Gates Carbon Belt Drive: Everything You Ever Need to Know

Alee May 1, 2012 33

Gates Carbon Belt Drive has been developed over the last 25 years for applications on 6000hp drag racing cars, 150hp motorbikes and more recently, bicycle drivetrains. Although Carbon Drive isn’t for everyone, it has a place for bike tourers who want a no-fuss drivetrain which is lighter, easier to maintain and has an exceptional wear life.

Gates Carbon Drive system is slightly limited for the touring market, as it only really has a use for those with either a Rohloff or Shimano Alfine internally geared hub. But we can’t think of an application better than road touring that belts could be used for. The simplicity, silence and wear life are perfect for long distance riding as a handful have already shown.

We’ve been running Gates Carbon Drive for over two years now. Our full review is HERE. We briefly used the CDC kit before upgrading to the CDX Centertrack kit on our Surly Long Haul Trucker‘s and more recently our Co-Motion tandem.

The Why:

- Belts require little to no drivetrain maintenance (no greasy hands!)

- Belts last more than twice the life of a chain (so far we have travelled somewhere between 15000km and 20000km on one Centertrack belt without problems – 16/08/2013)

- Belts are impervious to road grime and weather

- Belts do not rust

- Belts do not require lubrication

- Belt drivetrains are silent all the time on the road

- Belts are considerably lighter than chains

- Gates have helped us out with warranty assistance when we’ve needed it

The Why Not:

- You need a belt compatible frame to run a belt drivetrain

- After some time, the belt makes a lot of noise on sandy, dry roads – we recommend using belts for primarily road touring. (Stopping the squeak is an easy fix, a squirt of water and a rub with your finger, but it will have to be done every 20-100km depending on the fineness and annoyingness of the grit.)

- Belts can only be used with an internally geared hub, or as a singlespeed (not for derailleurs)

- Belt lengths are fixed and only five lengths are available, limiting the drivetrain ratio options available

- You must be careful not to inappropriately twist or bend the belt

- Getting a spare belt in remote areas is difficult (we carry a spare each @ 74g)

- If the chainring or cog get damaged, it is difficult to obtain spares (we will have to wait for spares)

- Carbon drivetrains aren’t cheap

What do we think of our Drivetrain?

Gates Centertrack is perfect for road touring. You can read our full review of the the Centertrack Drivetrain HERE.

Given that 90% of our about-the-world-trip is on sealed roads, the silence, durability and maintenance-free nature of the Centertrack kit outweighs the annoying squeaking we might get every 50km on a sandy road.

We recommend belt drive to people who ride the majority of their tours on sealed roads; people who spend more time off-road than us should stick with a chain.

We also reviewed tandem CDC (HERE) and Centertrack (HERE) timing belt kits.

Gates Offer Two Belt Options

CDX Centertrack

New for 2011 was the Centertrack system. It offers many advantages over the older CDC/CDX system which I will outline below. The main difference between the systems is the use of a central “fin” that runs in a “track” molded into the center of the belt, rather than the use of “flanged cogs”. If you’re considering belt drive – make sure you get Centertrack!

CDX Centertrack weight:

Chainring (Gates 50t x 130bcd): 97g

Rohloff cog (Gates 20t): 94g

Belt (Gates 118t): 74g

Total: 265g


Introduced in the mid-2000′s, the CDC/CDX kit was Gates first go at Carbon Drivetrains. It uses “flanges” on opposite sides of the front chainring and rear cog to make sure the belt tracks straight.

CDC/CDX weight:

Chainring (Gates 50t x 130bcd): 71g

Cog (Phil Wood 20t): 181g

Belt: 98g

Total: 350g

We Recommend Using Centertrack over CDC/CDX

The Centertrack system is a vast improvement over the CDC/CDX system. It solves some of the problems of the CDC/CDX system, namely belts slipping on cogs under low belt tension and high-load.

The biggest differences to the CDC/CDX system are that Centertrack will allow for more lateral intolerance: This means that when your frame flexes slightly, the belt is still able to run efficiently without the chance of slipping even though tension is reduced.

The Centertrack belt runs at a lower tension: This reduces stress on your drivetrain, namely bottom bracket bearings, hub bearings and chainring/cogs.

