There are two main types of drive systems on electric bicycles, namely chain drive and belt drive. But what is the difference between them? Which is the better choice? In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of chain drive and belt drive to help you decide which drive system is better for your riding style.
Belt Drive Pros
- Low maintenance
Compared to chains, belts require much less maintenance. Because belt drives do not respond to air and water exposure, they require little maintenance. Belts can be kept very clean and do not absorb sand, dust or mud. Cleaning belts is a very simple task, just a quick scrubbing and they are back in working order.
A well-maintained belt drive system will last about 3-5 times longer than a chain drive. You can get up to 20,000 miles compared to the 3,000-5,000 miles that chains typically manage.
Belt drives don't require lubrication, so you don't have to worry about getting your hands dirty from cleaning and oiling. However, some bike owners choose to put a little silicone lube on their belts to make them run smoother.
Belt drives run almost silently. Chains, on the other hand, make some mechanical noise, especially during gear changes.
Belt Drive Cons
Belt drive systems are more expensive than chain drive systems. Typically, a new belt costs between $80-$100, while front and rear sprockets retail for $60-$80 per piece.
- Difficult to get parts
If you live in a remote area, finding belt-driven parts can be a daunting task. Many small bike stores don't carry belt-driven parts. You may need to order replacement parts online or go to a large bike store.
- Low compatibility
Belts are only compatible with an internal gear hub, Pinion gearbox, or single speed. Belt drives are not compatible with derailleurs.
Chain Drive Pros
It is less expensive to purchase an entire chain drive system than to purchase a single carbon belt. If you are on a budget, a chain drive system will be a more viable option for your e-bike.
Chains are the standard bicycle drive system. They can be used without difficulty on regular bicycles, e-bikes, and even motorcycles, and they do not require any special accessories to be used.
- Easy to replace accessories
You can easily find chain drive accessories. Most bike stores carry freewheels, chains, cassettes, and chainrings. This is something you can't do with a belt drive.
- Easy to repair
Every bike mechanic knows how to set up and maintain a chain drive. This makes it easier if you need to fix something. In contrast, belt drives are much more complicated and only a dedicated mechanic will know how to handle them.
Chain Drive Cons
- More maintenance
In order for the chain drive to run smoothly, constant maintenance is required. You must clean and grease the chain regularly to keep it lubricated. This task takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Not durable
The average life span of a bicycle chain is about 3,000-5,000 miles. And the average life span of a belt drive is about 10,000-20,000 miles.
The chain often gets a lot of dirt on it, so you have to clean it often. And, when handling the chain, your own hands will inevitably get covered with grease and dirt.
Because chains are made of metal, they are prone to rust. Belts, on the other hand, do not rust.
So, belt drive or chain drive? Which one should I choose? There is no absolute answer to this, chains and belts have their own advantages, choosing the right drive system according to your needs and preferences is the most important thing.