The X1 from Schiller Sports blurs the line between boats and bikes. The frame is made of rust-free anodized aluminum, with stainless steel components and inflatable pontoons. The propulsion system features a Gates Carbon Drive belt and sprockets because a chain would corrode. The X1 may be the most advanced water bike ever created, a vehicle that allows bicyclists to “experience the thrill and freedom of biking across a spectacular blue planet,” says company founder and CEO Judah Schiller.
Riders steer the X1 via two oscillating props connected to the handlebars. It weighs about 45 pounds, can be disassembled to fit into the trunk of a car or home closet and can hit speeds of 8 knots (10 miles per hour) depending on rider ability. Schiller worked with engineer Marcus Hays, founder of Gates belt drive eBike brand Pi Cycle, on the design. “If you can ride a bike, you can ride the Schiller X1 anywhere there’s water,” Schiller told USA Today in an article about the invention. “I had the X1 out at the beach locally, about a mile offshore, and ended up biking with dolphins.”
The X1 costs $6,495, with a special Founder’s Edition for $8,775. The company is based in the Bay Area and all X1s are manufactured in Northern California. Learn more at www.schillerbikes.com. Just watch out for sharks.
Judah Schiller chilling on the X1 off the coast of Northern California, above, and pedaling near the Golden Gate Bridge.
Electronic shifting is a relatively new technology with big potential. By eliminating stretchy shifter cables, electronic systems such as Shimano’s Alfine Di2 have the potential to make bicycling easier and more intuitive by allowing faster, sure-fire shifts and less maintenance. Gates Carbon Drive has partnered with Shimano to integrate with its Alfine Di2 system. Pictured below is a Carbon Drive sprocket integrated with an Alfine Di2 hub.
BMC is specing the Carbon Drive/Alfine Di2 setup on its new AC01 Alfine Di2, which Road Bike Review wrote about at Eurobike 2013. Look for more bike models featuring this clean, low-maintenance setup next year. The future has arrived, and it’s belted and electronic.
The Sand Crawler project represents one of the more motivational and inspiring uses of Gates Carbon Drive that we’ve ever seen. It uses the belt drive to power a beach wheelchair that can go from the sand to the sea.
The Sand Crawler was an interdisciplinary senior project of engineering students at the California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo and the Munich University of Applied Sciences. Students and faculty at the universities worked with the nonprofit Bridge 2 Sports, which helps children and adults who are physically challenged participate in team and individual sports. The director of Bridge 2 Sports is a Cal Poly alum who approached mechanical engineering professor James Widmann to design a wheelchair that works on sand, floats, is adjustable to different heights of users, and, importantly, fits in the trunk of a car and is easily assembled and disassembled.
The Sand Crawler is powered by two hand cranks that turn a Carbon Drive belt and sprockets that rotate the rear wheels. The students chose Carbon Drive because a chain would rust and corrode, and the belt requires no lubrication. The goal was to provide users a full and independent beach experience.
Congratulations to all involved in this great project: Cal Poly students Joshua Marcum (biomedical engineering), Sam Coyne (general engineering), Alex Hayes and Rory Aronson (both mechanical engineering), and Alexa Colburn (kinesiology); and Munich mechanical engineering students Marvin Rimmele, Max Hessel, Marco Pietsch and Benedikt Strauss. You guys have a bright future.
We hope to bring you stories of the Sand Crawler in use in future posts.
With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to get belted. Know a bicyclist in need of a new clean, quiet, light, strong and low-maintenance drive train for 2012? Gates’ new CenterTrack system, aka CDX-CT, is available and ready to ship. Multiple belt and sprocket sizes are available. Check out the options on Gates’ product page. If you need help, contact Gates at email@example.com for ordering information or technical questions. If you’re trying to figure out what size system to run, download the Gates iPhone app, which has a sonic tension meter and gear ratio converter. Chains are so 2011.
The rear sprocket makes a pretty sweet Christmas tree ornament as well!
Good news for bicyclists who want to “get belted” this summer: Spot Brand commuter and mountain bikes with the new CenterTrack system from Gates Carbon Drive are arriving in bike shops nationwide this month, and the next-generation bicycle belt drive will be available for after-market purchase in July. Cyclists who want to sample the chain-free, greaseless, low-maintenance system can check Spot’s dealer locator to find a shop near them. Other bike brands will roll out CenterTrack-equipped bike models later in 2011.
CDX-CT rear pulley
Spot is the first brand to come to market with CenterTrack bikes, and the Golden, Colo., company has five models with the new drivetrain:
- The Acme 11-speed, Ajax Belt 8-speed and Coyote Belt singlespeed are fast commuter/city bikes. Wired.com recently praised the Ajax’s “nimble geometry” and called it the quietest bike they had ever ridden.
- The Rocker SS and Rocker Ti SS are singlespeed 29er mountain bikes ideal for marathon hammer-fests. Outside Magazine recently named the Rocker its singlespeed mountain bike of the year.
Outside Buyer's Guide praises the Rocker
Consisting of alloy front and stainless steel rear pulleys, and a belt embedded with carbon fiber cords, CenterTrack features an innovative design that offers all the advantages of existing Carbon Drives but with a whopping 20 percent more tensile strength, a slimmer profile and the most advanced dirt- and debris-shedding ever.
CenterTrack, officially called CDX-CT, reinforces Carbon Drive as the lightest, cleanest, quietest and most robust drive train available. Weight is a key advantage. CDX-CT weighs approximately 40 percent less than comparable chain drives. Chains alone can weigh 250 to 300 grams, and an entire chain drive can weigh 400 to 500 grams. The stealthy Carbon Drive, by comparison, weighs roughly 240 grams (precise weight varies depending on pulley size and belt length).
Cleanliness is another advantage. If the belt gets muddy, just hose it off—no greasy lube required. For singlespeed racers, that means less time in the pits and more on the course. For city riders, it means no greasy clothing. Paired with an internally geared hub, Carbon Drive represents the future of high-performance, low-maintenance commuter bikes. CenterTrack was conceived by Wayne Lumpkin, one of the most innovative thinkers in the bike industry and the creative spark and founder of Avid brakes.
With the launch of CenterTrack, Gates, the global leader in belt-drive applications in the bicycling, motorcycling and automotive industries, now offers three product lines at distinct price points: CDX-CT, CDX and CDC. Introduced in 2008 on four bike models, the popularity of Carbon Drive has grown exponentially. In 2011, 43 brands are selling 90-plus models of belt drive bikes. For 2012, that number is expected to leapfrog again to 130 models as the popularity of commuter cycling booms and bike brands design new models around Carbon Drive.
Cyclists with existing Carbon Drives on their bikes who want to upgrade to CDX-CT can order the system through local bike shops beginning in July. The initial product launch is focused on the most popular sizes and will be expanded through the second half of 2011.