Spin Bike Chain Drive Vs Belt Drive: Which is Better

Indoor cycling bikes are generally engineered with two types of drive; a chain drive and a belt drive. Both types of drives feature different characteristics and benefits. Given these variations, it is important to carry out proper research and learn how to choose a good spin bike that fits your needs before making a choice. Fortunately, we’ve researched for you, so you don’t have to. Read on and be enlightened, plus find out our editor’s spin bike drive system choice between chain and belt, at the of the article!

What’s a Drive System?

spin bike drive belt chain

If you are new to fitness machines or their mechanisms, you may not know what a drive system is. Simply put, the drive of an indoor cycling bike is a metal piece that links the wheels and pedals together. It is the centerpiece that helps project the machine forward.

There are two main types of drive systems where indoor cycling bikes are concerned, a chain and a belt drive. Both drive mechanisms are functional and efficient. However, they differently impact the feel of your ride, hence, the need for proper evaluation before choosing one of the two.

The Chain Drive at a Glance

chain-driven spin bike

The chain drive is the standard drive system that has existed for eons. It is commonly featured on mountain bikes, road bikes, and all other outdoor bikes. Spin bikes that use chain drive are powered by a roller chain connected to a sprocket. When the user activates the pedal, the machine’s crank arms rotate. This rotation activates the pedal and wheel sprocket, which projects the bike forward.

The chain drive mechanism features a single fixed gear and roars to life when a user operates the pedals. The gear facilitates the rotation of the wheel, which rotates in rhythm with the momentum produced from the flywheel. However, the chain’s motion generates some noise, which may be pleasant for some and unpleasant for others.

Should You Consider a Chain Drive Spin Bike?

As earlier stated, the chain drive mechanism tends to generate unpleasant noise. However, most chain-driven bikes produce minimal noise that isn’t loud enough to drown out the sound of the TV, music, or workout videos.

The noise volume aside, chain-driven spin bikes demand meticulous maintenance. This is because the vast majority of chain-driven bikes tend to lose lubrication quickly. That means you need to consistently lubricate the chain.

However, the lubrication process in itself isn’t a complicated affair, but it can be messy and time-consuming. So if you don’t have the luxury of time for regular maintenance, a chain-driven indoor bike may not be the best choice for you. But if you crave an authentic outdoor riding experience, then the chain-driven indoor bike should be top of your list.

The Belt-Drive at a Glance

belt-driven spin bike

Whereas a chain drive employs a metal chain to connect a bike’s pedals to its wheels, a belt drive leverages a tough rubber belt for that purpose. And while the chain mechanism is associated with noise, the belt mechanism is whisper-quiet and seamless.

Additionally, the belt drive is mostly slip-resistant− thanks to the integrated tension that occurs during the manufacturing process. So even when the flywheel and pedals rotate at incredibly high speeds, the belt is unlikely to slip off.

Should you consider a Belt Drive Spin Bike?

A belt-driven combined with magnetic resistance indoor bike provides a super smooth and noiseless ride. However, it doesn’t simulate an outdoor bike ride as it lacks sprockets that create the bumpy feel associated with outdoor rides.

On the plus side, spin bikes belt driven system are very easy to maintain and quite durable. Unlike the chain system, it needs little to no lubrication. On the whole, you should consider a belt-driven indoor bike if you want a quiet, seamless, and maintenance-free indoor cycling bike!

So which spin bike drive system should you choose?

That entirely depends on your requirements. If you want to experience a realistic outdoor feel when riding indoors, then you should get a chain-driven bike. But if you can’t tolerate its noise, bumpy sensations, and maintenance demands, then you should opt for a belt-driven bike. And if you are fine with both, then get both!

The editor’s choice between chain and belt driven spin bikes

spin-bike belt system

As someone who has used them both, I honestly believe the belt driven system is a better choice for spin bikes. Especially if the belt is Toothed like the one that you get with Schwinn Performance Plus, Stages SC3 bike, and Life Fitness IC7. This belt driven system is smooth, quiet, and has little maintenance and more importantly, there is no jerky move on high resistance spinning rides so you don’t lose power efficiency.

Robbie Ferri
Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri from “Riding with Robbie” has been cycling for almost ten years. In that time, he has broken World Records, Bikepacked all over the World, and also raced ultra distance at a top-level. Robbie picked up a bike and started cycling when he was about 25 years old and said it was the best thing he ever did. The experiences and the fun he’s had have given him a huge passion for helping inspire others to ride further, farther, and get fitter.