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I’ve been complaining about the rain all wet season, but you know what, the last two weeks have dried up dramatically! Can’t wait to hit the road again and show you the northern section of the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route.
I tell the story about how I narrowly avoided getting robbed at knifepoint on my Ask Me Anything page this month! I do these regularly for fans of my videos and supporters of CyclingAbout.com. It’s essentially a way to offset the costs associated with video production and the operation of a large website (I’m lucky to break even on these things – but I do them ‘cos I’m passionate about them).
3, 2, 1… DROP IN! Don’t think I’ll be topping this moment anytime soon…
I wish I could show you more, but this has been my view the last few days. Inside I’m burning up a little knowing that I’m climbing massive mountains (with amazing views) but never actually reaping the rewards. Let’s hope the weather fines up soon!
How do you defeat Alee D? Still not sure, but sticky mud and 20% gradients will get you close.
I was about to open a gate into another grassy field when two cowboys approached on horseback. I explained that I was following a track back towards civilisation after spending the last week high in the mountains. They then jumped off their horses and began talking amongst themselves. I was told to follow one cowboy to a different gate while the other cowboy jumped up high on the fence and started waving his hat. Then out of the distance, a bull was charging straight at him! The bull stopped a metre from the fence and started scraping its feet on the ground while massive amounts of stream were pouring through its nostrils. It looked pissed. Real pissed. While the cowboy was distracting the bull, I followed the other cowboy through a different gate into the same field as the bull. But our plan backfired when the giant animal noticed… and charged straight at us!! I dropped my bike and climbed the fence in a split second while the cowboy somehow manoeuvred the raging bull through the gate into the field where we’d just come from. Not sure how this situation would’ve played out without the two cowboys there to help, but I can’t imagine it would’ve been great.
In the high mountain areas, I’ve been waking up at 5:30am every day just to ride through the morning mist. If I’m on the bike by 7am, the sun will cut beautifully through the mist to create shots like this.
This is a road, but it’s only fit for cycling, horse riding and walking. It’s my favourite kind of road thanks to the incredible viewz & endless solitude, but a side benefit is that there’s also a 0% chance I’ll get run over by a car.
Ever wondered how I get extra ground clearance when I need it?!? Koga Denham handlebar horns delivering the goods.
What you’re looking at is an expert snacker. He is on the go from sunrise to sunset with no big meals or breaks! He thrives on short stops which include stuffing his mouth with nuts (yeah, not those nuts), dried fruit (prunes por favor), Lupin beans (an Ecuadorian speciality), breads (wraps preferred), avocados (with hot sauce), peanut butter (the calorie king), potato chips (his vice) and coconut biscuits (pictured ).
Descending the black volcanic dirt behind the second tallest mountain in Ecuador (5897m/19347ft). Only some flowing lava would make this experience better!
10/10 camping on the Ecuadorian Páramo. Not a tree in sight!
FML My next film drops in a few days though! It’s a special one because it features Michael Dammer who is one of the route designers of the Trans Ecuador. He provides insights on the history, geography, ecosystems and experience of crossing Ecuador on a bike! Note: this road is not the TEMBR, it’s an Alee-route.
I still can’t get my head around how the weather is so consistent here. There seem to be so many variables involved with the weather, yet in the mountains every day there is a big thunderstorm within 10 minutes of 3PM, without fail. Anyone actually know how/why this weather phenomenon occurs???
I’ve explored some very wild places recently, but not everyone survived the journey with me! The most secluded places of Ecuador have been particularly hard to access (check my latest film to see the madness). But in many countries, this isn’t the case. For example, in Australia or Peru, I can cycle on dirt roads less than 100km and get to some places just as remote.
People often comment on how calm I am through adversity. This is a behaviour I’ve taught myself since I was a teenager. I almost remember the precise moment I decided to be a calm person. It was after an interaction with a car driver that had cut me off and verbally abused me while cycling. I was filled with rage, and it ruined my day. I didn’t want to have this happen again, so I trained myself to take a more philosophical view on life which involved controlling what I could and letting the rest wash over. Living this way has allowed me to prosper in high-stress situations, enjoy more things, not dwell on the past and maintain an overall more positive mood!
