Continental Biting Into Belt Drive Game with Big Teeth

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Continental is getting into the belt drive game, becoming Gates’ first competitor in the (mass market) chain free bicycle drivetrain market.

The Conti Drive System should be available early next year. It shares the quiet, maintenance free operation of the Gates belt drive but gets much taller teeth on the belt to reduce the amount of tension required in the system. This adds efficiency and makes it easier to pedal. Contitech’s rep says this also makes set up easier, doesn’t put as much stress on the bearings and could allow the use of cheaper bearings for price point bikes.

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It uses Aramid fibers rather than carbon because it’s more robust against crimping. In use, it’s not that big a deal, but it reduces user error during installation. Word on the street is Gates is switching to Aramid, too. (Update: Not true, check Gates’ response here)

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It can go down to a recommended 24T minimum cog in order to maintain the belt’s life. Because the tooth profile is taller, it does mean the cogs will be slightly larger diameter than bikes using a Gates belt.

That said, they’re using an open standard industrial design that’s common, so others can make belts and parts for the system. They hope this will drive innovation for these types of bikes. And Gates’ belts will work on their gears, too. They’re working on adapters and cogs for various internal gear hubs, too.

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Note the slack in the belt, which is perfectly fine in this system.

They make the belts for some BMW motorcycles and transmission belts for cars, so this ain’t their first rodeo.

Comments

Micah - 08/30/12 - 4:42pm

YES!! Hoorah for competition!

Androo - 08/30/12 - 5:27pm

This is great. I can’t wait to see more belt drive bikes out there, and at lower price points. Maybe one day my dream of an affordable belt drive beater bike may come true…

ccolagio - 08/30/12 - 6:00pm

24 tooth rear minimum? laughable! so if i want a 3 to 1 ration (or more) i need at least 72tooth + front belt ring.

work it out with your belt supplier because a 24 tooth min is just dumb. that being said, i do love the idea of belt drive

Dan - 08/30/12 - 7:26pm

@ccolagio, Ok there Heman. Belts are pretty much for IGH, Commuters, and SS MTBs. I’m sure your chain can barely handle your power as you cruise the bike paths drafting off soccer moms

pfs - 08/30/12 - 8:49pm

That chaining is out of control. It almost goes to the brake track on the wheel. I seriously doubt that this will fit on most frames.

iceman_pl - 08/30/12 - 11:43pm

3:1 ratio, dude get some muzzlezzs…

PL

iceman_pl - 08/30/12 - 11:45pm

ok sorry opposite, doode spin those crankz

24 in the back sounds limit for the flats on pavement…

apsbiker - 08/31/12 - 1:59am

Hopefully they do a better job than some of the newer tires they make – teeth falling off the belt ain’t a good thing to be happening. (Not that I think they’ll mess up that bad, but man, the current Conti tire line isn’t constructed to last!)

PaulM - 08/31/12 - 7:41am

double-flange on sprockets = grit, mud, snow, ice and whatever getting in there and damaging the belt.

mich - 08/31/12 - 11:44am

When I buy an ordinary chain, I know that some links can be removed in order to fit the chain properly.
This belt drive, I guess, would have to be available in 100 different lengths, so that anybody could fit one to their frame.

Ben - 08/31/12 - 12:15pm

Why would Gates “CARBON DRIVE” be switching to Aramid? Their staple product is Carbon Fiber Reinforcement. Hints the name. Just saying! Great to see some competition (though I am Carbon Drive for life).

ccolagio - 08/31/12 - 12:21pm

i run a 38×13 ~ just about 3 x 1. that is just about the standard ratio for a single speed road bike.

Devian Gilbert - 08/31/12 - 4:11pm

i think this stuff is awesome
but…
i’d want to be able to put it to an IGH

kubis - 08/31/12 - 6:08pm

Nice one. In opposite to chains it won’t be that simple to demage it (for sure not by weather conditions). The biggest problem of chains are connections. This one hasn’t got even one :) Cars, motobikes… why not cycles? I don;t know where but I read about bikes technology… It’s preaty same to military… They know how but U will in 10 years maybe:)

Rick - 09/05/12 - 11:57am

“This belt drive would have to be available in 100 different lengths, so that anybody could fit one to their frame.”

Ever shop for a traditional V belt for a car or lawn mower? They are available in 100s of different lengths times several widths and in various strength (hp) ratings. Yes, many thousands of V-belts. Why would tooth’ed belts be any different to the manufacturers who are used to so many versions.

IMO, double sided flanges are a must to prevent belts from coming off. Bicycle frames do flex, especially under hard pedaling loads. When you must trust your bike the most is when a belt is most likely to crawl off an unflanged cog/ring. You can see in the photo there are “drain” holes to let the water & grit out.

Timing belts for cars easily last 100,000 miles in a freezing to hot and dirty environment. Cost of $20 for some. Quite comparable to a standard bicycle chain for cost when they sell in large enough numbers to let mass production cost benefits kick in.

3:1 ratio? Sure if you are a Lance wannabe. The vast majority of cyclists rarely ever use their large chainrings now.

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