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Gates Carbon Drive

Becoming a Fixture

Photo: Steven Kachocki

Photo: Steven Kachocki

The Gates Corporation has been building drive belts for automobile engines for over 100 years.  They’ve been doing the same for bicycles since 2007.
At the 2013 NAHBS, Gates sponsored a contest for the second year running to motivate custom bike builders to adopt the Gates Carbon Drive system into their bike designs.  Many industry innovators did just that and almost every builder booth had at least one bike fitted with the Gates belt system.

The Gates Carbon Drive website says their internal testing found the belt had a life expectancy double that of a traditional chain drive.  And according to the Gates rep we spoke with at the show, the belt would most likely last three times the life of a chain.

The reasons are simple.  The original technology for Gates belts used in autos has to be durable enough to spin at 2,000 RPMs for many years.  How many times have you changed the belts in your car?  Take that technology and add carbon fiber threads to the belt and you get a drive system that will not stretch, giving the belt a life expectancy of many thousands of miles.

On top of the long life, there’s no oil required and minimal maintenance, making the system versatile enough for many applications.   These qualities are certain to help the Gates Carbon Drive system move quickly into the mainstream bicycle market after such a grand introduction on some stunningly beautiful custom bicycles.