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by Luke Mitchell.
Due to the progress of manufacturing technologies, the bicycle industry has progressed tremendously. The newest topic of discussion in this category is that of chain drives versus belt drives. Here is what you need to know about the distinctions between the two, as well as some recommendations on what to buy.
Belt drives are present on various two-wheelers nowadays, from commuter bikes that are meant for city use to robust mountain bikes that conquer the trails. Indoor bicycles also make use of this equipment, as it brings many advantages to a home workout. Even motorcycles come with belt drives nowadays, which shows just how pervasive the technology is.
Chain Drive vs Belt Drive
An article published by Gizmodo back in 2008 boldly stated that chain drive bikes were becoming a thing of the past, while belt drives were taking the forefront. Ten years later, it is safe to say that this indeed happened. Even though many bikes still sport a chain drive, more and more companies have reoriented their lines toward the better alternative.
The main advantage of belt drives is that they require less maintenance, as they don’t stretch and break over time. What is more, they stay clean as they do not require oiling, which catches dirt like no other. They are also a lot quieter, and lighter as well. Of course, one major downside is in terms of price, as they are considerably more expensive.
The other notable disadvantage is that you don’t have a regular cassette, which means that you are usually stuck in one gear. Tandem bicycles have found a way to work around this problem by incorporating both a belt drive, as well as a chain drive to shift. Still, regular bicycles make use of an additional mechanism called a shifting hub to solve the issue.
Nevertheless, the experience will never be as seamless as with a chain drive. What is more, cheaper models might avoid the system altogether. Still, a variety of bicycles sport them nowadays. Major manufacturers in the industry, such as Ancheer, Focus, and Marin offer quite a few options of commute, MTB, and even fitness bikes with this technology on board.
And according to ExerciseBikesExpert.com, stationary indoor bicycles have recently been upgraded to belt drives as well. In addition, newer and more robust models of mountain bikes sport belt drives as well. The cycling industry overall has adopted this system due to its aforementioned benefits.
Top 3 Belt Drive Bikes
There are many high-quality bikes out there available for under 500 dollars. However, few sport belt drives, as this is more of a premium part. Nevertheless, you can certainly find something that won’t break the bank for any preference. Here are three belt drive bike recommendations to suit both your outdoor and indoor needs.
1. Marin Fairfax Bicycle
Marin Bikes is one of the top manufacturers in the field. Based in the birthplace of mountain biking, namely Marin County, California, they have a long-standing history in the industry that spans over several decades. And they do not deal in MTBs alone, as they produce a wide range of commuting bikes perfect for everyday use.
The most popular belt-drive alternative is the Marin Fairfax, which comes in a variety of builds to suit every budget. The basic model with rim brakes and a Gate belt drives will set you back around 650 dollars. For something more elegant and high-tech equipped with disc brakes, pannier racks, and lights that self-charge, you will have to pay over 2,000 dollars.
2. Focus Planet Bicycle
The Focus Planet is another commuter-friendly belt drive bicycle that has few maintenance requirements, while offering a smooth and silent ride. Retailing for around 1,000 dollars depending on your dealership of choice, it comes equipped with Shimano disc brakes, as well as shifters and a rear derailleur from the same brand.
Due to its MTB-like build, it can conquer the city on any given day and under any weather conditions. Its smooth rolling tyres are perfect for any type of ride, and you will feel safe and in control for the entire duration due to the reliable braking system. In addition, because it has a mudguard and a light, you will be properly equipped for any weather conditions.
What is more, the Focus Planet is incredibly low maintenance, and that is partly due to its belt drive system. Its robust build and exquisite parts make it the most elegant choice for the inner city rider. It’s not just a commuter’s bike, but a lifestyle choice altogether. Thus, in spite of its heftier price tag, it will be money well spent.
3. Ancheer Indoor Bike
Finally, for those who want to continue their cycling inside in the colder months of the year, there is the Ancheer Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike. Available for just 300 dollars on Amazon.com, this 49-pound flywheel spinner offers an incredibly smooth riding experience that emulates outdoors conditions perfectly.
And due to its integrated belt drive, the entire experience will be quiet and seamless as well. Its handlebars and saddle are fully adjustable, as well as padded for extra comfort and grip. Therefore, if you want to enjoy pedaling in the comfort of your own home as much as you would in the city or on bike trails, it is an excellent choice.
Belt drives are superior to chain drives in many aspects. They are easier to clean and maintain, last longer, and are quieter and smoother as well. However, they are also more expensive, which raises the overall price of the bikes who have them integrated. Nevertheless, when you’ve got the extra dollars to spend, it’s a worthwhile investment.
“Article provided by Luke Mitchell of Exercise Bikes Expert. Luke is an MS Undergraduate in Sports Journalism and an independent fitness trainer. You can find more of his written work on Facebook and Twitter.”
I have always enjoyed bicycling and, through a series of coincidences, became a Bicycle Industry Consultant and Product Tester. I continue to test prototype products for companies and publish only off the shelf production products on biketestreviews.com.