Belt Drive or Chain? Choose the Right E-bike for You

Belt Drive or Chain? Choose the Right E-bike for You

E-bike components are critical, and every manufacturer is careful about the drive systems. It is not only about drive's popularity but customers' riding experience. Chain e-bikes have dominated the supply rate in past years until more electric bike company started adopt belt drive.

The belt drive system requires little maintenance, so the rise in demand is not surprising. However, is there any difference between these two? Read further to find out more information.

The Things to Know about a Belt Drive

The belt system is now commonly seen in many e-bikes today. Manufacturers utilize polymer materials to build them, with carbon fibers serving as tensile strength. The e-bike's rear wheel receives energy exerted by a rider. When a rider pedals, the cog areas are the central point where the force is exercised. 

The Improved Durability

Contrary to chain drives, belt drives last longer. Chains are made with metals, so they can easily corrode from air exposure. Although some chain bikes are built with premium materials, they cannot withstand harsh conditions. Riding your chain e-bike in the rain for a long time will rust and damage quickly. However, belt drives are not damaged easily, primarily when adequately maintained in an ideal condition.

Since belt drives are built with carbon fibers, their strength level increases, and they can withstand harsh conditions. They are not made from stainless steel, reducing their resistance to external pressure. It also has a resistance material that protects the belt when it comes in contact with the cog of the bike. Also, the tension rate on the chain drive is less, so it will likely wear out quickly. Hence, an overstretched chain drive will need immediate replacement.

They are Lighter

The presence of chains increases the weight of an e-bike. Although your e-bike gear type will also influence the weight, most belt e-bikes are generally lighter. Belt drives are also selective in gears; meanwhile, you would not need to worry about gear types with a chain e-bike. A belt drive system operates better with an internal gear hub, although it may add to the bike's weight. The only exception is if you use a single-speed bike.


The sprockets, which contain cobs, are responsible for the belt's rotations in a single-speed bike. Hence, you may want to emphasize that you need a single-speed e-bike while placing an order. Riders barely reaching hilly areas may not need to worry about their e-bike gear type. Your e-bike will give you an extra push that will take you through your ride, even at a fast pace.


Belt Drives Fix Tightly on E-bikes

It is much easier for chain drives to derail from the e-bike components. This is not likely the case with the belt drive system. Since there are lesser chances of the belt drive slipping off, it increases the rider's safety. This is because the belt teeth connect a cog with its center track. However, the center track with Gate patent is considered top-quality. Although chain e-bikes have a guard that fixed them to the system, it does not prevent inner trip-offs. Whenever a chain trips off, it takes quite some time to fix it back to the e-bike.

They are Quiter


Belt drives do not have occurrences of chains clamping together. Hence, it produces no noise while riding. It could be embarrassing to hear some noise off your bike, especially when the chains are wearing out. Belt drives are also noiseless while repairing the gear since there are no random derailleur movements. However, people who ride in a noisy city may not have any issue with a chain e-bike.


Belt Drives Require Less Maintenance


Since belt drives do not react to air and water exposure, they require little maintenance. Corrosion and rust often result when chain drives are constantly exposed, so grease is usually added. It will be in good condition if you continue lubricating your chain drive. However, this could be stressful and time-consuming.

If you ride on the muddy ground, the debris could easily get caught between a chain drive. A chain e-bike will last longer if taken off a muddy road. However, the belt drive can sustain much dirt, although it also requires maintenance for prolonged durability. You can schedule a maintenance routine for your drive system, even if it is often in a clean state.


Any Benefit of Using Chain E-bike?

Although this article emphasized the importance of belt drives, chain bikes also serve their benefits. The advantages of the chain drive system are also further explained below.

Choosing from Varieties of Motors

Unfortunately, Belt Drive riders are limited in their choice of e-bike motors. If your electric bike is built with an internal hub gear and a belt-drive, it is not easy to use a rear hub motor. In this case, the most suitable motor is the mid-drive motor. This results in spending more on a belt drive since installing a mid-motor are pretty expensive compared to a hub motor. However, a chain e-bike adapts to either a mid-drive or hub motor. Hence, prospective users have a higher chance of choosing a preferred motor.


Chain E-bikes are Affordable for Most People

People who cannot afford a belt drive often choose the chain bike option. However, you may want to overlook the high cost of belt drive since you are getting value for what you pay for. Also, you eventually spend less on belt drive since it does not wear out within a short period. As for chain e-bikes, you may need to replace them sooner. Hence, a belt drive becomes more cost-effective over a long time.


They are Compatible with Different Frame Types

Few manufacturers have the belt-drive system built into their e-bikes, especially since it requires a specific frame structure. However, the number of manufacturers without the belt-drive system has reduced compared to past years. While building, the e-bike frame must have a break that allows a belt to pass through it. It could also have an upper chain where a belt can stay on. It does not need any special requirement before wrapping a chain around your e-bike. On the other hand, chains can fit into any frame.


Not every bike frame can accommodate a belt, so it must have been tested and proven by experts to be effective. If you have a belt e-bike, you should know you can easily switch to a chain system. However, this will be more difficult to achieve when changing a chain to a belt drive, so it is always best to buy a belt e-bike from the start. However, certain manufacturers build frames where you can easily swap a chain for a belt.


The Parts Replacement is Less Tricky

Although chain ebikes may seem harder to repair, they are not as tricky as belt drives in replacement. Belt drives are a product of new technology, so it will take an expert, to recognize quality parts, among others. Besides, they are more accessible, as you can find them in most bike shops, including local retailers. Nevertheless, belt drives are available in most online stores, and expert manufacturers always have to supply them to their wholesalers. If you buy your e-bike from a reputable brand, you can get a replacement for any component with little or no stress. However, this may cost you some amount of money.


What's Unique about the Honbike's U4 Model?

We recently launched our first belt-driven electric bicycle Honbike U4. The gates carbon belt drive is uniquely and beautifully built and can easily be assumed as a pure pedal electric bike. U4 users can worry less about oil or grease spilling over the place and high maintenance requirements. 


As explained above, a single-speed electric bike is the best option for a prospective rider. Fortunately, this is a feature Honbike includes in its U4 model. Even though you are riding on a slight hill, the e-bike will provide the extra push you need. It is primarily appropriate for people who ride on flat surfaces.


Choosing the right electric bicycle is an important and cost-effective investment. Electric bikes are gradually replacing cars for commuting purposes. Hence, it is best if you consider the premium features before getting your e-bike. However, both belt drive and chain drive ebikes have their own benefits, and choosing the right one based on your needs and preferences is the most important thing.

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