Bike chain crossover. Can you modify a frame for belt drive?

Belts Are Now Better Than Chains On Bicycles (135,000km of Testing)

Belts are used to run the blowers on 10,000 horsepower racing engines, the powertrains of 150 horsepower motorbikes, and more recently, the drivetrains of many bicycles.

I’ve been an avid user of belt drivetrains on my bikes for about 12 years now, and have somehow clocked over 135,000km (~88,000 miles) on these chain alternatives.

I’ve taken belt drivetrains up the world’s highest roads, across dry deserts, through wild jungles, along windy beaches, over monstrous salt flats, and into epic snowscapes.

In this article, I’ll tell you why belt drive is better than chain drive for many cycling applications. I’ll then explain why you don’t see belt drive on more bikes. And lastly, I’ll comprehensively answer every question I’ve ever received about these drivetrains.

Throughout this article, keep in mind I’m referring to my experience with one specific product – Gates Carbon Drive CDX. But this is not a sponsored article and I have no affiliation with Gates. If I come across as enthusiastic it’s simply because I’m a happy customer.

Let’s start with the characteristics of bicycle belt drive.

What is Bicycle Belt Drive?

A bicycle belt is different from all other types of belt. They are constructed from a polymer that is reinforced using multiple carbon fibre cords.

It’s these tensile cords that make them especially strong; Rob Rast from FLX bikes shows that you can even lift up the back of a van without breaking a bicycle belt.

These belts are usually paired with steel rear sprockets and alloy front sprockets, and can be run single-speed, or multi-speed when paired with a gearbox or internal gear hub.

Why Are Belt Drive Bikes Better Than Chain Drive Bikes?

Firstly, belts are very long-lasting. Most cyclists go years without needing to replace a belt or sprocket. I’ve recently put 35,000km (22,000mi) into a belt drivetrain that saw many steep hills and every riding condition possible. Others have even exceeded 40,000km. This is often three to four times further than you can travel with a chain.

Belts are also very low maintenance. This is because they don’t require any grease or lubrication, and much less cleaning too. Just a splash of water is often it.

Due to the lack of grease and oil, belts stay very clean. This means you’ll never get black muck on your hands or pants ever again.

Belts also run eerily silent. Normally, all you can hear is a light hum coming from your drivetrain.

Belts are particularly good in adverse conditions. This is partly due to the sprocket design, which can very effectively shed debris from its surfaces, unlike a chain. But it’s also because you will likely be pairing your belt with a gearbox drivetrain, which keeps your critical drive components sealed away and protected from the elements.

Belts do not rust. This is advantageous at the beach or in cold parts of the world where salt is put on the roads.

Ultimately, belts save you a lot of time. Most people don’t like maintaining their bikes, sourcing replacement parts, or going to bike shops for repairs. Belted bikes minimise all of these things so you can spend more time learning about bikes on CyclingAbout!

If belts are so good, why don’t we see them on more bikes?

Why Don’t We See Belt Drive On Bikes?

The biggest downside is that belts are not compatible with derailleur gears. This means you need to use a gearbox or internal gear hub for the gears.

Now, I love gearboxes and think they’re perfect for hard-working cargo, commuter, and touring bikes. Gearboxes are strong, reliable, low maintenance, less susceptible to damage, and you can even change gears while stationary.

But gearboxes are also often one kilogram heavier, and 5% less efficient than derailleur gears. They also don’t shift that well under load. So, if you want the lightest or fastest bike, it won’t be sporting a belt.

Belts also require a special frame. These frames must have a way to adjust the tension, they must have a split in the rear triangle to install a one-piece belt, and they must have an especially stiff rear triangle so that the belt cannot skip on the rear sprocket.

Belts are often not found in bike shops. This means that you will need to order replacements online – it’s obviously best to do this before you need them.

Belt components have a higher upfront cost. A new CDX drivetrain is around US 250 or €250. But keep in mind the cost-per-kilometre can be similar to a high-performance chain drivetrain due to the longer wear life.

Belts cannot be repaired. This means that if you damage your belt – it will need to be replaced. The good news is that broken belts are uncommon (I’ve only ever broken one) but you should still carry a spare on long rides. They coil up small and weigh under 100 grams, which is about the same weight as the chain breaker tool that you can now leave at home.

Let’s now move on to the questions, which will get more technical as we go.

