Chain Drives vs Belt Drives

Chain Drives vs Belt Drives

Belt drives and chain drives, both are used to transmit power to rear wheels. Belt drives are doing their duties from the ages but chain drives are comparatively new and modern. Both the drives are better in their own ways but also both have advantages and disadvantages. Belt drives are smoother in operation but can’t handle too much power where as Chain Drives are strong and durable but are noisy. Currently, majority of motorcycle manufacturers are using Chain Drives but there are few who opt for Belt Drives. Let see both the options and check out which is better.

Belt Drives


How it works?

The belts of Belt Drives are generally made of high-module rubber, plastic and other synthetic material. Belt Drives are smoother than Chain Drives and are also light weighted. The working of this system is quite simple, it works on principle of pulleys and belt. There are two sprockets front and rear (pulley) and they are connected via belt. Belt drives reduces unsprung masses of the vehicle which affects the ride quality. As more unsprung mass more road irregularities the vehicle has to absorb.

Against Chain Drive?

Belts Drives are smoother in operation and do not require lubrication. But there is one thing that Chain Drives have, they can’t be cut or damaged while belts can be damaged due to weather conditions and they can be cut with a minor impact. Also belts are not so good with stress management while chains reign supreme in that. That’s a big reason why performance based motorcycles do not equip Belt Drives. But nowadays thanks to advancements in technology, belts drive have improved and are made of stronger material to resist cuts and damages.

Types of Belt Drives:

There are plenty of belt types available, the list includes flat belts, round belts, vee belts, multi-groove belts, ribbed belts, film belts, metal belts, rolling belts, flying rope and Buell belt drives.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Belt Drives:


  • Smoother operation.
  • No lubrication required.
  • Longer life.
  • Highly efficient.
  • Shock absorption capabilities.


  • Slipping problem.
  • Low power output.
  • Can be damaged easily.

Chain Drives


How it works?

To understand the working of Chain Drive, we can take an example of bicycles. We apply force on pedal and it rotates the rear wheel through the chain. Chain drives are made of certain components including, chain made of metal, two sprockets and bearings. One sprocket is for the front and the other one is for the rear. When the first one starts rotating it transfers power to the rear one via metal chain and rear wheel start rotating, a very simple function! In automobiles, front sprocket is connected with the engine-transmission assembly. In Chain Drives, chain is toothed and connected via links so it can easily adjustable according to use.

Is it better?

Yes! We can say Chain Drives are more preferable than Belt Drives. There are certain reasons why it is better; as we discussed above, Chain Drives are connected via links so there are no chances of slippage and power loss while it is in operation. Metal Chains are more durable and power delivery is very smooth. In vehicles like the big performance bikes where the power which needs to be transmitted is very high, thus it will need Chain Drives to handle it.

Maintenance of Chain Drives:

Chain Drives do not need too much maintenance but it needs regular lubrication. When Chain Drives are in operation it moves rapidly and starts experiencing wear and tear and if it is not lubricated there are strong chances it will break during the operations. Also it requires lubrication to protect itself from different weather conditions, like chains are made of metals so it has to protected from water to avoid rusting. For lubrication, variety of oils, chain lubrication and greases are available in market and can be easily applied on chains.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Chain Drives:


  • Made of metal.
  • Cheap in cost.
  • Simple operation.
  • Light weight.
  • Can handle higher stress.
  • High power transmission efficiency.
  • No chance of slip.


  • Require lubrication.
  • Tough to avoid rusting.



So, in summary we can say both the Drive Systems are good but somehow 90% of two-wheelers use Chain Drives for power transmission due to its strength and capabilities. But, still Belt Drives are developing and we hope in near future we can see further evolution in Belt Drives.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s