Showing posts with label The Belt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Belt. Show all posts

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Update On "The Belt"

As many regular readers of this blog know, I have chronicled the development of "The Belt" for single speed mountain biking here for quite some time. (Want to see the past reports? Put "The Belt" in the search box on the upper left of the header and hit the magnifying glass icon.)

Here's the latest update I have on this technology and my take in relation to how The Chain performs.

2013 Raleigh XXIX
At Interbike, I rode a 2013 Raleigh XXIX with the Gates Carbon Drive Center Track belt. The XXIX has benefited from the Center Track version in three key ways:

  • Better "belt line" due to the Center Track has enabled Raleigh to return to the past XXIX geometry that was ahead of its time. 
  • Better (lower) belt tension has made for less stress on bottom bracket and free hub bearings. 
  • The Center Track is light years better than the older Carbon Drive versions. 
I really like the new XXIX. It handles and rides like the older XXIX's, except that it has a nice Fox suspension fork, of course! However; this is about The Belt.

The Center Track design has really been a boon to belt drive fans and designers wanting to employ a belt into their bicycles designs.  It definitely works better, but can you really put all of your confidence in The Belt? Can you "stand and mash" with impunity without fear of snapping that high tech blackened strand?

This was always in the back of my mind as I rode the Sawyer. Sure, I'd stomped and pushed The Belt pretty hard, but I'd never had a ride where I felt I had put it to a severe test, not ever worrying about the chainless drive train, and had a good outcome. 

Back in '07, I rode the first edition of the Carbon Drive on a Spot Brand single speed. The demo loop went fine until towards the end, I hit a steep embankment up with a sharp right turn at the top, with a further climb up and to the left after that.

On the first blast on the pedals going up the initial steep, I heard a loud "pop". I expected that I would be catapulted off the bike, but I wasn't. The Belt held, but what had happened?

It had "slipped", or in Belt Terminology- it had ratcheted. That is not a good thing either. I wasn't very impressed, or trusting of The Belt after that.

Fast forward to this past Interbike where I rode that XXIX. I hit the same steep up, but now, after five years of erosion and riders, it was way tougher and cobby going up than ever. I knew that if The Belt was going to fail- this was it. I hammered the pedals, slipped, lost traction, timed a few good hard strokes, mashed, mashed, and mashed, then I made it all the way up.

No issues.

So The Belt has my trust back, but that isn't the end of the story. My partner, Grannygear was impressed by my story, but he has had "squeaky" issues with The Belt in dry, dusty conditions. I had never experienced that, but I had no reason to doubt his story.

Yesterday I rode the Sawyer and after a bit of time into the ride, I began to hear a "squeak......squeak....squeak" that was timed with the pedal stroke. It went away with coasting. I began to go into "diagnoses mode", as I suppose any bicycle mechanic does when they are riding a bike that doesn't work right, or makes odd noises.

Well, I would have to say that the dreaded "dry squeak" made a brief and intermittent appearance yesterday on the Sawyer. And you all know one of the selling points on The Belt is that it is dead quiet and doesn't need maintenance in the form of lubrication, etc.

In the dry, which it has been here for most of the year, it seems that The Belt can squeak. Kinda bums ya out, if yer a Belt fan, I know. Grannygear says he quiets his down with silicone spray. By the way, I've heard The Belt does this in really wet conditions as well. I have no basis to know whether or not that is true, but I have seen that reported.

We'll have to wait for some really wet weather to see about that. For now- it's one big plus and one minus for The Belt this time around.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Belt: Long Term Update

Many of you long time readers have perhaps remembered that I had a go-round with Gates Carbon Drive belt systems a while back. Well, here is a "long term" update on what has been happening with that since my last update.

In my last update I described how Gates had been getting me set up with belts for the Sawyer, which is a Gates compatible design from Trek. I had two belts and due to their inappropriate lengths for the Sawyer, there were certain issues with performance. Gates then got the "Goldilocks" belt out which solved fitment issues and allowed for the proper tensioning of the belt.

Update: So I have had the Sawyer set up with the proper belt on it since last fall and throughout the winter and spring I have finally come to trust this belt and use the bike like I would any other single speed. Yes- there was a trust issue. 

