What is a belt drive e-bike

You may have heard about belt driven bikes and also seen some pictures but what exactly is an e-bike that's "belt driven" and how does this differ from a traditional bike?

A belt drive e-bike is exactly that, it's a bike than has a belt (see photo below) instead of a chain. We're all used to seeing bikes and e-bikes with a metal chain,  we've all uttered a few choice words when a chain comes off and needs replacing back on the chain ring as it means dirty fingers. We've all also uttered a few more (this time stronger) choice words when our clothing or legs have made contact with an oily chain and left an oily mark.

Many electric bike brands are now supplying e-bikes with a belt drive. Brands such as Vanmoof, Cowboy and Tenways are now all employing belt drive technology in their latest e-bike designs.

electric bike belt drive

Key benefits

  • A belt drive bike doesn't have a chain - so no mess
  • No need to oil the chain so there is no maintenance
  • A belt driven bike doesn't have a rear cassette (set of cogs) or a rear derailleur, the guide at the back of the bike, the whole drive chain runs much smoother and quieter than a chain bike
  • Parts last longer, no cassette or chain to regularly replace

So if there isn't a rear cassette how does the bike gearing work? A belt driven e-bike can be single speed (like a fixie) or it may use an internal gearing box located at or in the rear hub or the bottom bracket (where the pedals are). However the gearing options are not comparable to a bike with a wide range of 7 (or more gears). Because of this a belt driven e-bike isn't for everyone one, it really depends on the intended use. If you're looking for something with climbing range or if you regularly ride hilly routes then an e-bike with gears is probably a better choice. If you're looking for a low maintenance, urban e-bike then a belt drive is a great choice.

How long do the belts last? Unlike a chain a belt will go on and on, in fact the Gate's belt drives as found on the Tenways CGO600 and CGO800s can go on for up to 30,000km, compare that to the 4,800 to 8,000km you'd get from a chain.


tenways cgo600 belt drive


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