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Hub vs Belt – Which is better for Electric Skateboards?

If you are about to purchase an electric skateboard and you made it here then I must say, I AM STOKED FOR YOU! This sport is insanely fun but comes with some hard decisions when purchasing. So let’s break down some facts on the debate of Hubs VS Belts when it comes to buying one. By the end of this read, you should have enough resources to make an informed decision as to which board may be the best choice for you.

Belt Motors explained

Before we go into the BATTLE, let’s talk about the basics of these two drive systems at a simplistic level. Belt driven boards have been around for some time now so let’s start there. Belt driven boards are propelled by a gear system. The motor that is connected to a drive pulley (gear). This gear is attached to a belt that is connected to the wheel pulley (gear) on your skateboards wheels. When you hit the accelerator on your remote, power is pulled from your battery into your ESC (electronic speed controller) and into your motors. When your motor turns, the belt spins and in turn propels your wheels.

Hub Motors explained

Hub motors have not been around as long, but are proving to be very popular in the e-skate world. With a hub motor, all components are located inside the wheel. It is basically a motor, with a skateboard sleeve wrapped around it. When the accelerator is hit, the whole entire wheel assembly is triggered to spin, Instead of a motor turning a gear, turning a belt and wheel, The motor and wheel are spinning as 1 unit with a 1 to 1 ratio. 1 spin of the motor = 1 spin of the wheel. Now that we have that out of the way…

Hub vs Belt Motor – Comparison Table

Hub Motor

Belt Drive

Image

Price

Lower

Higher

Acceleration

Inferior

Superior

Braking

Inferior

Superior

Hill Climbing / Torque

Inferior

Superior

Sound / Noise

Lower

Higher

Free Roll

Yes

No

Durability

Inferior

Superior

Maintenance

Lower

Higher

Efficiency

Superior

Inferior

Repairments

Inferior

Superior

Customizability

Inferior

Superior

Age of Technology

5+ years

20+ years

Heat Dissipation

Inferior

Superior

Wheel Use / Riding Comfort

Inferior

Superior

Weight

Lighter

Heavier

Hubs VS Belts THE SHOWDOWN!

Lucky for you, I just purchased a brand new belt-driven skateboard, and my friend Jesse did the same, but with hubs. So I will be comparing my experience with the most up to date tech on both types of boards.

Backfire Zealot and Backfire G3

Acceleration

The belt-driven boards absolutely have better acceleration. I pulled pretty far ahead of my friend on our recent drag race. Just to make sure it wasn’t operator error, we switched boards as well. But maybe you are not worried about torquey acceleration? Maybe you prefer a smoother, steadier acceleration so you don’t get thrown from the board. It was clear that the belt-driven board had a faster acceleration, but that does not necessarily mean that it is better. Belt driven boards will have better acceleration due to the gearing systems. It’s always fun to hit that top speed as fast as you can, but that also does make the board a bit more dangerous. There is always that possibility of having your board in sport mode and not being braced when hit that accelerator. Falls happen, so make sure you are always wearing your protective gear! When it comes to this category you will have to decide what you are looking for in a board!

Backfire Zealot and Backfire G3

Braking

This will be similar to the acceleration breakdown. The braking on the boards will depend on what mode you are in. Eco VS Sport modes you will see a big difference. Sport mode, on the belt-driven board the braking is very strong. If you are not braced and you slam on the brake you may go for a dive. On the hub driven board I was able to slam down fully on the brake and not have to worry about skidding out. The brakes on these boards are regenerative, meaning they will actually put the energy generated while stopping back into the batteries. Your board will actually be stopped by the motors spinning in the opposite direction. So if you have a stronger, gear based drive train you will essentially have stronger braking. Braking is much stronger on the belt-driven boards. Although I did enjoy the smoothness and ease of use on the hub board’s breaks. It is very important to me to have strong brakes in an electric skateboard. You never know when you will need to stop short in the road for unexpected items, cars, or pedestrians.

Backfire Zealot

Hill Climb Ability/ Torque

The torque on the belt-driven boards is a bit better, which is going to give it a better ability to climb hills. Due to the fact that the belt-driven boards have gears, they do have the advantage here. We do not have a ton of hills where we live, but when there was any elevation change, my belt-driven board always soared passed the hub-driven board. The advantage won’t be crazy, and as technology progresses over time, this may change!

Wheel Use / Riding Comfort

I did not notice a big difference in riding comfort when it comes to hubs vs belts. The hub motors are inside of the wheels, so the wheel is a bit smaller on the hub driven boards. The one upside to the belt-driven boards in this area is the ability to swap the wheels easily. You may have to change gears, but with all the new wheels coming out in different sizes, it will be nice to have the ability to change them out easily. You will be able to change the wheels on your hub-driven board, but they are known as ‘sleeves’. These sleeves are generally much thinner than the wheels that will be on a belt-driven board, sacrificing a bit of comfort. 