When you single speed, there are times when you are applying such a great force to the pedals, that if a chain broke, it would result in a catastrophic event to the nether regions, face, and maybe the knees as well. Let's just say- it wouldn't be a good thing! So, when I first started having ratcheting issues with the belt driven systems I was trying, I was loathe to hit the gas hard going up a hill, like I would on my chain driven single speed rigs, for fear that a belt ratchet event would result in severe smack-package.

I am happy to report that as of yesterday, that same level of trust I have in a chain driven single speed was finally attained on a belt driven single speed. Okay- one hurdle passed. It works grunting up a hill out of the saddle and without any noises at all.

Okay, so you probably can now get a Center Track system and set up your single speed to be a reliable, noiseless, smooth bike with a maintenance free-ish drive train. (You still have bearings to deal with.) However; as my example so plainly points up, the switch between gearing ratios, or bikes, can mean entire new belts and cogs. Expensive and not practical for the masses.

In that detail, The Chain will always win out. It will be cheaper and easier to use than a belt drive. It will be easier to get anywhere as well. But......The Belt does work, if you so choose that option.  (As long as it is a Center Track Belt, and you have the correct size/length, and your bike is compatible, ie: "stiff enough".)

So, the only thing I can't speak to right now is longevity. But hopefully I'll have this together long enough to ferret that out. Stay tuned for another update on that.........in the future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Things Have A Way Of Working Out

At Cedar Bend Park
March was a blistering, dry month. it left many to wonder if April and May would be more like July and August. Things were dry. Really dry, and the potential for drought was very real.

My, what a difference a month or so makes! We got colder and wetter in April, and now the rivers are full again, the plant life is lush and green, and well......it's more like Spring!

Since it was May, I had to drive up to Cedar Bend and ride, because the gates are opened May 1st for cars. The trails were fantastic, albeit wet from the previous day's rain. Oddly enough, horse traffic has damaged things up there a bit. Pock marks that weren't there before. Erosion. Then add in the bohunk that took some end loader through there to clear out the underbrush. Hey, here's a news flash for ya- "Single track" doesn't mean wide enough for a D-9 Cat. Sheesh!

I get it though. One guy can clear out a trail in one tenth the time it takes to do it the right way. With county budgets being stretched thin, I bet this made more sense from the government standpoint. Too bad it is ugly, stupid, and hurts the trails more than it helps them. In my experience, once you make a trail wide by using a motor vehicle, other motor vehicles will follow, because they can now. I'm telling you, I won't be at all surprised to see ATV tracks back there this season. Just wait and see.

Big, old trees rule.
I got in the rare double yesterday. The middle of the day saw me over at George Wyth State Park to do some single speeding. The place is perfect for that. Gears? Ha! Not necessary in this terrain.

The CVAST group has been doing a bang-up job of maintaining these trails and adding cool new sections. Not only that, but they have a fun, social ride every Wednesday evening. All that riding and trail work means the trails are buffed out like a pretty penny.

The rain that rained on Cedar Bend obviously did not reach Geo Wyth. It was dry, fast, and clean. Totally different than the duff ridden, soft, muddy in spots Cedar Bend, and that is odd. Really odd, because Cedar Bend is always drier than anywhere else. Well.....except for this time!

I rode from one end to the other, taking in almost every trail out there. It was pretty fun too. The single speed I rode had the Gates Carbon Drive on it which is geared for places requiring some moderate amount of climbing. That meant that at Geo Wyth, I was spun out almost the entire time, but I still was grinning.

Deer- dead center in the image
Geo Wyth is not only flat, it is infested with somewhat people friendly, four legged wood rats, otherwise known as deer. I ran across several of them yesterday. A couple actually looked annoyed at me as I disrupted their gnawing of vegetation. Whoops! "S'cuse me!"

It used to be that the deer were rather runt-ish in Geo Wyth, but not anymore, it would seem. These looked to be healthy, big, strong deer. Yeah- the kind that could take you out if they get spooked. Color me not a fan of these critters that have lost their fear of Man to a degree. A deer on a trail is a dangerous thing when it doesn't know if it should run or not. (Hint: They should always run away well before you get within ten yards of them)

I guess it'll all work out in the end. Just like a buddy of mine's situation. He got some bummer news that actually was timed perfectly. If it all works out, and it looks like it should, he'll be back amongst us Mid-Westerners and gravel grinding his heart out again. That'd be cool for him and great for us.

