The Great Advantages of a Belt-Drive Bicycle

Some of the world's leading bicycle producers have slowly started to introduce belt drive models into their ranges – a shift away from the use of the conventional chain.

The bicycle chain has been about in all probability ever since the invention of the bicycle itself, and a very ingenious invention it is too. Linked metal sections are robust, flexible in one direction, but resistant to distortion in the other, sideways direction.

And naturally, the great advantage of a chain drive is that it can use derailleur gears. The development of derailleurs over the years has been just astounding. Beginning with just 5, moving up to 30 gears, the derailleur mechanism is used on bikes from low-priced bikes to state-of-the-art racers. So why the revolution?

In reality there are features of a chain drive that cause problems for the rider: –

  • A chain needs to be lubricated, so you run the risk of getting oil and dirt on clothing.
  • If not deleted oiled, the chain will corrode and get noisy.

The belt drive gets over these disadvantages.It replaces the chain with a toothed belt made of a high-strength, low friction material – often polyurethane reinforced with carbon fiber.

However, other components have to be redesigned to suit – both rear sprocket and front chain wheel have to be designed to match the belt. What's more, the frame itself has to be altered, as the continuous belt will not go over the chain stay. This means that either the chain stay has to be produced with a break, or a removable dropout must be used.

Neverheless, once these problems are overcome, the belt drive really comes into its own: –

  • Totally clean running, as the belt does not need lubrication at all.
  • Silent operation
  • A belt will usually last 2 or 3 times as long as a chain.

The other main factor is that derailleur gears can not be used, so belt drives will surely be restricted to single speed or internal gear hub bikes. These internal gear hubs are getting better all the time – in reality they are now available with up to 11 ratios.

To cite an example, the SUB 10 from Scott features a Gates Carbon drive (one of the most popular). Together with an 8-speed Alfine hub, the SUB 10 as a consequence is a high-performance city and commuter bike – you can arrive at the office or school without having to be concerned about grease and oil on your daytime clothes.

A belt drive seems to be a significant contribution to the world of the commuter and city bike.