Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Anyone tour with a Gates belt drive?

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Anyone tour with a Gates belt drive?

Old 06-13-19, 11:28 AM
  #1  
Rob_E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,580

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 255 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Anyone tour with a Gates belt drive?

I have a low mileage, credit card tour coming up later this summer, and I thought I might skip some bike fees by bringing the folding bike. The folding bike has a belt drive that has been pretty much maintenance-free for the 3 years I've had it. But then I saw someone selling replacement belts and it touted that a Gates belt "lasts twice as long as a chain." That's not actually that long, especially since a spare belt costs four times as much as a chain. I know because I ordered a spare, thinking I'd fold it up and put it in my tool bag for the eventual day that it did need replaced. I figure the odds of stumbling on a shop that can help with belt drive issues is pretty rare, so I should come prepared. Then the belt shows up in a larger-than-expected box with all kinds of handling warning about not folding it, kinking it, looking at it out of the corner of your eye, or doing anything to it that would make it a size that could be stashed in a small pannier.

So now I'm weighing my options:
  • Just assume it's a pretty reliable system that's had hundreds of trouble-free miles and will surely have a couple hundred more.
  • Put the new belt so I can at least start fresh.
  • Convert to chain.
I kind of like how clean the belt drive is compared to a chain. That would make for better packing, too. But it's one more non-user-serviceable part, like my gear hub, that won't be an easy fix any bike shop I wonder past. At least the gear hub is unlikely to fail in away that I couldn't single-speed it the rest of the way. A broken belt would be a show stopper. Not sure if there are enough people using these to get any idea of reliability, and I'm guessing their not a popular touring choice for that replacement issue.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 11:36 AM
  #2  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 211 Times in 176 Posts
we see some occasionally on the pacific coast route, but it's rare..

had a cracked crank cogwheel as a trophy for a while ... special orders do take a few days ..

But breaking Campagnolo stuff meets same delays..

Eating in the several restaurants and drinking in any the many brewpub cafes
is not that tough to cope with, here.. for those few days..






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-13-19 at 11:40 AM.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 12:22 PM
  #3  
Rob_E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,580

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 255 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Eating in the several restaurants and drinking in any the many brewpub cafes
is not that tough to cope with, here.. for those few days..
.
If I were biking cross country, that'd be an acceptable diversion. I'd just wait for special orders or make sure spare items were left with someone who could overnight them two me. I've actually thought about that with my spare wheelset. If my hub gear failed, I'm one overnight delivery away from having a replacement. But this is a week long trip with all stops booked in advance along with return flights. There's no "sit around and wait for specialty parts" option. There's only a "find another way forward" option.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 01:19 PM
  #4  
pakeboi
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 302
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 136 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Which bike do you have ? Sounds like a Bike Friday NWT Silk .
pakeboi is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 01:30 PM
  #5  
Rob_E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,580

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 255 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by pakeboi View Post
Which bike do you have ? Sounds like a Bike Friday NWT Silk .
It's an 8-speed Downtube.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 01:37 PM
  #6  
boomhauer
Senior Member
 
boomhauer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 655
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 164 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
A broken belt would be a show stopper. Not sure if there are enough people using these to get any idea of reliability, and I'm guessing their not a popular touring choice for that replacement issue.
I find it hard to believe it is humanly possible to "break the belt". It would take super human strength.

I regularly use Gates belts like these on 3 hp motors (single belt drive) for my job. They are amazingly tough.
boomhauer is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 01:43 PM
  #7  
Rob_E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,580

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 255 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
I find it hard to believe it is humanly possible to "break the belt". It would take super human strength.

I regularly use Gates belts like these on 3 hp motors (single belt drive) for my job. They are amazingly tough.
That was the impression I had when I got this bike. I just thought it odd to find it advertised as lasting twice as long as a chain. I replace my chain once or twice a year. The Gates Drive bike gets ridden far, far less, but three years in and there are no signs of wear.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 01:52 PM
  #8  
seeker333
-
 
seeker333's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,752

Bikes: yes!

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 234 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
I have...
Why not ask CoMotion - they probably sell as many belted touring bikes as anyone. Darren Alff has been touring a lot on a belted Co-Motion for two years now, you could ask him too, darrenalff@darrenalff.com . His new CoMo bike review here:

seeker333 is offline  
Old 06-13-19, 05:17 PM
  #9  
DanBell
Senior Member
 
DanBell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: On the road...
Posts: 508
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 113 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
FWIW, I have 23,000km on my belt and it shows almost zero wear. I biked from the US, into Canada, back to the US, and then through Central and South America on it. No snow, but plenty of rain, sun, dust, sand, salt, etc. I carried a spare belt in the back of a rear pannier. I saw a video online showing a guy replacing his belt. It was missing sections of 'teeth' and was on a lot fewer miles than mine. Not sure how he managed to mangle it so badly, but mine looks like it will just keep going. I'm actually quite curious how it will actually die when its time comes. Perhaps just splitting from getting brittle with age?

