It looks like Trek may succeed in making non-chain bikes mainstream. Via CNN:
Trek Bicycle is part of a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in an era of belt-driven bikes that might have the inventors of the self-propelled transportation Schwinning in their graves.
Wisconsin-based Trek is introducing two models this holiday season that are chainless, instead using technology most often found in things like motorcycles and snowmobiles. While some smaller custom bike makers have used them before, Trek is the first to use the technology for mass-produced bicycles.
The largest U.S. domestic bike manufacturer is hoping to capitalize on a new group of urban pedal-pushers who are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of gas prices as well as health and environmental concerns.
the new belts are a low-maintenance solution to a chain, which has roughly 3,000 parts including all the links and connectors.
Aside from the whisper-quiet ride, the lighter and longer-lasting carbon-fiber composite belts won’t rust, can’t be cut, won’t stretch or slip and won’t leave grease marks around your ankles. A guard over the belt-drive and the construction of the system makes getting your pants stuck an unlikely scenario…
Trek’s far from the first to offer alternatives to chains on bikes;there’s a good overview of shaft-driven bikes on Wikipedia. At $900+, Trek’s take isn’t exactly inexpensive. If nothing else, they’ll be interesting to test-ride!