Bike chain crossover

Fitness hybrid design for efficiency and ergonomic comfort

CROSSCORE FEATURES

While providing the smooth power assist expected by many e-bike users, our systems are equipped with powerful support and a natural, organic assist feel even in the high-speed setting.

PWSeries SE Drive Unit

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Integrated to the bottom bracket, the drive unit provides a low center of gravity for exceptional handling. Four levels of smooth, powerful assist deliver a ride experience the feels natural and organic.

Mechanical Disc Brakes

Shimano Sora mechanical disc brakes with 160mm center lock rotors provide strong, dependable braking in all conditions.

Double Front Chainring

Shimano Sora front derailleur and the double chainring (50/34T) offer quick shifting with optimum gear range.

Rear Rack and Fender Mounts

CrossCore has built-in bosses ready to accept Yamaha’s accessory rear rack with integrated LED taillight and rear fender.

Yamaha 500Wh Battery

Yamaha’s 500 Watt-hour Lithium-ion battery pack provides reliable long lasting energy to power your rides. When it’s time to replenish, you can charge the battery pack on or off CrossCore using the Yamaha high speed charger.

Fender Mount Tabs

CrossCore’s fork has mounting tabs for easy installation of Yamaha’s accessory front fender.

LED Headlight

CrossCore is equipped with a powerful LED headlight to help guide the way. The headlight’s on/off button is built into CrossCore’s multi-function display housing for easy access while riding.

Integrated Speed Sensor

Exclusive to Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles is a speed sensor engineered into the rear hub. Our speed sensor recognizes the slightest change in bicycle speed and helps adjust motor input to deliver a smooth and natural power assist feel for the ultimate ride experience.

Multi-Function Display

The main LCD interface allows you to choose from a full suite of functions; Speedometer, average speed, maximum speed, odometer, trip meter, battery capacity, battery range, cadence, clock and stopwatch. The color-coded LED assist level indicator is easy to see at a glance.

PWSeries SE Drive Unit Integrated to the bottom bracket, the drive unit provides a low center of gravity for exceptional handling. Four levels of smooth, powerful assist deliver a ride experience the feels natural and organic.

Mechanical Disc Brakes Shimano Sora mechanical disc brakes with 160mm center lock rotors provide strong, dependable braking in all conditions.

Double Front Chainring Shimano Sora front derailleur and the double chainring (50/34T) offer quick shifting with optimum gear range.

Rear Rack and Fender Mounts CrossCore has built-in bosses ready to accept Yamaha’s accessory rear rack with integrated LED taillight and rear fender.

Shop All E-Bike Accessories

Computer control functions include: (4) Power-level control switch, stop watch, distance units, power-level LED on/off, Bluetooth ™ connectivity, USB power, USB connectivity, cycling function display items, time adjustment, LED headlamp power on/off, 3-color LED power assist level light indicator

Cycling function display include: speed, average speed, maximum speed, trip distance, odometer, cadence, battery capacity (%)

Fixing a Slipping or Limited Chain

  • You can also turn the bike upside down, resting it on the seat and handlebars. If you do, however, know that you will have to reverse all of the following instructions.
  • Advanced Note: You’ll notice that, if you pedal the bike, the chain will slide down to the lowest ring without your help. That is because derailleurs work by tightening the cable to hold the chain in place. Similarly, you can shift your bike manually by pulling the cable.
  • The screw on the left, often labeled with an H, which limits how high the chain can go and affects the outer gears.
  • The screw on right, often labeled with an L, limits how low the chain can go and affects the inner gears.
  • Tighten the low limit screw if you the chain goes too far. This will keep the derailleur from moving too much to the left.
  • Loosen the low limit screw if you cannot shift into every gear. This will allow the derailleur to move farther in.

Use the cable adjusters to adjust your gears properly. Make sure your bike can shift comfortably to and from every gear in the front and back, and use your cable adjusters to make changes where necessary. Only shift 1 gear per click. [6] X Research source

Community QA

I have an old bike it claims to have 10-speed performance, although it only shifts three times is this normal?

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Many things could be causing that. First you should make sure you are shifting properly. Do not shift while putting a lot of stress on the pedals, especially going up hill. You should only be lightly pedaling when shifting. You should also make sure you are not already in the highest gear and your chain is lubed. Lastly, if the bike still will not shift, you will need to index your shifting or bring it to a mechanic. A bent derailleur hanger, for example, can keep the bike from shifting properly.

Thanks! We’re glad this was helpful. Thank you for your feedback. As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a 30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy! Claim Your Gift If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even 450 helps us in our mission. Support wikiHow

I want my bike to only remain in a high gear. How can I adjust the screws so it stays in my desired gear?

