Here’s some bike porn for you all. Lynskey Performance just posted about their use of belt drives on singlespeed bikes. They title the post “A Stunning Singlespeed.” I saw their belt drive bikes at the 2008 Handbuilt Bicycle Show and they are indeed stunning.
I talked with some folks at the show about the practicality of belt drives on bicycles. Belt drives used on motorcycle drivetrains are expected to last at least 10,000 miles; they should have at least the same lifespan on a bicycle. Belts don’t require lubrication, eliminating the need for a full chain case. Modern belts don’t have nearly the performance penalty that rubber belts had.
This is obviously a show bike for a boutique upscale market, but I think we can expect to see some trickle down to more practical and affordable applications. If you want or need gears for your bike, builders are now designing bikes using a belt drive with internally gear hubs.