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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a new convert, just got a spot belt drive yesterday and went for a night ride to see some fireworks over Colorado Springs. Very fun to ride. I can see why most people on here like them so much. Its quick off the start with the belt. I think it handles well around switchbacks. The big diffence for me is it feels like I'm riding a bike too big for me when I stand on some of the climbs, mostly because of the geometry difference.

The bad thing is I broke the belt and I am not a powerful rider. I guess the tensioner wasn't put on properly and the belt came off and gouged the belt. This caused the break.

Overall a good experience and I'm looking forward to riding it more this week.
 

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Special Geometry Needed for Belt?

Thanks for posting your experience. Whereas there has been much in the way of PR about these belts, I haven't seen too much in the way of good experience from cyclists who use these belts to, say, climb steep hills. I've written to Spot and they've never bothered getting back to me on this...

A couple of additional questions:
1) Is special geometry on the chainstay required to run one of these belts?
2) How feasible is it to run one with a Rohloff? Anyone here done that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm not sure what kind of tensioner it is. It looks like the pic in the link and there is one on each side of the skewer. 2 screws on each push it against the frame.

http://www.universalcycles.com/shopping/large_image.php?id=4091

The people at the shop said the only way the belt could have broken is if it was not running straight which it wasn't. They are going to find out what spot recommends to keep it at the right tension and fix the problem.

The chainstay has a slot in it with a plate where a derailleur would go but on the wheelside. I think it has been changed from original pictures I have seen of it.
 

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No one knows why the belt drive is better for bicycles. It's possible that it isn't. There are several listed advantages:

Weight: The entire belt drive system is said to weigh around 200g, while a chain (alone) weighs about 300g. Makes the back end of the bike feel nice and lively.

Efficiency: The belt is supposed to start it's life working just as efficiently as a chain. But as soon as a chain is used, especially in mud and crud, it begins to loose efficiency due to wear and "stretch". The belt is supposed to retain its efficiency throughout its life. Which could make it suitable for cruddy conditions.

Longevity: A belt is supposed to last longer (up to 3X) than a chain. But I hear the "cog" and "chainrings" wear more quickly, so it may not result in any particular savings.

Lube-free: There's no need to oil or grease the belt. So you'll have to finally get an actual chainring tattoo instead of snubbing your leg on your chainring every time you ride. This is also a benefit to those who commute in white linen trousers. (Also note, we've heard that a dusty squeaky belt can be "lubed" with a squirt of water. And that a properly aligned belt probably won't squeak anyway.)

Quiet: No chain-slap or grindy-gear sounds. (Note: Squeak, above.) (Also note: Not much chain-slap on chain-drive singlespeeds, anyway.) Might be the perfect drive system for bicycle ninjas.


I know this much from brief personal experience: The Spot Brand Belt Drive Singlespeed 29er that I rode at Interbike last year was a kick in the pants to ride. Really fun. Made me grin. Biggest grin of all the cool bikes I rode there.

I have no idea if any of that had anything to do with the belt drive, or if it was just a really cool bike.

There are some disadvantages, too.

Gotta have a split in the frame, or a high-chainstay frame that allows the belt to be installed. Probably won't be too many people willing to hack a nice old frame to give it a go, so it'll probably mostly be found on innovative new bikes.

The belt tension seems to be higher than normal chain tension. Might be a bit more difficult to achieve. Some folks worry that this might add some wear to the rear hub or BB. Me, I'm guessing that the bearing load from me sitting on the bike is much more than the load from belt tension, so I'm not sweating that at all.

Limited to singlespeed, fixed, or internal drive systems. Right now this is a limitation. But if it takes off, it could be the progenitor of some interesting changes. Who would have a problem if bikes of the future traded in floppy external derailleurs for something internal and better?

Squeak. See above.

Apparently the belts break. See above post. Chains break, too, of course, but it's a bit easier to carry spare links than a spare belt. Me, I always carry a spare fold-o-bike in my pack, so no worries there.

