General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Belt vs Chain

Old 12-24-18, 11:21 PM
  #1  
alanf
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 243

Bikes: Devinci Millenium, Gary Fisher Joshua

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Belt vs Chain

Just curious about belt drives. How do they compare with chain?
Efficiency
Weather resistance
Slippage
longevity

Anything else?
alanf is offline  
Old 12-24-18, 11:43 PM
  #2  
Teamprovicycle
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Providence
Posts: 723

Bikes: Specialized tarmac sl2 giant tcx zero

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 314 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Just go read about them or watch videos on yootoob.

Less effcient , less mess , less options
More for easy going city bikes and such .
Teamprovicycle is offline  
Old 12-24-18, 11:50 PM
  #3  
skookum
cyclotourist
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: calgary, canada
Posts: 882
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 151 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
belts
less efficient
last longer
much more expensive
more finicky to set up
easier to maintain

I have one of each on similar bikes. The belt performs as advertised, no problems at all, but I don't think there is any real advantage over a chain and a few downsides.
skookum is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 12:02 AM
  #4  
BrocLuno
Senior Member
 
BrocLuno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Kalifornia Kollective
Posts: 353

Bikes: K2 (Marzocchi/Fox), Trek 6000 (red) MARS Elite up front, Specialized Hardrock Sport -> eBike (R7 Elite up front), lastly TREK 820 loaner. Recently sold Peugeot du Monde Record and 1956 Schwinn (owned since new).

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 75 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If I had to ride wet, it would be belts all the way. I had a belt on my Harley 1200c that took all the abuse you dish out and never whimpered once. Almost as good as a shaft drive for low maintenance

Prolly less resistance than a dry dirty chain. Prolly more resistance that a well oiled clean chain ...
BrocLuno is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 12:12 AM
  #5  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 214 Times in 178 Posts
vague....

Gates belt drive for bicycles , is what you are looking at ? can you be more specific? what combination?
fietsbob is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 12:40 AM
  #6  
ericzamora
junior
 
ericzamora's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Fresno, Calif.
Posts: 239

Bikes: 2018 Norco Search XR 105 steel gravel bike / 1983 Bianchi Campione D'Italia / Gary Fisher Wingra / Motobecane Nomade mixte (daughter's) / Norco Fluid 2 HT

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 48 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
I was just perusing youtube videos earlier today. This guy spec'd a belt drive for his 2-year bike touring trip from Argentina to Alaska. Belt drive mentioned at 4:04

I have no experience with belt drives though a buddy has one on his city commuter hybrid and loves it.

eric/fresno, ca.
ericzamora is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 12:45 AM
  #7  
General Geoff
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 640

Bikes: 2018 Lynskey Cooper CX; 2007 Cannondale F4

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 285 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Belt drive is the way of the future, IMO. My next bike will probably be a Gates Belt Drive coupled with a Pinion gearbox.

Greater longevity and no need to lubricate or clean/degrease saves far more time and effort than the ~1 watt you lose from efficiency differences vs a chain.
General Geoff is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 12:34 PM
  #8  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 214 Times in 178 Posts
FWIW at my LBS they had a Broken crank cog ring, hanging from a nail for several years..... so know They are not invulnerable .. it took several days for a replacement to arrive,

Special order , with fast shipping charges..

but as the town is being made over for tourism,, abundant hotel rooms, restaurants and brew -Pub-cafes to fill up that waiting time..


A nice ,little , Drinking town with an old Fishing problem ,



When I saw them I thought inside a chain cover would be great ! , mostly to be anonymous,, not a 'steal me' , feature, highlighted..

and since chains in those covers rarely get oil , a drive that never needs it is Ideal ...





....

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-25-18 at 03:54 PM.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 03:28 PM
  #9  
seamuis
aire díthrub
 
seamuis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: chatham
Posts: 530

Bikes: Raleigh Competition, Pashley Roadster Sovereign, Cielo Sportif Classic, Mercian Vincitore Speciale

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 241 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 32 Times in 21 Posts
I’m eagerly awaiting the VEER ‘pro’ system in 2019, to convert my Raleigh SS to belt. Yes they are technically less efficient, but I don’t thank that practically matters for most people’s real world everyday riding. I’m not a cheerleader for belts, as I’ve never even owned one, but I would like to. The current biggest downside is that you need a special frame with a breakaway to put on or take off the belt, and the type of draivetrains that are currently belt compatible is limited. The VEER pro system is supposed to solve both of those, so I’m keeping a close eye on it. Based on just the well known basics, I would say that a belt system is the absolute best choice for a city bike/commuter/utility and long distance tourers/bikepacking if virtually zero maintenence and extreme reliability is what you’re after. There’s a reason most motorcycles have been using belts for some time now.
seamuis is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 04:16 PM
  #10  
prathmann
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Bay Area, Calif.
Posts: 7,261
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 657 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by General Geoff View Post
Belt drive is the way of the future, IMO. My next bike will probably be a Gates Belt Drive coupled with a Pinion gearbox.