The Centertrack belt is even quieter: I thought the CDC/CDX system was quiet, but I’m finding that the Centertrack system is even more silent!

The Centertrack system clears debris better from the cog and chainring: The open cog design of the Centertrack system actually repels dirt and mud better than the older “flanged” cog system on the CDC/CDX.

The Centertrack belt is very picky in terms of chainline: I found that with the standard belt you could put it on with a slightly out chainline and it would still run ok. Some riders have run slightly-out chainlines with the standard belt, and their belts have worn prematurely as you’d expect. With the Centertrack design, I have found that the tolerance is reduced further so if your belt is slightly out, you know about it straight away as you can hear the rear cog making lots of unhappy sounds!

The Centertrack rear cog is stainless steel: There were problems with the CDC/CDX cogs which saw them wear out quicker than the belt itself! The new CNCd stainless steel cogs should outlast a few belts!

The Centertrack system is roughly 3mm wider than the CDC/CDX system: This solves some issues for frame clearance as the front chainring sits out further from the spider.

The Centertrack system is cheaper, especially for Rohloff users: Previously Rohloff owners had to use a Phil Wood stainless steel cog to run the CDC/CDX system. Now Gates make a far cheaper alternative which is also stainless steel for Rohloff hubs.

Cleaning a Belt Drivetrain

Cleaning is as simple as getting a water bottle or hose, and rinsing the belt/cogs down with water. No degreaser, no chain cleaner. No dirty hands. Just like a chain, the cleaner the drivetrain is, the better it will run!

Handle Belts Carefully

You have to be really careful with how you handle carbon belts, as misuse can lead to internal fibre damage, compromising the strength of the belt. They are sensitive to crimping (1&6), twisting(2), back-bending (3), inverting (4) or zip tie’ing (5).

Belt alignment is essential. With the CDC/CDX, make sure that the belt is sitting perfectly on the chainring and cog. At full tension, it should be silent. You will be able to see if the belt is rubbing on either of the ‘windows’ on the chainring or cog. With the Centertrack system, you will know when it is misaligned – it will make lots of noise at full tension.

When you put the belt on, it is essential that you do not ‘crank it on’ like you may with a chain. You must essentially put the belt onto the chainring and cog before setting the tension. Simple for sliding dropouts and EBB, slightly harder for horizontal dropouts. Use the image below as a guide.

If you’re folding a belt, or unfolding a belt, you must be careful you do this in the correct manner. The belt should naturally sit in a loop which folds three times. See the below picture for an example.

Your Frame Must Have a Split to Run Belt Drive

Not all frames can run belt drive. A belt frame will have a few essential characteristics that make it suitable. The first is a split in the seatstay, chainstay or dropout. A carbon belt is one piece, so it is necessary to have a split. Various companies offer different splitting styles. We love our Fixie Inc stainless steel piece!

The next characteristic is an adjustable chainstay length. This is done through sliding dropouts, eccentric bottom brackets or horizontal dropouts (more below).

Another characteristic is the use of a stiff rear frame triangle. The less flex, the smoother the belt can operate. Touring bikes already have very stiff rear triangles as they need to carry heavy loads on their pannier racks.

Do not get someone without an understanding of belt drive to modify your frame

It is essential that a frame modification is done correctly. Not any frame can be modified to run a Shimano internally geared hub – it has to have adequate chainstay clearance. If anyone pulls out a 40lb rubber mallet to flatten you chainstay to allow a belt cog to clear it – punch them in the face!

If you’re going to get this modification made, see a reputable frame builder. We used Ewen Gellie for our work. It will often cost between $400-$800 AUD to modify a frame including paint.

Chainline and Frame Clearance Issues

One of the biggest challenges facing frame manufacturers and the use of belt kits has been frame clearance of the front chainring. This is seen mostly on bikes using belt drive with Shimano internally geared hubs. The gear selector on Shimano hubs is external and on the drive side, resulting in a really narrow chainline.