If yours looks fine, with no cracks in the material indicating some failure of the composition of the thing, I'd just ride it and not worry about it.

Last edited by DanBell; 06-13-19 at 05:18 PM. Reason: Typos
DanBell is offline  
Likes For DanBell:
Old 06-13-19, 05:45 PM
  #10  
UniChris
Senior Member
 
UniChris's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: NYC
Posts: 757

Bikes: 36" Unicycle

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 327 Post(s)
Liked 56 Times in 48 Posts
I have zero experience with these, but it sounds like the triple loop trick used with bandsaw blades also works with these:

https://www.cyclingabout.com/carbon-...-need-to-know/

That said if yours is in great shape; or if you put on the new one and do a number of shakedown rides to rule out defects, it might not be the component most likely to fail?
UniChris is offline  
Likes For UniChris:
Old 06-13-19, 08:05 PM
  #11  
seeker333
-
 
seeker333's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,752

Bikes: yes!

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 234 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
^ Good tip! From above linked page:

seeker333 is offline  
Likes For seeker333:
Old 06-14-19, 08:21 AM
  #12  
Rob_E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,580

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 255 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
^ Good tip! From above linked page:
If that's an option, it might be the way to go. I was just looking at the 2 foot+ box with all the warnings and thinking it was not very touring-friendly to carry a spare.



Gates drive spare belt


Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball


Do not mutilate, spindle, or chew.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 06-14-19, 08:56 AM
  #13  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 14,952

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 86 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1781 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 27 Posts
We have a Gates CDX on our tandem. Never had a problem with it in many thousands of miles. The rings will get worn before the belt. I expect at least 20,000 miles out of the setup, judging by ring wear so far. Of course in our case a bike shop could fix us up with regular rings and chain if it came to that.

Of course there's always the chance of an accident or picking up debris in the drivetrain. However that's never happened to me in decades of riding with chains and a belt. In any case, no show-stopper. Overnight shipping is pretty quick. Don't worry about it, don't bring a spare belt.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Likes For Carbonfiberboy:
Old 06-14-19, 09:44 AM
  #14  
skookum
cyclotourist
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: calgary, canada
Posts: 882
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have a gates belt drive on my Jones Plus rohloff and I used it on the southern 1/3 of the Great Divide. It was fine, no problems.
I did carry a spare belt , because I'm paranoid about things like that, and yes you have to be careful about coiling it -if that is the correct word. I folowed the directions and put it in a ziplock and forgot about it.
skookum is offline  
Old 06-14-19, 10:34 AM
  #15  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 211 Times in 176 Posts
I had long ago thought best application was inside an enclosure like a chain case ..

case would keep debris out and only the small bit of dust would get in..

Utility bikes with chains in chain cases rarely get enough oil applied over time..

so I thought a good pairing.


Not the market they were aiming at... so belts are exposed for admirers to see your purchase ..








...
fietsbob is offline  
Old 06-14-19, 07:09 PM
  #16  
DropBarFan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2,857

Bikes: 2013 Surly Disc Trucker, 2004 Novara Randonee , old fixie , etc

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 532 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 12 Posts
Belt case might be a fun DIY project for folks handy with metalwork? Belts require less maintenance than chains but if they get muddy/gritty etc one is still supposed to rinse them off, right? Also, one of the few belt drawbacks I've read about is snow; perhaps a case could help there.
DropBarFan is offline  
Old 06-20-19, 06:23 PM
  #17  
GeorgeBaby
Senior Member
 
GeorgeBaby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 332

Bikes: 2005 Bike Friday NWT, 2008 Robert Beckman, Thorn Nomad MK2, Bacchetta Giro 26

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Gates even has a video on packing the belt
GeorgeBaby is offline  
Old 06-20-19, 07:10 PM
  #18  
Rick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 343
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 144 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 26 Times in 23 Posts
I have a Co-Motion Pangea Rohloff. I have had it over 5 years. It is the only bicycle I currently ride. The belt looks like new. For your belt to miss teeth. I believe you would have to ride it in the woods and trap sticks and grind some rocks with it. I say just ride the thing and don't worry about it. You did say you have a spare belt. I never replaced chains until they broke multiple times on one bicycle ride.
Rick is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.