Wheel Pulleys for Wheel Swaps on the Belt Drive System | Image Source: electric-skateboard.builders

Sound/Stealth Factor

Belt driven boards are much louder than hub driven. There is no getting around that. The fact that the belts and motors are on the exterior of the board on belt-driven boards does increase the weight and overall size of the board. Both boards will have computers and batteries attached to the deck, so it will be clear that they are electric skateboards. But, the hub boards will be quieter, lighter, and a bit sleeker in design. I do enjoy the sound of my belt-driven board, it allows people to know that I am approaching. I also just think the sound of the motor and belts winding up is badass. 

Backfire G3

Maintenance

Belt-driven boards will require a bit more maintenance then hub driven boards. Belt tension is probably the most common quick piece of maintenance that will need to be done. If the motors screws loosen and shift slightly you may lose tension in your belts which will give you decreased performance and possibly strange noises. Also, if a piece of your belt driven drive train does malfunction, or break you will be able to just replace that part. Hub driven boards don’t have that luxury yet. You may need to replace the whole system. Hub motors will remain more protected from the elements due to key parts of the drive train being sealed inside the wheel. With belt-driven boards, your entire drivetrain is exposed to dirt, dust, water, and any other elements you may run into on the open road. 

Belt Drive System

Efficiency 

Hub motors run on a 1 to 1 ratio. This means that the motor and wheel spin together. This design does create a more efficient board. The board is also easier to push when not under power. Less friction, less torque generally means longer battery life and range. Now, these factors will be highly dependant on weight and weather conditions as well, but if a hub-driven board and belt-driven board were ridden by the same rider, the hub-driven board should have a longer range per ride and overall battery life span. 

Hub Motor System Anatomy

Best Hub Motor Electric Skateboards

Meepo V3

Best budget hub motor board! $379 bucks will get you into the e-skate game, and that’s an insane deal for what this board offers. Its maple deck will give you a flexible ride, the range is up to 20 miles and top speed of 29 mph is plenty for anyone starting off. For more info check out our Meepo V3 Review here. You can get to Meepo’s Website via this Link.

Backfire Ranger X2

Best all-terrain hub motor board! You can snag this board for about $1050 with the current discounts backfire is offering. With a top speed of 22 MPH and a range of 15-18 miles, you cannot go wrong at this price point. The Ranger X2’s flexible deck and double kingpin trucks will have you carving that never-ending wave all day. You can get to Backfire’s Website via this Link.

Best Belt Motor Electric Skateboards

Nowadays the market is flooded with belt-driven electric skateboards. We have filtered through all of them and selected only the best ones. Our criteria are: value for money, company reputation, general performance, durability, and customer services. We have poured our knowledge into one comprehensive post on the best belt driven electric skateboards. You can find a summary below.

Best Belt Drive Electric Skateboards

Backfire Zealot

Best budget belt motor board! Currently, at $699 this is an insane deal. This board compares to Boosted Board “Stealth” model at almost half the price. At speeds of 28 mph and range around 20 miles, this board will have you surfing the streets and staying stoked. You can get to Backfire’s Website via this Link.

Lacroix Boards

Best premium belt motor board! These boards are unlike anything else, and the price tag will attest to that. Starting at a 50-mile range, and top speed so high that they will not even list it on their site, this board is just pure insanity. You can get to the Lacroix Website via this Link.

Exway’s Swap System

Could this be the best of both worlds? For under 1k you can rock Exways X1 Pro or Flex. This combination will come with hub motors installed, and an entire separate drivetrain and truck system – the Riot – for the rear of the board. These boards could be the perfect mix if you are having trouble choosing between a belt and a hub-driven board. The ability to change out your drivetrain is definitely something that stands out in this market, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the other e-skate companies follow suit to Exways swap system! 

Exway’s Swap System | Image Source: electrek.co

Conclusion

I used to think, belt-driven boards were simply superior just due to torque, and speed. As technology progresses hub motor boards are getting better and better. It’s always great to have the fastest toy on the block, but maybe you are looking for a smooth cruiser with good battery life? Hub-driven boards are getting better and better with every model and year that passes. So don’t overlook them. With the price tags as low as they go on hub boards, how can you! For me, I like the ability to customize the board, fix one specific part if it breaks, and the ability to change wheels with ease. I’m also a bit of a daredevil, so I enjoy flying off the line and hitting that top of the speedometer as fast I can. Ride safe, carve on, and wear your helmet family! 

1 thought on “Hub vs Belt – Which is better for Electric Skateboards?”

  1. Wow, really nice review. I found it very helpful. I have never skated and intend to get an e-skate and after reading this I will probably get a hub motor skate. I live in a flat urban, moist/wet winters (but no snow) area.

    Reply

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