Without a doubt, one of the biggest advances in bike technology in recent memory has been the Gates Carbon drive — which replaces your standard oily, noisy bike chain with a totally silent, maintenance-free belt made of Kevlar, the same stuff used in bulletproof vests. (You can currently find the drive standard on the excellent Trek District.)
Up until now though, they’ve had one small but pronounced drawback, if you’re a bike freak: The belts have a chance of slipping off, which is partly compensated for with a flange on the outside edge of the chain ring. And in turn creates a nook for dirt and debris to lodge.
But the good folks at Gates have just announced a very simple fix: The new Centertrack drive has a ridge running down the middle of the belt, which meets up with the teeth on the sprockets:
That means the flanges on the sprockets can be eliminated, so that dirt will simply fall away. Meanwhile, tensile strength in the belt supposedly goes up by 20%.
The next step for Gates? We suggest ramping up production high enough on these things, so that the price comes down to a couple hundred bucks, rather than several hundred. When that happens, there’s every reason to believe that they’ll begin dominating the market — especially on mountain bikes, which already suffer weight problems, and where standard chains are a pain in the butt.