HOFHEIM, Germany (BRAIN) — Benchmark Drives develops e-bike drivetrains and lightweight, low-maintenance belt-drive systems that hold a lot of appeal. But the high belt tension of current designs stresses bearings and makes it difficult to read drivetrain tension, an integral part of efficient e-bike drivetrains.
Benchmark approached Continental’s Contitech Power Transmission Group, which already makes industrial and automotive drive belts, for help designing a lower-tension bicycle drive belt.
The resulting design, Conti Drive System, uses notably larger teeth than Gates Carbon Drive belts, and those larger teeth require deeper-toothed cogs, so there will be no sharing parts between the two systems.
“The larger teeth of the design allow a lower tension, and therefore spare the bearings and offer a better sensor measurement of drivetrain tension,” said Richard Hilgart, Benchmark Drives’ product manager.
Because the Conti Drive System is a jointly developed product, Benchmark is the exclusive sales source at this time, and the company is still finalizing its sales approach in the U.S. as well as determining on price.
However distribution is finalized, Brett Hahn, Continental brand manager for bicycles in the U.S., said he expects some North American retailers will see the system first as an OEM drivetrain on European e-bikes.
“E-bikes are still a developing market here, so I don’t think Conti’s belt is going to be common in our market at first. How readily available it is for aftermarket sales will depend on demand,” Hahn added.
Benchmark may have targeted development to its e-bike drivetrains, but Hilgart says the system is equally at home in other uses.
“The belt drive is not simply meant for e-bikes but for all bikes including single-speed and internal gear hub bikes,” he noted, saying the lower tension system will extend bearing life in those applications as well.