This is more of a problem for belt-bikes than chain-bikes as:

- Belts and belt cogs are wider than chains and chainrings

- Belt cogs do not get as small as chain cogs

- 46t or bigger is most likely required

- Belt drivetrains are fussy – they must be perfectly aligned

Chainlines of various internally geared hubs:

- Alfine 8 or 11: 44.85mm

- Nexus 8: 44.35mm

- Nexus 7: 43.05mm

- Rohloff with Phil Wood Cog CDC: 52, 54 or 56mm

- Rohloff with Gates Centertrack: 54mm

Working out what belt ratio is available for your frame

You will need to use the Gates calculator in order to work out what chainrings and cogs are available for your frame. It all depends on your chainstay length.

If you are using the Centertrack kit and horizontal dropouts, you must have a minimum of 10mm left in the dropout before the Belt is tensioned. This space is required to get the belt onto the chainring. Eg. If your chainstay is adjustable between 420-440mm, you must have your belt taut between 430-440mm.

Belt Drive and Tandems

It is possible to use Gates Carbon Drive as a timing belt. This will save you about 250g over a chain and chainrings. In order for Carbon Drive to work on your tandem, the frames boom tube must be 724mm between bottom brackets and you will need to use 130bcd cranks. It is possible to run Carbon Drive on both the drive and non-drive side of your tandem.

We believe tandem touring with belt drive is best left to sealed roads (especially for the tandem belt and chainrings, less so for the drive-side belt and cog), as we’ve experienced noise on the tandem side on both sandy, and dirt roads with fine dust. If you ride only a small percentage of your travels on dirt, then cleaning the belt with a bit of water every 50-100km won’t bother you too much and certainly doesn’t outweigh the positives of this system on sealed roads.

We used the CDC timing kit initially, but were quite disappointed by it – it only lasted 2000km! Review HERE. Our Centertrack timing belt is going strong with little signs of wear after about 4000km. You can read the Centertrack timing belt review HERE.

Belt Drive and Rohloff hubs

You can run belt drive with a Rohloff hub if you adhere to their rules. Not adhering will result in the chance that Rohloff will not be able to honour warranty replacement down the road.

Firstly, your frame must be built for the purpose of belt drive. In Rohloffs words, it must be ‘stiffness test approved’. A belt drive production bike or custom frame manufacturer will be able to use the appropriate tools in order to make it ‘stiffness test approved’.

Secondly, your Rohloff hub must be ‘belt converted’. This ‘belt conversion’ adds a Rohloff machined adapter to the hub to allow the use of third party belt components. Rohloff records the serial numbers of belt converted hubs and without this conversation you risk the chance of not being honoured warranty. If you already have a Rohloff hub, you can get it converted to belt drive for a fee.

A belt ‘snubber’ is required for Rohloff users. Belt snubbers prevent the belt from walking off the cog. The reason that these measures must be taken is due to the fact that Rohloff cogs actually incorporate a seal surface for the hub. With a ‘belt conversion’, the hub is sealed and ready for aftermarket components.

You are slightly limited in terms of ratios with a Rohloff, as there is only one cog size available (20t). This, in addition to the fact that you are limited with your chainstay length, means that there are only a few ratio options available. Manufacturers who produce belt-specific frame are generally aware of this fact and will produce frames with ideal chainstay lengths for their application.

Gates Centertrack: Gates offer the full kit for Rohloff, including a stainless steel cog.

Gates CDC/CDX: There are a few Rohloff aftermarket cogs available.

Tensioning the Belt

Gates Carbon Drive runs at quite a high tension. This tension varies between whether you use a singlespeed or internally geared hub and how powerful you are as a rider.

Tension variation (tight spots) may occur when the crank is rotated. Gates therefore recommends taking several tension measurements at different crank arm locations to find an average. Around a 10lb or 15Hz variation is considered acceptable . If significantly more variation exists, Gates recommended centring the chainring on the crank spider.

Measuring Belt Tension

iPhone app: If you have an iPhone, you are able to download an app which will measure how much tension your belt has! Simply hold the phone next to the belt and give it a few plucks. It will quickly give you an average frequency rating. We’ve also heard of people using a bass guitar and digital tuner to work out the frequency!

Gates tools (sonic tension meter, krikit gauge): You are able to use the uber fancy sonic tension meter, or cheaper krikit gauge if you are iPhoneless. The Krikit gauge is not as accurate as other measuring tools, but essentially you put your finger in the loop on the tool and apply pressure until the tool clicks. It will give you a rough estimate on whether to increase or decrease your tension.

