Why we chose a belt over a chain to drive the first C-Series motorcycle

When comparing two competing technologies, rarely is one indisputably better than the other. Generally, the specific application needs to be carefully considered when picking out the ideal solution. This is true across many areas of the Savic Motorcycles C-Series bikes – and nowhere more so than in our selection of a belt drive rather than a chain drive.

At the highest level, all we needed either to do was to transfer power from the motor to the rear wheel. But when looking at the finer details, there were some important differences relating to cost, performance and maintenance that saw our Optibelt carbon belt drive emerge as the obvious answer.

While chain drives are cheaper to manufacture and extremely efficient at transmitting power, belt drives – and particularly the latest carbon-fibre belts – have a strength and durability that make them a popular choice.. While they tend to be less power dense than a chain drive – requiring a much broader belt and larger pulleys to transmit the same amount of power – they’re usually much quieter and smoother than chain drives, which make them particularly suited to the modern electric ride.

While chain drives can be considered more robust and capable of handling abuse from stones or extreme temperatures, they’ll continue to wear down to the point of needing replacement much sooner than a belt drive. Chain drives also require regular maintenance and lubrication in order to avoid premature failure, while belt drives are virtually maintenance free – although peace of mind should require the occasional routine inspection.

For the C-Series, our team couldn’t look past what the quiet, effortless nature of a belt system would bring to the user experience for our customers, and how synergistic these traits are with an electric motorcycle to begin with.

But in deciding to opt for a belt, there were some design implications that needed t be addressed to ensure the riding experience would be as quiet and smooth as it possibly could be. The high level of tension required for a belt drive to run properly meant that we had to design the drive train a little differently to a typical motorcycle, with the swingarm pivot point concentric to the motor, so that regardless of where the swingarm sits, the distance between the pulleys would stay the same. This means that the tension on the belt stays the same, and that we don’t run the risk of the belt snapping, or becoming slack and skipping teeth while you traverse the bumps and curves of the road.

For these reasons, a carbon belt drive was the obvious choice for the Savic Motorcycles C-Series – and a choice that all our riders seem to agree with.

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