Greater longevity and no need to lubricate or clean/degrease saves far more time and effort than the ~1 watt you lose from efficiency differences vs a chain.
The Gates belt clearly has a longevity advantage compared to derailleur chains, but it should really be compared to 1/8" chains used with single speeds or IGHs. In that case I'm not so sure since I've had chains on 3-speeds and the cross-over chain on our tandem last for well over 30,000 miles and only require minimal maintenance - i.e. add some oil every few months and wipe off the excess.
prathmann is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 04:31 PM
  #11  
BrocLuno
Senior Member
 
BrocLuno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Kalifornia Kollective
Posts: 353

Bikes: K2 (Marzocchi/Fox), Trek 6000 (red) MARS Elite up front, Specialized Hardrock Sport -> eBike (R7 Elite up front), lastly TREK 820 loaner. Recently sold Peugeot du Monde Record and 1956 Schwinn (owned since new).

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 75 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Any of the K2/ProFlex/Girvin bikes can accommodate a belt w/o modification. Either the aluminum swing arm, CroMo arm, or the carbon one. No hassles. There are other brands with arched swing arms.

On the elastomer suspension bikes, you can use a stiffer poly bushing. On the shock arms, you can put in an Air Shock and pump it up enough and you will never have to worry about pedaling losses from bobbing.

I don't mind a bit of bobbing for the plush ride on my K2, even on the street (Fox Shock). It only happens when I'm up on the pedals climbing steeply, and not much even then. As long as I sit, no issues.

28 lbs all up with plush seat and rear rack, not bad for a trail bike that can run errands too

Not mine, just a snap off the Net:



Many are now getting converted to Gravel Bikes

Last edited by BrocLuno; 12-25-18 at 04:34 PM.
BrocLuno is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 07:58 PM
  #12  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 214 Times in 178 Posts
Belts need to be under a consistent tension, not a variable one, maybe a V belt can handle a spring loaded 3rd pulley ..
Bike Fridays Silk had what looked like a swing arm , but it was rigid and included the BB and a way to tension the belt..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 08:30 PM
  #13  
Shimagnolo
Senior Member
 
Shimagnolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zang's Spur, CO
Posts: 8,757
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1568 Post(s)
Liked 60 Times in 41 Posts
Originally Posted by seamuis View Post
The current biggest downside is that you need a special frame with a breakaway to put on or take off the belt, and the type of draivetrains that are currently belt compatible is limited.

Some years back, I picked up a new-old-stock Calfee Luna Pro frame and built it up. When it was arrived, I was surprised to see the seatstays are bolted to the dropouts, with the bolt heads on the inside of the dropout. Now Calfee has been producing these for years, and I'm wondering if there were even belt drives around when they began. I'm thinking they may be doing it for ease of production.

https://calfeedesign.com/luna-classi...53973388671875
Shimagnolo is online now  
Old 12-25-18, 09:00 PM
  #14  
Andy Thousand
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: New York
Posts: 12

Bikes: Brompton

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Are belts better than chains?

Originally Posted by alanf View Post
Just curious about belt drives. How do they compare with chain?
Efficiency
Weather resistance
Slippage
longevity

Anything else?
when it comes to belts vs chains it depends upon your needs and preferences.


If you are thinking of going with a belt drive you have to realize that you’re going to have to spend more.

Belts can only be used with internal gear hubs or single speeds.

This will make the bicycle heavier and more expensive to purchase, if going with internal gear hub.

You’re also going to lose some efficiency because internal gear hubs have more drag than derailleurs.

The plus side is that they require less maintenance but when they do go can be more expensive.

Plus getting parts and belts can be difficult, especially while traveling.

The plus side is that they require no oil and the belts can last a long time.

This is an issue I might address on my blog seeing many are asking about it.
Andy Thousand is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 10:37 PM
  #15  
HerrKaLeun
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 1,377

Bikes: Giant Toughroad SLR1 and Motobecane Sturgis NX

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 666 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 23 Times in 19 Posts
Originally Posted by General Geoff View Post
Belt drive is the way of the future, IMO. My next bike will probably be a Gates Belt Drive coupled with a Pinion gearbox.

