It could have been Blu-Ray versus HD DVD, Betamax versus VHS, or a width replay of the 19th Century Gauge War between Brunel versus Stephenson.
Instead, heads have been banged together and the fledging synchronous Chain Drive market will now operate to a width of 10mm and a depth of 11mm. Transmission multi-national Gates of the US has been working with Orange in the UK and Carbon Drive Systems of the US, an off-shoot of Spot Bikes. The US Gates factory was producing carbon-corded belts in a different width and pitch to the UK Gates factory.
In a three day meeting held in mid-January at the Gates UK HQ in Dumfries, the new standard was hammered out with representatives of Gates, Orange, Carbon Drive Systems and gear-box innovator Karl Nicolai of G-Boxx fame.
The belt drive is one-piece composite protected with a rubberised outer. Gates calls it the Poly Chain GT Carbon belt and says it "outperforms a roller chain in even the most demanding high-torque applications." There’s a BikeBiz background story here.
Click for this YouTube video of the hub manufacturing process, and close-ups of the old Orange belt.
A tech audio podcast featuring David Arthur, a senior engineer at Gates, and Michael Bonney of Orange can be accessed from here.
Orange first displayed its prototype belt drive bikes at Eurobike last year, with Spot Bikes following up at Interbike. Bonney said the plan was for production bikes to be available this Spring but this has now been pushed back. The next outing for the technology – now in a standardised width and pitch – will be on the Nicolai Bikes stand at the Taipei show.