This is not necessarily a new system, per se. Direct drive motorcycles and shaft-driven bikes that utilize synthetic belts have have been around for a while. However, making decent frames that allow for the belt to be installed via a dropout that has a slot into which the contiguous belt can be slipped is kind of recent. Spot being interested is really recent.
Photo ©: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com
"...The embedded carbon fibers are also said to transfer tension faster than conventional roller pin chains for more immediate response to pedal inputs, and CDS even claims belt lives up to 10,000 miles for its 'endurance' model (a smoother running 'performance' system supposedly offers only marginally shorter lifespans). Gaping ports in the troughs of the cog and chain ring teeth also appear rather capable of evacuating even the nastiest goop, and after eight iterations of design refinement, CDS is confident in the final product.
So what's the catch, you ask? The system will almost certainly be forever limited to fixed-gear or singlespeed applications, and the belt currently cannot be separated and respliced so you probably won't be able to use it on your current rig very easily. However, CDS is working with singlespeed maverick Spot Brand to bring the system to market on a wide range of bikes thanks to a clever 'keystone' dropout that allows users to easily split the drive side chain stay and seat stay with virtually zero visual indication that it's anything out of the ordinary. The dropout is only made in steel for now but CDS says titanium and aluminium ones are imminent..." http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2007/news/08-28
If you want a look at an early direct drive belt, check out the rear wheel in the photos below. This article is a good read: "For Sale: c1909 California Autocycle. Motor Needs Work," by Leon Mitchell Adelaide, South Australia November 1998.
Wooden rims, and the guy went across America. Hello! Lots of people are cracking the iPod phone, but let's see you take a couple of corks, two metal probes, and a cable and cross a country.
"I've often wondered whether I could repeat it: to cross the continental US from San Francisco to New York on a gutless motorcycle with wooden wheels. But there are roads now. When George Wyman did it in 1903 there were only tracks, and he had to retreat to the railway crossties to make any progress at all. When he completed his 3800-mile journey on the afternoon of July 6, 1903 he became the first person to cross the continent with a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. The stuff of legends."--Leon Mitchell, http://www.bikernet.com/news/specials/yalehistory.asp
***If anyone has constructed a small engine that runs on vegetable oil and can power a scooter or bicycle, think Lambretta, Vespa, indestructable steel Nottingham Raleigh, please comment on this post.