Posts Tagged bicycle

Mary Queen of Scots Had a Speedhound!

Speedhound fans know that our mascot is an Italian Greyhound (IG) named Cooper.  His ancestors have been a popular breed for millennia.  Evidence has been found of IGs at Pompeii! Mary Queen of Scots was a big fan of the little speedsters too.

Speedhound BadgeIGs are light, quick and nimble.  They’re a perfect mascot for Speedhound bikes.  In fact, Cooper, who weighs in at only 10.4 lbs (4.7 kg), is still over twice as heavy as an ONLY ONE frame!  That’s what we call light and nimble!

Our inspiration from IGs goes beyond our need for speed, though.  IGs are agile sporting dogs – our “running dog” graphic is inspired by an IG competing in a lure coursing event.  And since we insist on making our own forks that match the frame geometry, both parts of a Speedhound frameset have matching serial numbers starting with the letters “IG” for Italian Greyhound.  You can find the serial numbers stamped in the bottom bracket and on the fork steering tube.

Speedhound Serial Number

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Wearing a Belt in the Cold

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.

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Speedhound Bike Owner Review

Fixie, Belt-Drive Commuter SpeedhoundRecently, we sat down with Speedhound owner John Barron to get his impressions on his first year+ of riding with the new wheels.  We’re extremely proud that John chose a Speedhound.  He’s an avid collector and dealer in vintage bikes and bike parts, so he knows his bikes.  Check out some of John’s goodies at www.velostuf.com.

John’s TRO Orange Speedhound was built by Hiawatha Cyclery with a fixed gear, belt drive system.  He chose the Gates Carbon Drive System for his drivetrain.  He added some elegant fenders to complete the ensemble.  John’s rig is an all-season commuter bike and he uses it regularly for late fall, winter and early spring rides.  He noted, “The belt drive’s clean, maintenance free simplicity eliminates grease marks on my legs, rust-damaged chains and the need to lubricate the drive train.”

John’s passion for bikes includes a number of custom-made steel road machines.  He told Speedhound, “The ride and handling of the Speedhound is remarkably similar to those handmade bikes.  The soft, smooth ride is one of my favorite things about the Speedhound.”

Gates Carbon Drive SystemA desire for simplicity drove the selection of the components for this machine.  John is a former track racer, so a fixed gear bike was a natural choice.  Adding the belt drive removed more complexity from system.  John also mentioned that the stability of the belt drive eliminates “chain slop” – a big deal during track stands!

John has been pleased with the performance of the belt drive system.  He told us, “I was worried about belt jump before I bought the system, but that’s never happened to me.  Even on cold, snowy rides, the belt has run like a champ.  And best of all, in more than 15 months of riding my Speedhound, the only work I’ve done on it was tightening the belt tension a little.”

We asked John what one word describes the way he feels on his Speedhound.  He said, “Unencumbered.”  His most memorable ride was on the mountain bike trails near the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.  Seems like the reliability and smooth ride let John go anywhere.

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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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Speedhound and Belt Drive

Part 1 – The Basic Elements of the SDS

Speedhound Dropout System Components

Speedhound Dropout System Components

What makes the Speedhound Only One so versatile, and how does it work with belt drive?  The key is the Speedhound Dropout System (SDS).  The main components of the SDS are the receiver and the interchangeable dropouts.  The vertical dropouts include a derailleur hanger and are machined from aluminum alloy and then clear anodized.   The horizontal (track-style) dropouts are machined from stainless steel for corrosion resistance and to stand up to the clamping forces of axle nuts.  Conventional chainring bolts are used to attach the dropouts to the receivers.

 

 

Belt Drive Close Up

Speedhound Belt Drive Close Up

Unlike a bicycle chain, a drive belt is a closed loop – it has no master link or pins to separate.  It is a single moving part.  The rear triangle of a conventional diamond frame bicycle is also a closed loop, and will not accept a belt.

 

 

 

 

 

Unless you can work some magic, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCNV8rRiMRA , you’ll need an opening in the frame for the belt to pass through.  Speedhound accomplishes this trick with a split in the receiver on the right (drive) side of the frame.  The belt passes through the split and then the horizontal dropouts are bolted to the receiver.  You’re ready to install the rear wheel.  As an added benefit, the SDS lets you remove and replace a chain without breaking it open.  Voila!

 

Interested in seeing more Speedhound Belt Drive photos?  Check out our Flickr set.

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Minnecycle 2011

Gun Metal BlueWe had a great weekend with our brothers-in-arms at the 2011 Minnecycle bike art show.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by to see us and check out the wonderful bikes on display.  We were especially proud to feature our new Gun Metal Blue creation.  This unique finish was accomplished by hand applying gun metal bluing to the frame in multiple phases.  The finish is protected using good old-fashioned auto wax.  It’s a one-of-a-kind.

We’ve posted a few pics from the event on flickr.  Enjoy!

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Heartland Velo Show Pics

Thanks to the talented Dennis Bean-Larson of Fixed Gear Gallery, we’ve got some great photos from the Heartland Velo Show in Madison, Wisconsin.  Click here to see the Speedhounds we brought to Madison.

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Speedhound at Heartland Velo Show

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be invading Wisconsin this weekend as we exhibit the Only One frameset at the Heartland Velo Show this weekend August 27-28 in Madison.  Here’s a little bit about the Heartland Velo Show.

For over 100 years, the Midwest has been at the forefront of bicycle manufacturing, racing, and recreational riding. On August 27  & 28, the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin will house a weekend-long celebration of everything bicycle. Artisans and manufacturers of bicycles, components, cycling accessories and apparel will display their wares. Exciting demonstrations, informative panels and seminars as well as parties and entertainment will create a “something for everyone” atmosphere to delight cyclists and non- cyclists alike. The Heartland Velo Show is designed to inspire aficionados, enthusiasts, casual riders and those who may just be curious about the fun, fitness and freedom to be found on two wheels.

Learn more about the Heartland Velo Show at their website.

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Twin Cities Business Feature

Speedhound is featured in this month’s Twin Cities Business magazine.  This great feature shows how Speedhound has solved the greasy pants leg problem for commuters.  Our unique modular Speedhound Dropout System allows a clean maintenance-free belt drive to power your commute.  Here’s the article from the print edition. The online edition doesn’t include the article, but you should check out the magazine anyway!  Visit the Twin Cities Business website.

Twin Cities Business feature on Speedhound

 

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Speedhound at Art-A-Whirl

We’re showing Speedhounds during Art-a-Whirl in Minneapolis this weekend (May 20, 21 and 22).  With over 500 artists displaying their work, Art-a-Whirl is an incredible way to experience the diversity of our urban art scene at multiple locations throughout Northeast’s arts district.  See us at Bicycle Theory’s Bikehaus event in Suite 400 at the Northrop King Building, 1500 Jackson St. NE, Minneapolis MN 55413 (link below).  Friday (5/20) 5-10 pm, Saturday (5/21) Noon – 8 pm and Sunday (5/22) Noon – 5 pm.  We’ll be there with our nickel-plated NAHBS special, a New Black lightweight roadie build, and Only One #1 decked out as a belt-drive fixie.

Hope to see you there!

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