Limit screws should not be used to keep a bike in a particular gear. As long as you’re not shifting, and your gears are indexed properly, the bike will stay in the gear you set on it’s own. If you want to make it impossible to shift below a particular gear ratio, you can change the cassette on your bike to one with a lower range, for which you’ll also need to change your chain, or you can block out gears the way junior racers do. You can also convert your bike to single speed with the help of your local bike shop.

Thanks! We’re glad this was helpful. Thank you for your feedback. As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a 30 gift card (valid at GoNift.com). Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy! Claim Your Gift If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even 450 helps us in our mission. Support wikiHow

How do road bike gear shifters work?

With some modern designs, it’s not always immediately obvious where the shift levers are. If you’re in any doubt, a local bike shop will run through this with you, but here’s the basics for the majority of the mechanical gearsets that are on the market. Regardless of brand, right-hand levers control the rear derailleur, and left hand levers the front.

Electronic gears often work differently, and some like SRAM AXS and the latest iteration of Shimano Di2 can even be customised to the rider’s preference.

How does electric shifting work?

Shimano Di2

Shimano’s electronic Di2 groupsets, both Dura-Ace and Ultegra, work with a button system, but with the same principle as the mechanical shifters. The left shifter operates the front derailleur, and the right operates the rear.

bike, chain, crossover, frame

There’s two buttons behind the brake lever on each shifter. On the left the slimmer dimpled inside button will shift the chain up from the small ring to the big ring. The smooth paddle-shaped outer button below will move the chain down from the big ring to the small outer ring.

On the right shifter, the inner dimpled button will move the chain up the cassette to easier gears, while the smooth outer button will move the chain towards the harder gears if you’re riding faster.

Campagnolo Super Record EPS

Like its mechanical cousin, Campagnolo Super Record EPS shifters feature a button behind the brake lever and a thumb button inside the shifter hood.

On the right-hand shifter the button behind the brake lever will move the chain up the cassette into an easier gear. The thumb button will do the opposite and move the chain into a harder gear at the rear. EPS also offers multi-shift, so if you hold the button down the chain will shift multiple gears until you release the button.

On the left-hand shifter, the paddle button behind the lever will move the chain from the inner small ring to the larger outer ring. The left-hand thumb button will do vice versa.

SRAM eTap AXS. the Red, Force, and Rival groupsets. works in a different way to the mechanical SRAM groupsets and the competing electronic groupsets.

As previously mentioned, SRAM AXS shifting setup is customisable but the default setting uses just two buttons. The right-hand paddle button, behind the brake lever, moves the chain into a harder gear on the cassette. The left-hand paddle button moves the chain up the cassette into an easier gear.

To move the chain between the two front chainrings, the rider simply needs to push both the left-hand button and right-hand button at the same time and the chain will move up or down depending on its starting position.

The language of bike gears

Chainring: toothed ring at the front end of the drivetrain, attached to the crank.

Cassette: cluster of sprockets at the rear of the drivetrain, containing up to 12 gears, of various sizes.

Block: another term for the group of rear sprockets, but really refers to the older, screw-on freewheel.

How Much Money Could You Save On Cheaper Drive Chain Components? | EMBN 8 Speed Conversion

Derailleurs: front and rear derailleurs do all the hard work of moving the chain from one sprocket (or chainring) to the next.

Sprocket: refers to an individual gear within the cassette/block.

Ratio: describes the relationship between sprockets and chainrings, for example ‘53×12’, or the sprockets on a cassette (11-28).

t: short for teeth — to describe how many a given sprocket has — for example ‘23t’.

Drivetrain: term grouping together all the moving parts that connect the crank to the rear wheel and hence drive a bicycle along — namely the chain, the cassette and the chainrings.

Cadence: pedalling speed, measured from how many revolutions the crank makes per minute — expressed in RPM.

STI lever: abbreviation of ‘Shimano Total Integration’ — a term for Shimano’s design combining brake and shift levers for road bikes, but often (mis)used generically to refer to the shift/brake levers regardless of brand.

Ergo lever: Campagnolo’s name for its version of integrated gear shift and brake levers (ie Campagnolo’s STI).

DoubleTap lever: SRAM’s slice of the pie, in terms of shifter technology — uses the same lever for upshifts and downshifts.

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Belt vs Chain Drives on Ebikes

bike, chain, crossover, frame

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