Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles in British Columbia was one of the standout performers at the 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, where he won the Best Mountain Bike category from NAHBS as well as first place in the Gates Carbon Drive design contest for a belt drive adventure touring rig. With NAHBS fast approaching (next February in Denver), we felt it was a good time to check in on Sam to see what interesting bikes he has built since then.
First up is the singlespeed 29er with Carbon Drive that he created for ripping the root-crossed trails on Quadra Island outside of Vancouver. Sam says the Carbon Drive on the bike is the perfect application for the muddy local trails because of its cleanliness and low maintenance. Who says you need a full-suspension freeride bike for BC riding?
“I was skeptical of belt drives when they first came out,” Sam says. “Just like suspension, tubeless tires, 29-inch wheels and clipless pedals, you have to experience it to realize what your missing. All of my initial fears about longevity, slippage and efficiency have proven to be completely ungrounded. The Gates system has proven to be far better on all counts than expected. It also has the added bonus of being lighter, smoother, cleaner and quieter. You don’t realize how rough and noisy a chain is until you use a belt. As a custom builder it is easy for me to incorporate the ability to run a belt into my designs.”
Sam also recently built a hot commuter that he calls “Merrill’s Adventure City Belt Drive,” pictured below. The bike is not only built for functional performance, but also styled to get noticed.
Live in the Denver area? Mark your calendar for next February 22-24, when custom builders from around the world will show off their coolest bikes for consumers at NAHBS 2013. If you’re a custom bike builder, make sure to sign up for the Gates Carbon Drive Belt Drive Bike Design Contest for a chance to win part of the more than $11,000 in cash and prizes Gates will be awarding. As Sam would say: “Time to get Naked.” To which we add: “Time to Get Belted.”