Just like our dire weather situation ended up turning into one of the prettiest Springs in a long time. Who knew? Sometimes things really do work out for the best.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Springtime Changes

Spring just started last week, but you'd never know it by how it looks outside, and especially out in the woods.

This picture is from March- not early May!
Generally this level of greenery and flower is left for late April/early May. Heck, even the Bluebells are blooming! I was blown away by how fast the green stuff is taking over out in the woods right now.

The other odd thing was that the woods were devoid of critters. Of course, someone had just blazed through the woods ahead of me, but even the birds were strangely less noisey yesterday. That was odd, but I needed a bit of solitude, so I actually appreciated this.

The legs are coming around, but still not where I want to be coming into an event. Climbing on the single speed was "okay" yesterday, but I wasn't snapping right up those steeps. Gotta do some more work on that. The softer, loamy ground may have had something to do with that less than sharp feeling, but I know that I am not in "climbing mode" just yet.

The gear on the Sawyer is also a bit tall as well. That said, I am stuck with that as long as I run The Belt. That's the thing about The Belt. Very tough to swap out cogs and belts without spending a ton of dough.

Not an El Mariachi
So, let's say you got a fat bike, but you wanted to ride it in the summer on some lighter wheels. What to do? Well, one solution was presented to me at Frostbike by Handspun Wheels. Fat bike hubs laced to 29"er rims.

So they sent out a set to have me thrash them. I'll report on that later on TNI, but for now I am tickled about how it came out.I set this all up yesterday.

The bike now has a totally different look, and obviously is lighter to boot. It almost looks "normal" with these wheels on it, but one peek at the tire clearances tells you something is missing!

The one thing I said going into getting this bike built up was that versatility was key. These wheels certainly open up a lot of possibilities. I can run it as is, with a suspension fork, (albeit with a different front wheel), or use the original Larry 3.8"er as a "fat front" set up.

But that isn't all. I can also single speed this bike. Added into all of this is the bikepacking/touring capabilities, and then it becomes very apparent that I could ditch a lot of my bicycles for this, singular titanium beauty.

Wheels swapped = Much Better Now!
Then there were the issues I had with a certain less than stiff wheel set on the Titus Rockstar. Well, I nipped that in the bud yesterday as well.

I popped off the American Classic/WTB Frequency wheels from the MBC single speed, put the MBC single speed wheels back on that, and then went to work on the Rockstar. The hub needed a swap from a quick release axle to a 15QR type, so I did that. Then the rotors and finally swapping over the cassette.

Result? Unbelievably stiffer wheels. Night and day difference from the way it was sent out. Now I can not wait to see how it does on some trails around here.

The WTB Bronson tires, which are listed as 2.2"ers, but have a tread width of a 2.4"er, still leave plenty of clearance in the back of this frame. That was a concern going into the swap, but I am happy to see it has plenty of room to spare.  I'm a little bummed that this didn't get sorted before I went to El Paso, but oh well. At least it got sorted!

One of my Favorites
Then I swapped tires on the new Fargo. I got this frame and fork last fall, and I love how it feels and rides on single track.

The tires I had on it were Specialized Ground Control tires, which were great. I now have some Michelin Wild race'r tires on it, which it seems have taken forever to become available, but they are now.

These are tubeless ready type tires, so they went on some Velocity Blunt SL wheels and aired up nicely.

These tires have some lowish knobs and a squared off profile. Kind of an odd look, but they are supposed to be fast on hard pack. We'll have to wait a bit to see, since things are still pretty loamy out there just now.

So there were a bunch of springtime changes going on yesterday, and I spent most of the afternoon in the Lab futzing and fettling with bicycles. Not a bad way to spend a day. Gotta keep the fleet running!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

"The Belt": An Update

Not quite enough.....
Last November I reported that I had a bit of trouble with the Gates Carbon Drive Center Track belt, (see here), as it sits on the Sawyer.

