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Chain Drive or Belt Drive Which Is Better For An Exercise Bike? And Why...

Published by Kieran
Last Updated on November 3, 2021

Which type of drive will best suit your needs?

It ultimately depends on whether you prefer the feel of an outdoor bike. If you do then the chain drive is best for you but if you want a smoother feel then go for the belt drive.

Just like with an outdoor bike, each type of exercise bike has its own drive system, the most common two being a chain drive or a belt drive.

Most people do not even consider which type is best when buying an exercise bike but both types have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to your workout. So, to better your exercise, you need to know which drive is better for your exercise bike.

What is a chain drive?

Even though most would not realise it, everyone has seen a chain drive on their standard, outdoor bike. A chain drive type exercise bike functions in the same way.

In order to make an outdoor bike move, a chain has to be connected from the pedals to the wheels to push the bike forward.

With an exercise bike, the bike itself does not need to move but the flywheel does need to in order for the bike to create resistance. As such, a chain is connected from the pedals to the flywheel.

The advantages of a chain drive

The biggest advantage of a chain drive is the fact that they are known to work.

While manufacturers have recently chosen to go with a belt drive for their exercise bike, a chain drive is still used on outdoor bikes as it has been for decades. It is a system that works well and will not fail often if taken care of well.

It is also worth noting that because a chain drive is used on the typical outdoor bike, indoor bikes that use the same kind of system will have the feel of an outdoor bike.

Issue with using a chain drive

While the chain drive system has proven for years to work well, it does require considerably more maintenance than a belt drive to keep functioning properly.

If maintenance is kept on top of then you will have an exercise bike that will last for years. However, failure to do so could result in a costly repair.

What is a belt drive?

A belt drive is a method not commonly used on outdoor bikes, if at all. This type of drive system is almost exclusively used on excersise bikes. In fact, more and more manufacturers are making a move to belt drive bikes with their newer exercise bikes.

Unlike the chain system that uses metal links, a belt drive uses a belt of rubber fitted with teeth. The purpose of the belt is the same as a chain but it has a different feel to it.

Pros of using a belt drive

The belt drives used on excersise bikes have been specially made to make your bike operate smoother, eliminating the clanky, mechanical feel of an outdoor bike.

The power you put into pedalling on a belt-driven exercise bike will transfer smoothly into the rubber belt without failing or reducing the amount of friction generated at the flywheel. This overall results in a more fluid feel to your pedalling.

Furthermore, not only does the rubber belt require less maintenance overall as the way it works is extremely simple, but when it does come time to replace the belt, you will not have to pay a hefty price.

The disadvantages of a belt drive

A clear disadvantage of a belt drive is the lack of the realistic feel associated with chain drives.

For some people, the smoother pedalling outweighs the less realistic resistance and friction. But for others, especially those who prefer to use an outdoor bike, the feel of a chain drive is much more preferable.

Which drive is best for me?

To be honest, the best way to decide which type of drive will suit your personal style will depend on which one feels the best to you and which you will feel most comfortable using regularly at home.

Neither the chain drive nor the belt drive will dramatically improve or worsen the effects of your workout so it really does depend on what type of feel you want from your indoor bike.

That being said, there are financial pros and cons associated with each type of drive which may influence which type of exercise bike you get.

As mentioned, most manufacturers are choosing to make their exercise bikes with a belt drive meaning that this type of drive is becoming more fashionable. As such, belt drive bikes are increasing in price whereas chain drive bikes are remaining the cheaper option.

Although, the level of maintenance that will be required of a chain drive bike may mean that you chose to spend a little bit more on your initial purchase of a belt-drive bike to avoid the maintenance and repairs of a chain drive.

It is still best to try out both types of bikes before you come to any conclusions as you may want to the most popular type of bike but could the fake feel of the belt. The choice is ultimately up to your personal preference.

About the author
Published by Kieran
A star athlete during his school days, Kieran quickly excelled at sports and in particular; football. Kieran's true passion lies in home exercise equipment, and so was was built as a source for all of Kieran's thoughts to be put down on a medium. Here he guides you through various nuances of working out at home, tips, guides, reviews and more.The only other thing Kieran enjoys more than working out, is writing about it.
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