Gates CenterTrack Shipping

Gates CenterTrack

Spot Brand commuter bikes outfitted with Gates’ new CenterTrack belt drivetrain are arriving at dealers as we speak. Drivetrains will be available for aftermarket purchase in July, and we should see a number of other manufacturers offering CenterTrack outfitted bikes later this year.

I have a Spot Acme/Alfine 11/CenterTrack review lined up for this summer, and I have plans to upgrade my Civia to A11/CT in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned.

Gates

20 Responses to “Gates CenterTrack Shipping”

  • Dave says:

    Alan,
    As someone who’s in the process of spec’ing a belt-driven commuter, I’ll be very interested to hear about this upgrade. Gates’ breathless marketing is annoying but, more importantly, contradictory. If the original belts are so strong, why do they need 20% higher tensile strength in the Centertrack? If the originals shed mud and snow so well, why do they need a redesign that does it even better? I can understand how the center rib makes the belt more tolerant of drivetrain misalignment, but it would seem to come at the expense of some friction due to the rub rubbing continuously in the belt slot. Is it really that hard to align the belt or is this a feature for the bike makers so they can design frames that have more flex? I have other questions as well, but I look forward to a critical review.

  • Adam Allstar says:

    I’ll be interested to hear about this upgrade as well, currently running a belt/alfine 8 on a Spot Sprawl and love it. The new design seems like it would be ideal for higher torque areas like single speed MTB & Cross racing, curious if there would be any noticeable improvement on a commuter setup.

  • Sam Joslin says:

    As someone who’s still trying to figure out Octalink bottom brackets (Do 105 and Ultegra BBs interchange? Why are the spline ends rounded on one and not on the other? If Octalink was better than a standard BB, why is it now obsolete?), I’d appreciate Gates taking the lead to establish a belt drive standard–and stick to it.

  • Micheal Blue says:

    Hm, that’s an interesting design. Hopefully the center gap doesn’t weaken the design. We’ll see if mud and slush/ice collecting in the gap can derail the belt.

  • Alan says:

    @Dave

    There have been fairly widespread reports of belt derailments due to ice build-up on the rear pulley on the original system. CenterTrack is supposed to resolve the issue.

    Regarding improved belt strength, I’ve yet to see anything about belt failures, so it’s not clear to me why it’s necessary. I have read reports of SS mountain bikers creating enough torque to cause a belt to skip, causing belt damage in the process, but I don’t see that increasing tensile strength would resolve that issue. I haven’t heard of any commuters having trouble with belts skipping, probably because they don’t create the kind of torque required for SS mountain biking.

    It’s my current understanding that the center slot essentially replaces the flanges from the old system, with the result being narrower pulleys. This increased clearance will simplify designing frames around the drivetrain and perhaps allow the use of larger pulleys. Alignment will still need to be more precise than with chain drivetrains.

    Alan

  • Derek says:

    I’ll be very curious to hear reviews on these. Do you know if the cogs are steel? The rear cog on my Trek Soho was aluminum and wore away after 16 months of riding here in Maine. I’ve replaced it with a steel rear cog and had to replace the belt as a result, too. I’m hoping to get a MUCH longer life out of the new ones or else I’ll be looking to switch over to a chain. The new design seems like it should allow for less grit build-up within the cogs so hopefully that’ll decrease wear over the winter/spring.

  • Alan says:

    @Derek

    The CT rear pulleys are stainless steel.

  • Brian C says:

    Alan:
    Will be interested in a few things about your conversion – since I am contemplating a civia bryant (preferably with the 11-speed, and the centre-track).

    – does the 11-speed offer a lower gear than the 8-speed (we live in hilly country, and do face lots of hills; I find I can cope with the 8-speed, but my wife definitely needs a lower gear). If not, it might be worth it for me to spend the extra money to get the Rohloff.
    – does the centre-track belt system offer a significant advantage over the original belt system in real-world experience? And yes, I am interested in the ability to handle snow and ice (not that you are likely to experience those conditions in Sacramento!).
    – can you play with the ratios at all with the belt drive (ie is it possible to larger or smaller sprockets on the bike) ?

  • Pete says:

    So, will they keep making the old system, or migrate totally to the new design? Is there any cross-compatibility between the parts? To “upgrade” to centertrack you need two new pullies and a new belt? Jeesh.
    This is EXACTLY why I’ll wait a few years for this technology to settle down. I can appreciate all the advantages, but there are just still too many pieces in flux for me.

  • John Ferguson says:

    @Brian – My biggest concern with the Gates belt drive system is being able to have a reasonable amount of control over the final gear ratios.

    My understanding of the gearing differences between the Alfine 8 and Alfine 11 IGHubs is that the low gear remains the same and all of the increased range is at the high end. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong in this, but what it means from a practical standpoint is that I would want either a smaller belt ring or larger belt cog to go with the 11 speed hub so I could shift some of that range to the low end in the final ratio so the 11 speed low gears are ACTUALLY lower than the 8 speed setup currently available on bikes like @Alan’s Civia Bryant.

