Chain Drive And Belt Drive: What Are They And How They Differ?

Chain Drive And Belt Drive: What Are They And How They Differ?


When talking about the transfer power modes of bike/electric bikes, there are 2 major modes: chain drive and belt drive. Since chain drive has become the mainstream of the ebike industry, many of the ebike enthusiasts may wonder: what are the differences between these two modes exactly and can our ebikes use belt drive mode?

Before making a comparison, we have to know first what they are and if there are any of them in common. And in case of not being biased, the disadvantages of both modes will also be mentioned.

Chain DriveChain-drive bike

No matter chain drives or belt drives, they are both intended to move in continuous and infinite loops while the engine is working. As the name suggests, a chain drive builds up of a chain with a specific structure, such as teeth on one side and a corresponding etch (drive shaft) on the other. While the two sides are linked together, the chain drive starts working, which promotes the movement of the chain as well as the power. The design and construction also authorize the chain to keep it unmoveable.

As I said before, Whether it is an electric bike or a scooter or whatever and other mainstream models on the market, the chain transfer power mode is basically adopted, and the advantages of this transfer mode are: light weight, simple structure, convenient maintenance, and cheaper price. Of course, chains have good quality and bad quality. Also, it's more efficient in transmission, more direct in power delivery, and faster to start and accelerate.

On the other hand, compared with belt drive, chain drive’s noise is obviously louder, and the exposed chain is very easy to be contaminated by impurities, so ebikers need to maintain the chain more frequently and add lubricant to ensure the normal operation of the chain. In addition, since the chain drive belongs to metal friction, once the chain and the chainring are loose, it is time to replace a new chain.

Belt Drive
Belt-drive ebike

Switching to the belt drive, it is a sleek and wide scope of composite material. The belt drive itself can be made from various materials like rubber, plastic, and other synthetic stuff.

Belt drive mode basically appears on cruise ebikes that pay more attention to smoothness. As for its advantages: due to the softer material, it will run more smoothly, and there is basically no noise, especially when switching gears, you will obviously feel a higher level of comfort. Moreover, its service life will be longer, and the procedures for adding lubricating oil and maintenance are usually omitted.

On the contrary, due to the low friction, the belt drive’s transmission efficiency is naturally not as high as that of the chain transmission, especially when the torque is high, the belt will slip. This transmission mode is only suitable for driving on smooth streets, because the uneven road will damage the belt, and even the belt will break directly in the middle of the road, and once damaged, the repair cost will be twice as much as the chain.

Overall, both chain drive and belt drive have their own advantages, and there is no such thing as good or bad, so ebikers only need to choose the model that suits them according to their needs and environment of use.

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