Gates Belt Drive, Single Speed Mountain Bike

This year I decided to race the BURN 24 Hour in the solo singlespeed category. Why, I don’t know. But I’m signed up, so I needed a rig that would hold up.

Given Raleigh’s penchant for singlespeed shenanigans, the brand was a logical fit. And their new XXIX comes equipped with Gate’s carbon belt drive, something else I’ve been wanting to test. My test model arrived on a sunny Monday afternoon which was promptly followed by a solid week of rain and wet trails.  Nonetheless, I got the new bike assembled and waited for a clear day to hit the trails. While I was waiting on the weather I had the opportunity to weigh the bike and take some pictures of the belt drive system. Hit ‘more’ for Specs, Weight and First Ride Review…


Raleigh XXIX Belt Drive Single Speed

My medium test model came in at 26.04 pounds.


Gates Belt Drive Single Speed

For 2012 Raleigh offers this bike in four sizes with a mixture of Avenir (Raleigh’s house brand) and Avid parts , Weinmann rims, Geax AKA 2.2 tires along with the necessary belt drive parts from Gates.  Raleigh included some small details like a color matched seat tube collar, headset spacer and orange accents on the wheels which match the orange on the frame.  Oh, yes, and a rigid front fork!



 The frame is made from 4130 butted chromoly steel and comes with a suspension corrected rigid fork and geometry.  The bottom of the head tube is higher up so you do have the ability to swap to a suspension fork if you desire.  The bike uses S-bend seat and chain stays to help soften up the ride as well as offer generous tire clearance.

Gates Carbon Drive Belt Single Speed Mountain Bike Split Bottom Bracket

Notice the split seatstay, this is where the Gates belt slips through the frame.  Since the belt is manufactured as one solid piece it cannot be attached like a chain, therefore the frame must “open up” in some way to accept the belt.  The belt is tensioned using an eccentric bottom bracket with a split shell.


 Carbon Drive

The workhorse of this bike is the Gates belt drive system.  For 2012 Raleigh spec’d the CDX system for the XXIX model.  With its integrated mud ports and open tooth profile the Gates belt drive system should perform well in adverse conditions.  Belt drive systems offer some advantages over a traditional setup: It weighs less and does not stretch or require lubrication like a chain.


The 2012 Raleigh XXIX has a MSRP of $1,200.00 and comes equipped with:

  • 4130 Chromoly fork with disc tabs, Suspension Corrected
  • Avenir mountain saddle
  • Avenir stem, handlebar and grips
  • Forged 2pc crankset with 46t Gates belt drive front chainring
  • 28T Gates rear gear with 118t Gates belt
  • Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes 185F/160R
  • Weinmann XM280 rims and 32h alloy disc hubs F & R
  • Geax AKA 29×2.2 tires F & R

During my first test ride I was honestly blown away by how quiet and smooth the belt drive system was.  I was rolling along the trail nearly silent except for the leaves crunching under my wheels.  The bike was stiff and accelerated well out on the trail.    It’s not as fast overall as my 20 pound carbon 29er wonder bike, but it really was more fun to ride.  Without any gears to worry with I could concentrate on just riding and picking the smoothest lines on the trail.  While the bike does weigh 26 pounds it never felt heavy on the trail.  However, in all fairness my initial ride was on a pretty flat trail in NC, but with a wheel swap I feel this bike could be a good choice for the independent single speed racer.  Stay tuned for a long term review and 24hr race report……


  1. @Salad Toss
    nice! was that through a LBS at MSRP?
    I’ve seen the 2011 model in stores for ~850. Not bad for a belt.

    I’m sad that they didn’t put the center track belt drive on these though. The tech is better and the chainrings look way cooler.

  2. @Caliente
    they did the belt they did to shed mud, snow, and sand. those are the conditions for mtb which the belt actually has some big up sides.

    I do agree this bike does cost a lot, but than again it is not an everybody mtb.
    It is pretty bomb proof though, I have never seen anyone actually break a single speed from Raleigh or have components fail on them.

