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Gates Carbon Drive reveals new Moto X5 belts, making electric motorcycles even more silent

Gates Carbon Drive is a global leader in belt drives used to replace chains on two-wheeled vehicles like bikes, scooters, and motorcycles. The company’s new Gates Carbon Drive Moto X5 product line was just introduced this morning, helping make already quiet electric motorcycles even quieter.

Gates Moto X5 belt drive unveiled

Gates belt drives are engineered with high-stiffness, long-lasting synthetic compounds layered with carbon fiber cords for superior strength and durability.

New nylon tooth fabric improves the Moto X5 drivetrain’s durability, and the tooth profile is backward compatible with the company’s Moto X9 sprockets.

Depending on the vehicle and setup, Gates’ belts are frequently rated for tens of thousands of miles. Compared to chain drives – those are also much quieter miles.

According to independent lab testing, the Gates Moto X5 belt drive system was shown to be up to 15 decibels quieter than chain drives over a range of operating speeds.

But noise reduction is just one of many benefits of belt drive systems like these. Reduced maintenance and efficiency gains are also key advantages.

Unlike chains, which require periodic maintenance to clean, oil, and check tension, belt drives are essentially maintenance-free.

And because they long outlive the life span of chains, that maintenance-free operation is even more impactful to the amount of time that riders have to spend wrenching instead of riding.

Gates also claims that the Moto X5 has an efficiency advantage over chain drives.

As the company explained:

Throughout the life of the vehicle and under normal operating and maintenance conditions, Moto X5 is more energy efficient than chain, which can lead to improved vehicle range, a critical factor on electric vehicle applications.

I’ve always heard that chains are a couple of percentage points more efficient than belts, but that may only be true for new chains. As the chain quickly wears in, its efficiency decreases. Belts retain their high efficiency in a more linear curve throughout their life spans, meaning that they can be more efficient when compared to chains across the entire useful lifetime of the drivetrain.

Gates is targeting the large markets of sit-down electric scooters and electric motorcycles used for commuting applications. These types of two-wheeled electric vehicles are skyrocketing in use across Asia, even if their numbers are growing more slowly in Europe and North America.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), new registrations of electric two and three-wheelers reached over 10M units in 2021, with the majority coming from China, India, and Vietnam.

By the end of this decade, the IEA expects over 80% of two and three-wheelers sold in China to be electric.

Tom Pitstick, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of strategic planning for Gates, explained further:

As the transition from internal combustion engines to electric scooters accelerates in core markets like India, Southeast Asia, and China, we expect drivetrain noise, efficiency and durability to become more important to customers. Moto X5 is designed to meet the needs for quiet, long-lasting, low-maintenance operation. Congratulations to the efforts of our global R&D teams that made this breakthrough possible.

Those wanting to see the new Moto X5 system in person can check it out at the China International Motorcycle show from November 3-5 and the EICMA Milan Motorcycle Show from Nov 8-13.

An example of a previously-released Gates belt drive system used by Gogoro

Electrek’s Take

I’ve been a Gates fanboy for a while, and some of my favorite everyday rider electric bicycles use a Gates carbon drive.

Each time I hop on a Zero motorcycle or one of Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire motorcycles, I enjoy the quiet ride that Gates belt drives offer.

In fact, it’s rare I even see a new chain-drive electric scooter or motorcycle introduced anymore. The only two I own (yes, I own a lot of electric two-wheelers) are a Sur Ron Light Bee and a Gogoro S2 ABS Performance. I love both of them, but it’s frankly surprising how loud each vehicle is. All you hear when riding them is chain noise, which is accentuated by the lack of exhaust noise covering it up like on an ICE-powered scooter or motorcycle. Plus I know that I have to occasionally check the chains on both of them, which other than normal brake and tire wear, is pretty much the only maintenance I have to perform on a two-wheeled electric vehicle. Both Sur Rons and Gogoro have Gates belt drive options, and I’m thinking that I need to explore both of those soon.

So yea, I’m sure the Moto X5 will be a smashing success on this massively growing wave of new electric scooters and motorcycles. The noise alone is a huge benefit, but the longevity and lack of maintenance are the real deal sealer.

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd, and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power, The Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide and The Electric Bike Manifesto.

The e-bikes that make up Micah’s current daily drivers are the $999 Lectric XP 2.0, the $1,095 Ride1Up Roadster V2, the $1,199 Rad Power Bikes RadMission, and the $3,299 Priority Current. But it’s a pretty evolving list these days.

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