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8 Best Belt-Drive Bikes for a Hassle-Free Ride

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Anyone who’s ridden a bike for transportation knows that there are a few key things you look for in a commuter bike. It needs to be fast, efficient, and easy to operate. That’s why belt-drive bikes are becoming so popular among riders who want a hassle-free ride.

We think the best belt-drive bike for most people is the Co-op Cycles CTY 1.3 Bike, a smooth and quick urban hybrid bike with some high quality parts.

Check out our list of the 8 best belt-drive bikes for commuting and casual riding!


Co-op Cycles CTY 1.3 Bike

-Best Overall-

Type: Hybrid Bike | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: 8-Speed | MSRP: $1349


+ Sturdy 6061 aluminum body and fork
+ Flat handlebars for improved comfort
+ 8-speed internal-gear rear hub
+ Well built, quiet, and it handles great
A bit expensive for beginners
Lack of mount points on the front


Want to leave your cyclist friends in the dust because you’ve adopted the company mantra: “No chain, no pain”? Expect to do some digging since this model is hard to find. If you are fortunate to locate one of these 27.8-pound bikes, expect a smooth ride no matter where you’re going, thanks to Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes that deliver consistent performance in all types of weather.

Read more: Hydraulic vs. Mechanical Disc Brakes

Reflective decals and reflective tire sidewalls keep you safe and visible in dim lighting conditions, and the internal rear brake cable routing system adds to the sleek, clean lines of this popular ride. You and your parcels can weigh up to 300 pounds when you ride, and because this bike comes with platform pedals, wear any shoes you like when you ride.

Want fender and rack mounts? Co-Op is happy to oblige at an additional cost.


Priority Start 16-inch

Best for kids 3-7 years old

Type: Kids Bike | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: Single-Speed | MSRP: $329


+ Seat height adjusts between 18.5- and 22-inches
+ Equipped with grease- and rust-resistant Gates belt drive
+ High-end geometry outperforms competitor bikes
+ Front and rear V-Brakes with kid-friendly brake levers
Expensive for kids bike
Training wheels sold separately ( check price )


This sleek bike is not just safe, but it’s comfortable and features a weather-resistant seat and grips. Mid-rise handlebars keep kids properly positioned, but the reason parents love this bike has to do with low maintenance, thanks to the belt drive delivering a grease-free experience.

Freewheel construction engineered specifically for 3- to 7-year-old kids provides a platform from which youngsters can bridge the gap between trainers and big-kid models.

Seat adjustments allow kids to ride this bike longer, and this ride is especially helpful to kids who tried balance bikes but found them difficult to ride because standard coaster brakes thwarted their riding instincts.

A composite belt guard and full reflector kit plus kickstand are installed on every bicycle, and you can buy training wheels designed to fit this bike until your child is ready to solo.

Read more: Best 16-inch BMX Bikes for Kids


PRIORITY CLASSIC PLUS

-Best for Casual Riding-

Type: Hybrid Bike | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: Single-Speed | MSRP: $549


+ Sleek, uncomplicated and affordable
+ Award-winning classic design
+ Ultralight frame won’t rust
+ Several options for size, color, and frame style
Coaster brakes could be frustrating


Reviewers at Inc. Magazine gave this ride “Most Brilliant Design” and “Best in Class” accolades, and Men’s Journal and Real Simple rave about this bicycle’s performance. It’s easy to see why: The Classic Plus is affordable, and owners won’t spend leisure time or money on maintenance.

Whether you seek three-speed versatility for recreational rides or you just need a bike to get you to work and errands, this model is hard to beat. It weighs only 25 pounds, so picking it up won’t strain your back, a bonus on top of the elimination of constant chain hassles.

The grease- and rust-free Gates Carbon Drive Belt are state-of-the-art. Access the front hand and rear coaster/foot brakes to stop, but once you see how nicely the upright, comfortable riding position treats your body, you will want to keep going.

This package includes a kickstand, water bottle cage, puncture-resistant tires, reflectors, and air pump. No wonder reviewers can’t stop raving about this ride!