Greater longevity and no need to lubricate or clean/degrease saves far more time and effort than the ~1 watt you lose from efficiency differences vs a chain.
That sure is a low maintenance setup. However, a system requiring proprietary frames for the pinion and expensive components (belt, pinion) is unlikely to be a widely adopted future unless prices really drop.
For some reason I think the Rohloff has more chance to be more popular. It also could have a belt (or chain), but will work with regular frames. But again, at the cost it has it won't be widely adopted.
HerrKaLeun is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 10:53 PM
  #16  
General Geoff
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 640

Bikes: 2018 Lynskey Cooper CX; 2007 Cannondale F4

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 285 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
That sure is a low maintenance setup. However, a system requiring proprietary frames for the pinion and expensive components (belt, pinion) is unlikely to be a widely adopted future unless prices really drop.
For some reason I think the Rohloff has more chance to be more popular. It also could have a belt (or chain), but will work with regular frames. But again, at the cost it has it won't be widely adopted.
You're right about the Pinion being fated to the high-end adventure/commuter bike market exclusively due to cost. But the belt drive combined with IGHs, I think, has a much brighter future in the sub-$1k bicycle market. Priority makes nothing but belt drive bikes, and they've been selling their models very well since they started up a few years ago.
General Geoff is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 11:10 PM
  #17  
Archwhorides 
Senior Member
 
Archwhorides's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Boston
Posts: 771

Bikes: Death machines all

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 233 Post(s)
Liked 10 Times in 8 Posts
I've run a Gates belt on my 8 speed Alfine IGH commuter for three years. My commute is an 18 mile round trip and I average 4 days a week on the cycle. I have also used the bike for some casual 25-30 mile road rides.

Downsides:
  • IGH/belt a bit less efficient and a bit heavier (maybe 1 1/2 lbs) than comparable conventional drive. With this margin, I would say the engine is a much bigger factor for acceleration and speed, so this issue of weight/drag doesn't matter at all to me.
  • Needs to be properly tensioned. The OEM eccentric bottom bracket on my cycle was crap and had to be replaced after two years with a quality part (however not all belt drives use this same tensioning method). The tension has been fine since.
  • Bit more work to change a flat.
Upsides:
  • Addictively quiet and smooth in any condition
  • Virtually maintenance free once set up, even when riding every day in the worst weather (this is very important for me, as I hate having to clean/lube a chain)
A month ago I pulled the trigger on a new pinion/belt commuter that I have fitted out for winter riding with studded tires. It rides smooth and trouble-free in any road condition, so I'm a happy camper all around. The pinion gearbox is a bit heavier still but the bike runs great and changing flats is as simple as a single speed.

Based on my experience I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the belt drive with IGH or Pinion.
__________________
Work is the curse of the drinking classes - Oscar Wilde
Archwhorides is offline  
Old 12-25-18, 11:26 PM
  #18  
BrocLuno
Senior Member
 
BrocLuno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Kalifornia Kollective
Posts: 353

Bikes: K2 (Marzocchi/Fox), Trek 6000 (red) MARS Elite up front, Specialized Hardrock Sport -> eBike (R7 Elite up front), lastly TREK 820 loaner. Recently sold Peugeot du Monde Record and 1956 Schwinn (owned since new).

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 75 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If you modded a ProFlex with the elastomer rear "strut" it would not change length much. It could be your tensioning system.

Harleys have been running belt drives for years with 3 inches of suspension travel at least. Belts can handle some slack, just not as much as chains with a spring loaded derailleur ... And you can add an idler roller with a spring to keep the tension constant, if you want to.

I was just offering a rear end example that did not require cutting the rear triangle ... I'll bet there are a lot of older MTB designs where the seat stays or upper suspension "rods" are moveable/removable, making them easy candidates for a belt conversion. Limit the travel and you are good to go

An ingenious person could prolly calc the belt length so that as the rear triangle came into alignment, it would induce correct tension ... And maybe adding a simple roller in the right place would keep the tension as the swing arm moved a bit for better ride ...
BrocLuno is offline  
Old 12-26-18, 08:59 AM
  #19  
JonathanGennick 
Senior Member
 
JonathanGennick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Munising, Michigan, USA
Posts: 4,006

Bikes: Priority 600, Priority Continuum, Devinci Dexter

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 635 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
My first exposure to belt drive was a Kawasaki that I bought in 1987. Fantastic experience w/that motorcycle, and it was an easy leap for me to accept belts on bicycles.

Belt drive is wonderful in winter. I do nothing in winter except to let my bikes drip dry inside. No lubing, no rusting of the chain, no crud in the (internal) gears.

The OP asked about slippage, and no one's commented yet on that. The belt does need to be "in the zone" with respect to tension. Too loose and you get slippage under load, and too tight leads to friction and noise. Hoping I don't get crucified for admitting this in a public forum, but I just "wing it" when adjusting my belt tension. There are tension gauges, and a phone app works pretty well, but I have good experience going by feel.

