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Photo: Ryan Miller

2012 Gates Carbon Drive Frame Design Contest Winner

Sam Whittingham of Naked Bicycles is no stranger to success, but yesterday’s Gates Carbon Belt Drive win tastes particularly sweet, as he had it pegged from day one.

“I had already been working on my [turnbuckle chainstay] tensioning system for a few years,” Whittingham says of his innovative design, “so when I heard about the Gates competition, I knew it was the perfect time to take it to NAHBS.”

Innovative or not, the bike never would have arrived were it not for the Gates Belt Drive itself, which “took us 450 miles plus with zero issues. We torture tested it, we tried to break it and failed miserably.”

Though Naked has built four bikes already with a Gates Belt Drive, this is only the second to incorporate his new design, and the first to use Gates’ new center tracking belt.

“It made sense, it keeps the belt straight and is practical. Gates always pushes to improve on what they’ve done before and many of our friends had recommended it, so the timing for us was perfect.”

And the cherry on top? The fact that his design did not arrive in Sacramento as a theoretical show bike, but on a proven loaded touring workhorse, ridden to NAHBS by the Naked team from 500 miles away.

“If it were only on display, it would have no proof behind it. People could come and look, but say, ‘Sure, it looks cool but…’. Having already tested it out on the roads, I knew that it worked; it’s proven. So is the Gates Carbon belt drive.”

“This also aligns completely with our whole philosophy of NAHBS this year, we wanted the story to be about the experience, and proven designs allow riders to concentrate on the experience of riding their bikes.”