In what seems like it has been a long time coming, Gates has developed a new lower cost belt drive system that is specifically geared towards the urban bikes that people use to commute around the city. While we’ve heard the no maintenance, no noise, no mess benefits of belt drives for several years now, the high machining costs of the Gates systems have effectively priced them out of the range of all but the fanciest city bikes. But that is set to change now with a new moderately priced setup with an alloy, hybrid material ring and rear sprockets, and even updated solutions for the more premium Pinions, Rohloffs, and cargo bikes…
Gates is really looking to target the large number of city bikes sold in Europe that are built with internally geared hubs, across a wide range of price points. To get OEM spec on these bikes Gates has developed the S150 crankset, which is a 5-bolt alloy crank with a molded composite belt drive ring. The cranks will come in either bead blasted black or silver ano finishes, 170 & 175mm lengths, and will arrive to bike suppliers set up with either 46, 50, or 55 tooth versions of their lower-cost composite CDN rings (that’s for the smooth backed, centerline belts that aren’t rated for MTB or motorized use). A polished version is also said to be in the works.
The forged 6061-T6 S150 crank was developed with family-owned German bottom bracket company Thun, who will supply appropriate square taper Zumba BBs that have been developed to optimize belt lines for most all internally geared hubs from Shimano, NuVinci, Rohloff, SRAM, and Sturmey Archer.
At the back Gates is adding a couple of matching low-cost CDN sprockets, also using a composite belt interface. This time the sprockets will be a hybrid construction with a stainless steel structure and hub interface and a molded-on engineered composite toothed body. They are expected to first be available in 22 & 24 tooth versions.
To finish out the drivetrain spec, Gates has added a few more lengths to the CDN belts on offer, with new 113 & 120 tooth versions designed to meet the requests of urban bike product managers (adding to the 111, 115, 118 & 122 tooth belts currently available.) The idea was to put ring, belt, and cog together at a price that would see them installed on city bikes in the 500€ complete price range.
At the same time putting a lot of effort into this affordable CDN line, Gates has also refined a few of their higher end products to meet customer and market demands. The first is just through producing longer belts. Gates has added 158 and 168 tooth versions of their premium ribbed polyurethane CDX belts so that they can see use on bikes with long chainstays, like cruisers and some long-tail cargo bikes.
Gates also partnered with gearbox maker Pinion on a new series of alloy CDX:SL rear sprockets sized to work with their new C-Line gearboxes for mixed on and off road use at a lower price than their stainless sprockets. And while CDX:SL has lightened up out back, Gates has updated some of their longer wearing CDX:EXP rings up front (first seen last summer.) The new rings get a revised and lighter design that still manages to put more material where they contact the belts for longer wear. They’ve also added a new set of CDX:EXP rear sprockets for Rohloff users designed for higher wear, and also easier installation on (and off) those premium hubs. The CDX:EXP range is targeted for those putting in a lot of miles on the bike, for those riding in more aggressive conditions and trekking farther off the beaten path.