It's New and Unknown. The whole Belt-On-A-Bicyle thing is new. They're used on motorcycles and for industry and work well in those applications. Those of us who fear change don't have to dive in. Those of us who are intrigued by something new for bikes can follow along and see if it goes anywhere.

The newness is probably the biggest disadvantage right now. The knowledge base for belt drive bicycles is very limited. Most chain-drive singlespeeders know the importance of chain-line and how to achieve it. But very few people know exactly what entails good "belt-line" and exactly what it takes to achieve it. What's the right tension? And behind all that, there are engineers still learning how to engineer belt systems. Designers are still learning how to design belt bikes. Mechanics are still learning how to set them up. Riders are still learning any quirks to riding a belt-drive bike. (Yes, that too. Chain-drive systems have quirks, as well. We're just used to them and comfortable with them. Like knowing that lube helps. Like knowing that shifting a geared bike under full power should be avoided. Like knowing that bashing a chainring isn't so good. Like knowing when to replace a chain. Things that don't sound very complicated, and they're not. It's just the Devil we know.)

So do we need belts on bikes? Are they better than chains? Are they enough better than chains to warrant making a change?

No one really knows yet. It's possible that the whole phenomenon will fade into oblivion and we'll look back and laugh at what gullible fools we were for thinking it might go somewhere.

I'm hoping that Spot and the Carbon Drive folks can carve out a cool niche for themselves. And that some interesting changes result from it. And that it'll make bikes of the future more effective and more interesting.

Meanwhile, I want that feeling again. The feeling I had when I demo-ed that Spot bike last fall. I expect to get one of the imported bikes, soon. One Hit Wonder? Or the birth of Hip Hop? Dunno yet.

--Greg
 

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Bikeabout said:
I know this much from brief personal experience: The Spot Brand Belt Drive Singlespeed 29er that I rode at Interbike last year was a kick in the pants to ride. Really fun. Made me grin. Biggest grin of all the cool bikes I rode there.

--Greg
ME TOO!! i thought it was super quiet/smooth, and i hate when people say this to me cuz i always think its a placebo effect, but it just felt cool to me.

i think surly should make the 1x1 with this dropout, i bet it would really take off then. i think frame avail(have to be custom or spot[orange in uk maybe]) is the big set back at it getting really popular.
 

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"Need" isn't the right word. But it's good that a company is taking the risk of researching / developing alternatives, just for the sake of advancement of technology.

Belts have been tried and talked about for a long time, and this is the first time it's really worked to the satisfaction of so many (Interbike demo). I'm disapointed it didn't work so well in practice, especially since there are almost no belt drive owners reporting in.

Bikeabout wrote a pretty good rundown, but one he missed that immediately impressed me was the instant connnection with the rear wheel I felt. Who knows, maybe it was because the bike was a light singlespeed, but there seemed to me to be this hard to describe mating of the crank to the cog that isn't there with a chain.

I'm looking forward to installing one on a Rohloff hub.
 

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Speedub.Nate said:
...immediately impressed me was the instant connnection with the rear wheel I felt.
I think that the instant engagement of the Spot demo bikes was one of the best things about the feel of it. But I'm leery of claiming that the belt is to blame for that sensation. The demo bikes were equipped with Chris King rear hubs which use 72-tooth "ring drive" freehubs. That's 3x the number of teeth in normal "pawl" type freehubs, and which could easily be the responsible the instantaneous feel of the drive.

The new Spot bikes -- the Taiwan versions, anyway -- seems to come with a Spot rear hub. I haven't had my mitts on one yet to see what they're made of. Or if they feel the same as the demo bike did. Holding my breath and crossing my fingers.

Per the lack of riders reporting in: I think it's due to a lack of riders. My impression from where I sit is that Spot got smacked hard with interested riders after Interbike. They've been pedaling fast to catch up ever since. (I've had the opportunity to stand right on the sidelines while an unusual bike went from custom to production.) Innovative new product with innovative new parts. Nothing happens as quickly as it "should". Everything costs more than expected. It's like walking through a narrow bike shop in a large shirt -- there's a snag at almost every step. I don't think there are really that many bikes on the dirt yet.

