Articles on this site contain affiliate links, meaning we may be compensated without any added extra costs for you if you purchase a product after clicking them.

The (Dis)Advantages of Belt Drive Bicycles

belt drive bicycles

What is better - Belt or Chain Drive?

The belt drive on the bicycle is a relatively new alternative to the classic chain drive. The belt drive has been around for about ten years, but this drive has only gained popularity in the past two years. Instead of a chain in combination with different sprockets or chainrings, a belt made of carbon fibers is installed, which runs over two pulleys.

Are belt drive bicycles any good?

A belt drive can be useful for many people. An important factor is the low wear and the resulting, significantly longer service life of such a drive. This can be particularly interesting for frequent drivers, as it is no longer necessary to regularly replace the chain and the corresponding sprockets.

In addition, there are the factors of the silent movement and the lower friction of the belt. Since neither chain oil nor grease is used on the belt drive, it is also completely dirt-free. A belt drive is equally suitable for sporty mountain bikers, for trekking riders, for commuters and for anyone who wants a maintenance-free, quiet and effective drive on their bike.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Belt Drive Bicycles

AdvantagesDisadvantages
The wear and tear of a belt drive is minimal and the service life is significantly longer than a chain drive.A belt drive is only possible in combination with a hub or bottom bracket gear system.
A belt drive does not need to be maintenanced.In most cases, a frame lock in the compression strut of the bicycle frame is required to install a belt drive.
Chain oil or grease is not required so clothing cannot get dirty.
The belt drive and its two pulleys are lighter than a chain drive.
A belt drive is extremely quiet and barely audible.

Can I upgrade my bicycle with a belt drive?

Retrofitting an existing bicycle with a belt drive is possible in principle, but some factors must be taken into account. First of all, it should be clarified whether a frame lock can be installed in the bicycle frame in order to be able to open the closed strap at all. This is much easier to achieve with steel frames than with aluminum or carbon frames.

If a frame lock cannot be retrofitted, a split belt can also be used. In this special case, the frame does not have to be opened with a frame lock.

In both cases, however, the chainrings or sprockets must also be exchanged for pulleys, since a belt can only be mounted on these special “drive wheels”.

A basic requirement is also a hub or bottom circuit or a single-speed rear wheel. In combination with a derailleur system, a belt cannot be installed.

In the case of vertical dropouts of the bicycle frame, it is also necessary to install a belt tensioner, otherwise the belt cannot be brought up to the necessary tension. With horizontal dropouts, this is not necessary because the rear wheel can be moved horizontally and the belt can be tensioned.

Can a belt drive be installed on any bike?

A belt drive basically makes sense on almost every bike, but the conditions mentioned above must be met in order to be able to carry out the installation.

What must be considered when installing a belt drive?

  1. The chain or belt must be straight, otherwise smooth functioning cannot be guaranteed and the belt can wear and tear more quickly.
  2. Under no circumstances should the belt be kinked, as otherwise irreparable damage can occur.
  3. The belt can only be installed in combination with appropriate pulleys.
  4. The belt drive requires an appropriate tension, so that either horizontal dropouts or a belt tensioner are necessary.

How is the belt drive constructed?

The closed belt drive consists of extremely tensile carbon fibers and therefore does not stretch even after very long use. Teeth are formed on the inside of the belt, which thus engage in the teeth of the pulleys. The construction is therefore equivalent to that of a derailleur gears, even if there are different factors that speak for and against a belt drive compared to the derailleur gears.

Which belt drive manufacturers are there?

The top dog in the field of bicycle straps is the manufacturer Gates Carbon Drive. The Contitech Power Transmission Group has also dedicated itself to this topic. The manufacturer Veer Cycle has tackled the problem that until now you could only own a belt drive if your own bike frame has a frame lock.

How much is a belt drive for bicycles?

Belt drives are now installed in all types of bike. In this case, the purchase price is not significant since there are wheels with belts in all price ranges.

The price of retrofitting this drive is difficult to calculate because, above all, the aspect of the frame lock cannot be calculated as a flat rate. Purely for the drive itself, depending on the version, you can expect around $150-300 material costs, which is comparatively little if you consider the price of a high-quality derailleur in return.