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Cavalerie brings belt drive to full-suspension mountain bikes

By

April 3, 2014

The Cavalerie Anakin enduro bike

The Cavalerie Anakin enduro bike

Image Gallery (10 images)

Dirty, noisy chains and dirty, fragile rear derailleurs are two features of modern mountain bikes that could certainly stand to be made obsolete. Well, the Cavalerie line of full-suspension MTBs does away with both, replacing them with a Gates Carbon belt drive and an Effigear gearbox. Launched last year in its native France, Cavalerie is about to get a boost in profile, as it commences distribution in North America.

The Gates belt drive is popping up with increasing frequency on a variety of types of bicycles, as it's much smoother and quieter than a chain, plus it doesn't require lubrication or cleaning. It can't be used with traditional derailleurs, however, which limits its applications to either single-speeds or bikes with non-derailleur gearing systems.

One such system is the Effigear. It's actually been in development since 2004, although it arrived at its present incarnation relatively recently. If it looks at all familiar, it's because it resembles the Pinion gearbox, which is already available on a number of mountain bikes.

Like the Pinion, its advantages over a rear derailleur include the facts that it's sealed against external contamination, it requires very little maintenance, it's much less subject to damage (there's no bendable bit hanging down), gears can be shifted while the bike isn't being pedaled, and it moves weight from the end of the bike to the middle, for better stability and less unsprung weight. That last point is one of the reasons we don't see more sealed hub transmissions on mountain bikes.

Also like the Pinion, however, it's heavier than a derailleur, plus it must be built into the frame – it can't just be added to an existing bike, or swapped with something else.

A look inside the Effigear gearbox

A look inside the Effigear gearbox

One of the differences between the two is the 444-percent 9-speed (maximum) gear ratio on the Effigear, as opposed to 636 percent and 18 speeds on the Pinion. The Effigear, however, can utilize three types of shifters (trigger, sequential twist or traditional twist), as opposed to the Pinion's one. More importantly for the Cavalerie bikes, the Effigear's integrated suspension pivots allow it to be used with a belt drive on full-suspension bikes – the Pinion can only be paired with a belt drive on hardtails, except for a clever exception or two.

As for the bikes themselves, there are three models: the 37.25-lb (16.9-kg) Falcon downhill bike, that features 200 mm of fork travel and the choice of a 6- or 7-speed gearbox; the 36.5-lb (16.6-kg) Squirrel freeride, with 185 mm and nine speeds; and the 31.5-lb (14.3-kg) Anakine enduro, with 160 mm of travel and 650b-sized wheels. Pricing for the Anakin has yet to be announced, but the Falcon and Squirrel are available to American and Canadian buyers now, both for US$5,750. They're available through Philthy Bikes, which is handling North American distribution.

If you want to check them out in person, they'll be making their stateside debut at the Sea Otter Classic festival and expo, from April 10 to 13 in Monterey, California.

... and just for the record, Cavalerie isn't the only manufacturer to have adopted the Effigear gearbox. It's also found on full-suspension bikes made by Germany's Nicolai Bikes, among others.

Sources: Philthy Bikes, Gates Carbon Drive, Cavalerie Bikes

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
10 Comments

$5,800. Ummm......no. How many of the gears overlap. As in current bicycles that have 20+ gear selections, many are overlap of the others. A simplified version would be cheaper.

VoiceofReason
3rd April, 2014 @ 03:40 pm PDT

Ummm Yes. No having to buy mechs, hangers or cassettes again. And chains(if run)will last several times longer than a chain being rammed and bent into another sprocket under load on a bike with derailleur. Belt will probably last longer.

Hmmmm, shift any time, less unsprung weight, low centered weight, minimal maintenance, much more reliable, not fragile, always good to go, no noise, no worry for derailers hitting rocks, no having to find smooth track to change gears, change gears cornering, in rock gardens, in the air, any fricken where.

No overlapping gears, why would there be? It's like 1 x 9 deraileur set up. About the same weight too. Total awesome, can't wait to get mine, been waiting years for this to be ready to accompany my trouble free Zerode DH bike, Nicolai/Pinion epic ride bike and Canfield Nimble 9 29er, commuter with Alfine rear hub.

Thanks for your voice of reason, but your "reason" is off IMO. But to each their own.

Cranky
4th April, 2014 @ 01:10 am PDT

@ VoiceofReason

In answer to your question, none of them overlap - just look at the photo (and its noisy spur gear design).

Mel Tisdale
4th April, 2014 @ 02:30 am PDT

How do you get a new belt on ???

Leonard Foster Jr
4th April, 2014 @ 08:01 am PDT

Awesome, only thing they seemed to miss on unsprung weight is putting the disc brake around the transmission area. HUGE change in rear suspended bicycles at minimum.

PerryRObray
4th April, 2014 @ 09:06 am PDT

Also having the rear suspension pivot at the same spot as the sprocket for the drive is HUGE or reducing parts, also known as tensioners. AWESOME!

PerryRObray
4th April, 2014 @ 09:09 am PDT

Nice, but too darned expensive IMO.

Bobbafet
4th April, 2014 @ 11:21 am PDT

"Or" was supposed to be "in" ,as in huge in reducing parts because tensioners, ect... are not needed. Less stuff to slow down things and break.

Perry R. Obray
4th April, 2014 @ 11:54 am PDT

Hey, motor cycles have had this for decades.

I love belt drive.

My last MC had 41K mi on it and

the belt was still going strong.

I m sure that it would have gone 100K no probs.

Actually, i have rear hub shifting on my bent.

I d be tickled just to get a belt and pulleys for it.

Lubing is a PITA that I d like to do with out.

Alzie
4th April, 2014 @ 12:42 pm PDT

I thought I wanted a nice used KTM dirtbike. I want one of these instead!

David Moorman
5th April, 2014 @ 08:59 am PDT
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