Belt drives for bicycles are a great thing. Especially for those who don't want to fuss with maintenance and lubrication. Though we wonder if Associated Press might've got a bit too carried away when they stated that, "While some smaller custom bike makers have used them before, Trek is the first to use the technology for mass-produced bicycles."
We've been reporting on belt drives for bikes, almost as long as TreeHugger has been taking up pixel space. Back in 2004 we noted the iXi, And thence the Strida, eGo Cycle 2, Ellsworth, Jano, and Momo. Now, we'll be the first to admit that none of these brands has the market penetration of Trek, but a goodly number of them are production bikes, not mere 'custom makers.' But that aside, it is wonderful to see a mainstream brand promoting the virtues of belt drives, which we list again after the fold.
The drive found on two of Trek's commuter bikes is, we understand, sourced from Gates, who have a bit of experience in the realm, making belt drives for automotive, snowmobile and industrial applications. Their Carbon Drive specifically developed for the bicycle market, employs carbon cords to achieve appropriate tensile strength and avoid some of the stretching that plagued earlier attempts in this field.
Gates further suggest that the tooth pitch and spocket profile create an efficiency, equal to that of a metal chain with its 3,000 individual parts. One of the oft expressed concerns about belt drives is that they won't function well when all sorts of goop gets caught in the system. Apparently Gates have patented 'mud ports' that shed mud, snow and other debris, to soothe the frowning brow crowd.
Gates also believe their belt drives offer twice the life of metal chains. Which is an impressive claim, when you consider that they basically need no maintenance or lube. And their drives are said to be lighter than standard bike chain.
The two Trek bikes, the single speed District ($930) seen in top pic with the orange rims, and the eight-speed internal Soho ($990) are said, to be due for release over the next couple of months (which is kinda odd because the Soho already has reviews out there.)
Associated Press wrote: "The nation's largest domestic bike manufacturer is hoping to capitalize on a new group of urban pedal-pushers who are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of gas prices as well as health and environmental concerns." Trek convert that same thought into the marketing catch phrase of, "Bikes Can Be a Simple Solution to Complex Problems." And on this point we heartily agree.
More Trek Bicycles on TreeHugger
• Trek Lime : Juicy Green Bicycle
• Trek, With a Twist of Lime
• Vending Machine for Bike Parts Introduced by Trek
• Bike Share Programs Becoming Increasingly Popular on College Campuses
Images from Trek webite.