Earlier this summer, BMX Plus! magazine presented a top-secret bike to a handful of pro riders including Mark Estep, Stephen Smith, Asa Kortman and Keely Kortman (pictured above) at a Los Angeles BMX track. Editor Ben Crockett snapped these spy photos. The October 2015 issue of the magazine, now on newsstands, contains the full story of how the bike was created, as well as pro rider feedback. The upshot? The editors and riders loved the Gates Carbon Drive system and consider it a potential game-changer at the elite BMX racing level. They especially liked the instant engagement and strength of the Gates belt compared to chains, which stretch under the intense torque of BMX racing. This strength is critically important in the starting gate, below, where riders must hammer down on the pedals with all of their power to gain a fraction of a second lead on the competition.
The prototype bike made by Canadian BMX brand Yess has many unique features including a dial for tensioning the belt, as well as a split on the seat stay for opening the rear triangle to install or change the belt. The bike uses the new 108-tooth belt that Gates released last year.
BMX is a new frontier for Gates and an opportunity to expose a new cycling audience to the Carbon Drive technology. Could we see top riders racing on BMX bikes equipped with Gates Carbon Drive in World Cup or Olympic events in the future? Perhaps. Some elite national teams have contacted Gates to inquire about testing the system. For Gates, the positive feedback by elite athletes validates the durability and strength of the Carbon Drive system, which is already being used by singlespeed cyclocross and mountain bike racers. Pick up a copy of BMX Plus! to read the full five-page report.
Want to learn more about the Yess bike? The online site bmxnews.com published several informative stories including one about the history of belt drives in BMX, and the efforts of innovator Matt Raymer to advance the concept of belting BMX bikes.
Lynx Bicycles is a Polish brand that wants to elevate the status of bamboo bikes while helping to create jobs in Africa. Lynx sources its bamboo frames from Zambikes, a nonprofit that runs a bike building facility in Zambia. The handmade bamboo frames take up to a month to create. The goal is to use bikes as an economic development tool in rural Africa. “This was one of the most important factors when we chose Zambikes to source our frames,” say the founders of Lynx. Learn more about Lynx, which sells Gates Carbon Drive, at lynxbicycles.com and Zambikes at zambikeszambia.com
Gates is introducing a new series of high-mileage sprockets for expedition cyclists called CDX:EXP™ that offers extended range and durability in abrasive off-road conditions. CDX:EXP sprockets are for use with Rohloff geared hubs. Rohloff is a close partner of Gates, and its hubs combined with Gates belt drives are an increasingly popular application for trekking cyclists who seek a low-maintenance, strong and clean alternative to chains and derailleurs when riding way off the map.
The extra durability derives from the 25 percent increase in surface area compared to regular CDX™ sprockets. Despite their extra strength, the CDX:EXP sprockets weigh only a few grams more than current CDX sprockets due to a redesign of the sprocket interface. The CDX:EXP sprockets are currently available in three front sizes (pictured above) and four rear sizes for cyclists who want to upgrade their existing CDX drives. The 39-tooth front sprocket is also designed for use with Pinion gearboxes.
Gates will unveil CDX:EXP at the Eurobike trade show in late August. Europe is the global epicenter of bike trekking. “The CDX:EXP sprockets are an example of how we continue to expand the Carbon Drive product line to meet the needs of the widest range of bicyclists,” says Todd Sellden, global director of Gates Carbon Drive. Read the full Eurobike news release.
Other new products shown at Eurobike include the S300 silver crank arm for use with CDX five bolt sprockets, and the new XSE series rear sprockets for use with the CDN belt drive system.
Budapest is known as the Paris of Eastern Europe, a historic and cosmopolitan city whose art, architecture and culture rival the most beautiful metropolitan areas on the planet. The urban biking scene is growing here every year, which delights Péter Scsaurszki, the founder of Massive Bikes. “The government understands that it must create more bike lanes, bike parking and better cycling infrastructure. When that happens there will be a big wave of growth.”
Massive Bikes is the Gates Carbon Drive distributor for Hungary and the epicenter of the urban belt drive scene. The company specializes in modifying frames to accommodate the Gates belt drive, such as this retro Schwinn cruiser, and Massive also sells belt-ready frames and complete bikes from Schindelhauer, Tout Terrain, Mi-Tech and FABike. “We only sell products that we believe in, and we ride and test everything we sell,” Scsaurszki says.
His favorite recent build uses the carbon FABike frame and fork, paired with an aero aluminum wheelset, 35 mm tires and a Gates belt drive that utilizes a 60 x 20 sprocket combo. “I climbed up the hill to Dobogókő on it and this bike amazed me. The chainstay design on the FABike is really stiff and perfect for the Gates belt drive. I have never used a bike frame that is as stiff from the bottom bracket to the rear axle. It provides a super responsive ride quality.”
The FABike has vertical dropouts with a horizontal slider mechanism so that belt tension can be set perfectly and, in case of a flat tire, the rear wheel can be removed and re-installed without having to re-set the belt tension. The FaBike also has exchangeable rear dropouts that accomodate 120 mm track and 130 mm road hubs, as well as 135 mm geared hubs. Total weight of the frameset: 1.9 kg.
Scsaurszki is a busy man. He is completing his thesis in structural engineering and plans to specialize in bridge construction. His passion, however, is bicycles. Scaurszki has ridden across Europe, including 1,960 kilometers in nine days from Berlin to Toulouse, and as we conducted this interview he was touring in the Alps on his belt drive Mi-Tech. One day he hopes to create his own brand of urban bikes that use the new CDN system and internal hubs. “This could be a really big seller in Hungary,” he says. One more big thing we expect to see in Hungary in the future: more bridges with bike lanes. massivebikes.com
Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles describes this custom steel Globe Trotter as “a traveling mule designed for classic loaded touring.” It was built for a long-distance trip this summer. “The Buyer has spent many years working for NGOs in Afghanistan and is taking some well-needed time away from his duties to tour across Canada.” The bike is purpose-built for low-maintenance simplicity during long days in the saddle. In addition to the Gates Carbon Drive belt and Rohloff geared hub, it features custom Naked dropouts and a frame split on the seat stay. The belt is tensioned with the Biocentric 2 eccentric bottom bracket from Niner. The fork is integrated with a SON SL generator hub that powers the light and the Cinq Plug USB charger, which supplies energy for a smartphone.
Whittingham has built many beautiful belted bikes over the years including an award winner from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and his personal singlespeed mountain bike, which he trail rides near his home on Quadra Island in British Columbia. nakedbicycles.com