Is there Any Difference Between Chain and Shaft-drive Electric bike?

Is there Any Difference Between Chain and Shaft-drive Electric bike?

Compared to shaft drive, the chain system is the main categories of electric bikes. While they are both ideal and perform excellent functions in an e-bike, and each drive system has unique benefits, which are peculiar to them. A potential user needs to understand the detailed mechanism of the drive systems, to help make the best choice. 

This article provides detailed information on a comparison between shaft-drive and chain electric bikes. Readers can find out more information below.



What is a Chain Electric Bike?

An electric bike built with chains operates with two sprockets. The rear wheel and gearbox regions host the sprockets, which you can easily identify in an electric bike. The chain connects the rear wheel to the gearbox, which is a distinct characteristic of a chain-drive e-bike. Electric bicycles with chains have different sizes of sprockets, which vary with the torque output.

The advantages and disadvantages of the chain drive system are highlighted and explained below.


One of the main advantages of chain drives is the affordability by many people. The production technique requires lesser innovative components than the shaft drive system. The expensive parts in shaft-drive helps to control the noise that emanates from traditional chains. It is pretty difficult for a rider to restore the chain drive system after it snaps.

Chain drives are not one component like the shaft-drive system. Hence, users can replace a faulty chainwith another, making the repair process cheaper.

Chain drives are also readily available in the market. Users can easily access chain drives from the closest e-bike supplier to you. They are also commonly found in local stores. Hence, users do not see it challenging to identify a repairer when needed.It is a better shock absorber than a shaft-drive bike.

If an e-bike experiences sudden acceleration, a chain drive can quickly adjust itself. Riders can survive high speed and power when riding on chain drives than on shaft drives.

Users can easily disassemble the chain components of an electric bike. You can separate the bike onto fractions without needing to remove the electric bike's frame.

Chains quickly suit many bike designs than the shaft-drive system. However, some electric bikes require some chain specifications while others do not. Meanwhile, most bike frames work effectively with a chain drive system.

These bikes respond well to a rider's versatility. Many users can quickly fix a fault by replacing the bike's sprockets. Hence, it is preferred for many people who have just translated from vehicles to electrically powered bikes.


Chain electric bikes are quick to mess everywhere than electric shaft drives. Applying grease to your electric bike frequently, may cause the chain to deposit some particles. Bear in mind that chain electric bikes are not the best option for riding on harsh roads. The chains are prone to stretch and break, reducing their shelf-life. A user would eventually invest more money on chain-drive system after a long time.

The maintenance needed to run a chain drive effectively is high. Users may need to apply a lube at intervals to ensure it operates smoothly while riding. It could be dangerous when a user ignores the chain condition, especially riding uuphill. The chain could spill off, causing an accident.

Chains are also prone to falling off while riding. Chain drives are susceptible to rain and moisture environments. This is why it is often recommended for users to avoid riding when it rains. The chain is liable to rust, leading to their destruction.

The chain objects often move into each other while on motion. The noise from this movement can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It is heightened when the chain drive is already wearing out.

Since chains are liable to undergo changes due to rust condition, they do not have long durability like the shaft-drive.

Chain drives are not as effective as shaft drives, especially when riding on huge power outputs.

What is a Shaft-Drive Electric Bike?

Unlike chain-drive system which uses a chain, the gear connects the gearbox to the rear wheel. The power needed to execute the ride is transmitted by the chain in a chain drive. The machine then responds to the rider’s kick by propelling the electric bike. This mechanism takes places through the pulley system model. 

The pros and cons of the shaft drive system are highlighted and explained below.


Unlike chain drives, the shaft drive system do not need an intense maintenance routine. You do not need to apply any grease to a shaft drive, which could cause much stains on the machine. Honbike has built a shaft-drive and foldable electric bike that lacks suspension. Hence, shaft drives are light weighted because they do not have chains.

You can easily carry the drives around without worrying about lubes dripping off the machine. You will enjoy shaft drive flexibility better when it is an updated design from Honbike. The bike weight is around 44lb, which is about 40% lighter than most bikes.

Manufacturers build shaft drives with rubber parts inplace of metal parts, making them noiseless even while in motion. Anyone who wants a peaceful ride while enjoying Mother Nature, can opt for a shaft drive system.

Shaft drives have more extended durability than chain drives. Hence, users can resell their shaft drive at a higher value than the chain e-bike. Although shaft drive may be more costly to purchase, it is helpful for a long-term investment.

You would not need to worry about shaft drives falling off the e-bike because they have more stability than chain drives. Hence, they are appropriate for riding rough terrains.


The ebike frame or rider bears the shock experienced while riding, instead of shaft drives. Hence, users should be careful of sudden deceleration or acceleration, which could cause imbalance. These imbalances are major reasons why first-aid medications should be in the e-bike pack space.

There are particular downshifts for certain road speeds, so you need to also confirm this. The rear wheel could lock if the downshift does not suit the road speed. This is a dangerous effect you want to avoid while riding your e-bike.

Shaft drives purchase and repair costs are higher than chain drives. The spare parts are not readily available, which increases therepair cost.

If anything happens to your shaft drive system, be ready to spend quite some money, which may take longer. A shaft drive system or part is not easily replaceable like a chain drive.

The system is not built into sections, so users need to replace everything to fix up any damaged area. This would also involve the repairer removing the e-bike frame.

Which is the Most Common Between Chain and Shaft-Drive?

Chain bikes are the most popular and accessible, but you can still get a shaft-drive electric bike. You can find shaft drives in top manufacturing companies implementing innovative bike models. Meanwhile, chain drive has existed for a longer time. Honbike has launched its chainfree powere by Monotork clean shaft drive system. This is ideal for people who want clean and high-performance e-bikes. Most people with less financial status would prefer the chain e-bike function. However, users must be prepared to allocate some income to maintain the chain drive at intervals. The shaft drive is popular among e-bike enthusiasts who love to try new models. They may be tired of constantly replacing their bike chains and choose to upgrade to a better alternative.


Both chain and shaft-drive systems are responsible for converting the motor engine's power into the rear wheel. Hence, your e-bike would function with any of the installed drive system. However, users must be ready to bear the consequences of the drive cons. For instance, a rider should clear schedules to clean and maintain the chain-drive. On the other hand, a shaft drive would require some technical skills to carry out an effective repair. Hopefully, you can make the best choice of electric bike with the information provided in this guide.

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