Posts written by Paul Tolme

velopresso-lasse riding

It’s no joke to say that the guys at Velopresso, makers of the pedal-powered coffee trike, are creating a lot of buzz. They won the Constructor’s Challenge at the Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show in April. Their MK2 was recently featured on BBC TV, and it has received loads of media attention. Musician David Byrne of the Talking Heads hopped on during his Meltdown festival last summer in London. Former pro rider (and new coffee shop owner) Andy Schleck pedaled the Velopresso at an event in Luxembourg, and Velopresso appeared at the Tour de France for the second straight year when Dutch company Brandmeester’s served coffee at the “grand depart” stage on their MK2.

When the Belted Blog last checked in with Velopresso, founders Amos Field Reid and Lasse Oiva were just beginning production after several years of R&D and prototyping. Now, the UK company’s MK2 coffee trikes are rolling off the production line from their East London factory. Velopresso has sold trikes in Australia, Holland, Switzerland, the United States, Canada, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Puerto Rico and across the UK, including one on the Isle of Wight. Below is the trike sent to the Bean Peddler in Adelaide, Australia.

VeloPresso-Bean Peddler

The Velopresso is so appealing because it combines the healthy and fun aspects of bicycling with our love of coffee. The MK2 allows mobile coffee shops to set up on any street corner, with a low carbon footprint. We like it because the MK2 uses two Gates Carbon Drive belts—one to propel the trike and another to power the grinder. You don’t want a dirty chain near your beans.


Here’s a look under the hood:


If you want to see how to make a cup of espresso on the MK2, check out the video on the Velopresso site. Time for a hot cuppa.



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HiLite-Urban CX Commuter

Basel is a northern Swiss city of 175,000 people located on the Rhine River near the borders of Germany and France. It is a cultural and artistic hub of Switzerland known for its museums, theaters and symphony orchestra. It is also a cycling city extraordinaire. Biagio Colletto founded HiLite Bikes here in 2010 following a long career in chemical engineering. “I was involved in research and development for my entire career and I wanted to create a project for myself,” Colletto says. “I enjoy being my own boss, helping customers fulfill their desires and pushing technical innovation.”

HiLite offers a line of customize-able aluminum frames and recently launched a carbon frame line, but the brand is best known for its gorgeous titanium builds featuring Gates Carbon Drive belts incorporated with Pinion Gearboxes and internally geared hubs. Colletto recently sent us a link to his titanium photo gallery, which is worth visiting if you appreciate fine bike photography.

HiLite-Pinion Mixte Complete



HiLite Pinion 29 Randonneur

“Our goal is to build pure, raw, honest and sustainable titanium bikes,” Colletto says. “Sometimes we don’t take customers if their desires don’t match our philosophy.” Colletto is an avid rider who started racing at age 15. At least once per year he embarks on a three-week lightweight bike tour. In 2014 he cycled from Bangkok, Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 15 days. “We managed to keep the luggage weight below five kilograms (11 pounds) and maintained a good average speed.” Colletto compares Basel to Amsterdam or Copenhagen for its bike friendly infrastructure, and he enjoys riding in the nearby Black Forest in Germany, as well as in the French Alsace region famous for its Tour de France hills including Ballon d’Alsace, Grand Ballon and the Planche des Belles Filles.


HiLite-Pinion_Randonneur or roadrace

HiLite-Gates Rohloff-pink seat

Colletto has several personal bikes with the Gates Carbon Drive system, including the dropbar randonneur rig below. It has mudguards and a titanium rack, hydraulic disc brakes, an Alfine 11 hub with electronic Di2 shifting, a Gates belt drive and Schmidt SON SL dynamo hub that powers an Edelux II light. Lovely. Colletto says HiLite has many more dazzling belt drive bikes to come. “Hopefully we will have soon an ultralight carbon bike with Gates,” he says. If you’re in Basel, visit the HiLite Concept Store. It’s on our bucket list of bike shops. And make sure to check their photo gallery if you want to see more Basel style bikes.

Hilite-Biagio di2 complete

Biagio’s Di2 bike


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Santos 3D ipad app

Santos Bikes is a Dutch bike brand and belt drive specialist that has introduced what may be the bicycle industry’s most advanced 3D customization app. The Santos 3D Customizer app allows customers to visually preview their virtual bike in three dimensions, zooming in and out and rotating it to scrutinize every detail from all angles. Users can test out a wide variety of frame and decal colors, choose saddle styles and colors, add different types of wheels, add or subtract front and rear racks and carriers and a choose a colored dynamo hub to match. We’ve tried it, and it’s pretty cool. “Every cyclist is unique. That’s why Santos specializes in building custom-built bikes,” says Santos founder Robbert Rutgrink. “Colors are one of the most difficult choices. The 3D app gives people the opportunity to play with all variables and try out many combinations until they find the perfect match.” The 3D Customizer is available for iPad, Windows and Macintosh OS X.

