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.
Meet the Vapor Disc 16-speed Gearbox Belt Bike, an experimental bicycle at the center of a project to create the next generation of low-maintenance road machines. The project joins Gates Carbon Drive, Kappstein and Stevens Bikes. The goal: develop a performance road bike that uses a Gates belt instead of a chain and internal gears instead of a derailleur and cassette. The bike consists of a Stevens Vapor Disc frame with a Gates CDX belt drive and a shifting system comprised of a Shimano Alfine eight-speed rear hub combined with the Doppio 2-speed bottom bracket gearbox from Kappstein.
The Doppio replaces the double chain rings on the front. It has an integrated planetary gearing system with a transmission of 1:1.5 that doubles the Alfine’s eight gears to 16. No gear is represented twice. This is unlike a standard derailleur/cassette system with double chainrings, which has overlapping gears. The Doppio is compatible with Shimano shifters; this bike uses the Shimano 105 series. The project is generating buzz in the German bicycling media. See the story on German site RadMarkt.de.
The bike is now being ridden by pro racer Beate Zanner of the Maxx-Solar Team. Zanner, who won a stage of the Tour of Thuringia last season and had excellent results in the German national women’s league, will train on the bike this year and provide feedback. In the future, road riders and racers may join the growing community of belted riders who enjoy clean, grease-free and low-maintenance bikes with a belt and internal gearing. kappstein.de
Gates Carbon Drive is visiting the North American Handmade Bicycle Show next week in Louisville, Kentucky. Famous for its bourbon, we love Kentucky because it is home to the Gates plant where Carbon Drive belts are made (in Elizabethtown, KY). To make this NAHBS special, Gates has partnered with REEB Cycles and Rohloff USA distributor Cycle Monkey to display a spectrum of hand-built bikes featuring Carbon Drive Red belts combined with Rohloff internally geared hubs. Check out this titanium REEB Donkadonk. It’s made for plundering Colorado powder–or Kentucky mud bogs. SKI Magazine called it “a fascinating piece of gear.”
Another bike sure to be a homerun at NAHBS is the Slugger, commissioned by the Louisville Slugger baseball bat company. Chris Connor of Connor Wood Bicycles made it from the same white ash used to create Louisville Slugger baseball bats. Connor reports that it may appear at some Major League Baseball games next season. Batter up! Connor is now talking with Kentucky bourbon companies about commissioning a wooden bike from barrel oak. Smooth.
photo: Devon Balet/devonbaletmedia.com
The past meets the future at Rose Bikes, a family-owned German brand with a long tradition of innovation, artistry and cycling excellence. The photographs above tell the story: a historic headbadge that evokes the fine craftsmanship of an earlier era, juxtaposed with the new Activa Pro-V Carbon Drive bicycle, a state-of-the-art example of modern cycling design and performance.
The Rose story begins more than a century ago in 1907 with Heinrich Rose and his tiny bicycle shop in the town of Bocholt. Now in its fourth generation and run by Heinrich’s great grandson, Erwin, Rose Bicycles has grown into a company with more than 350 employees, a massive bike catalog, award-winning shops in Bocholt and Munich, and dealers across Europe and the United Kingdom. The Rose BIKETOWN concept store in Munich was recently named the best bike retail shop in Germany by the German Retail Association. Heinrich Rose would be proud. For 2015, Rose has created a line of trekking and city bikes with the Gates Carbon Drive belt system. Gates is pleased to be part of the Rose legacy, a sweet story that began with one man’s dream and continues today with many chapters to come.
ACTIVA PRO-III Carbon Drive
BLACK LAVA-2 Carbon Drive Trekking Men
BLACK LAVA-2 Carbon Drive Trekking Unisex Sport
BLACK LAVA-5 Carbon Drive Trekking Men,