    I don’t believe there is a belt cog available for the Alfine hub within the Gates system other than the 24 tooth one. The Bryant comes with a 50 tooth 5 arm belt ring. If I were going to build myself an 11 speed Alfine Bryant, I’d want the 46 tooth belt ring (which according to Gates comes in 5 and 4 arm models. The trick here is finding a belt length that will work with this combination on the Bryant. The Bryant comes stock with the 118 tooth belt. I used Gates’ calculator to try to determine if the 115 tooth belt would work with the 46/24 belt ring/cog combination and it was unclear whether it would or not. I asked the Civia guys as well and they couldn’t give me a definitive answer either (you would think they would get a bunch of equipment and do compatibility testing, but oh well..)

    @Alan, what are you going to do when you make the switch to 11 speed? Are you going to keep the stock belt component sizes or will you try to shift the final ratios lower? You may have to be the guinea pig for the rest of us chickens..

  • sygyzy says:

    Alan,

    I would love to hear about your Centrack Alfine 11 upgrade. Do you think it will be a true upgrade or will it require hacking? I am not interesting in creating special brackets or tools to make the change to CT and Alife 11, but I totally would be interested if there’s a factor solution.

  • Jeremy says:

    I like that they’ve addressed the problem with belts slipping off under load – which is mainly due to long, flexy (steel Spot 29er) rear ends. However, the new sprocket design, ridden sans guard, looks perfect for grabbing pants, laces, and unlucky mechanics’ fingers. Hopefully they come with some sort of simple guard/case/cover.

  • Alan says:

    @sygyzy

    It’ll be a bolt-on upgrade. I’ll be working with Gates, so if there are any issues we’ll work through them and I’ll report the solutions here.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @John, Brian

    For where I ride, I don’t have a need for a lower low. I may still explore that option though, if for nothing else but to gain some knowledge in the process.

    For me, the main reason to upgrade is the better gear ratios throughout the range, not necessarily the wider range. And, of course, the oil bath maintenance..

    Alan

  • JP Atkinson says:

    My Alfine 11 CenterTrack Bryant build is in the works, so I will be able to post my impressions — hopefully within a week or so! Gates told my LBS they were shipping the drive about a week ago (probably to the supplier), and I am (not so) patiently awaiting its arrival! I will submit a Commuter Profile and post a link to photos when I am up and running!

  • Jordan says:

    A couple of weeks ago I got a Spot Brand Coyote (http://spotbrand.com/bikes/product-page/coyote-belt/) with the Gates CT. I posted a little review on Spot Brand’s facebook page if you want to check it out.

    This is my first bike with a belt but I can say for sure that I’m hooked! It’s amazing how stiff and responsive it is. I haven’t had a chance to ride it in the snow or anything (being in Texas) but I will say that I don’t expect any extra friction.

  • Andrew Leinonen says:

    @Dave

    I believe the reason for the improved strength is so that the belt will be stiffer, allowing them to run it at a lower tension, which should make it easier to set up that the existing Carbon Drive.

    I like the way belt drive is being refined, and would love to one day own one.

  • Robin Hillier says:

    @ Alan, John, Brian,
    The issue of “upgrading” an Alfine 8 to 11 is something that I think many, many commuters are considering. However, having ridden an Alfine 8 25 miles a day for the last few months, I have found that it is even more involved than I had thought. A direct swap would, as Brian C fears, result in the same lowest gear and 3 top gears I couldn’t use. The main benefit would be, as Alan says, a narrowing of the gap between 1 and 2, and closer ratios between 5 and 9, the latter gear being close to the current 8th gear, which I seldom use.

    I considered a change of chainring/sprocket, but using a lower ratio into the hub risks putting too much torque through it and consequent damage. I haven’t found a cast iron statement on the limit for the ratio used, but 1.9 seems to be the suggestion and anecdotal evidence suggests that some of those using lower than this on mountain bikes have managed to cause damage to the Alfine 8.

    Furthermore, I don’t know what Alan has found, but I find myself using gear 5 (direct drive 1:1) a lot, as it is so beautifully smooth and works out at a good cruising speed on my bike. This 1:1 gear is still #5 on the 11, so if you gear this down below your cruising speed you would lose this attribute.

    I now think that the only way to get an Alfine 11 to be a true upgrade would be to put it in a frame with 26″ wheels and a ratio of chainring to sprocket of somewhere around 1.9. That would give reliability and a range of lower gears. The bottom line for me is:
    1. Although I’d like a lower gear for emergencies, the Alfine 8 is close to perfect for commuting in not-too-hilly areas.
    2. For the Alfine 11 to reach derailleur-replacement status would require a different bike to what I have and what is often sold as a commuter.
    3. The Rohloff doesn’t look so expensive anymore…

  • Dave says:

    Like you, I’m skeptical that increased tensile strength has anything to do with preventing belt skip. The only way I can see to do that is to increase the tension on the rear pulley, with the corresponding risk of increased bearing wear.

  • JT says:

    Those chain rings look like they would TEAR UP your leg should the two ever meet.

 
© 2011 EcoVelo™