For non-ninjas, a quiet ride isn’t really a feature worth salivating over, even though the startling silence of the bike is enjoyable on the occasions when you find yourself away from the noisy traffic of the city. But where the carbon belt really shines is in its practicality. Developed for industrial use (think saws, drills, and other machines with fast-moving drivetrains) and increasingly found on motorcycles, carbon belt drives require almost no maintenance, repel water, dirt and mud, and supposedly last about twice as long as metal bike chains.
Gates’ CenterTrack system, which puts a small ridge down the centerline of the drivetrain, keeps the belt from wiggling from side to side as you pedal. And because the belt doesn’t require oil or lube, you don’t have to roll up your pant leg — a perk I appreciated more than I thought I would. BMC has kept the bike even more low-maintenance by wrapping the belt around an 11-speed Shimano Alfine internally geared hub. Those 11-speeds gave me a wide enough range for all but the steepest climbs here in San Francisco.
One drawback of an internally geared hub is weight, and the UC01 wasn’t immune. The triple-butted aluminum frame and carbon fork are lightweight, and the added heft of the hub is enough to make it noticeably tail-heavy. Between that and the straight bars, the bike is great for cruising along at speed, but doesn’t give a ton of power when accelerating away from a stoplight.