In biogeography, the páramo is a tropical alpine ecosystem with a predominance of scrubby vegetation. Páramo made up the majority of my ride this month, so it seemed like an appropriate name for this film! This episode is particularly special because it features Michael Dammer, one of the Trans Ecuador route designers who provides lots of insight into bikepacking across Ecuador.
Carbon Belt Drive has been developed over the last 30 years. It’s a power transmission technology used to run the blowers on 10,000 horsepower racing engines, the powertrains of 150 horsepower motorbikes, and more recently, the drivetrains of many bicycles.
The belts themselves are a series of nylon teeth that are reinforced using multiple carbon fibre cords. Belts are then paired with stainless steel cogs and durable alloy chainrings, which results in a super tough chain alternative that will handle temperatures ranging from -65°F (-53°C) to +185°F (+85°C).
Belt drive is a great alternative to a chain because it’s very low maintenance and it offers 3-4x the service life of a chain. The reason it’s not more widespread in the bike industry is that it cannot be used with derailleurs; instead, it’s limited to internally geared hubs such as Rohloff or Shimano, or crank-based gearboxes like the Pinion P1.18.
I’ve been using belt drivetrains paired with Rohloff 14-speed gear hubs since 2010. This has included a 31,000km (19,000mi) bike ride between Europe and Australia, my current 40,000km adventure from Argentina to Alaska and lots of multi-month tours in between. I started playing with belts on a modified Surly touring bike, later building up a custom Co-Motion tandem and am now riding a Koga WorldTraveller-S touring bike.
Note: This article was originally published May 2012 but has been completely overhauled Feb 2019.
Why Use Belt Drive?
Belt drive combined with a Pinion gearbox on a Hilite bicycle.
Belts Have A Long Service Life
You can expect a regularly cleaned belt drivetrain to last upwards of 30,000km/19,000mi. Additionally, belts will not rust if you leave them in the rain for long period of time.
Belts Require Little to No Maintenance
You don’t need to lubricate or degrease your belt. The most maintenance you’ll have to do is get a toothbrush and give the belt a scrub from time to time.
Belt Drivetrains Are Silent
You know when your chain is freshly cleaned and lubed and running perfectly silent? That’s a belt drive all the time.
Belts Are Marginally Lighter Than Chains
You can expect a weight saving of around 100 grams when compared to chain drive.
Are There Any Downsides?
Belt drive on a custom Surly Troll. Take a close look at this build HERE.
You Need A Belt Compatible Frame
As belts are one-piece, your frame will need to be designed with ‘belt splitter’ in the rear triangle. The frame will also ideally be ‘stiffness test approved’ – but more on frame stiffness below.
Belts Are Less Efficient Than Chains
As belts require a high tension, they’ve been tested to be less efficient (likely somewhere in the 1-5 watt range) than a perfectly lubed chain drivetrain, but may have the advantage when the conditions get nasty.
Replacement Parts Are Not Often Found In Shops…
… that said, with the high service life, you won’t need to obtain replacement parts often. It’s prudent to carry a spare belt (87 grams) to get you out of trouble on a bike trip (they fold up nice and small). I’ve never carried a spare chainring or cog as they’re very unlikely to be damaged even on a multiyear bike tour.
There’s A Higher Upfront Cost…
… but provided you get the full mileage out of your belt drivetrain, I’ve estimated you’ll go about 125km per dollar. This is the equivalent of a chain drivetrain costing you about $60 per 7500km (typical max distance for a chain).
Gates Belt Drive Models
CDX: High-Performance The CDX High-Performance belt drivetrain is the most common belt option. You’ll find this model on almost all touring and adventure bikes. This system now has 16 belt lengths, 7 front sprocket sizes and 8 rear cog sizes to give you the most drive ratio options.
CDX: EXP Gates more recently released an oversized version of the CDX drivetrain with 25% more surface area. This product is designed to get an even better range and durability, but still isn’t commonly found on touring bikes. There are currently five front sprockets and 4 rear cogs available.
CDN: Urban The budget belt drivetrain from Gates is CDN Urban. The idea is to bring belt drive to city bikes in the €500 complete price range. These products are designed for the ‘casual rider’ and are not approved for use on mountain bikes, mid-drive eBikes, fixed gear bikes, or high mileage trekking/touring bikes. From what I’ve heard, people have had a few problems with the CDN rear cog, but they’ve all been upgraded to a cross-compatible CDX stainless cog.
