Belt Drives

belt_drive.jpg Belt drives are like corduroy and Ska – they come in and out of fashion, like very 15 years or so, and this year belt-drives are back (maybe the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are planning a reunion or we can at least remember what it was like before No Doubt).

So here’s Bill Davidson holding a Delta CDrive for a project bike. He’s planning on building “a clean, oil-free bike that you can put together in a hotel room, or quickly break it down when the bike racks are full on a bus.”

A belt-drive single-speed will debut at Interbike, Ellsworth’s Signature Ride is belt-driven, and the Bicycle Design blog is pondering belt-driven design.

As belt-drives come and go, what do you think? For Urban Bikes, seems to make sense, unless it’s wet and they slip.


Cyclingnews did a writeup on belt drives a couple weeks back.  I was interested for my single speed, but the gear limitations (esp with internal geared hubs) were too great.  If they could come up with a standard, it would be a great option.

The Gossamer Albatross and the Gossamer Condor used a kind of belt drive.  It was a polymer ‘chain’ molded over two parallel steel cables.  I’ve wondered if it would be more efficient than a Gilmer belt, though you have to admit that in motorcycle applications, the belt is a better alternative than a chain, if only for the reduced maintenance.

And, cool the Albatross is here in Seattle at the museum of flight and that’s still an amazing achievement.

Delta uses the same setup on their iXi mini bikes.  I found one sitting in a shop on super blowout…probably due to previously mentioned “dork” factor.  It rides very nice and quietly too.  They estimate that the belt is good for 5000 miles.

I took the bike on a 10 mile tour of Seattle, riding up some pretty steep hills, including the rough ones over by the market.  It rolls along extremely well and I couldn’t feel any flex in the belt.

The mini bikes are fun, not really useful for chick-magnets however…


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