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Thread: Beltdrive Internal Gear Bikes

  1. #1
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    Default Beltdrive Internal Gear Bikes

    Does anyone have one they would like to comment on?

    I'm looking at a Kettler Forward Beltdrive model with an 8 speed Nexus IGH and disc brakes to replace my 28 year old rigid mtb that I used for commuting and crappy weather. It comes with just about everything else I would put on a city/commuter bike; dynamo lights, fenders, and rack. German made and available at the Denfeld cycles in Bad Homburg and at Stadler in Frankfurt.

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    Last edited by consularrider; 12-15-2017 at 02:04 AM.

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  3. #2
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    I love my Breezer Beltway Infinity, but they don't make it anymore. Breezer does still make the Beltway line, but with different hubs.

    I bought it as my "no excuses" bike. No "I can't ride today, I need to lube my chain", no "I can't ride today, I forgot to charge my headlight", no "I can't ride today, I need to adjust my brakes".

    I just get on and go. Occasionally I put it air in the tires. It's awesome.

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  5. #3
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    I have two bikes with belt drive and internally-geared hubs. I don't expect to go back to a chain and derailleurs. I made the switch after I had taken my chain-drive bike to two different shops, once to one shop and twice to the other, and the chain was still slipping on the gears. I was also tired of ruining my (office) work pants with grease. The cleanliness of belt drive is a little exaggerated. They're much cleaner than greasy chains, but they still get road dirt on them. Also, there may still be grease on the outside of the bottom bracket, kickstand, and other parts of the bike. You might want to check whether your bike shop will work on the drive train. A downside I've found is that not all bike mechanics are familiar with internal hubs. I was tempted to buy a Priority Coninuum with NuVinci hub, but I really don't need a third bike. You might want to take a look, it's the best price I've seen: https://www.prioritybicycles.com/products/continuumonyx . I have a Shimano 11-speed hub, I've suspected that the 8-speed would provide plenty of gears for me, but haven't tried it, or the NuVinci.

  6. #4
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    I have a commuter bike with a Shimano nexus 8 speed hub and a chain. The hub works great, but be careful to angle the shift cable housing uphill from the hub. Otherwise it collects water and will freeze up. I've used 3 speed hubs for years and the 8 speed is a big improvement. My next bike will have a Pinion Drive and a belt, I think.

    I ride in rain/snow/etc so don't like having a naked chain. I've tried chainguards and even a hebie chainglider. The chainglider doesn't really keep gunk off of the chain or your clothes. A full chainguard keeps your pants clean but still lets gunk spin off your wheels onto the chain. t I think the only thing that will really help preserve a chain is one of those fully-enclosed Dutch chaincases. You can't get them here and they make any tire/wheel removal a total pain. So for me a belt would be appealing. The grass is always greener.

  7. #5
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    I was happy with my Breezer Beltway 8+, though it didn't seem quite rugged enough to stand up to the daily abuse of my weight/pulling the trailercycle/etc. Their externally bearing bottom bracket was almost impossible to get uncreaky. Since you're in Germany: I've been really happy with my Rose Activa Pinion Pro, but that's probably overkill for a crappy weather commuter bike (at least at current prices). Rose does have different drive train options on that line, but still seems to be quite a step up pricewise from what you identified (I think they start with the Alfine 11, but they may only offer the belt by default with the Rohloff and Pinion models).

    Only other comment I'd have: not sure how the 8 speed Nexus hub is, but my wife has a 3 speed, and while it works fine, I found it quite laborious the few times I've ridden it. Shifting seemed to take forever (in that there was a noticeable lag between selecting a gear and having that gear actually change), so something to be aware of when test riding it.

  8. #6
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    I built up a Soma Wolverine with a belt drive and a Shimano Alfine 8, and it's my main commuter. Not having to care for a chain is really great, but I do feel I can't be as carefree with shifting or as aggressive with riding as I might be with a chain drive and derailleur system. The trade-off is worth it for me for commuting, but YMMV. Some criticisms of my current system are:
    1) the Alfine 8 hub has a clutch mechanism that engages between gears 4 and 5, which I find to be—very occasionally—alarmingly sluggish when upshifting: the thing has a couple of times almost bucked me off when the clutch just lets go, but I pay attention now, and I am rarely taken off guard anymore (again, YMMV),
    2) mostly, the belt is serenely quiet, but it does get gritty and start to make a squelching sound that annoys me; a spritz on the front pulley (it's not a chainring if there's no chain!) from the water bottle fixes that quickly—but only temporarily,
    3) the hub service is infrequent (once a year at most, for me), but is either expensive, or a pain, or both; I do it myself (because I'm like that), but the transmission fluid was $70 for a small container; it can be used many times, so it works out to be cost effective when compared against $40 or more for a shop to do the job once; that said, I have to take off the disc rotor, and then disassemble the entire shift mechanism from the drive side (stupid snap ring!), which is no small task, and the transmission fluid is nasty and vile,
    4) unless you are running straight bars, shifter options are extremely limited: for my drops, I had to get a Jtek bar end shifter that is way cool, but also not cheap and only available from the U.K., which adds to the cost; I think the hub manufacturers assume if you are interested in IGH, you are also interested in maximizing a comfortable, "city" riding position over any kind of road performance (#lazy).

    tl;dr Belt drive commuting rigs are awesome and bombproof weather-wise, but they trade any high-end performance for their overall ease of maintenance.

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  10. #7
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    ...aaand here's a gratuitous pic:

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    (I do have in mind a plan to build a dynamo wheel to make the bike completely, awesomely ridiculous.)

  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkel View Post

    (I do have in mind a plan to build a dynamo wheel to make the bike completely, awesomely ridiculous.)
    Dynamo wheels are a game changer in the winter. Cold and battery-powered lights don't mix very well. I have daytime running lights on my front light as well that I run all summer.
    I got my dynamo wheel for cheap shipped from Germany (where they require lights on bikes): https://www.taylor-wheels.com/catalo...se=56&q=dynamo

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  13. #9
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    I have a Raleigh Misceo 4.0 built up as a belt drive with a Shimano (ugh) Alfine 11. The hub requires a little more maintenance that I would like (but I mean, honestly, it is not much, it gets taken apart and rebuilt at Bikenetic once every 18 months or so), but other than that, I put air in the tires every once in a while and change out the brake pads every 5,000 or so miles.

    I am terrible at remembering to rinse off chains after riding in snow and ice (and the road treatments that come along with that) or lubing chains on a regular basis. The belt drive and IGH have been instrumental in me not having to replace shifty bits on a regular basis.

    I have over 10,000 miles on the bike and am just now starting to think about replacing the belt. It does not show any wear, but I would rather replace it sooner rather than later when it breaks on me when it is -5F and windy on my way to work.

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  15. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by FFX_Hinterlands View Post
    Dynamo wheels are a game changer in the winter. Cold and battery-powered lights don't mix very well. I have daytime running lights on my front light as well that I run all summer.
    I got my dynamo wheel for cheap shipped from Germany (where they require lights on bikes): https://www.taylor-wheels.com/catalo...se=56&q=dynamo
    OK, Taylor Wheels of Germany no longer ships to the US. Gah. Thanks, Trump!

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