Marin Presidio 3

-Best for Commuting-

Type: Urban Commuter | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: 8-Speed | MSRP: $1129


+ Available in sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
+ Shimano Nexus 8D 8-speed internally geared hub
+ Comes with puncture-resistant tires
+ Comfortable, quiet, and easy to ride on the pavement
Expensive for most people
A bit dull looking


The Marin Presidio 3 is an upgraded version of the company’s Presidio 2, and it comes with a tidy price tag, but performance and quality may be worth spending more, especially if you demand the ultimate in dedicated commuting range, low maintenance, and adaptability. Shimano U300 flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes stop on command, and the puncture-resistant tires won’t leave you in the lurch.

Read more: Best Commuter Bikes

This model’s belt drive was built to conquer demanding city streets, but that doesn’t mean the manufacturer skimped on extras. Among the upgrades, you can expect are dropouts that slide into place, making installation easier than usual.

Accessorized with wire-bead, puncture-protected Vee Tires trimmed with reflective sidewalls, a Marin alloy flat top riser handlebar, and all of the maintenance-free enjoyment you expect from a belt-driven bike, you’ll pay a little more, but you won’t be disappointed.


Cannondale Bad Boy 1

-Best Looking Bike-

Type: Urban Commuter | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: 8-Speed | MSRP: $2250


+ Lefty LightPipe fork with integrated light
+ Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal gear hub
+ Gates brand belt drive
+ Alloy seat post with integrated tail light
Lefty Rigid fork is a bit of a marketing gimmick


This Bad Boy is so loaded with features you want in a stylish bike that you may be willing to overlook the sticker shock that assails you when you spot this product’s price tag.

You’ll get plenty of value for every dollar. Head and down tubes are 3D-forged from a single piece of SmartForm C1 alloy aluminum for added strength, and the lefty fork delivers on stiffness, so handling is precise.

Cool details – like that SuperNova LED light strip (it’s USB rechargeable) – increase safety and add a moto-style look. Rely upon the Gates Carbon Drive belt to free you of maintenance tasks you hate most.

So you have more time to enjoy smooth transitions courtesy of Shimano Alfine Rapidfire, 8-speed shifters. Cannondale handlebars are fitted with fabric silicone cell grips, and the saddle is more comfortable than most.

Read more: Top Bike Brands of 2021


Canyon Commuter 8.0

Not Your Regular Bike

Type: Urban Commuter | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: 8-Speed | MSRP: $2499


+ Seat design improves shock absorption
+ Equipped with fenders, rack, and lights
+ Lightweight and easy to carry
+ Extraordinary award-winning design
Some riders find it ugly
Eye-watering price tag


When you examine the geometry and consider the quality components, you’ll consider this an investment rather than a flight of fancy once you consider the retail price.

Canyon calls the Commuter 8.0 its’ “flagship” and credit for this distinction goes to the integrated dynamo-powered lights, Shimano’s top-shelf Alfine 11-speed internal-gear hub, Gates belt drive, and extra-durable seat post beneath a sleek, comfy saddle.

Enjoy 11 gears of accurate, effortless shifting, and if you ride in bad weather or when lighting is dim, the Supernova E3 Pure 3-front integrated lighting system built into the handlebar illuminates the road with a powerful 205 lumens of output that is pedal-driven.

The E3 taillight is also pedal-powered, and both stays lit up to 4 minutes after you dismount. Winner of a Red Dot design award, the Commuter 8.0 gets you where you’re going in style – especially at night.


Priority Apollo Gravel

-Best Gravel Bike-

Type: Gravel Bike | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: 11-Speed | MSRP: $1699


+ Nimble, fast all-road model
+ Integrated right brake lever drop-bar shifting
+ Performance Shimano Alfine-11 gear system
+ Very lightweight at 24 lb.
Changing the rear tire might be an issue


If you live to conquer gravel and seek a bike with a 400+-percent gearing range, you’ve just found it. Fitted with tubeless-ready WTB byway 40mm gravel tires, go anywhere the trail leads you, but when you’re done, you can walk away clean from the mates you leave behind because they must clean up their chain-driven rides.

Priority’s goal when fabricating this design?

“When you’re done with your ride — just rinse and repeat.” No skimping on components, either. The Gates belt carbon drive manages torque adroitly, but it’s what you don’t see drives this bike: It is inspired by the Apollo 11 launch and lunar landing, “a human achievement driven by innovation, R&D, and an intense desire to press onward.”

