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Carbon drive or Chain?

Old 02-06-13, 01:23 AM
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DTG
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Carbon drive or Chain?

I'm still in the process of trying to find the right winter commuter. I thought I had it narrowed down to the Spot Acme but being on these boards I came across another 11 speed IGH which happens to be the Raleigh Cadent I11. The Spot Acme has a carbon drive while the Raleigh has a chain. Question I have........Is the chain just as good as the carbon drive or does it really not matter since they are both IGH?
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Old 02-06-13, 02:27 AM
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i don't see the benefit of a belt-driven drivetrain or a chain-driven drivetrain.
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Old 02-06-13, 10:35 AM
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reports are, the wear is transferred to the cog wheels with belt drives,
by environmental grit on their surfaces.
as they have chosen lighter, softer materials for those..

and they are considerably higher priced, to replace.

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-06-13 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 02-06-13, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
reports are, the wear is transferred to the cog wheels with belt drives,
by environmental grit on their surfaces.
as they have chosen lighter, softer materials for those..

and they are considerably higher priced, to replace.
I also heard reports that the alignment/tension has to be perfect when the rear wheel is moved/removed?
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Old 02-06-13, 10:46 AM
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I would love to try a belt drive for use in winter. Lubricating and managing corrosion of a chain are a PIA. If it is true that cogs wear down inordinately fast that would definitely be a strike against them though.

Note: It's only because of the amount of salt that gets used on the roads here that I would consider a belt drive. If it's just moisture then I don't think it's as much of a problem. Things have improved for me with rust resistant chains and an IGH.
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Old 02-06-13, 10:46 AM
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one thing to consider: a bike designed for use with a belt-drive can be retrofitted with a chain-drive. but a bike designed for a chain-drive likely can't be retrofitted with a belt-drive because there won't be a break in the rear triangle to thread the belt through.

i know this because i bought a 2011 Scott SUB 10 which is a chain-drive IGH bike. a year later when the 2012 model of my bike came out, it featured a gates carbon drive. i thought that maybe it would be worth exploring if i should upgrade my bike accordingly, but alas, my bike has no frame break, and thus no ability to mod a belt-drive.

as to the pros and cons of each, i'll let those who've used both tackle that.
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Old 02-06-13, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I would love to try a belt drive for use in winter. Lubricating and managing corrosion of a chain are a PIA. If it is true that cogs wear down inordinately fast that would definitely be a strike against them though.

Note: It's only because of the amount of salt that gets used on the roads here that I would consider a belt drive. If it's just moisture then I don't think it's as much of a problem. Things have improved for me with rust resistant chains and an IGH.
I really wanna hear more about the belt tension issues.

Until the higher-end trekking bikes convert, I'm going to assume it's less durable and harder to get parts.

edit: it does seems that some higher-end bikes offer Gates drive/Rohloff combos. but i still haven't seen enough long-term tests.

Last edited by acidfast7; 02-06-13 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 02-06-13, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
I also heard reports that the alignment/tension has to be perfect when the rear wheel is moved/removed?
I think the newer "CenterTrack" design addressed that problem.
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Old 02-06-13, 11:19 AM
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The R&D for bicycle belt drives is still in it's infancy so there are issues that still need to be addressed to make it more set&forget user friendly and cost effective. So at this stage in the game I think it boils down to whether the user feels it's advantageous to spring for the higher cost but benefit from lower maintenance, silence and cleanliness that a belt drive offers vs the cheaper tried and true chain drive.
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Old 02-06-13, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
The R&D for bicycle belt drives is still in it's infancy so there are issues that still need to be addressed to make it more set&forget user friendly and cost effective. So at this stage in the game I think it boils down to whether the user feels it's advantageous to spring for the higher cost but benefit from lower maintenance, silence and cleanliness that a belt drive offers vs the cheaper tried and true chain drive.
I didn't realize how silent they were. That does sound promising.

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Old 02-06-13, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
I didn't realize how silent they were. That does sound promising.


Since you honed in on that one characteristic that can be perceived as an advantage among other cyclists, I'd have to assume that you're not familiar with the concept of "silence being golden".
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Old 02-06-13, 05:49 PM
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The chain drive system has pretty much been perfected, why change from it? I used to commute all winter long, and aside from the weekly drive train overhaul and daily chain wipe down, the chain drive was never a point of hassle. If the motocrossers ain't using belts, neither am I.
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Old 02-06-13, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Note: It's only because of the amount of salt that gets used on the roads here that I would consider a belt drive. If it's just moisture then I don't think it's as much of a problem. Things have improved for me with rust resistant chains and an IGH.


