Singlespeed belt drive

Here’s some bike porn for you all. Lynskey Performance just posted about their use of belt drives on singlespeed bikes. They title the post “A Stunning Singlespeed.” I saw their belt drive bikes at the 2008 Handbuilt Bicycle Show and they are indeed stunning.

Lynskey singlespeed bicycle with belt drive

Lynskey "One Cog" singlespeed belt drive detail

I talked with some folks at the show about the practicality of belt drives on bicycles. Belt drives used on motorcycle drivetrains are expected to last at least 10,000 miles; they should have at least the same lifespan on a bicycle. Belts don’t require lubrication, eliminating the need for a full chain case. Modern belts don’t have nearly the performance penalty that rubber belts had.

This is obviously a show bike for a boutique upscale market, but I think we can expect to see some trickle down to more practical and affordable applications. If you want or need gears for your bike, builders are now designing bikes using a belt drive with internally gear hubs.

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0 thoughts on “Singlespeed belt drive”

  1. keiron curtis says:

    I think these belt drives are the future for cycling, the purists may be abit upset but they will be perfect for a commuter like myself.

  2. john says:

    I’m not entirely convinced of belt drives. The automotive industry uses them, but then they’re significantly wider than the application for bicycles and shielded from debris for the most part.

    a nice rock or piece of glass embedded in there may be bad.

  3. joel says:

    Meh, chains work great. I’ve got nothing against belts (except the old ones that slip) but I’m happy with what I have. Belts have been the on/off fad with cyclists for years and have never really made it. Maybe this round will be different, but I doubt it.

  4. Kirk says:

    I have a belt drive on my electric bike. They work well. They would require a frame where the rear axle can be pulled aft like on a motorcycle. The belt stretches a bit over time, and to prevent it from slipping over the cogs you pull the rear axle back to take up the slack. My electric bike has screws that make this adjustment easy. I think with an internally geared hub this would be an ideal commuter bike setup. No oiling of a chain is necessary. Makes maintenance easy.

  5. david in fla says:

    Internal gear hub, belt drive, disc brakes. Bye bye maintenance!

  6. blank says:

    Simply gorgeous.

    Can I sign up to be a beta tester, or a case study or something?

  7. Jared says:

    What manufactures are making belt-drive compatible internally geared hubs? I read not long ago that Rohloff is not considering it. What about SRAM or Shimano?

  8. Human Amp says:

    Belt drive have been used on the Strida folding bike for 20 years. The belt doesn’t wear (or break) … eventually the smaller pulley wears a bit (easily replaceable). It makes oil smired pants a thing of the past and on the subway people in light clothes dont get angry !

  9. Fritz says:

    Jared, Rohloff had a display at the Handbuilt Bike Show with several belt-drive equpped bikes. I’ll call the distributor and ask about this, but my understanding is that they’re fairly enthusiastic about using belt drive.

  10. Joe says:

    There is alot of resistance to change in cycling due to the traditions. Remember the “retro-grouches” that refused to adopt index shifting when it was introduced, despite the clear advantages it offered? Belt drives would be terrific, but will face an uphill battle in getting adopted.

  11. Tim says:

    I’m in favor of the reduced maintenance and removal of greasy chainring, but I think with belt drive you’d still deal with chewed up pant cuffs and ground clearance issues. I’m still in favor of shaft drives ala Dynamic Bicycles.

  12. Bobbo says:

    Cool idea. As a retro grouch myself, I find this is a positive move forward. A few questions? How is the belt put on the bike? Is it a straight belt that feeds through the rear triangle and connected with a “special” link of some sort? Automotive belts are complete circles placed over the drive and driven pulleys from the side, this cannot be accomplished with a bike?

  13. Fritz says:

    The belt is a loop – the rear triangle is the part that opens up to allow belt changes.

  14. Bobbo says:

    Thanks Fritz. That sounds like a very interesting structure to be able to open and close. Where does it occur, the pics are rather small to show that kind of detail.

  15. Matthew says:

    You can’t tell on these pictures, but I saw a close up of the rear axle mounting on a different bike. There the seat stay and chain stay are not connected at the rear dropout, but both stays end with their own dropout. When the rear wheel is put in place the two are clamped and held together by the rear axle. I think when the wheel is removed the chain and seat stay would be flexible enough that a belt could be slipped in between their dropout plates. See the pictures here.

  16. welshcyclist says:

    Is this a stupid question, can you have a belt drive fixed to derailleur gears?

  17. Bobbo says:

    Not a stupid question, but I would imagine the answer is no. Here is why. The belt is quite wide in comparison to a chain and therefore has little flexure capability side to side, thus allowing shifting. Second, a chain is made up of many parts and thus can have some side flexure that allows it to shift over to the next gears. I think the best solution for a belt drive is some form of mechanical gear ratio inside the hub much like the old 3 speeds.

    Good question that prompts some perhaps interesting and new ideas.

  18. Abio Bikes says:

    Nice bike! I am obviously biased but really like the benefits of chainless bikes. The belt is definitely quieter than the shaft drives but the shaft drives are encased which makes is less prone to damage due to debris, snow, etc.

    Really good to see more chainless bikes now in different bike categories!

    Abio Bikes
    Chainless folding bikes

  19. Single Speedy says:

    Far quieter than cogs. No grease. No drivetrain wear, except at the bearings. Absolutely “stiff” (all power transmitted to the wheels; no mush). Lasts near forever, from all accounts (10,000 miles or more). If they can get the price down, this will be common on single-speeds of all types, commuters, and on bikes with internal-gear hubs. (Admittedly, I tested this out on a US-made, $3,500 Spot 29er mountain bike, so pardon my gushing.)

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