Monday, November 28, 2016

Belt Drive BMX

   Belt drive bikes are not exactly new to the scene, but still are an uncommon sight. Around here, we see a lot of Spot bikes fitted with belt drives, especially the Acme and the Ajax commuter bikes.
   While perusing the Yess BMX Facebook page, I found an interesting article on their belt drive BMX bike. The post was about Drew Motley winning the 2016 ABA BMX Cruiser title on a Gates Carbom Belt Drive bike.

Drew Motley

   Drew is the first person to win a title on a non-chain drive bike, which is pretty exciting. The Yess post did a great job of explaining the pros and cons of a belt drive, as well as including some cool pictures.

Freewheel and frame break

Chainring (Beltring?)

Pros
- Belt drives are less susceptible to mud and sand
- The belt-driven drivetrain weighs nearly half what a chain drive system weighs
- Silent running
- No stretch
- No need to lube or much maintenance of any kind

Cons
- The only solution for a broken belt is a new belt - no repairs
- Belts are easily damaged, you must handle with care
- Installation, tensioning and alignment are lengthy processes
- The big one: Frames must be built with a break to allow for the chain. Additionally, as the Yess post points out, you must have clearance on the drive side chainstay for the sprocket to pass. The system is wider than a chain drive and needs more space.

   The Yess site had listed that the belt runs great when packed with mud, which I don't think is much of an advantage. Being able to leave your bike dirty is't really an advantage. Here's a shot of another bike fitted with a disc brake, very cool.

Yess!

   So are belt drives the new normal for BMX? Probably not. The advantages are something more attractive to your commuter looking for a clean, easy low maintenance bike than a racer who won't shy away from wrenching. It is still very cool to see new technology trickling into BMX! 


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