Some people don’t like big companies like Nike being a part of the bmx world, or any bike community for that matter. I’m not quite sure if it’s a wholly good thing, but the fact that they drop some cash to get things like this going is pretty great. The best part is that all the ramps stay (the owner of the tunnel is allowing the 3 mile tunnel to be used for riding.) If you end up in England, head about 3 hours outside of London and check it out. In the meantime, enjoy the video. More pics can be seen HERE.
I’ve got a lot of love for simple drive trains, clean- smooth running. It’s one of the things that I really like about fixed gear bikes. How can it get cleaner? Get rid of the chain. Of course you can grab a shaft drive bike, but at this point they are heavy, and though it works for many motorcycle companies, the technology hasn’t translated that easily. I am fascinated by shaft drive bicycles, but for one reason or another they don’t call to me as do bikes that look a little more “traditional”. So then you have the belt drive.
I guess it’s been a while since I first saw my first belt drive bike. Interbike 2007 brought us Frank Scurlock’s Spot Brand SS Mountain Bike. I had also seen pics of the Strida folding bike in the magazine “BIKE CULTURE QUARTERLY” which has all but disappeared from the world, and is very difficult to find. (*Bicycle Culture Quarterly was only around for 19 amazing issues, the last being 01/2000. I happen to have the complete collection, and am still impressed with the amount of information on everything human power.)
There was about 5 years that seemed pretty quite on the ol’ belt drive front- but it looks like it’s back, and hopefully here to stay. Many of the “major” bike companies are offering a belt drive model, and there are a large number of small builders that see the potential and are working with the technology as well.
In my opinion, the technology is best suited for urban or commuter bikes, though with the use of an internal hub (Rohloff® recently announced it’s compatibility with the Gates® Carbon Drive System) it opens up much to the mountain biking set as well. Whatever it’s used it for, it’s catching on, and many that see it for the first time are captivated by it’s simplicity, and the fact that the messy days of greasy chains may be a thing of the past.
Some examples of what’s avaiable:
Cost is not much (if any) higher for a single speed bike, what ends up bumping the price is the Internally Geared Hub (IGH.) That, and the fact that the technology in a cycling application is new to most folks, and so there is a “WOW!” factor involved.
Of course it goes without saying that there are some things that could be considered drawbacks by some:
It probably won’t work on your frame. Due to the fact that the belt cannot be disassembled, your rear triangle must have a break in it for the belt to pass through. For me, one of the coolest things is seeing how different companies take care of this issue.
If you break a belt on the trail or anywhere, you need to install a new one. Since they can’t be folded, you will have to carry this whole belt (albeit lightweight) that is affixed to a cardboard disk.
Flat repair is (a little) more complicated, with a couple added stops.
Gear combinations. You are limited to their sprocket combos and what your internal hub can add (if you want more than one gear)
If improperly tensioned, and under a lot of strain the drivetrain can “ratchet”, basically skipping a tooth, and causing the bike to lurch.
If you are unfamiliar with Gates® by name, you have seen them in action I’m sure. John Gates introduced the polyurethane V-belt for automobiles in 1917. Used on 150hp motorcycles as well as 6000hp dragsters, even strong enough for a bicycle to pull a car, which can be evidenced by this poorly made Youtube video:
I would love to ride a fixed gear belt drive bike. It seems like such a great idea for an urban fixed gear. Maybe not for riders that like to jump stairs and trick around, but it would be great for those that just want a clean A to B bike.
German company Fixie Inc. put this together a while back about the application for the fixed gear:
Of course there are many smaller builders working with the belt drive, as well as folding bike companies. The way that builders take on the task of breaking the rear triangle to get the belt in is where in the engineering really shows. One of my favorites is the Schindelhauer method:
Republik Apparel is a coalition of riders, designers, artists and a couple bike mechanics thrown in just to make sure everything runs smoothly. We wanted to inject some fresh blood into the mountain biking scene by creating a progressive brand that reflects us as riders, trailbuilders and designers. Inspired by art, design and MTB culture, we are committed to providing our customers a high quality product with an innovative style.
They sent me a pair of their Six Pack jeans at the same time they sent a stack of their long sleeve jerseys when they sponsored the “Tour de Watertower” race in July. Republik is based in Bend, Oregon and focus on my favorite type of clothing: clothing that blends function AND form. The jerseys went out to the riders, and were well received. A baggier mountain bike feel, great for riding, with the bonus of being made with fabric that wicks moisture. A big thanks for their support!
The Six Pack Jeans are my first pair of jeans that were designed for riding, and they have since become one of my favorite pair of pants. I’ve been very impressed with their comfort while on the bike, and they look and feel great off the bike. They are clean looking, and don’t look at first glance to be “bike clothing” The 2% spandex gives them elasticity, and allows comfort even with my larger than average quads and ass. They’ve got a gusseted crotch, and have heavy duty stitching on the legs to keep them out of the chain. Personally I’ve lost too many pant legs to the chain, and I don’t wear skinny jeans, so I keep mine rolled up.
The pants are thinner than others I’ve seen, so were great to ride with over the summer. A thicker pant might be nice in the fall and winter, or get some tights. I definitely want to see what these guys coming down the line for the future.
Either way, Republik has some impressive products in their collection and is a company made of riders. You can pick up a pair of great jeans, retailing for $80: HERE.
I saw this thing around in Vegas, and was impressed with it. As I stated in my Interbike posts, I am very interested in the portability of bicycles, mainly due to the new restrictions that the big bad airlines are putting on baggage. I’m not quite sure that I would be so into a bmx for travel, especially since the S&S couplers add $800+ to whatever the frame cost is. Either way, it is a beautiful bike. I saw this up on Bike Hugger, and now I bring it to you.
Bill Davidson is a Seattle builder and craftsman. He has been building frames in Seattle for over 35 years. He has a strong belief that there is always a better way, and is always moving ahead with a new concept or idea…. like a titanium bmx bike with S&S couplers. Check out Davidson Handbuilt Bicycles here
Here are the first shots of the S&S BMX from Davidson Handbuilt Bicycles. This is a titanium frame with chromoly steel fork, S&S couplings, a rear derailleur, and disc brakes. The concept is that a BMX is the most fun way to get around short distances and in the cramped quarters of the urban environment, where cars, pedestrians, and random infrastructure hamper the freedom of a road bike or fixed gear. The only thing about a BMX bike is that once you can get a straight shot at open pavement, you spin out of the low-ish single speed gear. But if you add a derailleur…well, then it’s like adding booster rockets to get you to orbital altitude. And if such a bike would be fun in on the streets that my front opens onto, then they would really be fun when I explore other cities.
The bike has SLX disc hubs, an XTR 140mm disc rotor, Shimano mechanical disc brake, right side XT M770 dual control lever, Saint short cage rear derailleur, Thomson stem, Snafu Sissybar handlebar, DA 7700 cranks, and a modified Drive Lite fork
You can check back with Bike Hugger for more reviews, the photos above were taken in Seattle.