I had a "pop", one that reminded me very much of a ratcheting belt,  which is a bad thing. Gates got wind of it and put out an e-mail to me that said they'd get on it pronto.

Well, keep in mind, this happened right before Thanksgiving. I had a few things in mind that I figured would happen in those ensuing weeks. One was snow. We've had snow right after Thanksgiving every year for several years in a row of late. I figured I'd wind down riding for a bit, because, well........it would snow, right? 

Well, there was that thought plus the fact that my life picks up speed big time in December. Two big, close family birthdays, Christmas, and my wedding anniversary all happen within a month. I happened to have gotten really sick in December as well. So......yeah. Riding then gets pushed back a bit, and even without snow, things got busy. 

Back when the trails were dry and clear...
Then one day I came home from work and found an odd cardboard box on my porch that I thought wasn't supposed to be there. I figured it must be something for Mrs. Guitar Ted. I looked at the label and saw my name on it. The senders address cleared up my confusion, it was from Gates.

It showed up in the midst of all the hullabaloo going on in my life, so it sat down in The Lab until things settled down enough for me to get to it. That took a while. In fact, a couple more weeks went by and after the New Year, I got the new belt fitted. Here was the belt I should have had from the get-go.

Now let me stop right here and say that Gates has said all along that not every belt combination would be available right away. It took six months from the time I got the first "too short a belt" till I got the "just right" belt with the "too long" belt in between. The newest belt set the axle right in the middle of the throw, which I think is ideal. I have gotten it set up with really good tension, and I have putzed around the neighborhood on it and it seems to be feeling really good.

Of course, it finally really did snow, and of course, the trails are socked in right now. I am looking forward to them getting cleared up in a couple weeks if the snow stays away. We'll see. It could be until March sometime too.

Okay- There is the update on The Belt. I'll be reporting more after things get cleared up around here and when I've had the Sawyer out for a few good rides.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday News And Views

Single Speed Energy Vortex
"The Belt" Update: The last few days I have been dealing with an issue that arose with my Gates Carbon Drive Center Track set up on the Fisher Collection Sawyer.

I was up at the Camp a few times with this set up and never had an issue. I've ridden it a bunch since getting it squared away last summer. No issues. No noises. Nuthin'.

So I go ride at the Camp this past week and hit this steep climb. It is a toughy too. You come off a bumpy section and start gradually going up. Then the pitch steepens right at the point where you have a few roots and lots of embedded rock sticking through the dirt, just waiting to stop your forward progress. As if the hill's pitch wasn't enough.

Well, right as I get out of the saddle at the very point where the trail pitches upward, I hear the dreaded "pop" of a belt ratcheting.

Wha...??!!

I dismounted to examine the situation, fully expecting to see that the slider had shifted, or the belt had popped off a tooth, but nothing of the sort. I did see that the belt was looser. Yeah......how that happened I don't have a clue. Well, I couldn't continue on with it the way it was, and tightening it trail side was not a possibility since I didn't have a 8mm box end wrench for the jamb nut on the tensioner. Bah!

Well, after a bit of a disgruntled Tweet, Gates contacted me to find out what was going on and they are administering a fix. So, I should be back up and running again soon. Stay tuned for further updates.....

When will this wintery scene happen again?
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A. That means that within days the skies will open up and start dumping the white stuff on the area.

Well.......that is if the pattern of the last three years is any indication. 

Typically the "Turkey Burn Ride" at the Camp is the last ride on open trails for the year. Usually just after that the snow falls. Well, last year I didn't have the Snow Dog, and now I also have "Big Fat Larrys" to mount on it, if need be.

Last January I had a longer ride into the country on snowmobile trails where I was wanting for a tiny bit more float than the 3.8" Larrys were giving me. Also, truth be told, I was running maybe a couple psi too high on the air pressures. I never ever got down there to the point where the sidewalls were flexing. Maybe had I got down that low, I would have made more riding and less walking.

But no matter. Now I have bigger tires in the arsenal, and flotation will not be an issue this year. Then again.....maybe this will be a return to the brown winters of years past. 