Dropouts for Belt drive

Sliding vertical dropouts: Sliding dropouts are the best option for belt systems. Why? They are easy to adjust to get the high tension that belts require. You also do not need to tension your belt every time you take your wheel out; it simply drops out and goes slots into the perfect tension.

EBB: Eccentric bottom brackets allow your wheel to slot in an out at perfect tension. My only concern is that it would be quite difficult to get the appropriate tension for a belt. Not only getting the tension would be hard, but making small adjustments to tension is quite a task on EBBs!

Horizontal track dropouts: You have to be really careful with belts in horizontal dropouts. As mentioned above, if you are using the Centertrack kit and horizontal dropouts, you must have a minimum of 10mm left in the dropout before the belt is tensioned. This space is required to get the belt onto the chainring. Eg. If your chainstay is adjustable between 420-440mm, you must have your belt taut between 430-440mm.


- CDX Centertrack

Chainring: $190 AUD

Alfine Cogs: $190 AUD

Rohloff Cogs: $190 AUD

Belts: $120 AUD

Centertrack Kit Total: $500 AUD


Chainrings: $190 AUD

Alfine Cogs: $190 AUD

Phil Wood Rohloff Cogs: $320 AUD

Belts: $120 AUD

CDC/CDX Total: $500-$630 AUD

Australian shoppers – contact Black Mountain Sports for a list of stockists.


We love our belt drivetrain! After 15000km+ it has proven itself and it’s durability. The simplicity, silence, long wear life and maintenance free design of the Centertrack kit makes it the perfect for bike touring.

In our opinion, the significant advantages of Centertrack over CDC (outlined above) make it the only belt drivetrain to use.

Anyone who is keen for getting a system and has a question can email us, or can contact Black Mountain Sports, the importer of Gates for Australia, with any further questions. Black Mountain Sports will be able to put you into contact with a local bike shop that can order everything in and set it all up for you!


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  • Karl

    Belters are awesome! Team this up with a 14-speed Rohloff hub and you’ll be cruising. I love the idea of it being quiet, smooth and low maintenance. I’d like to build a bike in the future with a IGH and a belt drive combo.

    • Alex Denham

      We’re hoping to be able to tour around the world problem free!

  • Jeroen

    I am driving a Rohloff + Centertrack for half a year now, but the rear cog is pretty much worn out. I do ride a lot of mud nowadays… On average you can say I maybe ride 40Km a week, that just isn’t much. 

    • Alex Denham

      That sounds like it has worn a bit quick… we have both completed well over 5000km on our Centretrack drive trains with no noticeable wear on the rear cog. The front chainring is loosing its anodising now, it will be interesting to see how many kilometres we can get out of it. Are you using the stainless steel cog?

  • Paul Graville

    Awesome info, thanks! A question: do you know the difference between the CDX and CDC systems?

    • Alex Denham

      Hi Paul. The only difference between CDC and CDX is the width of the belt. CDC is 10mm wide and designed for city riding, and CDX is 12mm wide and designed for a MTB application. Having said that, make sure you ride Centertrack; it is leaps and bounds better than the older system. Alex

      • Roberto

        Hi Alee, I’m having hard time with Gates carbon belt system. Do you know if CDX and CDC system are exchangable? I’m asking because I was so pissed off with belt alignemt of CDC (after every ride I couldn’t manage to keep the belt perfectly in line) that I decided to go for CDX system. I haven’t finished to install everythings yet because it looks like there’s a misalignment of about 3mm on belt center line between CDX rear and CDX front cog, and I can’t figured out why this happen. I’ve just replaced the old parts with new ones. Thanks for your tips. Roberto

        • Alee Denham

          Hi Roberto. I am not too sure of the particulars, but once you’ve got it all installed you’ll be able to get a better idea for how much difference there might actually be in the chain line. You should be able to add or subtract chainring or bottom bracket spacers to get the alignment perfect. Alee

