Are you saving up for a quality skateboard? Before you pull the trigger, maybe you should decide first whether to go with hub motors or belt drives. These drives will definitely affect your e-board’s performance. The truth is many have strong opinions on what is the best drivetrain for electric skateboards. For your next e-board, we will help you choose between those powered by hub motors or belt drives.
Hub-driven and belt-driven skateboards have been a constant topic for discussion, it is still an exciting topic for skateboard enthusiasts. The truth is that before 2016 there was no argument about electric skateboards operating with belt drive motors. Not until the hub motor system was introduced on the market. There was a complete turn around when newer e-board models were mass-produced with hub motors. These drive systems are not different motor systems the difference lies in how their motors are used in the e-board’s overall mechanism.
Before we attempt to compare the technical specifications of both, we should remember that both drives use a brushless RC motors. A motor system is “hub”-driven if the engines are either directly part of the wheel and “belt”-driven if the electric skateboard deck has a belt that connects the motor to the wheels.
When the first generation of Enertion Raptor 2, the best all-around board shifted from a dual belt drive motor to the use of dual hub motors the skateboarding community had a complete turnaround. Hub motors suddenly can be found everywhere from the most pacified Inboard M1 to the most ferocious Raptor 2. When the CEO of Enertion Boards stated in a video comparing belt drive vs hubs indicated his opinion that ‘the hub motor is the future’ the whole skateboarding world was stunned.
The simple mechanism of hub motors made it very popular among the skateboarding community. And since many would opt for low maintenance and cheaper parts, the hub motors conquered the low to mid-end market. This simple, affordable and efficient hub motor satisfied the demands of the of all skateboarding enthusiasts.
Checking out on the intricate components of the Hub motors reveals a simple structure without a belt. Extremely quiet and without any noise this motor has no issues with maintenance. This is the upside of a no-belt system which means the motor system sends direct power output to the e-board wheels. Since this motor is not belt-driven it allows a 1:1 motor ratio where a revolution is equal to the spinning of the wheel. This implies better efficiency to its performance since less drag means less friction, smoother ride, and extended battery life.
Being available in the market for more than two years, many of the newest e-board models use hub motors. Despite the number of variations it can be fixed in the hub of the wheel to allow the motor and the wheel to spin together like the Mellow Drive Electric Skateboard. These findings made e-skateboard manufacturers consider the hub motor as highly reliable and efficient. In scenarios where your e-board runs out of juice, you can kick-push like a normal e-board.
Understanding the specifications of the Hub proves that e-boards using hub drive is incredible because it requires low-maintenance and does not accumulate moisture and dust. Speed and rate of acceleration may, however, decrease over time due to wear and tear. With 100% efficiency, this type of electric skateboard needs to be free from dust and liquids to ensure safety on the road.
The most traditional drivetrain belt-drive e-boards have been on the markets for several years now. Considered to be a more complicated structure than hub motors it usually makes more noise with the belt running along the gears while producing mechanical friction. The skateboarding market, however, says that this drive has better torque and stable power output. The standard choice among skate builders, this set-up is efficient and has optimum performance when hill climbing and riding in tough terrain.
Belt drive gives full control over every part of the e-board mechanism as it is possible to replace damaged parts which result in lower maintenance costs for belt-driven e-board. For the longest time, this has been the choice for electric skateboards because it is easy to set up and breezy to maintain.
Boosted, Evolve, Metroboards are all based upon the belt drive. These giants prefer the belt drives because it allows the use of longboard wheels. Since enthusiasts and professional riders want to be creative with their e-boards modification, belt-drive allows swapping trucks and wheels.
Understanding the configuration of an e-board using belt-drive motors is crucial to learning how it operates, and it is essential for those times that you are on the road and your e-board runs out of juice or breaks down.
E-board with belt-drive motors has two gears, a smaller pulley attached to the motor and the larger gear attached to the wheel. A closer look will show you that the belt is attached to the two gears. So when the motor spins, the wheel turns as well. During acceleration, the board’s gears will provide enough torque that will surely increase your board’s speed.
More speed means adrenaline surge for any rider! E-boards with belt-drive systems has brakes that are less efficient due to gear and pulley, but the same mechanism provides higher torque for hill climbing.
The wheels and motors are highly durable with longer operational life, but maintenance should be consistent as the belt and pulleys are exposed to dirt and road moisture.
In case the batteries lose charge, it is still possible to kick-push the board, but it’s going to be way harder compared to hub-driven board. The attached belt will create a lot of friction and make mobility a lot challenging.
Belt vs Hub
After checking on the features and specifications of the hub and belt-drive, we can now compare those points where these drives make the skateboarding community either satisfied or possibly disappointed.
|Repair||Replace the damaged part||Replace the whole drive system|
|Upgrade (Customizability)||Upgrade the part||Upgrade the whole drive system|
As evaluated by new skateboard enthusiasts, many are turned-off from belt drive systems due to the noise it produces. The friction created from the belts is enough to scare any rider.
Concerns have raised questions about regular maintenance needed for the belt drive caused by wear and tear, belt-tensioning and alignment. Frequent need to continually check and change the belt is worrisome. Breaking of any brand of the e-board belt is of course expected to be costly. Belt drives, with the limited free-rolling ability due to added resistance by the pulleys and the belt, make kick-pushing way harder.
The belt drive cons do not mean that hub motors are ultimately evaluated as perfect and have no downsides. Frankly, reviews have revealed that the hub motors provide poor riding comfort. Thinner urethane sleeve decreases shock absorption and worsens the ride. Sadly, hub motors create lower torque and even braking power which is reliant on its motor components. Hub motors also have a higher failure rate than belt drives due to inability to absorb shocks and heat from the road compared to belt drives.
Take note that every part of your e-board will significantly affect its optimum performance. Whether you opt for the hub or the belt-drive, it is entirely dependent on how well you understand their differences, pros, and cons. Taking these couple of points to consider is crucial for purchase of the e-board. If you are living or visiting NYC check our list of the best shops selling electric skateboard — shops equipped with the expertise to guide you in the process.
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