This is Tern's new idea. A friend did the same thing with his polo bike years ago. It's just wire conduit wrapped around the chain. Put in some waterproof grease and it should work pretty good.
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Old 02-06-13, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
The chain drive system has pretty much been perfected, why change from it? I used to commute all winter long, and aside from the weekly drive train overhaul and daily chain wipe down, the chain drive was never a point of hassle. If the motocrossers ain't using belts, neither am I.
For me a daily chain wipe down and weekly drive train overhaul constitutes a hassle.
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Old 02-06-13, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post


This is Tern's new idea. A friend did the same thing with his polo bike years ago. It's just wire conduit wrapped around the chain. Put in some waterproof grease and it should work pretty good.
Grease gets pretty gooey once the temp dips below zero but it's an interesting idea.
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Old 02-06-13, 07:35 PM
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I'm going to wait until the carbon belt price is equal to a chain. By that time, we should have forks and frames made from carbon nanotubes.
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Old 02-06-13, 10:27 PM
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Put in some waterproof grease and it should work pretty good.
except for the dirt that quickly imbeds in the grease.. ..
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Old 02-07-13, 03:56 PM
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I've used both.
I was an early adopter and took a chance with the first generation (pre center-trac) belt/cog designs. In general, I LOVED it for grimy, slushy, wet conditions and had no desire to use a chain. I later sold that bike after accepting the fact that the geometry was all wrong for me, and went back to a regular chain/IGH.

For my current environment - essentially high desert and rocky mountains - with less than 12" of rain/snow per year, I'm fine with my chain. If I lived in a wetter climate - particularly with snow - I'd have no hesitation using a belt.

Either one with an IGH is a far better choice (IMO of course) than a derailleur when the snow begins to fall. Here's a shot of my current drive train (chain/IGH) after a relatively short 12 mile jaunt on snowy roads in near zero (F) temperatures. It ran smooth as can be. I've seen people (including myself) cursing their derailleurs on days like that.
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Old 02-08-13, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
I've used both.
I was an early adopter and took a chance with the first generation (pre center-trac) belt/cog designs. In general, I LOVED it for grimy, slushy, wet conditions and had no desire to use a chain. I later sold that bike after accepting the fact that the geometry was all wrong for me, and went back to a regular chain/IGH.

For my current environment - essentially high desert and rocky mountains - with less than 12" of rain/snow per year, I'm fine with my chain. If I lived in a wetter climate - particularly with snow - I'd have no hesitation using a belt.

Either one with an IGH is a far better choice (IMO of course) than a derailleur when the snow begins to fall. Here's a shot of my current drive train (chain/IGH) after a relatively short 12 mile jaunt on snowy roads in near zero (F) temperatures. It ran smooth as can be. I've seen people (including myself) cursing their derailleurs on days like that.
Thanks for not only your experience but the picture as well.

Question...........how often do you lube your chain up?
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Old 02-08-13, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by DTG View Post
Question...........how often do you lube your chain up?
if i ride through snowy, sloppy, slushy glop such that my chain looks like the above photo, i wipe down and lube the chain after every ride.

it's really more about the conditions i'm riding through than any set amount of time or distance traveled. i've had winter weeks where i've lubed the chain everyday. conversely, i've also had dry spells in winter where i've gone weeks without needing to lube.

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Old 02-08-13, 09:55 AM
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gates carbon fiber belt drives have been widely used on motorcycles for many years.
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Old 02-08-13, 06:00 PM
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I have a pre-centertrack belt bike (Trek Soho) and dread having to fix a rear flat because it's such a PIA to get the tension just right. It seems like the tension "sweet spot" exists within a very narrow window. If the belt is a little too lose, it will skip under heavy loads, and if it's a little too tight, it'll squeal like a stuck pig. The good thing is, once you do get it just right, it's care free (at least until your next flat). It's strictly a personal preference, but I'd much rather deal with tensioning hassles every now and again, rather than having to clean my chain every other week. Plus, I've racked 3000 miles so far on my belt without any significant wear, whereas I used to have to replace my chain and cassette every 2000 miles (mostly because I was not very good about cleaning the drivetrain, even after riding it in rain and snow). My only regret is that I didn't wait for centertrack...

Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I think the newer "CenterTrack" design addressed that problem.
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Old 02-08-13, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by DTG View Post
Thanks for not only your experience but the picture as well.

Question...........how often do you lube your chain up?
I wipe it down and re-lube perhaps twice a month, but I gauge it based on conditions and use. If it is particularly wet out (not common here) I will dry the chain with a towel and give it a very light oiling before putting it up
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Old 02-08-13, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
gates carbon fiber belt drives have been widely used on motorcycles for many years.
and? (und/y?)
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Old 02-09-13, 02:19 AM
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Note Much wider belt .. because exploding petrocabons have more stored energy.

and they dont have the gram couning market to satisfy compelling choosing light
weight, and sacrificing wear lifespan ... back to more HP from motors , than legs..
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