          • Roberto

            Hi Alee, thanks for your infos. I wish Gates Carbon (Europe) would have warned me when I asked them the ordering part number for the CDX having already the CDC system installed. Anyway, your info is really useful. I thook a photo to show you better the situation. I’ve placed a long ruler on the front pulley and measured the misalignment on the rear cog. I have 8,10mm from the center line that means more than 3mm of the chain line.
            Now because the internal hub is a shimano Alfine I don’t think I can shift the rear side. Can I??
            I’m not even sure if I can play with bottom bracket spacers because as default my bike is already mounting two spacers (5mm total) on the not-drive side (I guess to get chain line with the old CDC). According to your experience do you think will be possible to add a spacer of 3 mm?? The crankset is a Truvativ fireX GXP.
            Last option adding 3mm chainring on the spider, but here I don’t know the nuts will hold such big lengh. Gosh I’m feeling on the edge of a divorce with belt system.
            Thanks for your advice

          • Alee Denham

            Hi again. We had a couple of millimetres difference in chain line from the CDC to CDX. From memory I added a few millimetres to the bottom bracket on the drive side. It will take a bit of trial and error to get it perfect, so give it time! I don’t think you’ll need to divorce your belt setup just yet. We’ve done 26,000km on our current cogs and belt – the Centertrack system is a great!

          • Roberto

            Hi Alee, finally I could untie the knot of the chain line. I bought longer bolt but because they where too long I had to add double spacer (that weren’t so easy to find for the right thickness). In photos you can see all the stuff I bought to fix this issue. Anyway now everything is installed and looks it is working really good.
            Because of the money I have spent for the chain line system (CDC and CDX) and time installing it I wish I will ride more that 50000Km without touching anything anymore.
            Thanks for your information. I hope that it will be useful also for others riders.

  • Kieran Madden

    Hi Alex – I have been researching my next bike for a few months now, over which time I’ve read a lot about the Gates Belt Drive, and for some reason only just found your article today – it’s by far the most informative article on the system I have come across.

    I initially loved the idea of the Belt Drive but was then put off the system after reading what Thorn, a British manufacturer of touring bikes, think of it. I’ve since come back around to the idea a bit but it still bothers me that I haven’t seen most of the serious concerns raised by Thorn fully addressed properly elsewhere – which makes me wonder whether either Thorn are scaremongering or Belt Drive sellers are more interested to tapping into the low-maintenance market than selling something they genuinely believe in.

    The article can be found here on pages 18 and 19. I’d be really grateful for your views on Thorn’s concerns, specifically:

    1. The supposedly expensive, difficult to find and heavy tool for removing the rear Belt Drive sprocket (I have been unable to find much/any corroborating info about this elsewhere).

    2. The apparently delicate nature of the belt, both during use and during maintenance for punctures etc (specifically, the damage caused from stones, twigs, knocking the drive with your legs or against a post. The Gates manual apparently says you need to “make sure that no components or objects can come into contact with the belt”, which sounds a bit daft in a daily use bicycle).

    3. Potential weakening of the right-hand rear chainstay from the frame split.

    Thanks :)

    • Alex Denham

      Hi Kieran

      I’m glad you’re looking at belts as an option – we have been running our Centertrack kit for a long time now without issue. We are wondering when something will fail, but we consider ourselves good guinea pigs given that we ride in all-weather conditions in lots of different countries.

      My guess is that Thorn haven’t spent a good amount of time on belts! Thorn are pretty well known for being staunchly for or against different things – disc brakes on tandems for example. We take their somewhat extreme reactions to certain matters with a grain of salt… ;)

      1. Regarding the rear sprocket, we do not carry a tool to take it off. But we don’t carry a chain whip when riding a chain driven bike either. Yes, it will be harder to take off our cog when we need to (realistically the tool will get sent from Germany to wherever we are), but we are gambling on the rear cog making it a long way yet.

      2. As mentioned above, we haven’t had any problems with with our belts… although we do cringe when multiple people per day twist our belts in their fingers. Intrigued locals like to give them a good yank, and still everything works fine. Delicate? No less delicate than a chain in our opinion.

      3. The only frames we recommend buying should be ‘Stiffness Test Approved’. I don’t think you’ll have any issues at the chain/seat stay with an approved frame that has been tested with the correct tool.


