The variety of electrical bicycles with belt drives has been rising seemingly in a single day. What was as soon as a rarity for simply the “tremendous good e-bikes” is now discovering its means onto a wider vary of e-bike kinds than ever earlier than.
Belt drives are typically thought-about to be an improve over chains in relation to bicycle drivetrains. As an alternative of greasy, archaic metallic chains utilizing several-hundred-year-old expertise, belt drives use modern-day, carbon fiber-reinforced rubber to switch energy to the rear wheel.
And positive, we’d anticipate such niceties as belt drives from $5,000+ Riese & Müller electric bikes.
However now that we’re seeing them pop up on far more inexpensive e-bikes just like the $2,699 Priority Current and even the $995 Ride1Up Roadster V2, it’s time we take a deeper take a look at belt drives for e-bikes.
As e-bikes that includes this tech at the moment are turning into extra accessible, we’re breaking down the benefits and drawbacks of the methods, and whether or not or not you want a belt drive setup in your e-bike.
Benefits of belt drives on e-bikes
Firstly, belt drives are extremely low upkeep.
In contrast to chains that require frequent oiling and cleansing, belts can largely be ignored. In the event you journey by thick mud, it’s in all probability a good suggestion to knock the dried wads out. However aside from that, you’re just about good to go along with some good old style neglect.
Subsequent, the presence of a belt drive often means you’re going to get some type of neat-o internally geared hub. Since you’ll be able to’t use a typical derailleur like on a series drive, you don’t have to fret about adjusting your deraileur and messing with finicky gears. As an alternative you’ll seemingly have some cool hub like an Enviolo CVT or possibly even a Rohloff when you purchased a very nice bike.
Some belt drive e-bikes, particularly the extra inexpensive ones, persist with a single-speed setup. That’s how the Ride1Up Roadster V2 retains the value beneath $1,000, by the way in which. So that you’re out of luck with these when you have been hoping for an internally geared hub.
Even with out upkeep, good belts merely final. Gates Carbon Drive, maker of some of the best e-bike belt drives out there, has methods that may final for 50,000 miles (80,000 km), consider it or not!
Belt drives are additionally cleaner, which is nice for commuters. You’ll by no means get a grease mark in your good slacks or ankle.
They’re smoother and quieter too – an necessary issue for e-bike riders that benefit from the quiet nature of biking at velocity with barely the whirr of a motor within the wind.
Whereas belt-drives are lighter weight than chain drives, these advantages don’t actually matter a lot to e-bikers, since our e-bikes are already pretty heavy. Saving 1 / 4 pound on a 55 lb e-bike doesn’t imply a lot within the grand scheme of issues.
Disadvantages of belt drives on e-bikes
As a lot as I really like belt drives on my e-bikes, they aren’t completely with out fault. There are a couple of downsides.
Initially, there are fewer choices for elements. For chain drivetrains, there are tons of choices for kinds of chains, sprockets, cassettes, chainrings, derailleurs, and many others. However with fewer belt drive producers and most methods being proprietary, you’re extra restricted in relation to customized modifications or upgrades.
Subsequent, body compatibility will be a problem. As a result of most belts can’t be damaged within the center like a series to feed by the body, as an alternative the body must open. This implies a body must have a bolted connection someplace, or it has to have a cool chainstay design that lifts up and over the belt.
The brand new Harley-Davidson Serial 1 e-bike prototype we noticed earlier this week used that funky chainstay design, if you want to see it in practice. Smaller e-bike frames, just like the one seen within the Riese & Müller Tinker Vario above can typically pull this off in a much less apparent means.
Full-suspension e-bikes may have a tough time with belt drives, since there isn’t a derailleur so as to add rigidity. There are methods round this and a few full-suspension belt e-bikes exist, however they’re extra uncommon.
Belts are additionally technically much less environment friendly, that means it’s important to add a tiny bit extra pedal pressure in comparison with chains. Nevertheless, with the help of an electrical motor, that draw back doesn’t have an effect on us e-bike riders as a lot.
Lastly, and arguably most significantly for riders of already-fairly-pricey e-bikes, belt drives are merely costlier. Although costs are coming down, the expertise continues to be pretty new and the supplies aren’t as low cost as chain drive methods. That’s why we don’t see belt-drives on $500 e-bikes.
However maybe that day isn’t far off, as costs proceed to drop and firms proceed to innovate. Belt drives and their quite a few benefits may quickly discover their means into your storage on a brand new e-bike. They have already got in mine!
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