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Opinions of Gates Carbon Drive system?

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Old November 14th 17, 02:01 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
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Default Opinions of Gates Carbon Drive system?

I searched dutifully, but couldn't find a thread on this. (I believe Andre might have a bike with Carbon Drive; not sure.) Has this been discussed here?

I would be very interested to hear how the Carbon Drive system's friction losses compare to those of a chain, and how it holds up in heavy use by a serious rider.

Old November 14th 17, 04:46 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
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Default Opinions of Gates Carbon Drive system?

check with Lou


you can really go hog wild past an 8 speed steel
Old November 14th 17, 11:56 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
Andre Jute[_2_]
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Default Opinions of Gates Carbon Drive system?

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 2:01:26 PM UTC, wrote:
I searched dutifully, but couldn't find a thread on this. (I believe Andre might have a bike with Carbon Drive; not sure.) Has this been discussed here?

I would be very interested to hear how the Carbon Drive system's friction losses compare to those of a chain, and how it holds up in heavy use by a serious rider.

I considered the Gates Drive very carefully in the light of how I actually use my bike.

I cycle in my everyday street clothes, normally khakis or corduroy, so the cleanliness of the transmission on my bike is important. The Gates fails here. It doesn't need oil but all those included corners gather a lot of filth, which your trousers rub against. If you wear Lycra all the time you're on the bike, that probably doesn't matter to you.

There are a huge variety of reasons I've changed the chainring or sprocket size on my bike over the last quarter century, ranging from my wife wanting to live on a steep hill, to having heart surgery, to the council putting a nasty, long, steep ramp on a favorite path, to getting an electric motor, and just being a technofreak or growing a few years older, or getting a new pedalpal who knew some lanes I had forgotten about because they were so steep. All of that has been neither expensive nor a nuisance, and I've run into very few impassable barriers (one was a German LBS who absolutely refused to put a sprocket not approved by my gearbox manufacturer on my bike -- I just smiled, said "Yes, of course, I always follow the regulations," -- in German you can make that an insult -- and ordered a specialist to cut me the sprocket I wanted, but it turned out the fellow was right, the sanctioned sprocket was the right one -- gee, ****, that's why I went to him in the first place, because he's the expert). But with a Gates drive you take what you get, and you like it or you lump it. I'm a technofreak, true, but that also means I'm not keen on being tied down by incompetent design, and in that aspect Gates, which is really a manufacturer of automobile timing belts, which proceed from an entirely different outlook, just simply don't fit the bicycle ethos of changing whatever you like, when you like.

I've been involved in automobile design at several points during my life, in which, despite what you may hear from the clowns who claim to know more about me than I do about me as a boy racer licensing a semi-head to Chrysler, my specialty was suspensions, which in turn means that chassis stiffness is the icon on my altar. In addition to an intellectual preference for stiffness where I do not absolutely require controlled compliance, I'm a big, heavy speed freak who often passes the peloton on the downhills, and at the speed I go, on our terrible lane surfaces, you don't deviate from your line for potholes, you ride right through them (which is why I ride on low pressure 60mm balloons, Schwalbe's Big Apples) and if your bike is even fractionally less than optimally stiff, of course you lose control. My bike is more than adequately stiff, and the makers guarantee it for ten years at loads up to 170kg of Alpine use (monster climbs, monster downhills), but a Gates Drive requires that the rear triangle be split because, unlike a chain, the Gates is continuous and cannot be split, so the bike frame must be split. I calculated that my bike, which starts out stiffer than Dr Fiedler's admirable design for the Rolls-Royce, when split for the Gates Drive would be just slightly better than what an engineer of Jobst Brandt's vast bicycle experience would very likely call marginal. From my racing days (cars, boats, planes, motorbikes, not pedal bikes) I know how often and how quickly a routine maneuver on the edge can chew up even a large margin. That I want to walk on my own hips is a very good reason not to split my bike frame to fit a Gates Drive. Of course, you can make the frame tubes heavier to recover the lost stiffness of the split frame, and I don't even pretend to being a weight weenie so that isn't a huge problem for me, but several of the designs of split frames seem to me incompetent and dangerous, and a good one I made was simply too complicated for a bicycle, which must be conceptually simple or least apparently simple if it is not to project a disturbing aesthetic. Another count against the Gates.

