We are really excited to be launching our Fully Tensioner, the first universal belt tensioner for full suspension bikes!
We are almost as excited to continue the field testing program! Why not put it through its paces in extreme conditions and have some fun at the same time? I called up one of the few people crazy enough to go Alpine bike packing in the middle of December, my old friend (and veer investor) Kavi.
The trip was a 3-day, 20 mi loop in the Central Sierra Nevada mountains, south of lake Tahoe with singletrack trail, famous four-wheeling tracks, slick Rock granite, and a little pavement. 7500 ft elevation.
In order to test this in the harshest conditions, we decided to take our 2000 watt, full suspension, overtuned test beast and an electric fat bike. For reference, that's almost three times more power than is legal on US streets, and it behaves more like a lightweight dirt bike then an eMTB.
Throw in a foot of snow in some spots, multiple river crossings, and an absurd number of boulders and you've got yourself a pretty nice test route.
Not to mention 18° f (-8c) temperatures and 45 lbs of gear helps add to the strain.
So how did it go?
Well, we made it in one (exhausted) piece.
The wide tires and electric motors on the bikes made snow riding possible and very amusing, even when solid ice made riding impractical.
"Well, this trail is kicking my ass, but I haven't been bored yet" Kavi says 4 miles in. We did make some big bonfires to raise our spirits (and our body temperatures) a bit.
The tensioner did surprisingly well under high forces, getting bashed around in ice and gravel. However, we did find that driving it through snow deep enough where the tensioner is fully buried as you are riding can cause ice buildup between the tensioner wheels and the belt surface, potentially causing issues with engagement or maintaining proper belt tension.
Even though this is a highly unusual and dangerous riding condition, it's still worth looking at possible solutions.
Changing the tensioner wheel material or coating, adding different textures that clear ice build up, or even a feature that acts as a scraper to the jockey wheels once ice builds up to a certain level are all ideas we are considering for future revisions.
The fact we were able to ride at all in that much snow was a bit unexpected!
Despite the very cold nights and bringing way too many beans, we had an amazing time exploring the mountains, checking out the views, tracking paw prints of wild animals in the snow, and throwing boulders onto frozen lakes to create eerie and unexpected ice sounds.
There's definitely a place in the market for plus tire and fat tire e-bikes that are designed for harsh conditions and quietly exploring beautiful landscapes that would be difficult to access without a bike or electric motor. We're excited for what our partners and customers come up with when it comes to outdoor exploration vehicles and new types of eMTB!