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!
Bicycles have always played an important role in the life of Patrik Widmer, owner of Switzerland’s 47 Degrees North (47 Grad Nord). He bicycle toured with his parents, raced mountain bikes as a teenager and later became a bike messenger. As an adult he worked for an international environmental organization and then as an electrical engineer, but bicycles remained his passion. When his bike was stolen, he worked with a frame builder to build a new one and learn the craft.
In 2008, Widmer opened his own frame building studio in the Swiss city of Biel/Bienne, at the southern end of the Jura Mountains. Biel/Bienne is a bilingual city where French and German are spoken, and it is known for its watchmakers including companies including Rolex and Omega, as well as DT Swiss. The region also offers many great rides. Widmer commutes to work daily on his belt drive gearbox bike and frequently pedals around Lake Biel in the early morning. Once a year he hits the road for several weeks on his bike loaded with camping gear. He has toured Norway and the North Sea coast of England.
Pictured here is Widmer’s Frigg touring bike with a low-step frame for easy mounting and a Pinion gearbox and Gates Carbon Drive system for low maintenance. “It gives me great pleasure to work with customers to envision their dream bike, and then to work closely with them to implement this dream. A 47° Nord bike is a reliable companion, smart and built to last.” 47grad-nord.ch
Gates is launching a “value oriented” bicycle belt drive called CDN that is designed for lower-mileage pavement and city bikes. The CDN system has the same carbon fiber tensile cord technology and CenterTrack sprocket design as Gates’ premium CDX system, but at about half the cost. “CDN is our value-oriented belt drive for people who want a clean and stylish city bike for getting into town or around the neighborhood,” says Todd Sellden, director of Gates Carbon Drive. “It’s for bicyclists who ride in jeans or skirts and casual shoes, not spandex and race gear.”
The CDN belt has nine carbon cords embedded within an engineered polymer belt optimized for lower tension. The front sprocket is made from reinforced composite embedded with glass fibers. The rear sprocket is wear-resistant steel. Five years in development, the CDN belts are manufactured at the Gates plant in Dumfries, Scotland, a leading producer of automotive belts and the center for Gates’ belt development group in Europe. Gates is attending the Taipei Cycle Show this week, where it will show the CDN system. Interest is high from bike brands. What does this mean for bicyclists? More lower-priced city bikes with Gates Carbon Drive belts instead of chains will be available in coming years.