I’ve found that one of the most important factors for a belt drivetrain is that it is paired with a particularly stiff rear frame triangle – this is particularly important when carrying luggage on your bike. On my older belted touring bikes I was able to generate enough flex through my frames to make the belts skip under load. But no matter how much power I put through my pedals on my Koga WorldTraveller-S, I cannot get this to occur, indicating a higher degree of stiffness.
Gates offer a ‘stiffness test approved’ label to frames which pass their standard. But it’s worth noting that this is a minimum stiffness level, so some touring manufacturers do a better job than others to keep their rear triangle stiff. I recommend hunting for frames that use oversized tubes for the chainstays/seatstay section (my detailed article on frame stiffness is HERE).
You can find a list of every Gates approved frame HERE.
A belt drivetrain requires a way to tension the belt. There are a three different frame features that allow tensioning, each with their pros and cons.
EBBs: Eccentric bottom brackets allow you to move your crankset around 13mm forwards and backwards. The design also gives you the option to run your crankset high (nice for off-road) or low (better for the road). I’ve found EBBs a bit ‘creaky’ on long bike trips (more maintenance required) and additionally, they can get water in them, making them sometimes hard to adjust (again, maintenance required). The main upside is that companies like Koga have tested EBBs to offer the stiffest rear triangle possible.
Sliding Dropouts: Sliding dropouts offer about 20mm of adjustment and are a great option because they are very easy to adjust. Like EBBs, you do not need to tension your belt every time you take your wheel out; it simply drops out and then slots back in at the perfect tension. The downside to these dropouts is that some lower-quality frames have the propensity to move forward using belts, resulting in inadequate tension.
Horizontal Dropouts: Belt frames with horizontal dropouts are rare. They’re not recommended by Gates as you need to set the belt tension every time you take your wheel out. That said, if you are using belts and horizontal dropouts, you’ll need a minimum of 10mm left in the dropout before the belt is tensioned – this space is required to get the belt onto the chainring.
Belt Drive Frames: Splitters
Can you make out the frame splitter just above the dropout on this Ahearne?
Unlike a chain, belts are one-piece, so a split in the frame’s rear triangle is essential. Splitters can be found in the seatstay, dropouts or sometimes even the chainstay. The most common splitters are integrated into the rear dropout, but some manufacturers have tested seatstay splitters to produce the stiffest possible rear triangle.
In the past, frames have been modified with splitters so that people can upgrade to belt drive. I no longer recommend making this modification because you simply can’t guarantee that your rear triangle will be stiff enough for a belt. Plus, there are so many dedicated belt frames out there nowadays which are similarly priced to the cost of a frame mod and re-spray.
If you still want to get this modification made, make sure to contact a reputable frame builder. I’ve used Ewen Gellie for my work in Australia. Cycle Monkey in Northern California (USA) can also make this modification.
Belt Drive and Rohloff Hubs
Belt drive combined with a Rohloff hub is a dreamy setup, but there are a few conditions attached. Not adhering to these may result in the partial loss of guarantee and warranty cover for your hub. But don’t worry, it’s easy to meet these conditions!
Firstly, your frames rear-triangle must withstand a minimum stiffness level. In short, bike manufacturers must prove frame stiffness levels on a specialist testing jig in order to be considered ‘stiffness test approved’. You can find a list of every approved frame HERE.
And the second condition is that you use a ‘belt snubber’. This product prevents the belt from walking off the cog under high load (or insufficient belt tension). When the belt lifts onto the top of the cog it can compromise the internal carbon fibres in a belt, so it’s recommended to use a snubber in any case.
Previously, belt cogs screwed directly onto Rohloff hubs, but now there is a much more user-friendly ‘splined carrier’ (part #8540L) with three splined belt cogs available (19t, 20t, 22t). This carrier makes cog changes much easier. There was a known issue for the 1st-generation splined carriers, but this was fixed mid-2018 (and warranty parts sent out), so won’t be an issue going forward.
Belt Lines and Frame Clearance
Pinion+Belt Drive on a Page Street Outback. See the build HERE.
A straight ‘chain line’ or ‘belt line’ is absolutely essential for a properly functioning belt drivetrain (+/-1mm). The location of the rear cog is often fixed, so the majority of the adjustment will be at the crankset.
