THE wheels on bikes haven’t been reinvented, but the chains may be getting an update. This morning I was moving my bike and bounced my chain off and got to go through the fun experience of putting a greasy chain back on. Nothing kicks the day off better than having grease stained fingers.

How ironic that I looked at the NYTimes and saw that they had an interesting article about a new type of bike chain. I have seen several of the new belt drives, but this article exposes where the technology is heading. The clinking roller chains that are now standard on most bicycles have long had a drawback known to any cyclist: they become grimy, and can soil a pants leg or a skirt. That’s because the metal links must be oiled regularly, and the oil attracts dirt. Hence the black grease getting on my fingers this morning.

Now companies are developing new designs and materials to replace these chains with grease-free alternatives like polymer cables or belts toughened with carbon fibers.