Gates Corporation, a Denver, CO-based maker of belts for automotive and industrial markets, has partnered with the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) to promote the advantages of belt drives over chains and derailleurs in the rapidly growing electric bicycle market.
Gates, which makes a carbon drive system for bicycles and eBikes, said its Bronze level sponsorship of LEVA will enable it to alert consumers and manufacturers to the benefits of belt drives on eBikes. With its network of over 250 members in 29 countries, LEVA is the world’s largest and most influential trade association for electric bikes.
More than a million electric bikes were sold in Europe in 2012, and that number is expected to double in 2014. In the United States, sales topped 100,000 last year and LEVA expects that will double in 2013. Sales could hit 40 million worldwide in 2015, according to the annual Electric Bike Worldwide Report written and published by Dr. Frank Jamerson.
“Electric bikes are transforming the bicycle industry and providing people around the world with an efficient, sustainable and affordable form of transportation,” said Frank Scurlock, global sales director for Gates Carbon Drive. “LEVA is giving this industry a voice and is doing great work to educate the public, bicycle brands and policymakers about the benefits of electric bikes.”
Electric bicycles are now the fastest-growing category for Gates Carbon Drive, launched in 2007 on mountain and city bikes. Electric bike brands using the Gates belt drive include Smart, Bergamont, Grace, Flitzbike, Electrolyte, GoBike, OHM, Mi-Tech, MTB Cycletech, Nicolai, Steppenwolf, Zemo, Kettler, M55, Nevi, Pi, Riese and Müller, NTS Works and more. More eBike brands using Carbon Drive will be announced in 2014.
To educate LEVA members about Carbon Drive, Gates will partner with the trade association to provide seminars, training and technical information about belt drives on eBikes. “Gates Carbon Drive simply makes sense on electric bikes because it provides a clean, grease-free and low-maintenance alternative to chains and derailleurs,” Scurlock said.
Gates, the world’s largest seller of belts for automobiles, motorcycles and industrial machinery, has worked diligently to engineer products that easily mate with the leading eBike motors. At Eurobike 2013, Gates Carbon Drive introduced sprockets that integrate with eBike motors from Bosch, BionX, SRAM, MPF, GO SwissDrive, and Höganäs.
Gates is now working with Yamaha, NuVinci and Panasonic to provide sprockets for their eBike systems. “Our goal is to have a Gates belt drive option for every eBike motor in the market,” said Todd Sellden, director of Gates Carbon Drive.
Other growth initiatives this year include a new website to promote the “clean, quiet, light and strong” advantages of Gates Carbon Drive. The company has also added multiple employees in Europe, the United States and Asia to beef up sales, engineering and technical support. Gates recently introduced its own branded cranksets that come pre-assembled with Carbon Drive sprockets, saving bike makers the time and expense of sourcing and installing cranks separately.
“We are impressed with the growth of Gates Carbon Drive on eBikes and intrigued with the technology because it offers consumers and manufacturers a nice alternative to chain drives,” said Heather Marshman, LEVA executive director. “We think Carbon Drive's quality and attributes can help attract new consumers and boost sales of electric bicycles. And that's what it's all about: getting more people on light electric vehicles.”
Gates Carbon Drive consists of two lightweight metal sprockets and a high-strength belt embedded with carbon fiber cords that do not require lubrication, weighs less than a chain drive and will not stretch. Due to its low maintenance and ease of use, Gates asserts the technology can get more people on bikes. Gates Carbon Drive will be featured on more than 220 bike models from more than 90 brands in 2014.