      • Kieran Madden

        Wow thanks for your quick, informative (and diplomatic! ;) ) reply on a year-old post!! You have almost completely set my mind at ease, especially as I don’t expect to do any touring.

        I say almost, as regarding your answer to q.1 – I hear what you’re saying when out touring but is it at least reasonably easy for a normal user to get hold of a tool when you’re at home living in the developed world?

        • Alex Denham

          We keep tabs on comments on the site, and like to reply as quick as possible – otherwise we get stuck with a backlog!

          It would be worth finding out who has tools near you. Like Thorn mentioned in their article, there may only be only one shop in your country which has the right tooling. But really, you won’t need to worry about taking your cog off for another 20000km+ – so maybe carbon drive will be available in more bike shops by then!

          • Kieran Madden

            Ahh OK – that’d probably be at least 5 years for me then so yes, hopefully the tool would be more available!

            If I may ask a couple of other things – regarding the frame stiffness in point 3, I had thought that was more to prevent the chain tension changing from moment to moment as the frame flexes, rather than to certify strength or point of material failure. Since a stiff material/join isn’t necessarily a strong one or one with a long fatigue life, do you know if this test includes a strength/fatigue test?

            (I accept too that the strength of the chainstay join is dependent on a given manufacturer’s design of the join, so maybe some are plenty strong enough while some aren’t – I imagine that if it’s as strong, say, as an S&S coupler, it shouldn’t be an issue. Also, if it was an issue, I’d have thought you’d have had a frame failure by now with all the travelling you’re doing on the Belt Drive.)

            Also, on a slightly different thing, I have been pondering the use of drop bars with Rohloff; I want Rohloff ideally, but have been considering the Alfine 11 as the idea of having to move my hands from the drops/hoods whenever I want to change gear seems a bit annoying. Maybe it’s not that bad but I would anyway like to have interrupter levers on the tops for negotiating traffic etc. During initial discussions with one of the manufacturers that have made my shortlist, though, they didn’t think that interrupter levers are long enough to clear the Giles Berthoud/Co-Motion drop bar shifters and, sure enough, all of the few interrupter levers I can find do look rather stubby. Have you any experience with this? Do you think it’s a workable option? Do you know of any levers that would meet my requirements?

            I hope I’m not taking advantage of your helpfulness & hospitality by asking yet more questions! Forums are of limited use when trying to get authoritative answers and it’s great to be able to get unbiased information from somewhere; having stumbled directly onto this page from google I only just realised that you’re in the middle of a tour of Europe and the Middle East. It’s amazing how you’re managing to run such a detailed blog while on the go!

          • Alex Denham

            You’re correct – the stiffness test is just a test of stiffness and that doesn’t mean the frame is strong. Never mind my point.

            From all I’ve seen on the internet, which is admittedly too much, I haven’t seen failures at the seatstay joins on belt frames. This doesn’t mean a frame with a split can break, of course, but I don’t think this should be a concern given how many belt drive bikes are around these days. Get your frame/bike from a reputable manufacturer backed with a good warranty and you should never need to worry.

          • Alex Denham

            We love questions! We are glad to be able to help, whether it be from home or on the road.

  • Walter

    What is the proper procedure for getting a cdc belt to track straight. Mine has a tendency to track 5mm to the inside while the small cog is tracking straight.

  • Paul Ferguson

    Thank you for a proper article. Their seem to be plenty of opinions
    about but little in the way of solid research. I’ve only just started
    looking into belts but defiantly more intrigued now.

    • Alex Denham

      Glad we can help.

  • LukaszKaleta


    I bought bike with a belt drive.

    On one of mine trip I had a silly accident:
    Other belt from mine bike-bag get between wheel and belt. I did not see what actually happen under me but mine bike was stopped immidetaly! I look what happen and carbon belt was out of sprocket. I notice also that the belt hurt a little from the external side. But it was in one peace. I spent some time to get the belt on sprockets again. I start pedaling and belt simply rip off.

    Next I had very long walk.

    With the first opportunity I start to search for a new belt.
    Well … believe me that getting carbon belt in Norway is almost a miracle.