You’ll need to look up the chain line of the crankset you’re planning to use with your belt drivetrain. A triple 104BCD crankset has a 55mm chain line (when the chainring is mounted on the outside location), making them popular for Rohloff belted setups. It’s worth noting that Gates make their own cranksets with different beltlines to suit most belt drivetrains: 39.8mm, 43.7mm, 45.5mm and 54.7mm.
The other thing to mention is chainring clearance, in particular with Shimano hubs. As the gear selector on Shimano hubs is external and on the drive side, it results in a very narrow chain line. If a frame has inadequate chainring clearance at the chainstay, it may be incompatible with a Shimano hub. It’s worth getting in contact with a frame manufacturer to check on chainring clearance if you’re planning on using a Shimano hub with belt drive.
You might think that having fixed belt lengths reduces the ability to get your gear range right. But it’s worth noting that there are eight belt lengths and quite a few chainring and cog sizes, so the jumps between drive ratios aren’t large.
The Gates Calculator is a great tool to help determine which chainring and rear cog to use (this calculator is also available as a smartphone app). I find that if you plug in your optimal chainstay length (eg. 460mm) and hit ‘Find Solutions’, it will come back with the different combinations that will suit your frame first and foremost. You now just need to narrow down your ‘Gear Ratio’ options so they best suit your terrain. This will need to be done in accordance with the chainrings/cogs that are available for your Rohloff/Shimano/Pinion etc.
As mentioned above, if you are using belt drive and horizontal dropouts, you must have a minimum of 10mm left in the dropout before the belt is tensioned.
Belt Drive and Tandems
Belt drive is great for timing belts on tandem bikes. This saves you about 250 grams over the equivalent chain and chainrings. In order for belt drive to work on your tandem, your frames boom tube must be 724mm between bottom brackets. You’ll also need to be using 130BCD cranks. It is possible to run belts on both the drive and non-drive side of your tandem but the latter is recommended.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Belt drivetrains are almost maintenance-free. Cleaning is often as simple as rinsing the belt/cogs using a water bottle and an old toothbrush. No degreaser. No chain cleaner. No dirty hands.
The amount of work you do to maintain a belt will depend on the conditions you’re cycling through. In the driest, dustiest regions of the world, I’ve needed to apply a silicone lubricant to my belt every couple of days. Other times, its months between any maintenance or cleaning. While the belt system seems to do a pretty good job of removing mud and grit, you’ll want to keep the teeth of your belt as clean as possible to get optimal mileage.
Silicone Lubricant: I use a general purpose silicone spray when I hear the first squeak from my belt. My current spray bottle was purchased from an automotive store in rural Bolivia, so I have no doubt similar products can be found all over the world. Gates recommend THIS heavy duty silicone lubricant, in particular.
Hanseline Belt Drive Care Stick: This product has been designed to keep your belt running nicely. It is undoubtedly the most compact product to carry on a bike trip too, but I haven’t yet had the chance to test it.
You have to be careful with how you handle belts, as misuse can lead to internal carbon fibre damage… and trust me, you don’t want a snapped belt. The main thing is to ensure you don’t stress the fibres in any direction. If you’re storing a belt for a long time, it’s best to leave it fully open.
When installing your rear wheel, it is essential that you do not ‘crank’ the belt back on like you may with a chain. Instead, simply put the belt onto the chainring and cog, then slide your wheel into the dropout.
The great thing about belts is that they coil up nice and small so that you can easily carry them as spares. I generally tuck my spare belt into the pocket of one of my panniers. You’ll need to be careful folding and unfolding your belt – make sure you don’t force it, it should coil very naturally. When it’s folded correctly it should naturally sit in a loop which folds three times.
Gates Carbon Drive tension will vary depending on whether you use a singlespeed or internally geared hub, and how powerful you are as a rider. There are a few different ways to get your tension to what Gates recommend.
Smartphone App: You can download a simple app which will measure how much tension your belt has with your smartphone microphone. Simply hold the phone next to the belt and give it a few plucks and it will quickly give you an average frequency rating.
Gates Tools (Sonic Tension Meter, Krikit Gauge): More accurate tension gauges can be found at specialist bike shops, but I’ve never needed to use these products.
Tension variation (tight spots) may occur when the crank is rotated, so Gates recommends taking several tension measurements at different crank arm locations to find an average. Around a 10lb or 15Hz variation is considered acceptable...