 And if so, no big deal. I've got gravel roads to be riding. I love it. Now, short of massively thick coatings of ice, I am ready to take on winter on my bicycles. I even have thought that it may be time to bring back the KMFDM and run it this winter. Wait.......you don't know what "KMFDM" means?  (Not the band) It stands for "Karate Monkey Fixie Death Machine", because I probably will eat it on some day commuting since it is fixed and I can't hop curbs well riding fixed. I have a tendency just to bash over them!

One thing though- that fixed gear in winter is really much, much better on slippery surfaces. So, I am pretty sure some big, fat tires are going on that bike and the Tomi Cog as well. Ditch the rear brake, and all will be good.

Hope ya'all have a great weekend. Ride somewhere if ya can! winter is nigh!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday News And Views

Let's Try This Again...
Gates Redux: You may have read on this blog last year about my Gates Carbon Drive belt experiences, which weren't all that encouraging. Well, Gates hasn't been sleeping, and are working on solutions.

The latest is called "Center Track" and as the name suggests, the belt has a groove in the center that "tracks" along a ridge in the center of each cog. This has the effect of keeping the belt aligned on the cogs despite slight discrepancies caused by misaligned cogs, or flexing due to pedaling. The Center Track technology steps up the belt width to 12mm as well, which also alleviates tension issues, according to Gates.

I'm going to mount this on the Trek, Gary Fisher Collection Sawyer. Well, in fact, I did. Trouble is that due to a very limited number of Center Track combinations available now, the belt I have was juuuusssst a bit too short. It wouldn't work. So, Gates is sending out another, longer belt, which ironically enough, will be almost too long. Strike one: "The Chain"  is more adjustable than "The Belt". (But we already knew that from last time.) It's still true. More to come......

Ergon HE2 Gloves: Ergon, the company known for its grips and backpacks, has now branched out into gloves. The HE2 by Ergon is the one I am trying out now. It is Ergon's take on a glove for endurance riding and all mountain pursuits. I'll tell ya this much right off the bat: It ain't like any other glove you've had your mitts in.

First of all, I'll say that almost any cycling glove gives my hands fits. Too snug and my hands go numb, almost instantly. I was recently pleased to find some gloves that made my hands really happy, but the Ergon HE2 needed trying out, so I laid those aside for a while.

The HE2 fits like a second skin. Like a race jersey for your hands. The feel is startling at first. In fact, I was sure that within minutes I would be hating them for making my hands go numb. The tips were right against my finger tips, almost to the point of having the seam go under my finger nails. This was also disconcerting at first, but I gave them a tryout anyway.

After a few uses, the gloves stretched just a bit, and the feeling of snugness went away, for the most part. Still, they fit like a second skin, and you know what? My hands never went numb. Not even for a second. On the bike, they were great, almost like not wearing gloves, but better. Grip is enhanced, and of course, with that snug fit, tactile feel is top notch. In fact, these are the only gloves I've ever worn that I didn't want to immediately peel off to do something like use a tool, reach into a pocket for something, or pick up something off the ground. I could text with them on, and even operate the tiny buttons on my Panasonic LX-3 camera. Pretty impressive!

However; I found it almost radical that Ergon did not put on any "nose wiper" material on the thumb, or back of the glove. (Can it even be a cycling glove then?) I also did not like the Velcro closure, finding it too tight, short in length, and restricting. And my wrists are pretty small for a guy my size. I would like to see Ergon adopt a closure, or more appropriately, an opening that simply stretched wide for entry, and then relaxed, like the aforementioned gloves I linked to. Finally, for a rough and tumble glove meant for endurance racing, back country, and all mountain use, the lack of finger tip protection on the outside/back of the fingers, and the "euro-trash", driving gloves styling were odd here.(Note: There is a really nice "pad" of carbon-fiber-like material to protect the heel of your palm.)

Did I like them? No, not at first, but I did end up grabbing them over the others for a recent ride. They are pretty darn good gloves, as long as you can get by the snug fit, sparse features, and the quirky styling. I guess I don't dislike them, and I may end up really liking them in the end. They just are so different. Now I just have to get them and the helmet I left behind back in a Suburban in Northfield back again! (DOH!) A final review will be seen on The Cyclist soon.

