Thursday, April 16, 2009

belt driven

The trails have finally dried up around here and I got to take the belt drive bike out for a good, hard, long test ride yesterday. I hit it with every climb around on my 2 hour ride. Overall I'm really impressed, you'd never know there was a belt in place of a chain except for the lack of any sound or vibration.

It took me a few stops with the allen wrenches to get everything lined out (this was a new frame too, so I had some seat adjustment fine tuning to do as well). Once things were in place, the belt performed flawlessly.

Early on I discovered the hard way why Spot recommends axle tugs for use the with belt. I am running a king rear hub with fun-bolts, which hold incredible well, however you need to be able to really fine-tune the angle of the rear wheel to hold the belt on the cog. I had the wheel centered and it ran fine in the stand and on the street, but when I hit the first hard climb the belt popped off the inside of the cog and my knee slammed into the top-tube. I thought I just skipped the belt and it needed more tension, so I retensioned it. Next climb, same thing, but this time I slam my leg into the pedal. ouch. I readjusted the wheel again, but this time angled it slightly toward the non-drive side. Problem fixed, but I'll still be ordering up a set of tugs as cheap insurance against this.

I kind of wish Spot had put a guide ring on the inside of the cog as well as the outside to prevent this from happening, but I suppose that would make wheel changes a little more difficult (but not much).

After that initial episode, it was nothing but ear to ear grins. The belt was silent the whole time, and smoother than even a brand-new singlespeed chain set-up. No flex that I could feel and I didn't see any decernable wear-in of the belt or cogs on this 2 hour ride. Tension at the end was just as tight as after my last adjustment on the trail (at the start of the ride).

I think I really need a fixie with this, so much smoother than a chain there and no more grease on pant legs when riding around town. I wonder if the belt will stiffen up in a MN winter? it would be great to not have a rusty chain.

Had a few rides on the 29'er tandem now too. It's mighty sweet, that fork eats up anything I throw at it, and the brakes seem to be braking in. They grab much beter now that I've worn in the pads a bit. It'll take more riding to know for sure if they stay, but things are looking up.

My last build wasn't of the wheeled variety, it was more furniture (yes steel furniture orders get mixed into my que with bike orders). It was another entertainment center, but bigger than my last one. I'll have pics up soon, but it came out great. This time I used wood for all the panels instead of mixing sheet metal and wood. I like the look. I'll try to post pics tomorrow.