We’ve been wishing for some old-fashioned, sub-zero Minnesota winter weather lately.  The kind where your bike tires squeak on the hard-packed snow and there’s no point to carrying a water bottle, because it’ll be frozen just about the time you want a drink.  The kind where the biggest challenge is keeping your feet warm, so you ditch the clipless pedals and bike shoes and wear your roomiest boots with extra socks.  The kind where your face mask freezes stiff with your own breath and you hope you don’t get a flat, because your hands will be too cold for a roadside repair.

Speedhound with Belt Drive

Our beloved Speedhounds out for some winter fun

So why would we want that?  To test the cold weather performance of a belt drive Speedhound!  Gates says that “the technology behind the Carbon Drive belt has a published temperature range of -65 to +185.  If you’re riding somewhere colder or hotter, we’d love to hear your story.”  Well, so far in 2012, we’ve had exactly ONE sub-zero day in Minneapolis, with a low of -11F (-24C) and a windchill at a balmy -23F (-30C).  It was perfect, so I wheeled out our original Speedhound test mule, with a single speed 50X22 belt drive.  I let the bike sit outside for several hours and bundled up for a ride around town.

Belt Drive Speedhound on a winter ride

One of these Speedhounds loves the cold. The other, not so much.

So how did it go?  After a brief warmup, I jumped on the pedals at varying speeds and ground up the steepest hill in the neighborhood.  I spun as fast as I could with my stiff legs.  Underway, the belt felt – normal.  I thought I detected a slight clacking sound from the belt engaging the cogs, but maybe it was my teeth chattering.  Off the bike, I rotated the pedals backward by hand.  The drivetrain was stiffer than in warm weather, but it was difficult to say how much of the drag was from the grease in the bearings and how much was the belt.  I didn’t perceive any added resistance when riding.    With the bright sun, I could almost imagine it was a July day, except by the time I got back to Speedhound HQ, my toes felt like frozen peas.

Check out the full photo set on Flickr.