Some people spend a lot of time on bike adventures… but without actually riding their bike! Perhaps the most famous for this is the Iohan Gueorguiev who seeks out the most off-the-beaten tracks through the Americas. I’ve also spent my fair share of time pushing bikes around the world, so I thought I might be able to give you some insights into these crazy places.
But… why would you use a bike if you’re going to spend so much time pushing it?
Sometimes you just want to get to the world’s most remote areas. It may take a longer time to get through a hiking trail section with a bike, but guess what, you’ve now got wheels for when you get to the dirt road on the other side.
Let me share a few techniques, show you a few bike setups, and then give you an idea for how I’d optimise my luggage for a trip with hike-a-bike galore!
I rarely push my bike…
…I pull it. I pull it through the mud, through rivers and up the rocky trails. One hand sits on the bars for control and the other pulls behind the seat. The only time I push with both hands on the bars is when the ground is hard and completely flat (but normally you can ride those sections).
When it gets steep, I pull my bike from behind the seat tube.
Pulling from the seat is only good up until a certain gradient (20-25% in my experience). After that, you’ll then need to tuck your hand in the gap behind your frames’ seat tube. I also find lifting my bike from the seat tube is ideal.
I use my rear brake. A lot. (When it’s steep)
My hand that I keep on my bars is always hovering over the rear brake lever. I often move my bike a bit, grab the brake and use the stationary bike to pull myself up!
When it’s insanely steep, I take off my front panniers first.
I’ve found that it’s easier to drag a heavy rear load than lift a heavy front one up crazy steep inclines.
Iohan Gueorguiev’s Fat Bike
The key feature of Iohan’s Fatback Rhino FLT is the removable 30-litre backpack. When Iohan needs his bike to be lighter and more manoeuvrable for the steeper hike-a-bike sections, he is able to carry a decent percentage of his gear on his back. Otherwise, he is carring equipment in a Cleaveland Mountaineering framebag, massive Sea-To-Summit front drybag and multiple Blackburn cargo cages on the frame and fork.
You can read more about Iohan’s Fatback Rhino FLT HERE.
Sylvain St-denis’ Surly Troll
If I recall correctly, Iohan was inspired by Sylvain’s rear rack backpack when they were travelling through Peru together. Sylvain uses a Surly Troll with a similar-sized backpack to Iohan, strapped to the rear Surly rack. To carry the rest of his gear he’s using full frame bag, front drybag and a few cargo cages. More recent photos of Sylvain’s bike show a front rack to support a small and large drybag.
Ryan Wilson’s 44 Bikes Maurauder
Photography wizard, rmdub, uses a custom 44 Marauder bike with Pass and Stow front rack to support a removable camera backpack for the hike-a-bike sections. Ryan keeps his electronic gear in this padded bag – camera gear, laptop, hard drives etc. Rather than a heavy rear load, the majority of Ryan’s weight is off the rear wheel. He’s using front Ortlieb panniers, two stem bags, a few cargo cages, a Porcelain Rocket frame bag and Porcelain Rock seat pack.
There are a few key principles here:
– Most of the weight is found in the centre-to-rear as it makes lifting the front of the bike easy.
– Weight can be removed from the bike easily. By using a backpack and drybag you can easily take 10kg/22lbs off the bike.
– Waterproof everything. This goes without saying, I have no time for anything else!
Front Top Rack w/ 30-Litre Waterproof Backpack
– The backpack would ideally have 5-7kg inside it while riding and could be combined with the separate rear drybag to remove over 30% of the bikes weight.
– I’d probably keep my electronics (laptop etc) in this bag.
Fork Cargo Cages
– These would stay on the bike when pushing and would allow the bike to be light enough to lift, even on a steep incline.
– No more than 2kg/5lbs of gear each side – probably a tent and sleeping gear as it packs well.
– Easily removable from the bike (I like the Dom Gorilla Cage system) for camping.
– Heaviest items go in here, along with food and tent poles.
– Space for water storage down low in the bag for optimal bike handling.
– These waterproof bags would store clothes, toiletries, cooking gear, spare parts, shoes etc.
Rear Drybag + Straps
– The drybag would be able to be removed and strapped to the backpack when the hike-a-bike got serious.