My bike started out as an item that only Germans of a certain class and age could afford, intended to be serviced once a year by a factory-trained mechanic to maintain the very extended warranty. I have consistently, persistently developed it from that very low-maintenance specification to reduce maintenance and service to very near zero, about 15 minutes a year to wipe the dust off the bike, change the gearbox oil, and squirt some Phil into the index box where the cables go into the gearbox. Fitting a new chain is included whether I need it or not. There is nothing on my bike except the chain which has a service life (nobody has ever destroyed a Rohloff gearbox, and nobody knows what its service life is because some have run around 200K already) except the chain, which I fit slackly (my gearbox manufacturer demands it, so that the chain doesn't preload the box) and therefore quickly with a quick link, and the tyres, which go 10K and are an easy fit (getting the wheels back on without rubbing is another matter as the bike is designed to 1mm clearances... eventually you learn). A Gates Drive, by comparison, has an MBTF of around 5000 miles. Then you have to take the frame apart. The question arises: how long before a frame break disassembled every 5K becomes wriggly and throws you off on a fast downhill? The imprecision of the Gates would drive me nuts. It's great where it belongs, in automobiles, of course, but on a bike I see zero advantage.

A couple of other points about the Gates Drive that wouldn't suit me at all.. It is intended to run at a certain tension, higher than I would like in view of the fact that the most expensive item on my bike (except for the clock made by my watchmaker in Switzerland to match the gold coachlines) is the gearbox, which likes a slack power transmission. The Gates is also fragile unless it is perfectly set up and I'm an old Bentley and Porsche and Volvo Estate driver, cars you can't destroy no matter how hard you try. A bicycle distributor who knows me well found me looking at a Gates Drive bike in his showroom and said immediately, "You'll be in here every other week demanding a new one under warranty."

Deciding against the Gates Drive for all these reasons, I went for the reliable chain (I use KMC X8 ), covered by a Hebie Chainglider, operating on the factory chain lube for its entire life, zero service, and, if you care (I don't, the cost of chains is spit in the ocean), a financial saving because I get several times the wear (4.5 times the mileage I got previously) per chain, and of course there's no dirt because the Chainglider is smooth and the chain is totally enclosed.


I haven't addressed your point about friction because I think all these arguments about a couple of percentage points this way or that, which any competent statistician knows will disappear into the margin of error of the testing procedure, not to mention human bias (see what I had to say about Andreas Oehler's hub dynamo and lamp tests here and elsewhere) and inevitable error, are just so-much hot air, wannabe racers pretending to engineering nous, or even ticket-punched engineers being stubbornly stupid (more common than you will believe -- we've had several examples here; check out the fellow who thought he was an expert on materials; I think he was called JB).

But, that aside, I've ridden a bike with Gates Drive fitted, though not back to back with the same model with a chain, which would have been better. By comparison to my other bikes of a similar type and similar equipment, subjectively I noticed no drag caused by the Gates Drive.

If you want an opinion from someone who doesn't share most of the irrelevant prejudices that bicyclists have brought forward from the days when every bike was a racing bike, the chain, even with *optimally operating* (i.e. new, clean, oiled) derailleurs is the most highly developed of all the bicycle parts, and its frictional loss is fractional, marginal, as near to zero as you're likely to get. That state of course falls away when chain and derailleurs get dirty, but if you have a hub gearbox (or a single-speed) and a fully enclosed chain like mine inside the Hebie Chaingliders, that state of chain godliness and low friction becomes permanent. Against that, while one would expect the Gates belt to operate near it's own optimum as long as it is kept clean, and I fully expect that optimum to match a fully covered chain (if you note what I said above about differences in the margin of error being meaningless), the Gates Drive's optimum is gained at the expense of permanent high tension in the transmission chain, which merely takes out the efficiencies of the Gates in faster wear on all other transmission parts and consequent lack of efficiency. It's always the net overall result on the road that wins the prize, not the syphon spot view of a lab test.

My extensive survey of getting the best drive by covering the chain, and reducing maintenance by running it on the factory lube for its entire service life, can be found in several articles on the Thorn forum. I put them there rather than here because RBT has (or had until I stepped on most of them) too many smartass morons who can waste one's time with me-too arguments and personal attacks.

All of that said, your mileage may vary, especially in the light of how and where you use your bike, and what you care about in using your bike. We may start from such different outlooks that the Gates drive is perfect for you. What all this comes down to is that I considered the Gates Drive carefully and decided to stick with the chain but to put it inside a close-fitting cover, and I haven't regretted my decision.

Whatsisface, the incoherent one, finally said something smart: check with Lou. He has several carefully chosen bikes and lots of miles, a good deal of experience in varied conditions, many of them challenging.

Andre Jute
Horses for courses
Old November 17th 17, 06:30 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
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Default Opinions of Gates Carbon Drive system?

main obstacle $$$ I'd try it but like 27" to 700 ... the significant advantage is ?



poss a limiting branded name


what if Fred had not hit a soft spot ?

Old November 17th 17, 06:34 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
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Default Opinions of Gates Carbon Drive system?

Old November 17th 17, 07:59 PM posted to rec.bicycles.tech
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Default Opinions of Gates Carbon Drive system?

more like, the significant advantage IS trying it

more Pope



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