Posts Tagged ‘Belt Drive’
A couple weeks ago Eric Bjorling the “Lifestyle Marketing Guy” for Trek was kind enough to sit down with me and answer some questions the the District forum members and I had about the Trek District. He was also kind enough so share some unused photo’s of the District in it’s element that didn’t make the cut for this years catalogue.
TREKDISTRICT: The Trek District was obviously a revolutionary bike, it combined a vintage style with a state of the art belt drive. In my mind “District” was synonymous with “belt drive” and “vintage” but the new District line breaks both of those preconceived notions. Just what does make a bike worthy of the District Badge?
ERICBJORLING: For us, The District was a large progressive step in a direction we hadn’t ever gone before. Not just the belt drive aspect, but also the vibe and customer base we were trying to appeal to. When we went into the second year we wanted to keep pushing the design and options for the District’s audience. We knew we had to keep things fresh to keep us in the forefront of rider’s thoughts and passion and that meant something beyond a paint change. The decision was made that we’d offer several completely seperate schemes and vibes to ensure that we’re offering something for a wide range of tastes. It’s not that we’re obsoleting previous models, we’d just hate for you guys to get bored with us.
TD: Obviously Trek took a big gamble with the original District, it was completely unique and at a price point that attracted more serious bikers. Have sales performed as expected?
EB: We were all a little surprised by the initial response. The team knew that we had something special that we were enamored with but we had no clue as to the response it generated. We actually had to re-adjust the original forecast just based on the amount of hype and excitement that was generated around the bike. Sales have been remarkably positive and will hopefully continue that way.
TD: The new District line looks just as good as the original. Will there be a fixed gear option for the traditional chain drive bikes? When do you expect the models to be available for sale?
EB: Thanks! I’m not sure if i could ever accurately describe the amount of love, attention, and arguments go into creating those bikes. When you propose a bike with gold parts, people react. “I want this bike to swing from Kanye’s chain!” The hubs on the chain bikes are flip-flop free/fixed so that we’re offering the option that everybody can dig. The dropouts are the same as the belt drive models so that if anybody ever wants to upgrade to the belt, it’s an easy addition. Right now we’re looking at Christmas delivery for the new chain bikes but the original grey/orange is currently available.
TD: How about the District Carbon?
EB: As far as the carbon district goes, i saw a few of those in production while walking through the Waterloo factory a few days ago. We’re looking for Late October for retail delivery on those bad boys.
TD: You’re paving new ground with the whole belt drive system, and while the gearing is perfect for most people, there are others that want to change it. Is Trek planning selling different gearing options for the District, or will owners be left to experiment with parts directly from Gates?
EB: I can understand why people want to change the gearing. bikes, like life, are all about variety. The gear on there can do it all, climb, cruise, and coast. For now, as far as production is concerned, we’re happy with the gearing and don’t have plans to change it. Gates has some different configurations that are available through them so i guess for now, if you want to change up your district, you gotta hit them up.
TD: Speaking of changing the belt drive options, is there a fixed gear solution in the works? What are the biggest obstacles to overcome in designing a fixed gear belt drive?
EB: Let me dispel the rumorists and twitterati right here and now. Belt Drive fixed is possible. i know this because i have ridden it. The obstacle to overcome a fixed bike is not in the product development but rather in the bringing it to market. While we may love fixies, you immediately limit the amount of people that will buy the bike. the most viable option would be a flip-flop like you see on the chain drive bikes.
TD: It’s been interesting to see the line of belt drive bikes expand with the new Districts, and even a belt drive on the Bishop. Are belt drive bikes here to stay, and where are we likely to see them next?
EB: I think we have to look at the characteristics of lasting ideas to judge that. Belt Drive has a lot going for it in its simplicity, reliability, durability and it solves a problem. Belt Drive is here to stay as long as bike and belt manufacturers are dedicated to ensuring that it’s a quality benefit. The day that we attempt to cut corners is the day you can put belt drive in the rear-view. However, the development that is currently being undertaken will ensure that the number of applications for belt drive will increase in the near future. You can see other brands adopting belt drive onto more models which will increase our experience as a whole. The Bishop was a great project to undertake to see how far we could push it and the lessons learned will be applied to further research. What I can tell you is that what we’re responsible for here at Trek will always be produced with the highest standards of quality and authenticity.