    I contact with Gates (manufacturer) and they give me price 110euro for belt and delivery.

    why the hell I choose belt ?
    It last much shorter than mine last cheapest chain.

    • Alex Denham

      Hello Lukas

      Sorry to hear of your bad experience. I suggest that you take a closer look at your belt alignment and tension. It sounds like something isn’t set up properly which had caused your belt to jump off.

      We have now completed over 25,000km on our current belt and are really happy with the longevity of the product – we’ve certainly never got this kind of distance out of a chain! As the belt is so lightweight (80g), we always carry a spare with us.


      • LukaszKaleta

        Yeah … that’s mine bad experience.
        But it was setup correctly in Germany just before the trip.
        But I do not give up. Since it was sort of accident I will give the second chance to carbon drive ;)

  • Andrew

    Awesome write up Alex! And a great, inspiring website too.
    I’m having a titanium touring/mountain bike frame made up with provisions for the addition of a belt drive but am a little concerned about the noise created by grit and dust that you’ve mentioned. On the gates website they recommend cleaning the belt with water, letting it dry then lubricating with a dry silicone spray which should repel dust and elevate the noise problem. Did you try this? I know in the automotive industry it’s a standard technique used to deal with noisy belts.

    • Andrew

      *alleviate. Pretty sure you don’t want to elevate the noise problem!

      • Alex Denham

        Surprisingly, we haven’t tried silicone spray! It seems that the places that are sandiest are also the most remote – but thanks for bringing this information to the forefront of my mind. Will have to test it out soon.

        • Wendell

          Hi is there any lighter crank arm/set ?

          • Alee Denham

            I’m not sure what you mean. You can use cranksets from almost any manufacturer with Carbon Drive, even the lightest in the world.

  • Scott Burgess

    Great write up and your forum support looks exemplary too. I just imported a Single speed Cx bike from the US with CDX Centretrack. I was looking for a low maintenance commuter for my 14 mile jaunt into London every day and couldn’t find anything in the UK without paying a bespoke-build fortune.. I love it so far. I do wonder though about what seems to be a ‘reasonable’ amount of resistance I feel when hand cranking the pedal on the work-stand. Noticeable even if cranking backwards with no resistance from cranking the spinning wheel around. The tension is OK according to my iphone app. Is this resistance normal? There is no running noise. What is your experience please? There are no belters in the UK to compare notes with!
    Any help welcome.

    • Alee Denham

      If it’s running the right tension, then my advice is to leave it. That said, we run our belts slightly lower tension to reduce the resistance – we can get away with it on the touring tandem because we don’t accelerate hard too often. If you’re ‘just cruising’ and not taking off at the lights like a madman, you can technically get away with less tension.

  • Alex

    Hi Alee,

    I have a new Surly Troll frame which is suitable for a Rohloff IHG as it has horizontal rear drop outs and OEM 2 mounting plate. Originally I wanted to fit a Gates CDX Belt drive but got put off not knowing whether it was stiff enough or finding a suitable frame builder to modify it to include a break in the rear seat stay or modify the drop out to allow a belt to be fitted. First off is the Troll frame stiff enough and secondly is it easy to modify it to include a break for the belt?

    I plan to put a Rohloff OEM TS disc brake (solid axle) hub into my Troll frame and then ride around the world. But to keep the best clean I am going to try to fit a full chain guard as I can’t even be doing with the cleaning that might be involved riding in really dire roads.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Alee Denham

      Hi Alex

      Regarding stiffness, I am not actually sure what chainstay and seatstay tubing is used on the Troll. Perhaps email Surly asking for tubing specifications? Or alternatively, bring your frame to a reputable frame builder to get their opinion on the matter. My initial thoughts are that the Troll would be a fine candidate, given that it is designed with pannier bags in mind…

      I would suggest putting a frame break into the seatstay rather than modifying the dropout. The dropout should stay one piece…

      Don’t forget to check whether your chainstay length will be ok for the ratio you are thinking of using. You need to have 10mm in the dropout in order to get the wheel out, so the axle needs to sit at 429mm or further on the Troll. I had a look at the Gates Calculator ( and it seems that you could run a 2.5/1 ratio (same us my touring bikes) with a 115t belt. That gets me up most climbs fully loaded!