BELT DRIVEN … DITCH THE CHAIN


Belt Drive is not new. Several motorcycles have used belt drives for many years now.

Belt-drive_internal-geared_multi-speed_rear_hub

Trek Bicycle has tinkered around with belt drive for their bicycles. I love belt drive on motorcycles and ponder over whether it would be as good on bicycles.  In Trek’s own words … “a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in a new era of belt-driven bikes.” The only thing about it I can see that comes into play is multiple speeds. An internal gear rear hub would be needed as derailleur systems would not be possible with belt drive. At least I don’t see how it could be done. Along with an internal gear rear hub I think one would also need 2 or 3 speed internal hub built into the crankset. Of course, these items add considerable expense to the cycle. Still as times goes along the savings one would experience in chain and sprocket replacement would offset the initial expense. Hmmm, I wonder why we don’t see belt drive tadpole trikes?

On motorcycles the drive belts seem to be quite strong and hold up very well. They are made pretty tough … heavy duty … as they have to be to handle the high horsepower involved and the performance the motorcycles are capable of. Obviously a bicycle application does not involve any of this and so the belts are made much lighter duty. Never the less they are still pretty strong and under normal circumstances should hold up quite well. One of them I read about claimed it would last as long as 4 chains. This one pictured below is reported to have gotten cut while off road riding. The damage led to its total failure.

broken drive belt

Of course, with a tadpole trike the drive belt would either have to be extremely long (not practical) or use at least two drive belts and some sort of a jack shaft in between.

drive belt tension adjustment

I read that the belt tension is critical and that weather (temperature and possibly humidity) can cause problems with tension. Perhaps the cycle frame is changing with temperature changes and not the drive belt, but still the end result is the same. Anyway, the person reports that in the winter time the drive belt seems to lengthen slightly and thus require minor re-tensioning. Then when warmer weather returns the drive belt seems to shorten slightly so that the belt needs readjustment again.

Whether or not we will ever see drive belts used on tadpole trikes is something I guess we will just have to wait and see.

 

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About Steve Newbauer

I have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, and truthtoponder) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at stevenewbauer at outlook.com

Posted on December 16, 2015, in components, construction/design, tadpole trikes, videos and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have been using candle wax for some time now to lubricate my bicycle chains instead of oil or grease. While it does not last as long as the conventional lubricants, only about 3 to 4 hundred miles before the chain is removed and dunked into a dish of molten wax, it does have the distinct advantage of being very much cleaner and far less likely to pick up grit to wear out your chain. This would likely prove to be of great advantage for “trikes” and velomobiles.

    • What you say is true. However, it is not very practical to remove the chain to do this. That is a lot of work and a real pain routing it thru all the places it goes. I usually get 11,000 to 16,000 miles out of a chain and I do very little chain maintenance (cleaning and oiling).

      • Hello Steve, I am a little surprised that you manage to get a chain to last so long, even with oil or grease. At present, I am living in the country, outside of Calgary, Canada, and I have two mid-level bicycles only, no trike(s) or velomobiles. There are a handful of recumbent trikes in Calgary, and three or four velomobiles. I would like to have a velomobile for our extremely cold winter weather, but at present, being virtually hand made and mostly shipped here from the European continent, plus retail mark up, they are terribly expensive. I am 74, 113kgs., and 170cms. tall, and I try to cycle from 5 to 25 miles every day.Possibly it is my weight and the dusty earthen roads that is causing the shortness of life with my chains and sprockets. Brian.

      • One of my cycling friends also rides a tadpole trike and gets about the same amount of miles on his chain before wearing enough to need replacement. We ride mostly on paved trails, however, they run right alongside rivers which flood over and deposit river silt on the trails which comes up all over our trikes and us as we ride. So we do have this getting onto and into our chains. Still we get a lot of miles out of them.