With a tip of the hat to the tandem gang at BikeForums.net, it would appear that:
(A) Pricing on the individual Gates 2000mm carbon drive belts & 69t pulleys has fallen dramatically over the past year such that you can pick up a pair of rings & new belt for about $150 + shipping & applicable taxes, well under the current MSRP for Gates tandem system @ $210.
For regular, long-time readers or anyone who has been keeping track, you may recall that when first introduced the Gates Carbon Drive 2000mm and 71t pulleys designed to replace tandem sync chain drives was priced around $525 for the belt & 2 pulleys. Back in March of 2010, the pricing dropped to around $450, which still seemed awfully high and not all that cost-effective compared to chain-based systems.
Well, at an MSRP of $210 for the system it’s become a much more attractive option and, as noted, it seems you can now find the belts for as little as $52 vs. the suggested MSRP of ~$75 at places like E Bike Stop. As for the 69t drive cogs / pulleys (which replaced the 71t cog/pulleys), these can be found for as little as $48.99 each at Alfred E. Bike vs. around $165 just a few years back. Checking the fine print, these do appear to be the CDX / CR8041 pulleys with the more expensive carbide coatings vs. the less durable anodized CDC rings. This finally addresses the biggest issue that I’ve had with the system: the cost benefit. At $160 for the entire system, even assuming a 10,000 – 12,000 life for the system it makes it very competitive to the cost of chain-based systems given how the price of the better chains has climbed over the past few years, given the low maintenance and life of the belts.
I’m not sure if Gates has endeared itself to some of the tandem speciality dealers who adopted and stocked these systems over the years where even today you’ll find a complete Gates system for a Santana priced at just under $600 with individual pulleys listed for $265/ea. The smaller 69t pulleys are even carrying a $190/ea price tag with the 2000mm belts listing for as high as $90/ea. Sure seems like a slap in the face if their dealers weren’t provided with a heads-up on the pricing changes.
(B) The Gates Centertrack (CDX-CT) belt & pulley system we mentioned back on 16 Sep 2010 will be offered for tandems.
Again, with a tip of the hat to DubT at BikeForums.net, he shared this note from Steve Pardoe at Gates with forum readers last week:
*The new CenterTrack system for tandem is in design and testing phase. *We are hoping to have it to market by Summer 2012. *We do not have a cost for the system yet. *It should only be slightly more than the current system at $210. *The weight of the entire system is several pounds lighter than your chain system. *I do not have an exact weight with me but will get one soon.
The center track design ‘should’ produce a lighter-weight pulley by eliminating the flange and should also be a bit more forgiving of less that perfect front-to-rear pulley run-out. More to follow, I’m sure.
As for us, we have no plans to change-out our sync drive for a belt system. Chains have served us well and while we enjoyed some of the characteristics of the belt system we experimented with, they didn’t seem to be a ‘must have’ item.