Difference between Chain Drive and Belt Drive

Chain drive and belt drive are the common methods for transmitting power between two spinning shafts in various mechanical systems. Both of these drives are commonly used in applications including autos, industrial machinery, and agricultural equipment to transfer power from one place to another.

Belt drive uses pulleys and a flexible belt to transmit power, whereas chain drive uses a metal chain and sprockets to transmit power between two spinning shafts.

Read this article to find out more about Chain Drive and Belt Drive and how they are different from each other.

What is a Chain Drive?

The chain drive is a power transmission drive system that uses a metal chain and sprockets to transfer power between the two spinning shafts. The chain drive consists of two sprockets, i.e., input and output shafts. The input shaft is connected to one sprocket. The output shaft is connected to the other sprocket. The chain drive is frequently used in equipment like industrial machinery, heavy machinery, and motorbikes where high power transmission is necessary. It has the capacity to transmit huge amounts of power.

To transfer power, the input shaft rotates the first sprocket, which turns the chain. Now the chain transfers the power to the second sprocket, which rotates the output shaft. Regular maintenance of chain drives, such as lubrication and adjustment, is required to ensure correct operation and reduce wear and tear. Lubrication is essential to reduce friction and stop corrosion.

The load-carrying capacity of chain drives is small compared to other mechanical power transmission systems. It has the ability to transmit motion to several shafts using only one chain, and it puts less load on the shafts. To avoid slipping, chain drive is the best option compared to other power transmission systems such as belt and rope drive. It is made up of a series of chain links that mesh with toothed sprockets.

For example, one rotation of the pedal on a bicycle causes more than one rotation of the gear located at the wheel. Chain drive ensures that the ideal velocity ratio is maintained without sliding. It is widely used in vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles to transfer power to the wheels and is also used in other machines.

What is a Belt Drive?

The belt drive is a power transmission drive system that uses a belt to transfer power from one rotating shaft to another. The belt drive is frequently used in equipment like machinery and vehicles where a smooth and quiet operation is necessary. It is also called "flexible machine elements."

The belt drive power transmission system consists of two or more pulleys that are connected with a belt in tension. The driven pulley is the pulley that receives power, while the driver pulley is the pulley that transmits power. It consists of two parallel shafts, a pulley mounted on the shafts, and the belt running on the surface of the pulley. There is a chance of slipping between them.

Belt drives have the capacity to transmit large amounts of power. It is used to change the rotational speed and to move it up and down using different sizes of pulleys.

For effective operation, the belt's tension is essential. The effectiveness of power transmission will be reduced if the belt is too loose, and the belt and pulleys may experience excessive wear and tear if the belt is too tight. A tensioner or an adjustable pulley is used to change the tension of the belt.

Belt drives are renowned for their quiet operation, capacity to absorb shock and vibration, and smooth functioning. They are frequently used in equipment like textile mills, printing presses, and automobile engines that need fast speeds and moderate torque. Moreover, belt drives are recommended in settings like food processing and medical equipment, where cleanliness is crucial.

Difference between Chain Drive and Belt Drive

The following table highlights the major differences between Chain Drive and Belt Drive −


Chain Drive

Belt Drive


When compared to belt drive, the noise level is higher.

When compared to chain drive, the noise level is lower.

Installation Cost

The installation cost is moderate.

The cost of installation is lower.


Regular maintenance needs to be done.

The minimum maintenance that needs to be done


Metal is used to make chain drives.

Belt drives are made using synthetic materials.


It has a reasonable lifespan.

It has a shorter lifespan.


Uses the sprockets

Uses the sheaves


Chain drive durability is high

Belt drive durability is reduced.


not appropriate for applications where cleanliness is a priority.

Appropriate for applications where cleanliness is important


Lubrication is required for chain drive.

Belt drive doesn't require lubrication.


No Slip

Slip occurs


Chain drive requires a moderate amount of space.

Belt drive requires more space compared to chain drive.


In a nutshell, the choice to choose between the chain drive and belt drive is completely dependent on the particular needs of the applications, which include the speed, torque, noise level, and required power. It is important to carefully analyze the requirements of the application before selecting the best drive system.