February 2012 Archive

For much of the past year, Dave Schlabowske of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin has been testing a belt drive fatbike on snow, sand and singletrack up in cheese country. Fatbikes feature oversized tires for riding on snow and terrain that would be impassable on skinny tires. Dave’s bike is what he calls a “cheddar build” Schlick Northpaw. In addition to Gates Carbon Drive, it features a Shimano Alfine 11 and 26×4.0 tires. Dave reports that the drive train has performed flawlessly in all conditions. Here’s what Dave wrote about the genesis of this “extra sharp” cheddar build on Fat-bike.com.

I caught Fatbike Fever earlier this year so I went to see Dr. Greg Smith of Schlick Cycles who prescribed a cure in the form of an Orange Schlick Northpaw. There are other manufacturers of fatbikes out there, but since we have such a great bicycle industry in Wisconsin, I always try to ride local if I can. Schlick Cycles is company on the north side of Milwaukee founded by John Schlick and Greg Smith. The Northpaw is their version of an offset fat-bike.

It is built right here in the USA by long-time Iowa frame builder Tom Teesdale. I had my frame built with Paragon Slider belt drive compatible dropouts and standard front and rear dropout spacing so that it would accommodate a Gates Carbon Drive CenterTrack belt drive, and the new Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal hub and a matching Alfine dynamo hub.

The frame is built with a 1.5” head tube to accommodate an adjustable headset, like Cane Creek’s AngleSet, so riders can dial their ride to the local or seasonal conditions. Rack mounts in the rear and on the (cooler than unicrown) front segmented fork come standard.

Read Dave’s post “Making Paw Prints” about riding his Northpaw on the snowy Wauwatosa trails here. His post about the Moustache Beach Race, a fatbike-only race along Lake Michigan shoreline, can be read here.

Dave even used his Northpaw, appropriately hunter orange, to ride through the snow to his deer stand on a hunting trip, described in his post “Northpaw in the Woods.”

Thanks to Dave Schlabowske for allowing us to use his photos, and for having such a good time on his belted Northpaw. Keep us posted on your adventures, Dave.

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Add Porsche to the growing list of premium automakers that are selling cool lifestyle bikes. Porsche will show off its Bike S (above) at the Montreal Bicycle Show this weekend, Feb. 17-19. The Bike S features an aluminum frame, Gates Carbon Drive, 11-speed Shimano Alfine internally geared hub, hydraulic Magura disc brakes and 29-inch wheels. Read the full news release from Porsche here.

In other Carbon Drive news, the Australian website Cycling Tips, created by Melbourne-based rider and racer Wade Wallace, has posted a nice overview of his favorite belt drive bikes. Check out the story and photos, and lengthy discussion among readers, here.

While we’re on the subject of international belt drive news, take a look at the new Nicolai Argon (above) that Gates employee and downhiller Frank Schneider will race in this summer’s Megavalanche on Alpe D’Huez. Schneider, a member of the Gates-Nicolai team, cooked up this singlespeed hardtail bomber specifically for charging steep and rugged terrain. We will post more pictures and info about “Schneidi” and his bike in advance of Megavalanche, which is one of the hardest downhill marathon mountain bike races in the world.


Hungry for more cool belt drive bikes? Check out the clever new video from Budnitz Bicycles  (it’s just 25 seconds long and will blow your mind, dude).

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Rob English of English Cycles in Eugene, Ore., just sent us this photo of his custom singlespeed 29er that he is entering in the Gates Carbon Drive design contest at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento next month. Rob plans to show three belt-drive bikes in his booth, and he is eager to compete for a share of the nearly $9,000 in prizes that Gates will award to competitors. Rob says the bike “features a look-closely-to-see-it split dropout design,” along with specially shaped and very short chainstays, and a curved seattube so the wheel can tuck forward. “The belt gives a very clean appearance, and this is accentuated with an integrated adjustable seat mast, internal hydraulic hose routing and a custom headset.” See more photos of the bike here.

Gates is a sponsor of NAHBS 2012, and the current issue of the online NAHBS newsletter features a story about the design contest and some of the builders who have entered bikes, including Boo, English, Caletti, Iglehart, Inglis/Retrotec Cycles, Shamrock Cycles and more. Below are a few more detail shots of Rob English’s “Blue Tina.”

Curtis Inglis of Retrotec will be displaying this belt drive beauty (below, not yet complete) with Rohloff hub. It will be in the Cycle Monkey booth on a trainer so people can take it for a stationary test spin. Come see these bikes and more, and check out the Gates Carbon Drive booth at NAHBS from March 2-4 at the Sacramento Convention Center.

And for those who want to learn more about a great production mountain bike with Gates Carbon Drive, Bike Rumor has just posted a story about the Raleigh XXIX singlespeed they have on test.

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One of the new BMC belt-drive team commuter bikes

Denia, Spain is a small city on the Mediterranean coast, and it is here that the BMC Racing Team recently wrapped up its two-week January training camp. Team headquarters was at a hotel surrounded by a golf course, from which the team went on long training rides in the surrounding coastal mountains and hills. Visiting the training camp was an opportunity to see some of cycling’s greatest competitors: Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, American legend George Hincapie, Norwegian sprinter and classics rider Thor Hushovd, young American Taylor Phinney, Philippe Gilbert, Alessandro Ballan and more–27 riders in all–as they prepared for the season to come. Thanks to its new sponsorship of the BMC Racing Team, Gates had the opportunity to attend the last few days of the camp to witness the action.

The hotel bustled with riders and an army of team staff members–physical therapists, mechanics, press officers, physicians, soigneurs, the director sportif and his assistants. Mornings began with a yoga session to limber up. After breakfast, the team gathered at a BMC encampment outside surrounded by a caravan of logo-covered vehicles: a team bus and truck, as well as vans and team cars. All the vehicles now carry the Gates logo. Mechanics tuned bikes, riders stuffed energy bars into pockets, the director sportif outlined the day’s training goals and then the riders went out in three waves, disappearing for 3-6 hours. After returning, the riders ate lunch, followed by afternoon massages and relaxation, with a late dinner at 8:30 p.m., as is the custom in Spain.

The other big group in attendance was journalists. The hotel bustled with videographers, magazine writers, bloggers and representatives from all the major cycling media outlets. Riders and team management held press conferences and interview opportunities, and journalists peppered them with questions. Could Cadel repeat with a second Tour de France victory in 2012? What are the other major team goals for the season?

As the official Lifestyle Bike Sponsor of the BMC team, Gates exhibited new Carbon Drive technologies and a BMC “masschallenge” bike, which Evans, Hincapie and other riders are receiving for personal use and commuting, along with a stable of “urbanchallenge” 11-speeds for staff and management to use at race venues. Hincapie, German rider Marcus Burghardt and other team members stopped by the Gates exhibit to check out the stealthy and lightweight team commuter bikes, curious to learn more about Carbon Drive.

Before the team press conference

Stay tuned for more news about BMC Racing Team as their season progresses and they compete in the major tours, as well as premier US stage races including Colorado’s Pro Cycling Challenge in August and the Tour of California in May.

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