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
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.
Budnitz Bicycles is giving away this bike—a red hot No. 1 with the limited edition Carbon Drive Red belt. The winner will be chosen at random on January 31. Anybody anywhere in the world–from Antarctica to Zimbabwe–is eligible to win. Enter to win here. The bike features a lightweight titanium frame and Budnitz’s signature twin top tube tube cantilever design. The Gates Carbon Drive Red belt is paired with slick Kojak tires, Avid disc brakes with Paul levers and titanium Budnitz saddle, riser bar and badges.
Based in Burlington, Vermont, Budnitz is a premium boutique bicycle brand that uses Gates belts on all of its models and is known for its impeccable style. budnitzbicycles.com
The new Glow Bike from English Cycles looks incredible during the day but it absolutely pops at night. Built for a Seattle customer, the commuter bike features a “Glowbee” clear top coat that glows in the dark. Disc brakes, 11-speed internal gear hub, Gates Carbon Drive system, tubeless tires, full fenders, an Ergon seat post and Niner eccentric bottom bracket complete the build. Total weight with pedals is just over 23 pounds.
On a personal note, we are elated to see Rob English back in the shop following a horrid crash in a bike race last summer that left him hospitalized and out of work for several months. Still healing, Rob is working with one arm in a sling due to a badly damaged bicep muscle. That’s true grit. See more images of his Glow Bike below, and check out some of his previous belt drive bikes here.