Friday, June 15, 2012

Gates Center Track- A new Review!

Been a long time since I last posted anything here, but, I figured a new review is in order.

A couple weeks back I made a comment on Guitar Ted's blog. He wrote a long term review of the new Gates Center Track drive and had some very good things to say about the system. After my previous experiences with the first generation CDX drive, I was skeptical, to say the least.

I had a lot of fit issues in addition to the skipping everyone else seemed to experience. The off-set pulleys made frame clearance tough and I had to use extra spacers on the drive side BB cup to get the 39T pulley to fit, barely. The new Center Track is more like a traditional chain-ring/cog combo in that nothing is off-set. The belt interface is directly in-line with the crank bolts. However, Gates went to larger pulleys to provide more surface area for the belt. Allowing better purchase at a reduced tension. So, I would have to go from a 39T off-set to a 46T Center Track pulley. Chain-stay clearance could still be an issue.

So, a day after my post, Todd, a representative from Gates shoots me an email and asks if I'd be willing to try their newest offering. Not one to say no to free stuff, I jump at the offer. I had been reading some very good press of the Center Track, but, wasn't willing to fork over any more money without some guarantees. Gates did one better.

Todd and Mark hooked me up with a 46/28T pulley combo and a 118T belt. This is the same ratio that comes stock on all new Spot Rockers. The new pulleys bolted right up without issue. No need to change any spacers and the front pulley cleared the chain-stay. It's close, I won't lie, but it works. Total time to swap out parts was 10 minutes or so. If your chainline is straight, the Center Track bolts right up. I used my trusty Krikt gauge to measure the tension and probably set it a little high, just to be safe. Twice bitten and all....

From the moment of installation, I knew Gates got it right. Everything just worked. From install to alignment, the new Center Track just works. The geek in me was curious about the new iPhone app to measure belt tension. It's free, what the hell. After getting the microphone pointed in the right direction, I was able to get consistent readings that told me my belt tension was a tad too high. I was hoping to reduce the tension a little anyway, so I was glad to have the app for confirmation. I set the tension in the middle of the suggested range, 72.3 Hz and went for another ride.

This was now the 5th or 6th ride on the new system. The previous rides have a been a mixed bag of my local haunts. Some fast and flowing trails, some super technical rock crawling with plenty of climbing. Each ride confirmed my initial impressions, Gates did their homework and got it right this time. Last nights ride saw some punchy climbs, plenty of water crossings and some log hopping for fun. Even at the reduced tension, the drive worked flawlessly. The reduced tension should help with bearing life, a major concern with the previous generation. Oh, and I haven't cleaned, lubed or maintained anything on the drivetrain since I installed the belt. True "set it and forget it" operation. Perfect for the lazy single-speeder!

1 comment:

Jon Tomas said...

thank for your helpful review about Gates Center Track. Long time to see you. hope to read more posts of you about bicycle.