Belt Drive vs Hub Electric Skateboards (Explained)

By: Billy James | December 28, 2022 | Electric Skateboards

There are three types of electric motors…

In this article, we’ll cover the differences and how they apply to certain riding styles.

Hub Motors

Hub motor electric skateboards have their motors built into the back wheels. Because the motor takes up most of the wheel, there’s a minimal amount of urethane compared to a normal wheel. This results in a harsher riding experience on rough terrain because there’s less urethane to absorb impacts.

They come in two forms – single or double. The single motor will have less torque and is most common on cheap, entry-level setups.

My first electric setup had a single hub motor and, although not the best, was an affordable way to see if I enjoyed riding electric skateboards. If you’re just looking for a cheap beginner setup, hub motors are a solid option.

How to make your hub drive more comfortable?

What if you already have a hub motor and want to make riding on rougher terrain more comfortable? Here are some things you can do.

hub motor electric skateboard
Unlimited x Loaded Kit

Pros of Hub Motors

  • Quiet
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to push
  • Low maintenance

Cons on Hub Motors

  • Less torque
  • Bumpier riding
  • Limited wheel customization

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Direct-Drive

direct drive electric skateboard
Revel Boards Kit

Direct drive is similar to hub, however, the motors are on the inside of the wheels on the truck hangars. This allows you to use a variety of regular wheels.

The main drawback of direct drive is how low the motors sit off the ground.

As you can see in the photo above, they’re pretty banged up. That’s because they sit about ½” off the ground, so any larger bumps/ rocks scrape the motors.

If you’re riding in a hilly environment or off-road, direct drive isn’t the best since they don’t have the torque belt-drive offer.

Pros of Direct-Drive

  • Quiet
  • Easy to push
  • Low maintenance
  • Ability to swap wheels

Cons on Direct-Drive

  • Less torque
  • Low motor clearance

Belt-Drive

belt drive electric skateboard
Onsra Challenger

Belt-drive is the best option if you want the most amount of power. The gear

The main drawback is the noise they make. While they’re not terribly loud, they’re much louder compared to hub or direct drive. Personally, I won’t ride my belt-drive setup when I’m in a neighborhood because of how annoying they sound.

Pros of Belt-Drive

  • Best performance
  • Most torque
  • Ability to swap wheels

Cons on Belt-Drive

  • Noisey
  • Challenging to push
  • Higher maintenance

Bottom Line

If you want something quiet and don’t need a lot of torque, go for hub or direct.

Hub motor if you want more clearance from the road. Direct if you want to the freedom to use different wheels.

If you want a lot torque or want to do any offroading, go for belt-drive.

Billy James

I've been skating for over 20 years and it's had an incredibly positive impact on my mental health. My mission is to show the world the power of cruising and carving.

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