Gravel riding has burst into popularity as a new category over the past several years, though in truth people have been riding gravel roads since the first bicycles were invented. New innovations in bike design, however, have made it easier and more fun than ever to grind gravel. German belt drive specialists Tout Terrain have captured this trend beautifully with their new X.Over.Gravel, pictured above and below. This new model is among the highlights of Tout Terrain’s expanding lineup of Gates belted bikes, which includes the X.Over.Blacktop and several new electric bikes.
Tout Terrain’s new eBikes are powered by its Silent e-Drive system, which consists of the Go SwissDrive plus a Pinion gearbox and Gates belt for clean and quiet propulsion. Tout Terrain says its eBikes are “designed for style-conscious and tech-savvy commuters and cyclists.” Below are the Via Veneto eXpress, Metropolitan eXpress and The City II eXpress.
Via Veneto eXpress
The City II eXpress
Tout Terrain is located in Freiburg, at the edge of the Black Forest, and every bike bears the label “Made in Freiburg” because all are custom built and powder coasted at their facility. “We don’t have a production line or robots,” the company says. “All of our assemblers make bicycles entirely from start to finish.” Read our previous stories about Tout Terrain, and check their website for all of the cool accessories, trailers, lights and power packs they sell for touring cyclists–and gravel riders. tout-terrain.de
Budapest is known as the Paris of Eastern Europe, a historic and cosmopolitan city whose art, architecture and culture rival the most beautiful metropolitan areas on the planet. The urban biking scene is growing here every year, which delights Péter Scsaurszki, the founder of Massive Bikes. “The government understands that it must create more bike lanes, bike parking and better cycling infrastructure. When that happens there will be a big wave of growth.”
Massive Bikes is the Gates Carbon Drive distributor for Hungary and the epicenter of the urban belt drive scene. The company specializes in modifying frames to accommodate the Gates belt drive, such as this retro Schwinn cruiser, and Massive also sells belt-ready frames and complete bikes from Schindelhauer, Tout Terrain, Mi-Tech and FABike. “We only sell products that we believe in, and we ride and test everything we sell,” Scsaurszki says.
His favorite recent build uses the carbon FABike frame and fork, paired with an aero aluminum wheelset, 35 mm tires and a Gates belt drive that utilizes a 60 x 20 sprocket combo. “I climbed up the hill to Dobogókő on it and this bike amazed me. The chainstay design on the FABike is really stiff and perfect for the Gates belt drive. I have never used a bike frame that is as stiff from the bottom bracket to the rear axle. It provides a super responsive ride quality.”
The FABike has vertical dropouts with a horizontal slider mechanism so that belt tension can be set perfectly and, in case of a flat tire, the rear wheel can be removed and re-installed without having to re-set the belt tension. The FaBike also has exchangeable rear dropouts that accomodate 120 mm track and 130 mm road hubs, as well as 135 mm geared hubs. Total weight of the frameset: 1.9 kg.
Scsaurszki is a busy man. He is completing his thesis in structural engineering and plans to specialize in bridge construction. His passion, however, is bicycles. Scaurszki has ridden across Europe, including 1,960 kilometers in nine days from Berlin to Toulouse, and as we conducted this interview he was touring in the Alps on his belt drive Mi-Tech. One day he hopes to create his own brand of urban bikes that use the new CDN system and internal hubs. “This could be a really big seller in Hungary,” he says. One more big thing we expect to see in Hungary in the future: more bridges with bike lanes. massivebikes.com
Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles describes this custom steel Globe Trotter as “a traveling mule designed for classic loaded touring.” It was built for a long-distance trip this summer. “The Buyer has spent many years working for NGOs in Afghanistan and is taking some well-needed time away from his duties to tour across Canada.” The bike is purpose-built for low-maintenance simplicity during long days in the saddle. In addition to the Gates Carbon Drive belt and Rohloff geared hub, it features custom Naked dropouts and a frame split on the seat stay. The belt is tensioned with the Biocentric 2 eccentric bottom bracket from Niner. The fork is integrated with a SON SL generator hub that powers the light and the Cinq Plug USB charger, which supplies energy for a smartphone.
Whittingham has built many beautiful belted bikes over the years including an award winner from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and his personal singlespeed mountain bike, which he trail rides near his home on Quadra Island in British Columbia. nakedbicycles.com
Dual drives are increasingly popular on unicycles, or “unis” as riders call them. Why? A single drive can cause the seat tube to twist. Dual drives also balance the torque applied to the bottom bracket. This is especially true on tall unis, called giraffes. This double-belted wooden giraffe was created by Jay Kinsinger, an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Cedarville University in Ohio. “It’s the only one I know of in the world,” says Kinsinger, who makes wooden bikes under the brand Sojourner Cyclery when not teaching. “The Gates Carbon Drive is a quantum leap smoother than the old chain drive I was using.”
Elisabeth owns a restaurant in the German village of Miesbach that has a pink color scheme. Last winter, she teamed up with videographer Colin Stewart and Maxx Bikes to create a custom pink and belted fat bike. The video below shows the making of the bike, which uses a Jagamoasta frame from Maxx, along with a Rohloff hub and belt drive. We enjoyed the peak inside the Maxx operation as it powdercoats the frame, builds the wheels and hands off the bike to Elisabeth, who seems pretty stoked about the whole process.
Want to see the bike in action? Read Stewart’s story, see more pictures and watch the followup video in which Elisabeth goes ice fishing and then rides up a ski slope to grill her catch. On, of course, Pinkbike.com.