The bike builders preparing for Gates Carbon Drive’s Custom eBike Showcase next week at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show are putting the finishing touches on their electric bikes, and all of us at Gates are feeling a bit electrified with excitement. Pictured above is the el Woody from Connor Wood Cycles in Denver featuring the SRAM E-matic.
Below is the electric tandem from Co-Motion Cycles featuring the Bosch drive and NuVinci N360 continuously variable planetary shifting system. Co-Motion is now installing the battery on this blue beauty, and when completed it will be a one-of-its-kind, high-speed bicycle built for two.
Pictured below is the electric barbecue cargo cruiser from Sycip Designs (see his winning bike from last year’s NAHBS here). It has all the essentials needed for a good ole fashioned Carolina BBQ picnic: a rear rack cutting board, a four-inch knife mounted to the frame, waterproof bags for ice and beverages (and pork chops), a frame-mounted bottle opener and space for a small propane barbecue grill. Get ready to fire up the grill and tip a few cold ones, but leave the veggie burgers at home because this bike isn’t tofu powered. See you next week in Charlotte, North Carolina!
Co-Motion is a top custom bike brand based in Eugene, Oregon, that makes many innovative bicycles featuring Gates Carbon Drive. Co-Motion is also one of the companies creating belt drive electric bikes for the Gates Custom eBike Showcase at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in March. The bike pictured above and below features the SRAM eMatic system on Co-Motion’s CityView commuter and light touring rig. “We had some dealers visiting yesterday and they all had a lot of fun ripping around the shop on it,” says Brian Cannon of Co-Motion. The bike features Reynolds 725 custom-butted tubes, front and rear rack and fender mounts, three water bottle bosses and disc brakes, plus an eccentric bottom bracket for belt tensioning.
The beauty of the SRAM E-matic system is its plug-and-play quality. The enclosed and protected rear-wheel hub includes a torque-sensor, controller, motor, and an automatic transmission system. The torque-sensor monitors the rider’s effort and the controller delivers motor assistance as needed. The transmission shifts automatically to ensure that the rider is always in the right gear, delivering power at low speeds for getting started or getting up hills, and efficiency at high speeds. The battery includes a fuel gauge to monitor when it needs to be charged and is contained in a specially designed rear-carrier that is a fully-functional rack, including a spring-loaded cargo-clip.
Visit the Gates Carbon Drive booth (#300) to see this and other custom eBikes commissioned by Gates for the show.
It’s no secret that Gates Carbon Drive is pushing into the electric bike market. The Gates belt drive simply makes sense on eBikes due to its clean and quiet attributes, and its all-weather durability. As part of this effort Gates has partnered with two of the leading brands in the eBike market: Bosch and Fallbrook Technologies. Bosch makes the most popular motor system for eBikes, pictured above, and Fallbrook makes the innovative NuVinci N360 continuously variable planetary hub and shifting system.
This pairing of the Bosch, NuVinci and Gates systems is featured on some of the finest production eBikes, including the Grace MX Urban2, pictured below.
Gates Carbon Drive has partnered with Bosch and Fallbrook on a novel initiative for the upcoming North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Gates will present a Custom eBike Showcase featuring five custom electric bikes created by some of the nation’s finest handmade bike builders, featuring the Bosch, NuVinci and Gates systems. Pictured below is an e-cargo bike created by English Cycles for the showcase, to be displayed at the show next month in Charlotte, North Carolina.
We will present more Bosch/Gates/NuVinci custom eBikes in the month to come leading up to the show, March 14-16. Get ready to be electrified.
Reza Pakravan is one tough cyclist. In 2013, he pedaled 11,000 miles (18,000 km) from the Arctic Circle down the length of the planet to southernmost Africa. The journey took 102 days–approximately 107 miles per day for more than three months. Accompanied by cyclist Steven Pawley, Reza endured incredible hardships: malaria and food poisoning, torrential rains, blistering desert temperatures, dehydration, heat stroke. Why? To raise money for schools in one of Africa’s poorest nations.
The so-called Kapp to Cape ride (named for the starting point in Nordkapp, Norway, and the finish line in Cape Town, South Africa) was dangerous and difficult, but one aspect was painless: Reza’s bike. He rode one of the world’s finest touring and trekking bikes, a Koga Signature World Traveler with a Rohloff internally geared hub and Gates Carbon Drive. Incredibly, he completed the 11,000-mile journey on one belt. No maintenance, cleaning or lubrication required. We caught up with Reza, a 39-year-old former financial analyst from London, for a Q&A about the ride.
Gates: Tell us about yourself and Kapp to Cape.
Reza: I’m an office worker, not a professional cyclist. We planned for two years for this trip, the logistics and financing and training. Steven and I did some bike trips in the Alps and Morocco and England to work out the details.
Gates: What were some of the hardships?
Reza: Whatever could go wrong did. In Scandinavia we had 14 days of nonstop torrential rain. It was miserable. In Russia we had eight tire punctures in 24 hours. The Russian roads are terrible. In Egypt we got caught up in Muslim Brotherhood protests and had to have police escorts. In Ethiopia I got food poisoning. Steven got food poisoning, too, and we both lost lots of weight. In Kenya we cycled on roads of very sharp volcanic gravel. It was hard just to keep the bikes upright and balanced while carrying 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of gear.
