is growing quickly. An internally geared hub is a rear hub that uses gearing on the inside of the hub to offer several different final drive options. Some of the more common hubs are offered in 3, 7, and 8 speeds. This means that the Gates Carbon Drive system has options for gearing on bicycles.

Now we covered a bit on installation, and a bit on gearing options. Your next question may be “so what is the benefit of a belt to a chain?” Well the answers are not that different from the reasons you would use a belt in the industrial market. The belt is clean, it doesn’t need to be lubricated, it doesn’t stretch - therefore reducing maintenance time, it doesn’t rust, it lasts longer than chain, it’s quiet, smooth, and light weight. These characteristics make it ideal for your average bicycle commuter; think about it, the belt isn’t greasy, doesn’t need to be adjusted once set up, doesn’t have a problem with the elements, and lasts longer. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for other applications. Our patented Mud Ports (holes in the bottom of the sprocket groove) shed dirt, rocks, and snow like nobody’s business. This makes the system viable for mountain bikes as well.

Hopefully this post has given you enough background information to spark your interest in Gates Carbon Drive. To see our product line, and to find a listing of current manufactures and models offering the Gates Carbon Drive, please visit www.carbondrivesystems.com Hope to see you out there!

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