A huge thanks to Eric at Trek for answering our questions and a to the crew on the forums for being such an avid group of District fans!
Details are just rolling in, but it looks like the District line just got a whole lot bigger. It is now comprised of 4 different models, only two of which have belt drives. Here is the quick overview.
The District Carbon. Belt drive, OCLV Carbon, $3359.
1st District. Belt drive, with retro looks. This is really the true younger brother to the 2009 District. $1099.
2nd District. No belt drive here, although it looks like it will still have the split rear triangle. I think that this is the best looking of the bunch personally, and it would make an awesome fixed gear bike. $709.
3rd District. Again no belt drive, but still a really good looking bike. $709
Huge thanks to Jerrylikesbikes for the pictures!
Here is another great review with some equally stunning photo’s from the UK!
Back in early December 2008, the winter off road commute was taking its toll on both the bike and me. I was in the market for a low maintenance, fun commuter. Not sure where I first saw a details of the District but thought – that’s got to be a fun bike.
A deposit went down on the District and every week I was hoping that it would be just another few days, I regularly visited trekdistrict.com to see if there was any news.
After waiting several months and only having a few pictures to look at, I was unsure what my initial reaction would be when finally seeing it for real. I arrived on foot at the bike shop with the intention to cycle it home. I waited eagerly as they brought it out from the workshop – the first thoughts were wow! The styling, lived up to my expectations, the build quality was stunning. It was “for real” and looked so much better in real life.
After a chat with the friendly guys at http://www.evocycles.co.uk/ it was now time to get on and ride it. At this point I felt nervous. Having not owned a road bike for 20+ years, my focus has been on long distance cross country riding. The fit didn’t feel too dissimilar to my Trek EX-8, the main thing that crossed my mind was how small and light the bike felt underneath me. In contrast to a chunky MTB, it felt fragile. I pulled away slowly and started to wind it up. The gearing felt natural and my worries about power transfer quickly faded. A strong tail wind was in my favour, before I knew it I had covered nearly 2 miles. The build felt robust with the only noise being traced to a loose inner tube valve nut – this bike is seriously silent. After a quick stop, and with a long flat stretch ahead it was time to see how fast I could go. Acceleration is effortless, the GPS logs showed that 24.8Mph was reached. At this speed, the legs spin like crazy and my fingers were twitching to down shift. Would be interested to hear what others feel about the gearing, would like to have gone faster but perhaps I just need to stick to a sensible speed and enjoy the cruise?
The next test was to see what its like at hills. Nothing to steep, but the ones I tried were fine. A few times I had to get out of the saddle to keep the spin up, the bike is incredibly light and seems to fly.
A few observations, the pivots on the brake levers have orange paint which has started to flake off – not fussed as feel that they looks better without. The weld at top of seat stay looks rushed and untidy. One side of the pedals seem convex whereas the other side is flat, I prefer using SPD’s so will fit these soon. The black spokes are a nice touch. Its amazing how much attention it gets, I think it’s a bike that people either love or hate – two days of ownership and I love it. Happy riding
Thanks Nigel! Lots more pictures after the jump…
One of our loyal readers Sander van der Vegte of http://www.coin-op.nl/ just got his Trek District last week. It’s currently the only District in Holland. He was kind enough to take some great pictures and write up his initial thoughts. If you are one of the lucky to own a District, drop us a line and share some photo’s, we’ll post them up for everyone to see. See Sanders full review below.
If there were something like drive-by burglaries, this would be the tool of choice.
The Trek District is quiet. You hear nothing but the tires or the hard-to-notice squeak of the belt when you push down hard. It’s a lovely experience, especially in parks and woods. I bought this bike at a Trek dealer called Top Bikes in The Hague, the Netherlands. Amongst many other bike stores they were one of the few that listed the District. I made reservations approximately three months upfront not knowing about the delays. When it finally arrived they informed me that only four (or maybe five) Districts were made, and only one was shipped to Holland. I consider myself very lucky.