Speaking of Northfield.... That criterium deal fried my legs and feet. I don't know what it was, but my legs have been like two limp meat-sticks since that Monday in the sun, and I have been super tired all week. I just hope I can recover soon.

Okay, ya'all have a great weekend, and hopefully you all get some fun, adventurous, and safe bicycling in this weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Belt Drive Odyssey : Part IV

Okay folks, this is the last of this series on "The Belt" vs "The Chain". First though, an update on what has been going on since the last time I posted on this.

I installed a Manitou Tower Expert 100mm travel suspension device on the front of the XXIX. Whew! What a relief to my paws and a major boost to the handling that was! A few more rides revealed no more issues with "The Belt". However; the belt tension is so tight that even with my "throwing" the crank arm as hard as I can backwards, the crank will barely spin one revolution. In contrast, all of my chain driven single speeds spin multiple times around at the crank when doing a similar "throw".  What does this prove? Well, nothing except that there is excessive drag in the belt system which is either due to the tension of the belt resisting engaging with the cogs, or the side loading of the bearings. Probably some of both.

This tells me two things. One: The tension necessary to maintain proper belt/cog interface during hard efforts also decreases efficiency of the system overall. Two: Premature wear of bearings is a distinct possibility.

Now, as for "The Belt" working in a mountain bike setting, I give the system a passing grade. Yes- it works. However; one must "count the costs", both real and in a design sense, in regards to using the Gates Carbon Belt Drive.

First off, let me say that Gates is working very hard to minimize the drawbacks, and someday, (perhaps), they will achieve lower costs, better design integration, and more choices in gearing options. (I speak strictly in terms of mountain biking/racing mountain bikes) However; this is now, and Gates is not there today with those goals accomplished.

So, to get a belt drive to work on a reasonably priced single speed, we have this example of the XXIX. A bike with some serious compromises to geometry, (long, even for 29"ers, chain stays, weird drive line), and efficiency that is lowered due to tension requirements of the belt itself. Whether this will also affect future drive train life expectancy is question not yet answered, but signs point to earlier failure, (snapping, crunching sounds from the free hub body already at this early stage.)

Another point to consider is the current cost to invest into the system. You obviously will need a frame that is compatible with a belt, (currently a very limited selection), and you may need to swap out to a different belt/cog combination. This will prove to be quite expensive, as the current costs of cogs is in the neighborhood of $110-$135.00 and belts are around $65.00-$70.00 each. (You can't simply change the length of a belt, you will have to have different lengths to accommodate different cog options.)

Belt drive fans will tell you several "advantages" over chains, but only two things they say really matter. (The rest are not really advantages over chains in single speed applications.) One: Belt drive set ups are lighter than chain drive. Two: Belts and cogs will outlast chains and chain rings in terms of lifespan. This is somewhat offset by the fact that the looming early wear issues on the bearings are still out there, the efficiency of the entire drive train suffers, and obviously, in terms of costs.

Conclusions: The short and simple is this: Belts are not better than chain drive systems. Not in terms of single speed mountain biking. Belt drive has some advantages, but costs, unknown bearing wear issues, design constraints in terms of frames, and the limited availability of cogs and belts in all gearing ranges is holding belt drive back. For now "The Chain" is the obvious winner.

Maybe Gates will achieve the goals they have set forth for themselves and premium, high end single speed mountain bikes with belt drive will be something that makes sense. However; today that isn't the case, and most of us will be better served with a chain driven single speed mountain bike.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Belt Drive Odyssey : Part III

As you may recall, in "Part II" of the Belt Drive Odyssey I had a weird noise occur that I found disconcerting. Well, afterward I discovered that my freehub is kind of noisey, and that pehaps the noise was from this part of the bike. Not 100% on that, but since it is my belief that the noise is due to higher tensions required to run "The Belt" , the score remains as is.

Now on to Part III............

I resolved to run the XXIX at some real trail venues, "torpedoes be damned". I headed off to Cedar Bend, where there are some steady climbs, and some nice, open trails. (A good thing since we've had crazy winds of late) Not a half mile into the ride I hit a steep, stood to mash, and "Thbbbbbbbttttt!" The familiar sound of the ratchet. "The Belt" skipped. I stopped and examined my belt tension, which had no reason to be loose, and regardless of the eccentric being perfectly tight, and regardless of the fact that it had not slipped, "The Belt" seemed to be inexplicably looser.

