Posts Tagged CenterTrack

Notes from NAHBS 2013

The 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show drew to a close on Sunday, March 24. At least some things in our world are getting better:  the quality and creativity of handmade bikes! Can it be topped in Charlotte next year? Just take a look at some of the incredible machines on display — here are hundreds of photos for your viewing pleasure: manypix (Speedhound and yours truly appear on page 8 of the photoset). Coverage of the show is appearing daily — here’s some we found this afternoon: mtbr . Denver is hometown to Gates, maker of CarbonDrive belt components, but even so, we were amazed at the number of bikes running belt drive. I’d guess at least three dozen. Speaking of which, here’s the official NAHBS website feature on Speedhound: NAHBS . Yup, there are a few typos, and no, we don’t provide a front hub with the disc option, but we like the attention!  Hope to see you next year!

Speedhound ONLY ONE "Gun Metal" at NAHBS. The headlamp is an antique Luxor from France, rewired to run from a Shimano Alfine generator hub.

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The New CenterTrack Belt System from Gates

We designed the Speedhound Only One to be compatible with belt drives from the very beginning, and we’ve been experimenting with the Gates Carbon Drive system for over three years.  So it’s only natural that we’d be taking a hard look at the new CenterTrack design that Gates rolled out a few months ago.  We’ll be blogging about how CenterTrack performs after we do some more road testing into the winter, but for now, here are some comparisons between CenterTrack and the first generation belt system (Gen 1).

The Sprockets

CenterTrack and Gen 1 front sprockets

CenterTrack and Gen 1 front sprockets

The CenterTrack sprocket has a central spine that meshes with a corresponding groove in the belt to keep the belt centered.  The Gen 1 system relies on a single flange (inboard on the rear sprocket and outboard on the front) to help guide the belt.  However, with one side of each sprocket open, Gen 1 is very intolerant of any misalignment between front and rear sprockets.  With CenterTrack, your “chainline” can be off a few millimeters without a risk of the belt falling off.  We think it’s still best to aim for perfection when aligning the front and rear CenterTrack spockets, though, to minimize friction between the spine and belt groove.  For now, CenterTrack appears to be a very inspired solution to the main weakness of the Gen 1 system.  The CenterTrack sprockets also have a wicked cool look.

 

The Belts

CenterTrack (left) and Gen 1 (right) belts

CenterTrack (left) and Gen 1 (right) belts

The CenterTrack belt is 12 mm wide.  Gen 1 comes in 10 mm and 12 mm widths, with the wider belt recommended especially for mountain bike and fixed-gear setups.  The pitch and tooth profile appear to be the same, and we were able to run a CenterTrack belt on Gen 1 sprockets.  Lacking a groove, a Gen 1 belt is incompatible with CenterTrack sprockets.

Materials

The CenterTrack front sprocket is hard anodized aluminum alloy, like the Gen 1, but lacks the ceramic coating of the Gen 1 sprocket.  Will it wear as well?  Time will tell.  The rear CenterTrack sprockets are stainless steel, whereas the Gen 1 are hard anodized aluminum alloy with ceramic coating.  Gates tells us that the Gen 1 rear sprockets wear out before the belts.  (The belts have a projected life of 10,000 miles, depending on riding conditions.)  Will the stainless steel CenterTrack rear sprockets come closer to that?

Weight

CenterTrack on the OUR Blue Speedhound

CenterTrack on the OUR Blue Speedhound

We weighed comparable CenterTrack and Gen 1 components on our Soehnle digital gram scale (accurate to the nearest gram) and here’s what we found:

  • 118 tooth belt, 12 mm wide – CenterTrack 79 grams, Gen 1 97 grams.
  • 50 tooth front sprocket, 5 arm 130 BCD – CenterTrack 98 grams, Gen 1 72 grams.
  • 24 tooth rear sprocket, 9 spline – CenterTrack 72 grams, Gen 1 53 grams.

We think the promised benefits of the CenterTrack system far outweigh the added 27 grams over the Gen 1 components.  Look for our foul-weather ride reports — Speedhound is looking forward to some slushy snow this year!

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