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.
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)
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.
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.