The components of an e-bike are also crucial and every manufacturer takes great care with the drive system. This is not only because consumers are becoming more aware of drives, but also because more consumers are concerned about the riding experience. In years past, chain e-bikes were more dominant in the market, but as the demands continue to rise, more e-bike factories are adopting belt drives.
As more and more people embrace pulley drives, it has been discovered that belt drive systems require very little maintenance, so an increase in demand for belt drives is to be expected. However, there are probably still many people who don't quite understand the difference, so we'll tell you more about it next.
1. What are chain drives and belt drives?
Both chain drives and belt drives are part of the mechanism that allows the transfer of power within a particular machine. Chain drives and belt drives are commonly used to transmit power to goods as a method of moving objects and are often used in vehicles and other machinery.
In electric bicycles both chain and belt drives are designed as a continuous endless loop that moves when the engine is running or in use.
The chain drive consists of a chain with a special structure such as teeth on one side and a corresponding drive shaft on the other side. When the two sides are linked together the chain drive works, causing the chain to move and this design and structure also keeps and holds the chain in one place and in one direction of movement.
A belt drive, on the other hand, is a smooth, spanning synthetic material. The belt drive itself can be made from rubber, plastic and other synthetic substances. It will be smoother and more fluid when you ride.
But each drive has its own advantages and disadvantages. The next section will tell you what the advantages and disadvantages of each are.
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of chain drive?
Chain Drive Pros
-Compatible with almost all e-bikes
Chain drives are the standard bicycle drive system. They can be used without difficulty on normal bicycles, e-bikes and even motorbikes, and you don't need to worry about it not fitting your e-bike.
Normally a chain for an e-bike costs only $10-20 and you can easily buy it on all major platforms. If you're on a budget, then a chain drive is a great value for money option for your e-bike.
-Easy to replace and repair
You go to any bike repair shop and the mechanic knows how to set up the chain drive or to maintain it according to your needs, which is not the case with belt drives - only a specialist mechanic knows how to handle them.
On top of that, if you start riding in the middle of nowhere then you can search for tutorials to remove the chain, when riding in the wilderness a tool kit is essential and the chain drive can be repaired by yourself without any technical knowledge.
-Easy access to spare parts
Because chain drives are more popular and available for most models. So you don't have to spend more time looking for spare parts. Clutches, cassettes, chainrings and other accessories are available in almost all bike shops. So you don't have to worry too much if your e-bike chain breaks or your gears are damaged while you're riding.
Chain Drive Cons
-Requires ongoing maintenance
In order for the chain drive to run smoothly, it requires constant maintenance. This is because you need to clean it regularly and keep it lubricated.
If you only ride occasionally, you may need to clean the chain once a month, while for professional riders it needs to be cleaned after a few days of driving. The pulleys, on the other hand, do not need to be so fussed with.
A standard chain drive will last up to 5000 miles and such mileage is only achieved with some maintenance. You need to know that if you replace the chain then the cassette must also be replaced.
The chain drive makes noise when you ride, due to the friction between the metal chain and the metal gears. It also makes noise when you shift gears, and it gets worse when the chain is dirty or not lubricated enough.
A chain drive weighs almost three times as much as a belt drive. If you go on a long trip, you will also need to carry extra chain tools, spare chains and lubricants, which means you will have a heavier load to carry on your trip.
-More likely to get dirty
In order to keep the chain drive running smoothly, it is essential to lubricate it a little and this grease will get a lot of dirt on your cassette and you will be devastated when you have to replace or adjust the chain.
-Susceptible to corrosion
Chains are made of metal, so if you ride in the rain or in a wet area, your chain will rust even more, whereas belt drives are made of synthetic materials that do not easily cause corrosion.
3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Belt drive?
Belt Drive Pros
A well-maintained belt drive can last around 3-5 times longer than a chain drive system, meaning you can get up to 20,000 miles out of a belt drive.
A belt transmission weighs around 80g, whereas a standard e-bike chain weighs around 300g, more than three times as much as a belt drive. In addition, when you use a belt drive, the design has fewer gears so you don't need to carry extra tools.
This not only reduces weight, but also the weight of your toolbox, making your riding experience better and your ride easier.
-Easy to clean
Belt drives don't require lubrication like chain drives, so you don't have to worry about getting your hands dirty with a belt drive.
One of the things that makes belt drives increasingly popular with riders is the low maintenance involved. Unlike chain drives they don't need regular adjustment and lubrication, they just need to be wiped down occasionally. When you see dirt and mud on the belt you can wipe it down and there is no need to maintain it regularly.
Compared to a chain drive, a belt drive will be quieter, especially when the contrast is more pronounced with gears.
-Low wear rate
Belt drives do not wear out over time as chain drives do, they stay in better condition. Gears and chainrings wear at a similar rate to belt drives, but belt drives are significantly more efficient at keeping up.
Belt drives use synthetic materials in their construction, such as nylon and carbon fibre, which have the advantage that these materials are less prone to corrosion, making them a very good choice
The drive of a belt drive system is always straight because the belt does not move between the gears. All gear changes take place in the gearbox or hub. Chain drives, on the other hand, usually run at an angle.
Belt Drive Cons
Belt drives are more expensive than chain drives. Typically a belt drive system sells for $80-$100, whereas a chain drive with this part costs only $50-$70. On top of that, you should know that if you buy a belt, then you will need an internal gear hub to run with it, which will cost you at least $1000, so it will be a very expensive price.
The requirements for a belt drive will be much more than a chain drive, and it is possible that the price of replacing the whole system could be enough to buy a whole new e-bike.
-Pinion gearboxes only
Belt drives are only compatible with pinion gearboxes or internal gear hubs, they are not compatible with derailleurs as the belt drive has no running angle, it can only run in a straight line, which limits your drivetrain options even more.
-Difficult to obtain spare parts
If you live in a remote area away from the city, finding spare parts for your e-bike's belt drive can be a major problem. Most of the small shops you find are likely to not stock belt drive parts, so you will need to order online or find a larger bike shop.
And some countries don't even import belt drive parts, which means that if your belt drive fails, you'll have to end your e-bike journey early. But on the plus side, belt drives have a relatively long life.
-Inconvenience in the event of a breakdown
When you're riding if your belt drive breaks in any way you won't be able to fix it easily, and if your belt breaks then you'll need a full replacement, which is tricky when you can't find a shop, which could force you to drag your e-bike home.
This is our analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of chain drives and belt drives. So, which should you choose? The belt drive or the chain? There is no absolute answer to this, as it depends on your own requirements.
As more and more Chinese manufacturers find that belt wheels are becoming more and more popular with everyone, more manufacturers are launching e-bikes with belt wheels. Here I have to recommend Green Pedel, a manufacturer that, in order to fully meet the market demand, has recently launched a new belt wheel road e-bike with a better looking design and a more comfortable ride!
What are the common types of drives for electric bicycles?
For the time being, the traditional drive is the chain drive, which is the most common type of drive in e-bike drivetrains, followed by the belt drive. There are also some less common drives such as shaft drives, string drives etc.
Will belt drives become cheaper?
Belt drives are often considered to be a step up from chain drives and have only become popular on e-bikes in recent years. If they become standard on e-bikes, then belt drives should become significantly less expensive, but that will take time to wait, not now.
Is it worth replacing the belt drive?
If you ride a lot, especially in rough weather and terrain, then a belt drive will give you better performance and durability and will not require special maintenance. However, for those who don't use their e-bike much, it will be more expensive to purchase and therefore we don't think it is necessary. So it's up to you to decide whether or not to replace your e-bike with a belt-driven one, so there's no need to follow the crowd.