Gates: You had to be hospitalized in Kenya and Tanzania?
Reza: Yes. When we got to Nairobi I was shivering with a high fever. Seventy miles later I couldn’t continue and I collapsed. Steven took me to a hospital, a basic clinic really, where they tested my blood and found I had malaria. It took six days to get out of there. I got out of the hospital bed and we were on the road again a few hours later. In Tanzania we ran out of water in the desert. It was 400 miles of desolation in blistering heat. I got heat stroke and collapsed, and Steven laid me down in the shade. Thankfully someone stopped and rescued us and took us to the hospital.
Gates: What were the high points?
Reza: Finishing was so awesome. I wanted to keep going. The other incredible thing is the strangers who helped us along the way, gave us food, shelter and water. We slept in the home of a Maasai family in Tanzania. They fed us and were incredibly nice. That was a highlight. In Saint Petersburg, Russia, we had no place to sleep and were rescued by some guys who invited us to stay in their house. In Dagestan, a troubled part of Russia that is struggling for independence, I slept in Mosques, which were the only safe places. We mostly slept in tents, with a few guest houses and hotels to get a shower.
Gates: Tell us about your bike.
Reza: I knew I wanted a Koga with a Rohloff and belt drive. I did a lot of research and determined this would be the most hassle-free bike. With the Gates belt drive the most obvious benefit is you don’t need to get your hands oily. Steven was riding a bike with a derailleur and chain and he had to change three chains. Each time he got a puncture he had to hassle with the greasy chain and derailleur. I would just unscrew a nut and fix the puncture and go. The belt was amazing. At the finish of every day I put my bike away while Steven had to clean off the dust and oil his chain.
Gates: Tell us about Azafady.
Reza: Azafady is a nonprofit that raises money for environmental, community and education projects in Madagascar. In 2009 I went to Madagascar to do voluntary work for them. I am a financial analyst, so before choosing Azafady I did lots of research and found they have one of the best ratings for spending money on causes and projects rather than administration. So far I have raised over $110,000 for them, enough for six new schools.
Gates: Have you always loved bicycles?
Reza: I was born in Iran, where I grew up skiing and playing basketball. In university I was a semi-pro basketball player. But at some point I got sick of team sports. A friend introduced me to mountain biking. I loved it and rode every day before work. Then I began traveling by bike and exploring Europe and the UK. I cycled the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, then in 2011 I set the record for fastest ride across the Sahara, 14 days.
Reza is currently living in San Francisco while writing a book about his adventure. He is also working with a director who is creating a documentary about the ride. Reza is simultaneously trying to reinvent his career to become a full-time adventurer and raise money for Azafady and humanitarian causes. We wish him luck. Regarding the longevity of his Carbon Drive, Gates does not expect every cyclist to get 11,000 miles from one belt. Carbon Drive belts typically last twice as long as a chain, although belt life is widely variable depending on the rider, the environment and proper handling. For more information on Gates Carbon Drive read the new Owner’s Manual. Meantime, stay tuned for news on Reza’s book and documentary, which he expects to come out later this year.
In 2012, journalist Ryan Stuart and several buddies undertook one of Canada’s most extreme cycling expeditions. The Canol Heritage Trail extends about 220 miles from Macmillian Pass at the border of the Yukon and Northwest Territories and heads northeast to Mackenzie River and the town of Norman Wells. The trail follows an abandoned oil pipeline that has lapsed into decay. A group of mountain bikers had completed the route in the 1990s, but it had become overgrown with vegetation during the intervening years, making passage difficult for Stuart and his colleagues.
Carrying all their food and gear, including inflatable rafts for river crossings, Stuart and his team traveled from 15 to 50 miles per day, depending on the roughness of the terrain. Grizzly bears were a constant worry. Bike malfunctions were not an option. To avoid mechanical issues and derailleur failures, Stuart rode his singlespeed belt drive mountain bike, a Norco Judan. His Gates Carbon Drive performed without a hitch, with no need for lube or daily maintenance.
Stuart wrote about the arduous adventure in Bike Magazine in 2013 in a story called “Pipeline Passage.” An excerpt from his report:
“The Canol is often credited as being Canada’s most rigorous backpaging route: 22 days of mountainous wilderness, 10 big climbs, high concentrations of grizzly bears, three major river crossings, and dozens of miles of boulder-hopping, stream crossing, and leaping over mud pits. But rather than hike it with two or three food drops like most adventure seekers, we’ve decided to ride it unsupported with 10 days of food packed on our singlespeed mountain bikes.”
Stuart is among the growing number of bicycle adventurers who are using their belt drive bikes for epic expeditions that cause problems for chains. Other recent examples include Reza Pakravan who rode 11,000 miles from the Arctic Circle in Finland to Cape Town South Africa on a belt drive touring bike, and Geoff Harper of the Unchained Iceland expedition who rode a fat bike with Gates Carbon Drive around Iceland’s gritty beaches for three weeks. We salute Stuart and all the other adventurers who are taking their belt drive bikes on expeditions that push the limits of endurance and allow the rest of us to dream big.