Normally, one wouldn’t put a Gates Belt Drive system and full suspension together. And one especially wouldn’t think of it without using some sort of tensioner. And one really, truly wouldn’t think of doing so using a pivotless suspension design that doesn’t unify the rear triangle in some way so as to prevent any “chain” growth (like the Kona we saw at Interbike last year).
But Black Sheep Cycles threw all that out the window and put together the Highlight ST: a titanium, pivotless full suspension bike with a Gates Belt Drive, sans any sort of tensioning device. Shown above, it uses a flat ti section directly behind the bottom bracket to flex, and the curved seatstays flex a bit to let things move properly without needing a pivot near the rear axle. The short travel design feeds into a rocker link and Fox shock to control the motion. Simple, right?
Detail photos, plus shots of their Monster Cross Cyclocross/29er hybrid and 36″ wheeled singlespeed mountain bike behind the jump…
The chainstays bolt to the ti flex plate, which also provides the frame break to let the belt drive into the rear triangle. The holes for the bolts on the plate are slotted to allow for fore-aft positioning to adjust the belt’s tension before screwing them down tight. Note that this is Gates’ new CenterTrack system, too.
The rear brake hose runs cleanly under the top tube and above the shock. At right, there’s plenty of tire clearance for running as big a tire as you can find. The suspension design provides 95mm of travel, quite a bit for a pivotless design that needs to maintain a constant wheel arc throughout its movement in order for the drivetrain to work properly.
The side benefit to this design is that the rear triangle can be unbolted and removed, which makes it easier to travel with the bike.
The bike is $6,900 as shown. Frame is $3,700 with any BB or head tube. 21lbs as built here with the Lefty and their own massively wide handlebar/stem, which, like everything they build, is titanium. Oh, and it’s $550 and weighs about 285g.
They also do a hardtail version called the Highlight HT.
Black Sheep’s Monster Cross is built to be geared and can run full size 29er tires or skinny ‘cross tires.
Frame is $3,250, $550 for the fork. The internal cable routing ports look cool, but we’d probably want to plug them with something to keep water and crud out.
On their singlespeed and belt drive bikes, Black Sheep uses their own design chainstays with ridged sliding sections. Check out their bikes from the 2010 show to see more on this (and some totally awesome bikes that are quite different from what they brought this year!)
When 29er wheels just aren’t enough, there’s this. Thirty six inch wheels should roll over just about anything the trail may throw at you.
Lastly, check out Max’s post to see their award-winning Stellar, built to race the Continental Divide race later this year.