Chain Drive vs. Belt Drive: General Overview

Chain Drive vs. Belt Drive: General Overview

If you are considering purchasing an indoor cycling bike, it’s important to decide whether you want a chain drive bike or belt drive bike. When the two drive systems are compared to each other, they bring different benefits. The drive of your bike is the piece that connects the wheels and pedals together to move everything forward. You can choose between a belt drive mechanism or a chain drive mechanism. Keep in mind that no matter which drive system you choose, both will provide you with a durable and effective workout. Differences really change the way your ride feels during your exercise session.


A chain drive is like a bike you may have used as a kid or still use as an adult! It’s the standard drive system on mountain bikes, road bikes, and many other outdoor bikes. It’s the chain that connects your wheels to the pedals by attaching to two sprockets.  When you pedal, the crank arms start to rotate which engage the pedal sprocket and wheel sprocket to move the bike forward. Exercise bikes have a fixed gear system that helps the wheel continue to turn with the momentum you create from your pedal speed and power. This would be most like riding a fixed gear outdoor bicycle. The feeling and sound of the chain is something that many people enjoy and choose if they want the consistency of a chain. Overall, the noise level is minimal and allows for you to still enjoy your favorite music, video, or workouts.

What are the factors I need to consider before purchasing a chain drive?

The maintenance is always something a rider should consider before purchasing a chained bike. Overtime chain drive systems tend to dry out. For this reason, you will need to lubricate your bike’s chain regularly (which can sometimes be messy). While this may be an inconvenient part of owning a chain drive exercise bike, lubricating your exercise bike chain is not a difficult process. On rare occasions the chain can break and will need to be replaced. Overall the chain requires more regular maintenance, but you do feel like you are riding an authentic outdoor bike. For some people this could improve their cycling experience.


A belt drive mechanism involves a tough rubber belt that connects your pedals to the wheels to keep your flywheel moving. The belt makes for a very smooth and almost silent ride. The tension that is created during the manufacturing process helps prevent the belt from slipping as the pedals and flywheel rotate at high speeds. Unlike the chain, the belt does not require lubrication. On very rare occasions belts may need to be replaced.

What are the factors I need to consider before purchasing a belt drive?

A belt drive system is very smooth, but it does not give you an authentic feeling of riding an outdoor bike. Since there are no sprockets, the bumpy feel of the chain rotating the sprockets is nonexistent. If you need to work out at night or in the early morning when your family is asleep, purchasing a belt drive might be better because the bike is so quiet.

What if I am still unsure about which bike to purchase?

Belt drive exercise bikes are superior when it comes to noise level. They also do not require regular maintenance. This will help you feel confident mounting your exercise bike day after day without having to check on the performance of your drive system or worrying about disrupting those around you. The feeling of your ride is the main selling point in all chain drive exercise bikes. The consistent feel and sound of the chain working with the sprockets will help you recreate a realistic outdoor riding experience. If you are still a little unsure about which bike you might want to purchase, try out an outdoor bike chain drive or belt drive bike. Both will help you build a strong cardiovascular system, burn calories, and build muscular endurance in your lower body. Whatever decision you make, they will both be beneficial to your health and fitness. Comparing belt and chain is kind of like comparing running on a treadmill and running on an outdoor trail. It all depends on your preference. For a full list of Sunny Health and Fitness bikes: click here!


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  • MIchele Briggs

    I love my sunny bike it is belt driven