Have You Got Any Setup Tips For Hike-A-Bike Sections?
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This Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route (TEMBR) film is adventure-packed with crazy mud, hike-a-bike, river crossings, insane hills, loose af descents, navigation woes, a cooking segment and the reason why I don’t use a mountain bike on mountain bike trails.
I’ve recently noticed some very inaccurate numbers being thrown about regarding the weight difference between gearbox bikes and derailleur bikes (hint – it’s not even close to 3kg). In this article, I’ll try to clear things up by calculating the precise weight difference between 11 common drivetrain options found on touring and bikepacking bikes.
Let’s do this!
It is well-known that derailleur systems offer the lightest drivetrain weight. But what’s the weight difference between 1x, 2x and 3x setups? What about between brands and models? Below you’ll find the most popular derailleur options on stock bikes.
The only things to note for this section:
– The SRAM Force1 and Shimano Ultegra drivetrains include the brake lever(s) as they’re integrated with the shifter.
– The gear range is only 360% for the SRAM Force1 drivetrain, compared to 500%+ on everything else.
2019 Bombtrack Beyond+ 2 with a SRAM GX drivetrain.
Gearboxes come in two different forms – as an internally geared rear hub and as a crank-based gear system. For this comparison, I’ve listed the most popular options for bike travel: the Pinion P1.18 gearbox, the Pinion C1.12 gearbox, the Rohloff 14-speed hub and the Shimano 11-speed Alfine hub.
The things to note for this section:
– The Alfine hub has a 411% range, compared to 526% on the Rohloff and 600%+ on the Pinion.
– A chain would add around 200 grams to each of the Pinion gearbox systems over the belts specified.
– A bike with SRAM GX Eagle will be 750 to 1000 grams lighter than the equivalent Rohloff bike.
– A 1x drivetrain saves 300 to 400 grams over a 2x or 3x drivetrain.
– A Rohloff hub is 300 grams heavier than a 2x or 3x drivetrain.
– There isn’t a big weight difference between 2x and 3x because you need practically the same amount of parts.
– The Rohloff 14s hub saves you 800 grams over a Pinion P1.18 gearbox.
– The Pinion C1.12 gearbox is a similar weight to a Rohloff with a chain.
– Belt drivetrains offer a 200 gram weight saving over chain drive.
– The Shimano Alfine 11 is actually lighter than a Rohloff hub.
How Much Do These Weight Differences Matter?
As some of you are aware, I’ve done a lot of testing over the years, including one with different weight amounts in my panniers. I ended up calculating that an extra kilogram over 100km is worth somewhere between 10 and 90 seconds – that’s depending on if the terrain is flat or hilly. You can check out my full test HERE.
We can say that a minute or so will be the approximate time penalty between a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and a Rohloff hub over 100km on moderately hilly terrain. The difference between a Rohloff hub and a Pinion gearbox will also yield a similar result based on weight alone, however, the Pinion P1.18 also has additional friction losses in the gearbox system itself, resulting in a further 3-4 minute time penalty over 100km (check out my gearbox efficiency testing HERE).
Summary & Final Thoughts
I hope this article has cleared up a few weight myths between drivetrain components.
With all things equal, you can expect a 1x bike to save:
– 350 grams over a 2x
– 450 grams over a 3x
– 750 grams over a Rohloff w/ belt
– 1000 grams over a Rohloff w/ chain
Given how narrow the weight range is here, I certainly wouldn’t choose a drivetrain based on weight alone. The exception would be if you were planning on building up a sub-10kg carbon race bike for a bikepacking ultra.
Instead, it makes more sense to focus on a drivetrain that suits your budget with appropriate gearing for the terrain you ride. For a small weight penalty, a 2x or 3x drivetrain has smaller gaps between gears when compared to 1x, which is a nice feature for flatter terrain. Front derailleur systems also offer a better chainline, increasing the life of your chain and the efficiency of your drivetrain at both ends of the cassette. That said, 1x is certainly nice to use given its simplicity.
Gearboxes are quite ideal for bike travel, especially with a belt drivetrain, as the cogs are all sealed away from the elements. Other than the odd oil change and a quick brush with a toothbrush, these drivetrains are practically maintenance free. Plus you’ll find you can get 10,000km out of your chain or 25,000km out of your belt. The main downside is that gearboxes come at a very high initial cost.