The telephone area code for Alaska is 907, and Alaska is the home base for one of the world’s leading fat bike brands, 9:Zero:7. That snowy state gave birth to the fat bike trend that is spreading to Europe. 9:Zero:7 has just partnered with a new distributor for Germany and Austria, Bike Steel Borrow, which means that more belt drive fat bikes will soon be rolling across the landscape. Gates is a big supporter of the fat bike trend because these beefy machines pair so well with Gates Carbon Drive, allowing cyclists to plow through mud, sand and snow that clogs a chain. They are truly pedal-powered Land Rovers. Last summer, the Unchained Cyclist rode his belt drive 9:Zero:7 around Iceland via the sandy, volcanic beaches, a mission that would have wrecked a chain.
The 9:Zero:7 pictured above pairs the Gates belt drive with a Rohloff Speedhub for low-maintenance fat perfection. This bike was built up by Bike Steel Borrow for a customer in Cologne, Germany, who plans to ride the sandy beaches of the upper Rhine River and pedal snowy mountain trails. It features Surly Marge Lite rims, 45 Nrth Husker Du tires, Race Face cranks, seat post and stem and Race Face Chester handlebars. A new Brooks Cambium saddle adds to the style. And that gorgeous car in the background? It’s a 1968 Dodge Charger. No doubt, Steve McQueen would have loved to ride this bike.
Well-known bike designer Steve Domahidy, formerly of Niner, has launched a new bike brand, Domahidy Designs, featuring a belt drive 29er singlespeed. He is launching the brand on Kickstarter and is offering frames made of Reynolds 853 steel and triple butted 3/2.5 titanium. “I’ve been working on this brand for two years,” says Domahidy. “I wanted to launch a line of production bikes with the same level of quality and attention to detail as those found at North American Handmade Bicycle Show.” The first run of bikes will be all 29ers, but Domahidy plans to offer 650b wheel-size bikes in the future.
Check out the Kickstarter campaign here. And welcome to the Gates Carbon Drive family, Steve.
Cycle Monkey is an innovative bike builder and belt drive specialist based near Berkeley in Albany, California. They are also the North American distributor for the Rohloff Speedhub, which pairs well with Gates Carbon Drive to produce a clean, quiet and low-maintenance drivetrain without derailleurs or chains. Cycle Monkey has produced many fine custom bikes featuring Carbon Drive, and here are some of our favorites.
Pictured above is the Green Troll, a do-it-all travel bike with couplers to take apart the frame for packing in a suitcase. “This modified Surly Troll frame was put together for a customer who lives in Southern California, but spends a fair amount of time in the rural East Coast every year,” says Cycle Monkey owner Neil Flock. “He wanted a versatile full-sized bike that he could easily pack up to take on an airplane and was sturdy and reliable.” More info on the Green Troll here.
The Independent Fabrications 29er above was customized for a customer seeking his dream commuter bike. “He wanted a good looking bike that he could use to comfortably explore the East Coast bike paths and city streets near his home,” Cycle Monkey writes on its Monkey Lab blog. Click for more info.
Below is the Surly Krampus modified to run a Gates belt. “The goal for this build was to create a bike that could be ridden more aggressively through rock gardens, off drops and jumps, and down steep descents.” More info here.
The Surly Moonlander, below, was built for a customer in snowy Minnesota. “When riding in sand, snow, mud and other messy conditions, the bike’s drivetrain must be able to withstand all the different kinds of grime that come up off the trail,” say the Monkeys. “Derailleurs and chains on fat bikes can sometimes live up to these conditions but are often found lacking. Because of the wear that these conditions put on components, the lifespan of a fat bike drivetrain is notoriously short. However, the Gates Carbon Drive and Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 combination solves these problems and has developed a reputation as the drivetrain that every fat bike rider covets.” More info here.
Above is the Twenty2 Cycles 29er. “This gorgeous Twenty2 Cycles frame is the latest in a handful of builds we have put together using the new “29+” platform. These bikes use three inch wide 29er tires mounted to 50mm rims, which provide ample float and traction like a fat bike, yet roll fast like a standard 29er.” More info here.
To see more cool belt drive bikes visit the Monkey Lab blog, and visit them at the upcoming North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
With its curved Animal-Leg seat stays, Time-Trial cutaway seat tube and Gates Carbon Drive, the Honey Badger from Spot Brand is a leading contender for the most innovative, low-maintenance, fast–and fun–singlespeed mountain bike on the market. This is the same bike ridden by the Gates mountain bike team to great success. BIKE had a Honey Badger on test for much of the last year, and the magazine has just published a review in its March issue. BIKE especially liked the Gates belt drive. “The biggest benefit of the Carbon Drive belt is that it requires virtually no maintenance,” writes BIKE editor Nicole Formosa. “I rode the Honey Badger sporadically over almost a one-year period, and the belt turned smoothly and silently even if I hopped on the bike after letting it sit for two months.” More info at spotbrand.com
The Pinion gearbox is one of the great up-and-coming bicycle technologies. Gearboxes eliminate the need for derailleurs, and when combined with a Gates Carbon Drive provide a sturdy, clean and low-maintenance drivetrain. A number of European manufacturers are using the Pinion system on trekking bikes, stylish commuter bikes, and burly 29er mountain bikes. Read a Pinion test report from German magazine Trekking Bike.
Paragon Machineworks, which is known for making innovative bicycle components, built the belt drive mountain bike featured in this post for last year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show. It looks like a single speed with a 1:1 gear ratio of 32-tooth sprockets. But that small box nestled around the bottom bracket holds an 18 speed Pinion gearbox with a range of 636 percent. That’s 200 percent more than your average drivetrain. And you can shift while pedaling or stopped. Gates engineer Michael Cody hammered some trails near Denver on the bike and gave this ride report:
“The Pinion handles shifts under load very easily and its huge range gives you the ability to nail the gear you want when you want it. The bottom of the range allows you to pedal smoothly up the steepest of pitches, and you’ll be hard pressed to be looking for more or less gear on the trail.”
The bike also features an ingenious patent-pending dropout and tensioning system from Paragon.
“Until riding this bike I never gave shifting frequency much thought,” says Jeff McWhinney, CAD designer and programmer for Paragon. “In short order I found myself shifting for a couple pedal revolutions (rather than coasting or using a sub-optimal gear). This had the effect of maintaining nearly perfect horsepower efficiency throughout my ride, but also made me feel more connected to the trail (and faster) where I found myself frequently pedaling through gnarly zones. I climbed walls and never spun out on fast descents.”
Look for Paragon at NAHBS 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. More information about Pinion can be found here. Gates Carbon Drive makes a sprocket (pictured below and featured on the product page) for use with the Pinion system, and Gates is pleased to be a close partner with this German company that is helping to revolutionize cycling.