Belt- vs. Hub-driven Electric Skateboards

by Frank Wong on July 13, 2019

Belt-driven and Hub-driven are both popular today, there has been a lot written and said about hub- vs. belt driven electric skateboards –what’s your opinion?

Let me just wrap up the “must-know”-stuff:

First of all to get the wording straight: Both hub and belt driven skateboards rely on brushless electric motors. Typically these motors are either directly part of the wheel (“hub”-driven) or placed underneath the skateboard deck with a belt that connects the motor to the wheels (“belt”-driven). There are some exceptions (hybrids) like “geared hub” which I do not consider here for simplicity.

In the beginning, ALL electric skateboards were belt-driven. The first electric skateboards with hub motors entered the market in early 2016. Since then, hub-technology has advanced but still, the belt-driven systems seem to be more mature.

If you consider buying an electric skateboard TODAY, I`d consider the following pros and cons of hub-driven boards:

Pros

  • looks pretty much like a regular skateboard
  • not easily brakeable
  • less prone to wear out (critical parts are better covered)
  • often fully water resistant
  • skateable like a regular board when the battery is empty
  • slightly higher efficiency esp. when it comes to braking

Cons

  • rather young and therefore less perfect technology
  • typically slower acceleration (no gearing)
  • cannot easily change wheels for fun
  • the tendency for a harder ride (simply missing some suspension from a full wheel)
  • prone to heating or other failures (motor slipping inside the wheel)
  • noise can be an issue

While belt-driven motors have a more complicated structure than hub motors and usually make more noise due to mechanical friction, but have better torque and power output. They will be more performant when hill climbing and riding in poor road/all terrain conditions. Satellite motor configurations definitely give the most flexibility for adjustment as well as custom builds. You get complete control over every part of the system and can lower the cost of maintenance by allowing you to replace only the damaged parts. This is what hub motors (yet) can’t give you.

There are exceptions and the pros & cons actually depend very much on the specific board. So, before actually buying an electric skateboard I recommend to have a try on the road. Pay more attention to the brake system, acceleration system, this is the most important infects for an electric skateboard. Safety first!

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