Belt Drive vs. Chain on Electric Bikes



In this video, Brent talks about the differences between belt drives (like the Gates Carbon belt drive) vs. chain drives on electric bicycles. He goes over some of the pros and cons and actually has two of the same bikes side by side to show them. The two ebikes are the Pure Cycles Volta Single Speed and 8-Speed which have been reviewed at

In order to keep belt drives affordable, many electric bicycles use them with a hub motor and can only offer a single speed. Alternatively, you can get gears by using an internally geared hub like the Shimano Alfine or Rohloff, or a continuously variable transmission like the NuVinci (N360, N380, Harmony). These systems add weight and make it impossible to also have a hub motor in the back… so you either need to move that hub motor up front or go to a mid-drive setup.

Belt drives tend to be quiet and durable, the Gates CDX uses a center track design so it won’t slip off to the sides and is actually more reliable than a chain. It won’t rust or squeak but can be tricker to setup initially or reset if you have to remove the rear wheel to fix a flat. Belt drive ebikes also tend to use expensive frames because there has to be a cutaway at the rear to get the belt on. Alternatively, some companies like Riese & Müeller have designed frames like the Nevo with a combined seat stay chain stay that connect to the wheel from above. EBR was paid to perform this review #Sponsored We try to be honest, thorough, and fun! Comparison tools, shop directory, and forums at: ElectricBikeReview.com .

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