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For over a Century, Gates has told us to belt up… by which we mean provide the mechanism to turn wheels, of course. Now, its Gates Carbon Drive belt is taking the next evolutionary step in cycling

Words GAVIN STOKER

How many of us have dismounted from a bike and inspected a dark smear across our shins, the result of a greasy chain. Such laundry traumas are now a thing of the past, thanks to the revolutionary Carbon Drive belt from Gates, a manufacturer that has a history of innovation stretching back over 100 years (it celebrated its Centenary in 2011).

Break free of the chain
Consisting of two metal sprockets and a high-strength belt embedded with carbon fibre cords, Gates Carbon Drive is a low-maintenance, chain-replacing technology. Carbon Drive requires no grease, weighs less than a chain and will not stretch. Due to its low maintenance and cleanliness, Carbon Drive is a technology that makes it easier for people to get on bikes.

Exemplifying Gates’ tag line of ‘Cycling Simplified’, Carbon Drive is hassle free. While keeping body parts and clothing away from the drive system when in motion is still a necessity, its clever Carbon Drive can be simply washed with water. There’s no ‘clank’ of a chain when your foot makes contact with the pedal either; the Gates Carbon Drive is being pitched as the clean, quiet, light and strong cycling solution. Allowing you to get on with the business of enjoying your bike, you could say it’s a ‘belter’ of an idea.

Available on more than 200 bikes and compatible with single-speed or internally geared hubs available from the major cycle manufacturers, the Carbon Drive works with road bikes, commuter bikes, mountain bikes, electric bikes and even tandem bikes. Gates Carbon Drive is compatible with all the leading internally geared hubs (IGH), as well as the leading e-bike motors. Shimano Alfine Di2 electronic shifting compatibility is further offered. The result is less noise, less maintenance and a whole lot more fun – leaving you free to simply enjoy the smoothness of the ride.

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Bikes with Drive; riders with passion
Gates Corporation is the leading supplier of belts for automotive and industrial uses worldwide. Every Harley Davidson motorcycles run on a Gates belt. It was the experience with Harley, and also the Strida folding bicycles, that led Gates in 2007 to launch Gates Carbon Drive as a way to bring the advantages of belts to bicycles. With its trademarked ‘carbon blue’ detailing, the Carbon Drive system is currently causing something of a sensation.

The technology has already allowed cyclists from the UK to achieve some amazing feats.
Reza Pakravan recently rode 11,000 miles from the Arctic Circle to South Africa, and in 2009 James Bowthorpe bicycled around the world on just two belts, at the time setting a new world record for the fastest ride.

Though Reza’s ride was dangerous and difficult, fortunately one aspect was painless: his bike, a Koga Signature World Traveller with Rohloff internally geared hub and Gates Carbon Drive. Incredibly the London cyclist completed the 11,000 trek on just one belt, with no maintenance, cleaning or lubrication required, being all the more remarkable as Reza tells us that everything that could go wrong, did: “In Scandinavia there was 14 hours of torrential rain and in Russia, eight tyre punctures in 24 hours. In Egypt we got caught up in the Muslim Brotherhood protests and had to have police escorts; in Ethiopia I got food poisoning; then in Nairobi I was diagnosed with malaria. In Tanzania we ran out of water in the desert.”

Despite his travails, there was one thing Reza Pakravan felt he could truly rely on: his Gates Carbon Drive. “With the Gates belt drive the most obvious benefit is that you don’t need to get your hands dirty.
My riding partner, Steven, was riding a bike with a derailleur and chain, and he had to change three chains. Each time he had a puncture he had the hassle with the greasy chain and derailleur. I would just unscrew a nut, fix the puncture and go! The belt was amazing. At the end of every day I would put my bike away while Steven had to clean off the dust and oil on his chain.”

Cyclist James Bowthorpe also relied on Gates’ technology to achieve his own incredible 18,000-mile cycling feat: “I didn’t have to lubricate the belt or do any maintenance. I didn’t alter the tension on the belt for the whole 18,000 miles.” James combined the Gates Drive with a Rohloff internal hub, which proved a real attention grabber. “It got lots of looks everywhere I went. When I was in India there were groups of men who would stand around and check it out and ask lots of questions. People are so used to seeing chains. Everyone was really curious.”

The cyclist calculates that using a belt rather than a chain saved him roughly a day, as he didn’t have to change a chain five or six times when on the road. “It was nice not to have to worry,” he says. “I reckon belts are the future. Anything that makes cycling easier and simpler is a great innovation.”

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Plenty of options
At Velorution we offer our customers an exciting range of cycles equipped with the revolutionary low-maintenance Gates Carbon Drive, so you can try out the technology today.

We are proud to be Gates UK distributor and a Schindelhauer’s number one dealer. Schindelhauer, winner of the Red Dot Best of the Best design award for 2014 and also a Gold winner in the iF Product Design Awards.

The adoption of the Gates Carbon Drive gets to the very heart of Schindelhauer’s philosophy for its own bikes. Namely that they are absolutely maintenance free, free from superfluous details, yet built with robust components that are essential for tough daily usage. Within the stylishly sleek Schindelhauer range are fixed-gear, single-speed, two, eight, nine (Pinion), eleven, twelve (Pinion), fourteen and eighteen (Pinion)-gear bikes. Again, in combination with a Gates Carbon Drive belt a relaxing, low noise, fuss-free ride is guaranteed, whether you’re looking to commute into work and back, to get sporty, or for a companion to escape with for the weekend. Other Velorution bikes using belt drive systems include the Roux A8 and G8 commuter bikes, and the iconic Strida folding bike.

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Touring bikes from Van Nicholas also more than make the grade, likewise incorporating the Gates Carbon Drive into their setup. Models stocked by Velorution include the Pioneer Rohloff 29ER, Amazon Rohloff and Yukon Rohloff. As its name suggests, the Pioneer Rohloff 29ER is a ‘go anywhere’ bike with 29-inch wheels. The thinking behind the inclusion of the Gates belt was to ensure maintenance-free, smooth-rolling adventures off the beaten track. Aside from the intrinsic inclusion of the Gates Carbon Drive, the fast-paced Amazon Rohloff touring bike features an award-winning 14-gear Rohloff hub for smooth, almost unnoticeable shifting and much lower overall maintenance. Designed to enable its rider to commute, tour or race long distance with confidence, the Yukon Rohloff promises to deliver day-long comfort. The frame provides agility, while the Rohloff hub and Gates belt once again guarantee a hassle-free performance.

Seek out a Gates Carbon Drive, and join the cycling revolution!