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I would like to build a custom belt-drive bike for my daily commute. I am looking for a frame and a belt-drive kit for a total budget of about 500$.

I ride all year long, and winters here (Montreal, Canada) are pretty hard on bikes, so I need a simple yet robust frame. Any suggestions?

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Keep in mind that any frame you buy must be designed for a belt, unless you're planning to go at it with a hacksaw. –  Daniel R Hicks Aug 4 '11 at 3:30
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You may be a bit out of luck with that price range if you hope to get the whole kit. The Gates belt, cog, and "chain"-ring retail online for over $200 by themselves.

That said, there are some options if you are clever and dedicated. If you're able to find one of the old 90's mountain bikes with elevated chainstays you can use one of the expensive ($125-$150) eccentric bottom brackets that mount in a normal 68mm shell for tension. A 90's Nishiki should be fairly cheap, so you'd eke in just under your total price. It's also fair to say that your bike would be a unique build.

Alternatively, if you have access to an affordable machinist, start with an inexpensive frame that has thick track-style dropouts. Modifying them into a variant of the old Spot-style dropouts should be relatively easy with a dremel, some taps, and a skilled hand. This avoids the significant cost of the S&S couplers used by most belt-drive modifications.

Unfortunately, unless the frame was purpose-built for a belt, you're going to be stuck modifying it. There are few, if-any, belt-specific frames in the market now, which keeps prices high. The proper modifications either require an expensive S&S coupler or new dropouts, which are expensive to add aftermarket.

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I can't find a frame price, but there are good reviews on the Spot Coyote belt drive bikes, and the complete bike with belt drive is $1100 USD.

They also make Ti frames with the same idea, but higher priced of course.

I would expect that the frame would be around $450-500. Your budget might be a touch low, since any quality frame will start at this price mark, and go up, and isn't likely to include the belt drive kit, unless you buy the complete bike.

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You could try converting an existing frame/bike if you have one (or can pick one up cheap). It would work best if you had a singlespeed/internal hub geared donor bike.

You'd need to:

  1. Replace your chain ring
  2. Replace the chain with a belt
  3. Replace your rear cog
  4. Cut the rear stay and insert a joiner (the most complicated task)

You might be able to either do the work yourself or find someone locally who can convert an existing bike. It sounds like a fun project!

St Kilda cycles (yes, I know they're almost certainly not convenient to you) can convert an existing bike to be belt driven. I just gave them a call and they cut the frame at the rear stay and insert a joiner, then replace the chainring, rear cog and chain for a belt. They're quoting $850 to $1000 (AUD) for all the parts and labour - the variance is because depending on the frame they can use an off the shelf frame joiner or whether they have to machine one up themselves.

Here is a video of someone doing a conversion. Here's another thead discussion options and pros/cons

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