I hope they can get their wheels under them as they come out of the corner.

--Greg
 

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I thought I posted to this thread last night with my experiences, not sure what happened.

I got a Taiwanese Spot Longboard with the beltdrive about 3 weeks ago, my first SS. I've raced it twice, including the marathon national championships on Friday. Ouch, that was hard. But not because of the belt, because of my lack of fitness. Anyway, report on the bike.

I got a stock Longboard with the Spot rear hub. Bike off the shelf weighed almost 26 lbs. Included the Spot rear hub. I've gotten it down to 24.5, but plan on replacing the rear wheel with a lighter one this week, hopefully that'll bring 'er down to under 24. For what it's worth, I don't really like that rear hub, too hard to get adjusted right (bearings, I think they're loose balls). I'm putting together a Hope SS/DT/Stans 355 wheel this week.

Overall I love riding the belt. Love the dead quiet. Alignment has been a bit of a learning curve, but now a few weeks into it I have it dialed. The biggest issue was rear wheel slippage in the rear dropouts. The wheel cocking to the left even a small amount (from disc brake action) allows the belt to wander off the rear cog to the outside. My belt never came completely off (thank goodness) and now I'm very careful about the rear wheel alignment and have no problems.

Bike worked great in Breckenridge (Firecracker 50) and I saw at least 3 other belts, all under Spot riders.

For me, I'm sold. It works great, and when I replace the rear wheel with something lighter I will have a dead quiet, maintenance free bike. The single weirdest experience is coming home after a ride and realizing the ritual of the last 20 years (yea, been racing mtbs that long) is not necessary: washing the bike. Partly due to the fact that it's a SS, but mostly due to the lack of lube. Rinse of a little dust, hang on wall, pull down next day and repeat.

Hope that helps.
 

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"I'm putting together a Hope SS/DT/Stans 355 wheel this week.......Love the dead quiet."

You'll need to keep pedalling in that case ;-)

Intrigued by belt drives here as well. Are the keyway dropouts available separately?

Sam
 

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Bikeabout said:
That will open up many possibilities for wheels and hubs.
But the crank choice is limited at this point. I've been intrigued by the belt from the beginning, but was put off when buying a new bike by not being able to spec my favorite narrow Q-factor crank -- that was far more important to me than having to replace a chain once a year and apply a little lube once a month...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
rkappius, how did you overcome the rear wheel slipping? That has to be what happened in my case.

I love the feel of the belt as well, it feels like an instant engagement with the wheel as compared to a chain. As far as being angry about it having problems on the first ride, I'm more bummed that I couldn't ride it more over the weekend. I have another bike so its all good.
 

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fixedhalo said:
rkappius, how did you overcome the rear wheel slipping? That has to be what happened in my case.
I can't find any pictures. Does it come QR or nutted?

If QR, I was just reading a similar problem on another forum (not belt drive, but a QR hub in horzontal drops) and a switch to a DT-Swiss RWS skewer was claimed to solve the problem. I have one, but can't personally vouch for it, since I use it in a vertical dropout.
 

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fixedhalo said:
rkappius, how did you overcome the rear wheel slipping? That has to be what happened in my case.

I love the feel of the belt as well, it feels like an instant engagement with the wheel as compared to a chain. As far as being angry about it having problems on the first ride, I'm more bummed that I couldn't ride it more over the weekend. I have another bike so its all good.
I simply made sure the wheel was straight, or ever so slightly cocked to the right, then tightened the piss out of the quick release. The real key is getting the skewer tight enough. The new Hope hub I bought is a bolt-on, and I'll certainly make sure they're tight.

This is a weakness of the horizontal dropouts when combined with a disc brake. I'm learning more about this SS stuff all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Did you use the same gear ratio for the firecracker? It seemed a bit steep on the one ride, I am just wondering if I should man up and ride a tougher gear for a while until I get stronger. I have the laramie enduro in a couple weeks and I'm a little concerned about how tough it could make the ride.

update from the shop is that spot is sending them a couple belts and they are going to have one of their engineer/support guys come down this week and go over questions with them.
 
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