No big deal. I had a split shell eccentric bottom bracket and a multi tool. Lickety split-like, I had some big time tension on that sucka! No way was it going to ratchet on me now, and it didn't, no matter how hard I hit the pedals. Okay. That's good.

The rest of the ride went fairly normal. I was struck by the odd feeling in my pedals though. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something was missing. I am a musician, and tactile feel of things is something I am tuned in to, being a guitar player and all. So, the missing sensations at the pedal were obvious to me. I surmise that it is a function of "The Belt" having carbon fiber strands in it which may be deadening the feedback I would normally be getting from "The Chain". A good or bad thing? I can not say, but it is there for me. I can feel that something is definitely different.

Finally, in regards to that tensioning of "The Belt"? Yeah.......it definitely is putting a "drag" on the crank and free hub. That can't be a good thing.

For a decent showing on the trail, "The Belt" finally scores a point. But due to the excessive tension needed to make it work, we have to give another nod towards "The Chain".

Score: "The Belt"1"The Chain" 3

Next week I'll go over some finer points on each contestant and we'll give a final score......

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Belt Drive Odyssey : Part II

The Odyssey Continues.... So, I've had a few shakedown rides on the Raleigh XXIX equipped with "The Belt" so far and the confidence in the system was beginning to grow to the point where I was beginning to ride it as I would a bike equipped with "The Chain" until it happened.

Skronk!

I don't know what it was for sure.  I just know it was loud, and I am back to ground zero as to my confidence level. The noise occurred in such a manner that it only served to add to my uncertainty about riding with "The Belt".  Here's the deal so far.....

I had been pretty gingerly using the bike to start out with. I don't know, but something about a single speed drive train letting go all of a sudden while I am standing and pedaling isn't appealing to me. Smak Pakage might be a cool name for a hardcore band, but it isn't a cool thing to have happen to the male anatomy, if ya catch my drift. However; I was gaining confidence in the whole set up as I climbed a dike, an embankment, and a long grinder of a hill, all with zero issues.

Along the way, I was tweaking the set up, just as I would on any new-to-me bike, and getting set for that big first dip into the woods. On that fateful day, I left work, and on the way to the trail head, I had to stop for traffic. With my "non-chocolate foot" in the primed and ready position, (see Hans "No Way" Rey for an explanation of what yer "chocolate foot" is), I pedal kicked down when the traffic parted ways to scoot across the street.

That's when it happened: Skronk!

Great! Just as I was about to put full confidence in "The Belt" in a true trail situation, I get knocked back to ground zero, and I couldn't figure out why it decided to make a noise then. Well, I kind of bailed on the idea of a full run, and did another shake down cruise with no further incident. Bah! Not very fun.

The Score: "The Belt": 0 "The Chain": 2

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Belt Drive Odyssey Begins Now.....

Yes, "The Belt" is making a limited engagement run here and you know, first impressions are everything. They say that you need to grab their attention with something spectacular and then keep the suspense going until the ultimate climax, hopefully near the end.

So, how is "The Belt" doing so far? Well.......in a word........

Thud!

Yeah, I know. I am a skeptic and all, but this is hard to deny as a real, down to earth, honest to goodness "thud" of an impression. Here's the deal.....

"The Belt" has a zero tolerance policy towards lateral mis-alignment. Chains are definitely waaaay more forgiving in that respect. So, we found out that a minor mis-alignment condition existed with the bicycle we received sporting "The Belt" and that a "quick fix" was made that we should adopt. It was certainly easy to do the "fix", which fixed the out of alignment issue, but caused me to be out of alignment! You see, the fix involved moving the eccentric to the non-drive side as far as possible so that the crank is offset to the non-drive side by a huge margin. My body does not be diggin' it!

So, I am going to have to bust out the tool-age and put the "Fixinator" on this bad boy. Otherwise "The Belt" will be turning into a "The Chain" real fast like.

The Score: "The Belt": 0  "The Chain": 1

Stay tuned for further updates as they become available...........