i started out with a belt drive like the majority of us. it was the standard but it seems that more and more people are moving away from traditional belt drives.
now hubs seemingly are becoming the standard and while belt drives are still valid, i noticed gear drives appearing here and there.
how did we get here? what made people switch from belt to hub?
aesthetics played a big role of course. esk8s looked cleaner…it was quiet too…we all saw beautiful stealth builds
now we see gear drives appearing. why? is there an unsaid truth about belt drives and hubs? we all know the pros and cons and lets leave it at that…live and let live right?
with the known issues in both belt and hubs many seem to have interest in a drive train that will solve some of the problems we know but why do many people shy away from a chain drive? because its noisy, and messy,heavy…maintenance is a pain?..so they say. but why are so many interested in a gear drive then?
its still true that belts and hubs are the main drives people choose to use with their respective strengths and weakness. so lets focus on gears vs chains.
gears are getting a lot of attention lately but is it getting it for the right reasons? lets ask questions.
why gears? obviously because theres a huge advantage in being able to choose gear ratio vs hub motors fix kv rating.
gears vs belts - obviously gears have a more direct power transfer and the reliability and durabilty of such a gear drive is also a factor that plays a big role.
both points can also be found in a chain drive. so why on earth should people be using gears instead ?
one of the turn-offs a chain drive have is noise. yeah what about it? both chain and gears will be noisier than hubs or belts i dare say. but which one is louder? chain or belt? who knows? ive yet to hear the difference…but i imagine it sounding similar to a 1/5 scale RC car…which is far from quiet.
maintenance? well both chains and gears need lube. from my experience with dry lube my chains only got messy once…and that was after my first ride when the chains pressed out excess lube. a quick wipe and it was spotless once more. no cleaning since. a gear drive on the other hand will need grease. that will get messy quick. “yeah, put it in a gearbox then”…sheesh… well…its still messier than chains with dry lube.
…which leads me to weight. sure, it doesnt matter much while your cells are delivering power…but wait till you have to carry that weight lol. i bet a gearbox will weigh similar if not more compared to a “traditional” chaindrive.
“yeah, but i dont carry…i push” how much drag will a gear drive have vs. chain drive? i have less drag on chains than belt…but gears?dunno…do you know?
flexibility. how fast and how easy can you change gear ratios on chains vs gears? whats easier to repair? how bout the availability of the parts? aaand if you ever want to do this on a gear box its probably safe to say that youll get your fingers greasy…again its gonna be messy. replacing a chain is similar to replacing a belt. easy. if i want to change the motor sprocket i just loosen one grub screw vs opening a greasy gear box.
alignment on a chain drive is also more forgiving compared to a gear drive. gears will require a more precise alignment and the proper distance to the individual gears. only the more experienced DIYers may be able to make such drives sucessfully.
So where are the advantages of a gear drive that justify choosing it over a basic chain drive ? are we over complicating things here ? what i see happening is that there is a desire to solve the problems found in belts and hub motors. BUT have’nt we adressed and solved those problems with a chain drive yet? sure its a bit noisy but its a small price to pay given the advantages it brings. what disadvantages are there in a chain drive that a gear drive seeks to solve ? (if any at all).
gears try to solve the same problems that has already been adressed by chain drives but gears also bring along their own issues…noise, weight, drag (depending on design obviously), maintenance,parts availability,flexibilty…just to name a few.
so, what do you say? gear drives are coming…but will they stay? what are your thoughts on this?