Belt drive is wonderful for people who just want to ride and enjoy a few miles now and then without having to fuss a lot with cleanup and lubing of chains. My daughter is a perfect example. She's not a bike enthusiast. She just likes to ride to work and back -- year round, including in winter! --and for enjoyment on sunny days. A low maintenance bike that needs no oiling and cleaning is perfect for that application and is easy to store inside her apartment, because no worries over grease on the carpet.
JonathanGennick is offline  
Old 12-26-18, 10:04 AM
  #20  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,928

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6833 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 214 Times in 178 Posts
FWIW at my LBS they had a Broken crank cog ring, hanging from a nail for several years..... so know They are not invulnerable .. it took several days for a replacement to arrive,

Special order , with fast shipping charges..

but as the town is being made over for tourism,, abundant hotel rooms, restaurants and brew -Pub-cafes to fill up that waiting time..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 12-26-18, 10:11 AM
  #21  
AlmostTrick
Tortoise Wins by a Hare!
 
AlmostTrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Looney Tunes, IL
Posts: 6,492

Bikes: Wabi Special FG, Raleigh Roper, Nashbar AL-1, Miyata One Hundred, '68 Schwinn Orange Krate, and More!!

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1054 Post(s)
Liked 107 Times in 64 Posts
Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Hoping I don't get crucified for admitting this in a public forum, but I just "wing it" when adjusting my belt tension. There are tension gauges, and a phone app works pretty well, but I have good experience going by feel.
This makes perfect sense to me. Anyone with a good mechanical aptitude should be able to set the tension to the sweet spot with little fuss, I figure.
AlmostTrick is offline  
Old 12-26-18, 10:19 AM
  #22  
ksryder
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1,817

Bikes: yes

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 727 Post(s)
Liked 63 Times in 35 Posts
Belt drive + IGH is a fairly common setup on the Tour Divide rigs. Seems like belt drive ticks a lot of boxes for commuters and ultra distance bikepackers. Somewhat odd venn diagram there.
ksryder is offline  
Old 12-26-18, 10:44 AM
  #23  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 9,523

Bikes: '76 Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Burley Samba, Terra Trike

Mentioned: 58 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1474 Post(s)
Liked 89 Times in 60 Posts
I had one. It was fine. A bit draggy but tolerable and no rubber band feeling.

I had trouble setting the right tension after a tire change and that caused some drag then skipping as I dialed it in but I wouldn’t have had that problem if I’d noted where the tensioner was before I unscrewed it.

i had other problems with that bike but they weren’t because of the drivetrain
Darth Lefty is offline  
Old 12-26-18, 11:37 AM
  #24  
Kedosto
Ambulophobic
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Leandro, CA
Posts: 1,117
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 402 Post(s)
Liked 82 Times in 55 Posts
For me, it’s all about flat tire issues. I bought a frame with the intention of building a belt drive rig, but after taking a close look at fixing a flat on the side of the road, well, I’m not feeling the love.

Sure, setup and dialing in the system is easy in the comfort of the garage, but achieving similar results at the curb requires too many tools and finesse. Add in darkness and rain, and, count me out. I’m pretty sure breaking it down wouldn’t be too hard, but after slapping on the patch, getting it all back together and functional seems like a roadside PITA.

I’ve considered going tubeless, but that’s not a bombproof option. In fact, it may actually be worse because I’d still have to carry all the tools necessary for a tubeless system failure as well as fixing a slimy tubeless flat on top of the belt drive shenanigans. Solid, airless tires would work perfectly here, but who wants to ride like that? I’m not that desperate for belt drive.

Plenty of people say “it’s no big deal” but they’re not commuting through deep East Oakland. I can fix a rear flat like a NASCAR pit crew on a derailleur bike. I haven’t seen anyone be able to do the same on a belt drive bike.


-Kedosto
Kedosto is offline  
Old 12-26-18, 03:49 PM
  #25  
flatlander_48
Cathedral City, CA
 
flatlander_48's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Cathedral City, CA
Posts: 1,501

Bikes: 2016 RITCHEY BreakAway (full Chorus 11), 2005 Ritchey BreakAway (full Chorus 11, STOLEN), 2001 Gary Fisher Tassajara mountain bike (sold), 2004 Giant TRC 2 road bike (sold)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
This is the comparison of timing belt drives vs chain drives for industrial drives. Note that some of the remarks would not apply to bicycle drive trains. Also, I think repair is problematic as likely more people would attempt to repair a rear derailleur compared to opening up an internally geared hub...

Timing Belt Advantages & Disadvantages | Pfeifer Industries



flatlander_48 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.