Santos 3D hub chooser

The 3D app is the latest innovation from Santos, which Rutgrink founded in a work shed in 1997. Today, Santos is best known for its premium travel bikes, which are a favorite of global trekkers and adventurers such as the Bicycle Junkies, who have ridden more than 20,000 kilometers through the Americas on their Carbon Drive equipped Santos Travel Lites. In 2009, James Bowthorpe made his record-setting ride around the world on a Santos with a Gates system. Santos has grown considerably since those early days in the shed. In 2014, the company moved into a large new headquarters in Nieuw-Vennep, close to Amsterdam. The new Santos HQ has a large showroom and a Demo Center with a big fleet of belt drive (“riemaandrijving” in Dutch) test bikes. The Demo Center is open every Friday for appointments and test rides, and it has one of the world’s largest fleets of test bikes equipped with the Gates belt system.

Santos offers many bicycle styles in addition to their well-known Travel Master series. The Lite series (including the Race Lite below) consists of fast and light road bikes featuring Rohloff hubs instead of derailleurs and Gates belts for low maintenance. Santos also offers Urban, Mountain, Tandem and eBike lines. Download the 3D app for iPad, Windows or Macintosh OS X, and schedule a demo appointment to test out and build your dream “riemaandrijving” bike.

Santos Race Lite with rider


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Marco_Cracked 1

Marco Hösel is a famous German trials rider and member of the Nicolai Factory Team whose exploits frequently appear on the Belted Blog. Remember when he rode and leaped through a sawmill? This time Marco rides through the stadium of German premier league team Borussia Dortmund in his new video, “Cracked,” sponsored by the lock maker Burg-Wachter. Watch the video at the bottom of this post. Marco rides a Nicolai trials bike with Gates Carbon Drive. He likes the light weight of the belt because it allows him to jump higher, while the high-strength carbon tensile cords inside the Gates belt provide him with the confidence to fully commit to tricky–and dangerous–maneuvers. Thanks to Constantin Fiene for the creative photography, Hoshi Yoshida for the slick video edit, and of course a big high-five to Marco.

Marco_Cracked 2

Marco_Cracked 4

Marco_Cracked 5

Watch “Cracked” below.

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Bike Motion Benelux is one of Europe’s biggest consumer bike shows, held in the Dutch city of Utrecht from October 16-19. Gates Carbon Drive will again exhibit at the show, with a variety of belted models on display including the Activa Pro V from Rose, above. Read our previous post, “Sweet as a Rose,” to see the Rose line of belted models.

Also on display this weekend will be the Yukon Rohloff from Van Nicholas, below.  Van Nicholas builds only titanium bikes, as featured in our post about the Dutch Titanium Bike Company. Scroll down to see some of the other cool bikes Gates will show in Utrecht.

Van Nicholas Yukon Rohloff

Below is the Signature World Traveller from Koga. This is the same model famously ridden by adventurer Reza Pakravan on his race down the length of the planet, from the Arctic Circle to South Africa, 11,000 miles on one belt. Get the full scoop in the Belted Blog interview with Reza.

Koga Signature World Traveller

11Ants Bikes is a new Dutch company with a range of belt drive bikes equipped with Rohloff hubs and gearboxes. 11Ants will debut their new mANTis built up with a Gates Carbon Drive. The frame, which has been nominated for awards in the Mountain Bike and Bicycle Components categories at Bike Motion, is shown below. Looking forward to seeing the full build!

11 ANTS mANTis frame


Gazelle is a leading Dutch bike company that has introduced the Ultimate S8, below. We expect this will be a highly popular model in The Netherlands in 2016.


Another fun bike in the Gates booth will be Frank Schneider’s Nicolai Argon LowFat, which “Schneidi” has ridden in many cool video and photo shoots, including this pond skimming splashdown. See the full photo shoot in “When Pigs Fly.”

Nicolai FatBike_Schneidi_splash

If you plan to attend the show, make sure to check out Santos Bikes, a premium custom brand that will show its full line of Gates Carbon Drive equipped bikes. See you there!

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