Planet 8 Belt Drive speeds through the city in style
October bike of the month
The FOCUS Planet 8 Belt Drive is an urban design object. But does the bike really cut a good figure? Is the technology as impressive as the design? FOCUS test rider and member of the online editorial team, Lukas Burs, decided to check it out. Here is his report.
Finally! The week is over and the weekend beckons. Although it’s already the end of October, the weather forecast is predicting pleasant conditions for the next two days. And, as luck would have it, I've got myself a test bike to take out on a tour or two on my days off. As soon as I saw the first photo I was excited about the Planet series. Now I had an entire weekend to give the Planet 8 Belt Drive a thorough test.
On the way home from work and already I can’t resist making a detour. A tailwind and the last of the sun’s rays make cycling home on the bike pure pleasure. First impressions on Bremen’s Weser dyke: “I couldn’t have ridden any faster on my racing bike.” Second impression: “Is it just me, or is everyone looking at me?”
Once home, my first task is to examine the Planet thoroughly. The tubes of the aluminium frame are angular but at the same time smooth. The welded joints are also smooth, producing a perfect frame layout. In fact, it’s a pity that, as the rider, all I get to see is the top tube. Technically, the bike seems a little less than spectacular: straight handlebars, 8-speed hub and the minimum amount of add-on components. It’s when you take a closer look that you notice the belt drive. A carbon reinforced belt runs over specially built CNC milled aluminium teeth, rather than metal pinions. This combination is so quiet that I can no longer count on the sound of a chain serving as a warning to pedestrians when I’m riding through town. The riding characteristics are superb. On Saturday morning a deliberate movement of the handlebars pulls me sharp right. I just manage to steer past a female pedestrian laden with huge shopping bags, who suddenly steps onto the cycleway. One twitch later and I’m back on my old track. Even the most difficult obstacle course is fun. The cycleway winds between closely parked cars and people streaming in all directions on the pavements. This would usually be a reason to move out into the road all this, but riding the Planet in these conditions feels almost good.
Then I come to the supreme discipline. Cycling in the town centre during Saturday lunchtime. Hordes of shoppers move over the cycleway between Bremen Cathedral and the statue of Roland. I come to a halt. A brief balancing act and I’m off again. Cool in the city – urban style! This is how I imagine it. Once I’ve got the Planet moving again, I can’t help smiling. This bike really is fun to ride. It’s just a shame that it’s back to the office for me and back to the depot for the bike on Monday. I could have gone on enjoying riding the Planet 8 Belt Drive much longer.