Continental Bicycle Belt Drive System
Continental Tires is entering the belt drive market for 2013, providing the first major competitor the Gates Carbon Drive system. Continental may be known for tires in the bike market, but they make drive belts for many car and motorcycle engines so this is not a huge departure from their manufacturing capabilities. The bicycle synchrochain is an aramid fiber reinforced belt with deeper teeth than the competitor’s version which allows it to be run with significantly less tension, providing both longer and more efficient bearing performance in the hub and bottom bracket. The deeper tooth profile however does preclude the use of small cogs, as the smallest diameter rear cog is a rather large 24 teeth forcing larger front rings as well for the given desired gear ratio. The deep teeth do not allow for as much bending around a curve as shallower profile to ensure that enough teeth are actually engaged given the torque of a bicycle rider starting from a stop. The belt and cog profile is an open standard that is already in use in other applications, meaning that other manufacturers are welcome to use it to create compatible belts and drive rings without locking the consumer into Continental branded products even if that is who is pushing the design right now.