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Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest Part 2:

Emerging Applications For a Time-Proven Concept

Even if you didn’t ride your single-speed cyclocross or city bike today, you probably used a Gates product to move around.

Gates has a hundred-year history providing mechanical components for a whole host of industrial applications, including things like the timing belt and hoses in your car’s engine.

Bicycle belts first appeared on folding bikes in the 1990s, and the technology quickly found a niche on commuter and transportation bikes. When combined with an internally geared hub, a belt drive creates a low-maintenance, reliable and clean system – all virtues prized by bike commuters.

The Gates Carbon Drive was introduced in 2007 and represents a further refinement of the technology, with its light weight and durability ensured through the use of carbon fiber tensile cords.

“Chains and derailleurs are great technology, but they are two of the more finicky aspects of bicycles,” says Paul Tolme, PR and Media Director for Gates Carbon Drive. “Gates views Carbon Drive as an application that can get more people out of their cars and onto bikes.”

But those same virtues of low maintenance, cleanliness, light weight and durability have garnered favor for the Gates Carbon Drive in the arenas of singlespeed mountain bike and cyclocross  racing. Gates sponsors two singlespeed cyclocross teams: Team Gates Carbon Drive and Portland’s River City Bicycles/Gates Carbon Drive team.

“There are many instances of belt-driven racers winning races in muddy conditions that clogged chains,” says Tolme.

The strength, reliability and durability of belt-driven systems are also highly valued by bicycle tourists who venture into areas devoid of bike shops and replacement chains. In 2009, James Bowthorpe set a new record for riding around the planet on a Santos bike with a Gates Carbon Drive system and Rohloff hub.

With these growing applications for Carbon Drive technology, more than 150 bike models from over 60 major bicycle brands come equipped with Gates systems, not counting handmade brands.

And it’s in the handmade world that the Gates Carbon Drive finds its most receptive and reflective market. “Custom builders are a wellspring of innovation and inspiration for the entire bike industry. This is why Gates chose to sign a three-year sponsorship agreement with NAHBS, beginning with 2012′s Sacramento show,” says Tolme.

Gates created the Carbon Drive frame design contest as a way to both inspire and reward innovation and hard work from custom builders. It offers $8750 in cash and product prizes.

“Since the Gates Carbon Drive technology made its debut at NAHBS in 2008, this exciting new technology has been creating more and more buzz, and we are delighted to welcome Gates to the NAHBS family with this significant partnership,” says Don Walker, president of NAHBS “Every year we see more and more beautiful belt-drive bikes on the show floor, and builders rave about these transmission systems.”