The 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show featured record attendance and more belt drive bikes than ever. Members of the public crowded the Gates Carbon Drive booth all three days, asking questions about everything from the belt’s strength (it’s stronger than a chain) to lubrication (don’t need any) to maintenance (just hose it off if it gets dirty).
Saturday was the highlight of the show for Gates, which held its first ever Innovative Belt Drive Bike contest. Gates convened an all-star panel of bike industry legends to judge the contest. Judges Joe Breeze of Breezer Bikes, Hall of Fame racer Joe Murray, Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster, titanium master Steve Potts, Salsa Cycles founder Ross Shafer and Scot Nicol of Ibis, along with designer Joe Graney of Santa Cruz bikes, gathered early to scrutinize the 20 contest bikes, which ran the gamut from full-suspension MTBs to step-through city bikes to adventure touring rigs. After the votes were counted and NAHBS founder Don Walker gathered a crowd at the main stage, Gates executives Greg Vigil and Todd Sellden handed out the plaques and awarded nearly $9,000 in cash and prizes. First prize went to Naked, whose Sam Wittingham fabricated the belted “adventure touring” bike shown above. Sam and his employee Aran rode the bike 450 miles to Sacramento, fully loaded with panniers, hammering the hills and commenting afterward on how smooth and quiet the belt drive was.
Curtis Inglis of Inglis/Retrotec Cycles won second-prize for his mixte city bike, and third-place went to Dave Levy of Ti Cycles for his randonneur bike with Rohloff hub. Levy made the bike for a customer who plans to ride it in a future Paris-Brest-Paris. Although just three bikes won prizes, all the entries in the contest were worthy of recognition. Mosaic, for instance, entered a belted 29er mountain bike with Rohloff 14-speed internally geared hub (pictured below).
Dean Cycles showed off a number of mountain bikes in its booth including this belt drive full-suspension 29er, the Duke:
Priority came to Sacramento with this inventive use of Carbon Drive on a gearbox driven DH bike:
A number of belt drive bikes also won awards in the NAHBS contests put on by show organizers. Shamrock won for Best City Bike with a green commuter that featured an intricate rack and fender system (and one of the nicest paint jobs on the floor).
Metrofiets, a cargo bike maker in Portland, showed off this belt drive grocery and keg carrier:
As a category, tandems at NAHBS showed the most belt drive models. Due to the length of chain required on a tandem, using a belt instead of a chain is a huge weight savings. Cyfac, based in France, wowed tandem riders with this sexy carbon creation:
Stay tuned for more updates and photos from NAHBS 2012. Meantime, if you couldn’t make the Sacramento show there’s good news: NAHBS 2013 will be held in Denver, Gates’ hometown, which means you will see more belt drive bikes than ever and an even larger presence by Gates Carbon Drive at next year’s show. Save the date, and plan on getting belted in Denver.