After naming the Spot Rocker with Gates Carbon Drive the singlespeed mountain bike of the year in its 2011 Summer Buyer’s Guide, Outside’s mountain biking journalist Aaron Gulley has followed up with a six-month report on the bike. In a new story on Outside Online, Gulley calls Gates’ new CenterTrack belt drive design “the ultimate solution for single speeding.” Gulley writes:
“The Rocker SS is retro on paper, but the truth is that the design cues and belt technology make it as modern as the sleekest carbon full-suspenion trail bike.”
Gulley has been testing the belt-drive 29er on the trails near his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and says he is sad to return this bike to Spot Brand.
“The longer I had the Rocker SS, the more often I found myself opting for the one speed instead of gears. That’s partly because of the belt drive: the simplicity, the immediacy of power transfer, and the silence on the bike make this technology, to my mind, the ultimate solution for single speeding.”
Getting down and dirty. Photo courtesy Gregg Stone, singletrack.com
Singletrack.com has published a comprehensive review, video and photo gallery of Spot Brand’s new Rocker 29er singlespeed, the first mountain bike to come to market with Gates Carbon Drive’s new CenterTrack system. Writer Gregg Stone calls the Rocker “one of those classic rigs that is sure to stand the test of time regardless of the latest industry trend.” Stone, the reigning Nevada state mountain bike champion, wasted no time putting the hammer down, taking the Rocker on a marathon ride his first time in the saddle:
“When I first got this bike my idea was to do a nice mellow ride on some easy trails to gain some confidence in both the belt drive as well as the bike itself. As it turns out, my first ride was a seven-hour epic that started in the rain on a technical creek-bed climb on a trail I’d never ridden in an area I’d never been.”
Check out the photo gallery, which shows closeups of Spot’s elegant Kobe sliding dropouts that make dropping a wheel and changing a flat easier than ever. Stone also enjoyed the power, smoothness and low-maintenance of the Carbon Drive:
“As for the Gates Carbon Drive belt, well, I love it. As a full-time bike mechanic I like the fact that I really never had to do any maintenance on the bike. I could just grab the bike and go without trying to remember if the chain needed lube or re-tensioned. The belt runs smooth and the power transfer to the rear wheel is instantaneous and solid.”
Be sure to watch the video of Spot CEO Andrew Lumpkin explaining the Kobe Slider and other features on the Rocker.
Good news for bicyclists who want to “get belted” this summer: Spot Brand commuter and mountain bikes with the new CenterTrack system from Gates Carbon Drive are arriving in bike shops nationwide this month, and the next-generation bicycle belt drive will be available for after-market purchase in July. Cyclists who want to sample the chain-free, greaseless, low-maintenance system can check Spot’s dealer locator to find a shop near them. Other bike brands will roll out CenterTrack-equipped bike models later in 2011.
CDX-CT rear pulley
Spot is the first brand to come to market with CenterTrack bikes, and the Golden, Colo., company has five models with the new drivetrain:
The Acme 11-speed, Ajax Belt 8-speed and Coyote Belt singlespeed are fast commuter/city bikes. Wired.com recently praised the Ajax’s “nimble geometry” and called it the quietest bike they had ever ridden.
The Rocker SS and Rocker Ti SS are singlespeed 29er mountain bikes ideal for marathon hammer-fests. Outside Magazinerecently named the Rocker its singlespeed mountain bike of the year.
Outside Buyer's Guide praises the Rocker
Consisting of alloy front and stainless steel rear pulleys, and a belt embedded with carbon fiber cords, CenterTrack features an innovative design that offers all the advantages of existing Carbon Drives but with a whopping 20 percent more tensile strength, a slimmer profile and the most advanced dirt- and debris-shedding ever.
CenterTrack, officially called CDX-CT, reinforces Carbon Drive as the lightest, cleanest, quietest and most robust drive train available. Weight is a key advantage. CDX-CT weighs approximately 40 percent less than comparable chain drives. Chains alone can weigh 250 to 300 grams, and an entire chain drive can weigh 400 to 500 grams. The stealthy Carbon Drive, by comparison, weighs roughly 240 grams (precise weight varies depending on pulley size and belt length).
Cleanliness is another advantage. If the belt gets muddy, just hose it off—no greasy lube required. For singlespeed racers, that means less time in the pits and more on the course. For city riders, it means no greasy clothing. Paired with an internally geared hub, Carbon Drive represents the future of high-performance, low-maintenance commuter bikes. CenterTrack was conceived by Wayne Lumpkin, one of the most innovative thinkers in the bike industry and the creative spark and founder of Avid brakes.
With the launch of CenterTrack, Gates, the global leader in belt-drive applications in the bicycling, motorcycling and automotive industries, now offers three product lines at distinct price points: CDX-CT, CDX and CDC. Introduced in 2008 on four bike models, the popularity of Carbon Drive has grown exponentially. In 2011, 43 brands are selling 90-plus models of belt drive bikes. For 2012, that number is expected to leapfrog again to 130 models as the popularity of commuter cycling booms and bike brands design new models around Carbon Drive.
Cyclists with existing Carbon Drives on their bikes who want to upgrade to CDX-CT can order the system through local bike shops beginning in July. The initial product launch is focused on the most popular sizes and will be expanded through the second half of 2011.
Jake Kirkpatrick is currently riding his belt drive singlespeed fully rigid 29er on the Tour Divide. Check out this new spaghetti-Western-style video from Mat Barlow that shows Jake in action and tells his back story. Who else but a crazy crazy man would ride a fully rigid singlespeed 2,700-miles down the spine of the Rockies?
Some of the coolest new belt drive bike designs are coming from the growing cadre of custom frame builders across North America. Hoping to spur innovation, Gates Carbon Drive is sponsoring a contest for American and Canadian builders who create the most innovative new belt drive bikes equipped with Carbon Drive for display at the North American Handmade Bike Show in 2012. Gates will award $8,750 worth of cash and product to bike builders who devise the most elegant and innovative sliding dropouts and tensioners, frame splits and other creative designs. Click here for complete rules and the online entry form.
This Black Sheep touring mountain bike won best "Off Road" bike honors at NAHBS 2011
The number of beautiful bikes with Gates Carbon Drive has grown every year, and innovative custom bikes with Carbon Drive continue to win more awards at NAHBS. So, if you’re up for the challenge and have a mad science project in the works, step up to the plate and compete for the opportunity to win money and Carbon Drives and a boatload of free publicity courtesy of Gates. The North American Handmade Bike Show will be held in Sacramento, Calif., March 2-4. Gates will have a booth in Sacramento. Contest entrants must display their bike at NAHBS to be eligible. Enter now at http://www.gatescarbondrive.com/designcontest/
Rosene's belt drive mtb won "Rookie of the Year" honors at NAHBS 2011. Photo Dirtragmag.com via Flickr