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
Spot Brand has launched several new city bikes and updated its singlespeed cyclocross bike with bold colors and red belts. The Five Points Open and the Five Points (below) are two new value-oriented city bikes that feature round alloy tubes, fat 40c tires, three-speed SRAM shifters and Gates Carbon Drive. They are named for a revitalized Denver neighborhood–a nod to Spot’s home just outside of the Mile High City.
The Champa, named for a prominent Denver Street, features a streamlined steel frame with a graphite finish. Pictured below, it features Gates Carbon Drive’s CDX system and an Alfine 8-speed hub. Spot compares the Champa to a classic gray suit–stylish, reliable, never flashy and good for any occasion. The Wazee (pictured below the Champa) features a Carbon Drive Red belt paired with an Alfine 11. It’s a city bike “for cyclists who desire the classic road-feel and confident handling of a refined steel frame, combined with the ultimate urban drivetrain.” The Wazee’s gloss black frame features a color splash inspired by the legendary Martini Race Team of 1970s Grand Prix Porsches.
Spot calls the Rallye SS cyclocross bike its two-wheeled answer to the rally car, a rugged speed machine that excels in all conditions: mud, grass, gravel, pavement. Curved seat stays and a Time Trial cutout provide vertical compliance and a confident ride feel. And those colors epitomize the phrase “eye candy.” spotbrand.com
We typically feature new bikes on the Belted Blog, but this 52-year-old cruiser is a true beauty with a long history and a new life. It’s a 1963 Schwinn “Tiger” that has been retrofitted with a Gates Carbon Drive belt. The bike is owned by Marc Seemann, the newest member of the Gates Carbon Drive crew in Denver. Marc is the technical support specialist for Gates Carbon Drive in North America. If you call or email with tech questions, Marc is the dude with answers. He also does a mean wheelie and has a closet full of timber-sexy flannel shirts.
Marc got the frame for free in high school. The owner of the bike shop where Marc worked found it in some weeds behind a barn. “This bike survived some extreme abuse and negligence during my college years, so it’s definitely a keeper,” he says. After joining Gates, Marc cut the right stay and installed a frame split to create an opening for the belt, which is tensioned with a Surly Tug Nut. “I welded some cantilever posts on a year ago to get some decent brakes (replacing the original coaster brake), and the rest is a hodgepodge of old 1980s and ’90s BMX parts.” Left to rot in a field, the bike is now Marc’s primary commuter. If you see a bearded lumberjack rolling down the Denver streets on it, say hi to Marc.
Thanks to Tim Lucking for the photography.
“Rides like a dream.” That’s how Daniel Levin describes his new eleven-speed, electronic shifting belt-drive Buena Vista. Bilenky Cycle Works added a split on the Soma Fabrications frame to allow the Gates Carbon Drive to be installed. “They put the frame splitter on the lowest tube in an artful manner that blends in seamlessly,” Levin says. The battery pack for the Alfine Di2 electronic shifter was placed on the down tube in a manner that preserves the water bottle cage mounts. An Acorn saddlebag, Brooks Swallow saddle and Tubus titanium rack complete the build. “The only noise when riding is the slight hum of the Gatorskin tires on the pavement. And of course there is never any grease to worry about,” says Levin, who complimented Bilenky’s skillful work.
For Soma Fabrications fans who want an easier solution without having to install a frame splitter, the San Francisco area brand recently announced that it now offers three Gates Carbon Drive compatible frames: The B-Side, Juice and Wolverine. You can also find other bikes and frames with the Gates Carbon Drive system on the Gates bike finder page. All three Soma frames are available with a split Tange Sliding Dropout. The Wolverine was initially designed to be a “monster cross” bike, but its stable geometry makes it ideal for off-road touring. Australian Mountain Bike Magazine recently reviewed the Wolverine, calling it “an absolute winner.” The Juice is a 29er hardtail, the B-Side (pictured below) a 27.5 hardtail. somafab.com
The Sea Otter Classic bike show this week (April 16-19 in Monterey, California) will offer bike lovers the chance to see a range of new bicycles featuring the Gates Carbon Drive system including the STEPS Child from Ti Cycles, above. This high-concept pedal-assist eBike features the Shimano STEPS mid-drive for fast touring and commuting.
California-based eBike brand Tempo Bikes is launching its new Carmel hybrid electric bike at Sea Otter.
Tempo will also show its Santa Barbara step-through model, below. tempobicycles.com
Breezer will show the Beltway Elite, a fully equipped and award-winning commuter bike. Read Bicycling Magazine’s review, in which the editor wishes her commute to work was actually longer. breezerbikes.com
Touring cyclists and readers of Adventure Cyclist magazine will want to check out the Siskiyou Rohloff, the new 27.5 wheel trekking bike from Co-Motion.
Marin will have its Fairfax SC6 DLX at the Otter. Read Outside Magazine’s review, in which writer Aaron Gulley says: “Out of the box, this is one of the cleanest, best functioning, and seductive utility bikes I’ve come across.”
Legendary mountain bike brand Ibis will display it Tranny Unchained, a full-carbon race rig for singlespeeders who want fast and light performance. Read the reviews about the bike and belt on MTBR.com and Bike Magazine and Dirt Rag.
See you in Monterey!