It’s hard to say which one performs better. The type that better suits your workout orientation is really the answer. I have to say this because both have their own pros and cons. However, both the types give you a tough and durable works out as per your choices. I shall be digging deeper and line up both indoor cycling bikes drives against each other and see how they churn out in the standards, which are the most essential to the user.
What you see on typical outdoor bikes is a chain drive. As we push the pedals, this power is transferred to roller chain, which ultimately results in the motion of the flywheel. Chain drive bikes are generally equipped with a single gear.
Whether chain driven or belt driven, most of the bikes have a firm gear. With the continuous motion of the flywheel, the momentum generated keeps the pedals turning too. And slow down when the resistance brings down the momentum or when brakes are applied.
The power applied to the pedals is relocated to the flywheel with the use of a strong rubber belt. The belt is maintained under high tension to keep it from slipping, which in turn gives you a smooth, comfortable ride.
A new kind of material commonly known as Kevlar belt is now being used in the latest models of belt driven indoor bikes because of its durability and long lasting properties.
What About Maintenance?
In a chain driven indoor bike, you will regularly have to lubricate and tighten the chain in order to get the very best performance out of your indoor bike. The cons with a chain driven bike are that the chain dries out and over prolonged usage, stretches too.
On the contrary, a belt driven bike can last for years before requiring any sort of maintenance work. With prolonged usage, the belt stretches and becomes loose. At this point of time, you will need to replace the worn out belt with a new one, and you might also need a helping hand from a bike mechanic, rest really depends on how technical your mind is.
To sum up, it can be said that chain driven indoor cycle require more maintenance than the belt driven bikes.
Amusingly, most of the gym workout bikes are chain driven, the reason being that with a high usage as in the gym, the belt tends to loosen up and give you a bumpy ride in a relatively much shorter period of time. A chain driven bike requires high maintenance but is cost effective in the longer run, especially in places like gym and other workout areas, where bikes like these are used in a bigger number.
These drives are not very loud. You can hold up a conversation easily without raising your voice. You might get some reverberant sound as the chain goes over the sprocket wheel. This noise won’t be any more than that you get from a regular outdoor bike.
Even more, this noise is lessened to a great extent with the help of chain guard, which is present in almost every model. This chain guard, however, needs to be properly adjusted, if not, it may result in banging and irritating noise.
On the other hand, belt drives are mostly silent and do not require adjustments as chain drives need.
Performance and Feeling
Talking about operation and performance, both the drives can give you the toughest of your workouts without any problems. The belt driven bike gives you a smoother ride due to the absence of sprocket wheel. When it comes to feeling, chain drive outcasts the belt drive as the belt drive fails to give the sense of an outdoor bike.
Commonly, chain driven bikes are cheaper than belt driven bikes. Belt drives are costlier because of their detected value and higher manufacturing costs. Higher production costs as in, the flywheel shaft and the crankshaft in a belt drive have to be a better quality and well aligned, if not, it will lead to a bumpy ride and quick wearing off of the belt.
In comparison to the belt drive, the chain drive lags behind in some areas. The belt drive requires less maintenance work, gives a smoother ride and is quieter.
The chain drive anyhow outstands the belt drive when it comes to the classic reverberant sound it makes while working over the sprocket wheel. And it gives an old school feeling too. The chain can be altered and tightened as per your needs and requirements.
Whereas, in a belt drive you are left with no option but to replace the worn out belt with a new one.
If you are braced to pay a little more and don’t want to engage yourself in the regular maintenance, go for the belt driven bike. And if you want to ride to get a good feel, you can always go for the chain driven bike.