This is my first Trek bike. I’m not an expert in biking, but in this country everyone rides bikes. It’s by far the best way to get around town (and I don’t even have a drivers license as result). This picture gives you a good idea of how common biking is here:
I’ve owned many bikes. Some were stolen, some rusted away. But it wasn’t until a few years ago before I bought my first new bike. Eventually, I got fed up with having grease all over the place and looking like a clown stuffing my pants in my sock. The belt drive of the District is, together with its stunning looks, the reason why I wanted to have one. The bike doesn’t make you worry about things like grease or gears. Just get on and drive away. A lazy-men’s bike when it comes down to those things. And I find that positive. Before I left the store I asked if they could flip the stem. Apparently the stem is mounted upwards by factory default. With such a minimalistic design something trivial as a stem can change the look of the bike entirely. The mechanic flipped it for me without a problem.
My first trip was from The Hague to Rotterdam, which is (including some sight seeing) roughly 30 kilometers or 18.5 miles. The rock-hard tires in combination with brick roads made for an uncomfortable ride at first, but as soon as I hit tarmac all my worries were gone. The word ‘smooth’ couldn’t even cover it. The gear ratio is perfect, as is the grip on the pedals. The belt drive feels like a strong piece of fabric that doesn’t stretch. It’s hard to describe the difference between the belt and a normal chain, but you can certainly feel it. There is absolutely no slippage or jerky moves to be found. It really makes you wonder why this system hasn’t been applied to all bikes already.
There is a downside to the quiet ride though. For instance, with every odd sound the bike produces I find myself bending towards the frame listening carefully to learn what causes it, and it makes a bike bell a necessity which lessens the looks of this clean machine. I can’t recall how many times I had to brake or steer clear from unexpected bikers and pedestrians that simply didn’t hear me coming. The good looks of the bike is something we can all agree on. The minute the bike was outside the store it received its first bystander’s comment of approval. Kids shouting “cool bike!”, grown ups turning heads and elderly people stopping for a moment to study it. It all happened in a matter of hours. If I have to summarize my impressions, it would be that the Trek District is a great looking bike, a very good and silent ride that is ridiculously well priced for what it offers. That evening I couldn’t help myself and went for another 15km ride. I eventually stopped at a bench and took a closer look. Here are a few pictures of interesting things.
I ran across an old video from November about the Trek District that I had somehow missed. The AP did a quick little video on the Trek District and had a chance to catch up with Eric Bjorling the brand manager in charge of the District. Hear what he had to say and see a quick clip below.
Here is a great video put out by trek that talks more about the Trek District. The weather is warming up and rumor has it that the first districts are starting to roll off the lines already. If you haven’t already pre ordered yours, now is the time.
The District is being branded as a commuter bike, which it would be great as. The belt drive means that there is no greasy chain to eat your pants as you dodge traffic. The single speed makes it simple and reliable. But what about those that want to simplify it even more and go fixed gear? Fixie inc is the only fixed gear belt drive that I know of, but I have often wondered how easy it would be to make the District into a fixie. Here is the reply I got from Trek.
TD: I’m sure you already know that the style of the District appeals to the fixie crowd. How easy would it be to convert to a fixie?
TREK: Only factor limiting this is a compatible rear hub and cog. There are some companies out there that are working on this, including Trek. Currently, though, it’s not possible to convert to fixed gear with parts available through Trek. If other companies have them available already, then you could use their parts to switch over.
TD: It sounds like the rear cog just slips over a Shimano freehub body. If this is the case, could you just use the Surly Fixxer to convert it to a fixed gear?
TREK: Can’t guarantee that the Fixxer would work with the stock hub, as this isn’t a Shimano hub (it’s Formula). As long as the belt cog was compatible with the converter, it could work. There are some really cheep looking belt drive freewheels out there as well. There’s a folding bike company called Strida that has been using belt drive for years and has drive train parts available.
TD: What is the rear spacing?
TREK: Spacing is 135mm in the rear, 100mm front. (not 120mm track).
With that in mind, it seems like a simple conversion to a fixie may not exist. Of course you could always re-lace the rear wheel with a different hub and you would be in business. Any other ideas?
Something tells me that Trek will be working on solving the problem with some in house solution if the demand is high enough. I know I would love a flip flop belt drive hub.