Sound like a gravel bike you’d love to pilot? It won’t get you to the moon, but it could get you the ride of a lifetime.

Read more: Best Bikepacking Bikes


Priority Coast

-Best Beach Cruiser-

Type: Beach Cruiser | Frame Material: Aluminum | Gears: Single-Speed | MSRP: $599


+ Designed, assembled, and tested in coastal climates
+ Tolerates beach assaults like sand, water, and salt
+ Affordable price
+ Comfortable ride
Isn’t built for long rides or big hills


Yes, you can get your hands on an affordable belt-driven cruiser if you purchase the Priority Coast. Choose between diamond and step-through versions, decide whether a single- or three-speed bike best suits your style (the three-speed version has a Shimano 3-speed hub) and wait until you glimpse your color choices. Say goodbye to rust, even if you happen to live by the sea.

Read more: 15 Best Beach Cruiser Bikes of 2021

Popular Mechanics magazine bicycle reviewers doubted Priority’s claim that this cruiser is rust-proof, so they accepted the challenge of proving the manufacturer wrong over a 9-month test period.

“Other than an occasional spray with the hose,” testers were forced to admit that such a bike really did exist! You don’t have to worry about the occasional seashell either, since the tires on this trendy ride are puncture-resistant.


What is a belt-drive bike?

KEY
POINTS

  • Belt-Drive bikes are quiet, zippy, and a joy to ride.
  • Expect to spend at least $500 for an entry-level hybrid and more than $1000 for an urban commuter or gravel bike.
  • Get a bike with at least an 8-Speed internal gear hub.
  • A belt costs 5x as much as a chain if you must replace it.

According to Momentum magazine, belt drive bicycles were invented back in 1874 in an attempt to mediate the “love/ hate relationship” that cyclists have with chain-driven models.

Simple, easy, and inexpensive to replace, belt-drive bikes eliminate dirty, heavy chains from the equation so riders can kiss a lot of the grime and dirt they must deal with goodbye for the life of the bike. As a result, carbon belt drives are cleaner, don’t require lubrication and they also happen to be lighter, quieter, and more durable.

Cyclists seeking the ultimate low-maintenance ride are flocking to this bike type for this very reason, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges to be considered by shoppers. Belt drives are only compatible with internally-geared, fixed gear and single-speed hubs, so forget about derailleurs.

If you’ve already got a bike and would love to replace your chain drive system, that may or may not be possible since a belt drive requires a unique frame opening to accommodate the swap out. Prices on belt-drive bikes? Let’s just say you may have to open your wallet a bit wider if you want one with bells and whistles, but deals are to be had if you sleuth them out.


What are the pros/cons of belt-drive bikes?

PROS:

  • Easier to maintain; no lubes ever
  • Repair and maintenance savings
  • Lighter than chain-drive bikes
  • Belts last 4x as long as chains
  • Blissfully silent running
  • Ride faster and more efficiently
  • Terrific commuting option.

CONS:

  • Expect a much smaller gear range limit
  • Won’t support lateral movement across gear cogs
  • Unlike a chain, a belt drive can’t be split up
  • May not be permitted at triathlons or competitive road races
  • Costs 5x as much as a chain if you must replace the belt

Are belt-drive bikes worth it?

Belt-drive bikes are an excellent choice for many people. They are superior to chain-drive bikes in so many ways. Belt-drive bikes are easier to maintain and repair, they are lighter and run silently. They are a faster and super-efficient way to commute around town.

Which is better chain or belt drive bike?

Both options have their pros and cons. For commuting, belt-drive bikes are better than chain-drive bikes. If you’re into mountain biking, then you should probably get a chain-drive mountain bike.

Can I make my bike a belt drive?

Generally speaking, yes you can make your bike a belt drive. But the process is expensive and quite difficult for non-tech savvy riders. We suggest sticking to your chain bike and investing in a new belt-drive bicycle for commuting.

Can a belt drive have gears?

Yes, most belt-drive bikes on our list have an internal gear hub that “changes” gears for you.

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About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.

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