  3. Also suprised they did not put the center track system.
    Make sure your belt is properly tentioned and handled properly before and after installation.
    Chainline (beltline) is also extremely critical, take the time to set it up properly, I wonder how the split shell frame will maintain the proper tention

  4. What does this mean? eh? “suspension corrected rigid fork and geometry.” …???? A rigid fork that corrects forthe lack of suspension?

  5. i dont see why everyone is all haired out about the price. the surly karate monkey is a similar build w/ better brakes (avid bb7) and the same level of components-AND ITS GOT A FrEEWHEEL HUB!

    for a ss belt drive bike this is pretty spot-on.

    (keep in mind what MSrP stands for. these are hard times for our local bike shops! GO SUPPOrT THEM W/ YOUr BUSINESS and they WILL work with you.

  6. I have the 2009 and the 2011. The 2009 (chain drive) is a much better design. the two models look very similar but there are a few differences. When raleigh added the belt the geometry changed a bit. The belt drive requires that the rider uses a larger chain ring because the belt can only turn so sharp. Because of this they had to extend the chainstays to compensate for the larger chain ring. I prefer a shorter rear end for two reasons (1) less flex (2) easier to manual. Also on the seatstays they added that split to allow the belt to slip though; this is a weak point in the frame an causes a lot of flex. So the combination of the longer stays and the split makes the rear end very flexy and makes the belt shift when riding. I believe this is why they added that guard on the cog for 2012. As far as the price, the belt system is relatively new so it is going to be expensive. i think the bike was a fair price but i would have liked to have seen the newest belt drive (center locking). The belt also has to be run under extreme tension otherwise it will slip. If you slip the belt you compromise the carbon and IT WILL BREAK (I broke on in a race). At the cost of all this tension you will go through freehub bodies about every 6 months unless you upgrade the wheels to a high end set up. The belt is a cool idea and is fun for your average rider but for strong single speed riders that want performance no matter what, you just cant beet a chain. It weighs a bit more and won’t last as long, but chains are cheap, tried and proven, and you can get them at any lbs.

    As far as the weight goes, its all in the fork and tires. change those two things right off the bat and you will drop 3 lbs easy. Put a carbon rigid fork on there and some lite xc tires and you are good to go.

    Go single speed and WHO DAT!!!

  7. By the way i just got the new Raleigh Furley. Hot of the presses for 2012. All i have to say is ” Way to go Raleigh…. Way to go!!!!!!” If you haven’t checked it out please do. Coming in at $850 and bomb proof. Tanky as all get out at 25 lb cyclocross, but i commute and ride single track on it and its great!! Now with the new rules that you can run disc brakes in cyclocross i can’t wait for all the cool cyclocross disc brakes, hot carbon disc cyclocross forks, and light weight weenie disc specific cyclocross hubs. So excited!!!!! But yea go ahead Raleigh, cudos for the great bike!!!

  8. @what???: yeah, that’s pretty much what it means. It’s built taller than otherwise necessary so that if you do choose to put a suspension fork on it won’t adversely affect the handling. It’s been a common practice to do this since, well, since single speeds became mainstream (late 90’s).

  9. For less money you can get the Cannondale SS. I only bring this up because that fork scares me to death! The rigid FATTY fork on the CDale is a much better product overall. The brakes are the downfall of the CDale but I’d have money in my pocket to upgrade those!

  10. Having sold Raleigh bikes for the last 10 years, I’ve never seen a dissatisfied customer. They have always made/ built a solid product.
    We have a 230lb meat-head (he knows I call him that) rider who has been really happy with his. When we ordered the bike, we also ordered the Gates Belt Tension KIRKIT tension gauge for both the shop and him. He made a slight adjustment, but other than that he hasn’t had a problem.

    @Ben: Thank you. It is people like you that help keep the doors open so we can help you.

  11. I say kudos to Raleigh for making some damn fun bikes these last three years or so. I’m a dealer of their brand and have to give them props on putting out bikes that people feel like they have a connection with before they even swing a leg over. It’s great to see a company with a mixture of quality product that’s not so cut and dry. Keep up the good work Raleigh!

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