The final drive system is important for transmitting the power from the engine to the rear wheel. For that, we use Carbon belts or steel chains. Both drivetrains have their own pros and cons that affect how the bike performs and how much work you have to put into it. Believe it or not, the kind of belts we’re talking about are the same ones used in cars to make sure everything runs smoothly. They handle much stronger forces in cars and motorcycles compared to what a bicycle deals with. But, why not see if we can use this idea for bikes too? Now, let’s compare Carbon Belt vs. Steel Chain
What is a Carbon belt drive?
A carbon belt drive is like a super-strong drivetrain that replaces the chain on a bicycle. Instead of a metal chain, this belt is specially designed from a carbon fiber material.
Carbon fiber is an expensive material than steel chain that offers more durability and performance for a longer time. This makes your bike faster and requires less maintenance compared to traditional chains
Pros of carbon belt drive
- Low Maintenance: Carbon belt drives don’t need regular lubrication and care. They just keep working without a fuss. You can also clean the belts by just spraying them with water and giving them a quick scrub with a toothbrush.
- Clean and Quiet: These belts do not create any sound during the ride because they are made from carbon fiber. They are cleaner than chains because they don’t need oil. This is especially beneficial for commuters and those who use bikes for transportation.
- Durability: Carbon fiber is a strong and durable material that offers a long lifespan for the belt. It can withstand various weather conditions and won’t stretch like some chains.
- Smooth Riding: The special shape of the gears makes it easy for the system to get rid of dirt and stuff. So, if you have a belt drive, you don’t have to stress as much about dirt messing up your bike’s insides.
Cons of carbon belt drive
- You might not get as many choices for how fast or slow you want to go.
- You can’t replace the regular bike chain with a belt. For that, you first need to change your regular bike.
- Bikes with carbon belt drives can cost more when you first buy them.
- Changing things on a bike with a belt is not as easy as on a bike with a chain.
What is a Steel Chain drive?
A Steel Chain Drive is made from a metal chain that helps transfer power from the pedals to the wheels. The chain moves over the gears, making the wheels turn and propelling the bike forward. It is a classic and widely used method for transmitting power in bicycles.
Pros of steel chain
Compatibility with All Bikes: Most of the regular bikes are compatible with chains. You don’t need any special features on your bike frame to use a chain.
Cost-Effective: Chains and related components are cheaper compared to the cost of a single carbon belt. A chain drive is a more economical choice for a budget-friendly person.
Easier Spare Parts: Chains, freewheels, cassettes, and chainrings are widely available in bike shops, even in remote areas. This makes finding replacement parts easy for 6, 7, or 8-speed systems.
Adjustability: Chains are easy to adjust when switching to different-size chainrings without the need to buy a new chain.
Full Suspension Compatibility: Chains seamlessly adapt to full-suspension bikes that accommodate variations in chainstay length caused by the movement of the suspension. This flexibility allows chains to work efficiently with the dynamic nature of full-suspension systems.
Cons of Chain Drive
- Chains require regular cleaning, oils, and lubrication. They are important to make your bike smoother, faster, and less noisy.
- Chains tend to ‘stretch’ and lose efficiency as they wear. This leads to potential slippage and increased friction. Belts maintain their shape and wear more slowly.
- Chains are typically heavier than belts due to their material. For longer drives, you need to carry chain tools like lube, spare links, and cleaning supplies.
- Chains have many moving parts, and issues with any part can affect their performance.
Both carbon belts and steel chain drives are good for use. Here, carbon belts are more expensive than steel chains. Carbon belts are more expensive, durable, strong, and long-lasting. Steel chain is made from iron and carbon belt are made from carbon fiber. The belt offers you long distances with less maintenance.
Customizing a carbon belt drive is more limited compared to chain-driven setups. The design and structure of belt drives often have fewer options for adjustments or changes.
Carbon belt drives are low-maintenance but benefit from occasional cleaning. A simple spray-down and scrub with a toothbrush can help remove dirt and contaminants. Unlike chains, they don’t require regular lubrication.
Carbon belt drives generally perform well in extreme weather conditions. The material’s resistance to rust and the system’s design contribute to reliable operation in various temperatures which makes them suitable for diverse riding environments.
Carbon belt drives don’t typically have specific safety features distinct from chains. However, their cleaner and quieter operation offers an overall better riding experience.