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.
“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.
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-bikes.com
Biagio’s Di2 bike
Stevens Bikes is a German brand based in Hamburg, a cosmopolitan port town where all of the company’s bikes are designed and engineered. Stevens is best known for its high-performance race bikes and its close connection to competitive cycling. The Belted Blog previously featured an experimental Stevens race bike project in the post “Future Shift.”
But Stevens is also a lifestyle brand that offers a large range of innovative and stylish transportation bikes. Pictured above is an experimental eBike created with Pinion that features the Stevens P-Carpo equipped with a rear hub drive. That one is not for sale, but the P-Carpo
below is. With its sporty frame, fat slicks and low-maintenance belt paired with the Pinion gearbox, the P-Carpo is one of our favorite new 2016 urban bikes–and one of the many models in Stevens’ “AllRound” line equipped with the Gates Carbon Drive system.
The 2016 Stevens line also includes the new E-Carpo electric bike, below, a souped-up urban commuter with a Bosch electric drive, plus a rack, fenders and lights for year-round commuting.
Also new for 2016 is the Courier Luxe
Gent, below, and the Courier Luxe Lady, second down. These lightweight city bikes have an anthracite finish, disc brakes, a Nexus eight-speed hub and all the essentials for fast urban commuting.
Below is the Sovereign SX R14
, a premium trekking bike that pairs the Gates belt drive with a Rohloff hub and a suspension fork–ideal for crossing town, or touring across the country.
Above is the P18 Lite. Like the P-Carpo, this premium transportation bike also pairs the Pinion gearbox with the Gates belt drive. Thanks to its low-maintenance, grease-free drivetrain, this bike leaves you with plenty of time to stop, enjoy the day and relax on a bench, like the dude below. Life is good. Thanks to Stevens Bikes/Marc Autenrieth for the photographs. stevensbikes.de
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.