After the initial fascination with the idea of a Skateboard propelling itself along wears off, choosing one becomes not just about selecting the sickest wheels but also about deciding between hub vs belt driven skateboards.
The main difference between the hub motor and the belt-driven one is that the hub motor is in the wheels themselves – the wheels are small rotating motors. In contrast, the belt-driven motor sits under the board and causes the wheels to rotate through a revolving belt system, kind of like the belt at the market when you pay for your groceries.
This means that while the two boards look very similar, they perform differently because the power distribution is so different.
What is an Electric Skateboard Hub Motor?
A hub motor is made up of a battery pack, a control panel, connecting wires, and the wheels’ motors. The battery sends power to the control panel and then travels along the wires to the motor, which revolves. The wheels, which surround the motor like a hub, spin in tandem.
A skateboard with a hub motor has two wheels that revolve and propel the whole skateboard forward, while the other two wheels are powerless and spin once the board begins to move.
What is an Electic Skateboard Belt Driven Motor?
A belt-driven setup is a motor attached to the board separately from the wheels. The belt attaches around a gear-cog protruding from the motor, and another is located next to the wheel. When the motor spins, it turns the shaft, which causes the belt to rotate, thus rotating the gear-cog attached to the wheel axle and causing the wheel to spin rapidly. This is similar to seeing a bike chain run between the front and back gears.
Main Similarities Between A Hub And A Belt Driven Skateboard
The main similarities between the hub motor and the belt-driven skateboards are that they both have two small motors, independently spinning to produce forward momentum. Both function on the same power source, and both can be powered to reach comparable speeds.
Additionally, both the belt-driven and hub motor skateboards are connected to or part of the trucks for better stability and design.
Significant Differences Between A Hub And A Belt Driven Skateboard
Truthfully, the hub motor and belt-driven motors have more differences than they do similarities. While the hub motors are part of the wheel structure themselves, the belt-driven motors are connected to a gear attached to the wheel body; thus, the power output between the motor and the wheels is much more attenuated, kind of like the connection between a buyer and the seller when working through a middle man.
Another difference is due to their positioning. Hub motor boards experience more shock and heat than their belt-driven rival. Constant smacking against the pavement and the result of being inside a skateboard’s high spinning wheels mean that hub motor wheels have small holes in them to help dissipate the heat generated from constant friction between the wheel and the road.
Reasons to Get A Hub Motor Electric Skateboard
Shortly after its debut into electric skateboard society, the hub motor was hailed as the future of e-boards, with the inferred suggestion that it made belt-driven models obsolete. This is certainly a controversial opinion, as we’ll discuss the benefits of the belt-driven motor; however, the hub motor does have some specific advantages.
While the belt-driven motor has several different main parts, the hub motor has fewer, which, when consulting Murphy’s law of everything going wrong, fewer things can go wrong in the motor to wheel hub motor set up.
Additionally, depending on the design, the belt-driven motor can get fouled up by dirt and debris from the road. In contrast, a hub motor has no exposed machinery, so it does not have this vulnerability.
The hub motor’s benefits are that it is cheaper than the belt-driven alternative and considerably quieter. The belt makes a loud whiny sound produced by the friction between the motor and the wheel gear, while the hub has no such problem and is much less intrusive.
The hub motor is also more energy-efficient.
The belt-driven motor works by spinning the gear that turns the belt that rotates the gear connected to the wheel – a less efficient process. Conversely, both wheels spin in tandem with the hub motor, and no energy is expended by turning anything else.
This provides the benefit of the hub motor being able to go longer between recharge because of the more efficient energy use. Besides taking longer between recharges, the hub motor takes less time to charge and requires less maintenance than its belt-driven counterpart.
Finally, the belt-driven skateboard is difficult to kick-push because of the friction between the wheels and the motor due to its belt. In contrast, the hub motor wheels are free spinning, so once the board runs out of steam, or when you want to use it as a regular skateboard, the hub motor is more effective in this regard.
Reasons to Get A Belt Driven Electric Skateboard
Not to be judged only by its shortcomings, the belt-driven motor has many advantages that require consideration before deciding which board and motor is ideal for you. By nature of its design, the hub motor needs holes to allow for frictional heat dissipation; thus, it cannot be waterproof. While not all belt driven motors are necessarily waterproof (depends on the company and model), they have a much greater likelihood of withstanding water than their holy-er (pun intended) brother.
The belt-driven motor’s trump card, however, has to do with torque. For those that many years have passed since their last physics class, torque is a force referring to how tough it is for an object to spin around an axis. The further away from the point of rotation, the easier it is for the item to turn, as (astutely noted on Khan Academy) evidenced by where a handle is placed on the door – as far away from the hinges as possible.
While horsepower determines how quickly work can be finished, torque refers to how much work can potentially be done. It gets very technical, and I don’t want to go too tangential, but suffice it to say that both horsepower and torque are important in determining how well a machine will perform, hence why torque is advertised along with horsepower in adverts for cars.
Going uphill, torque becomes the determining factor in just how effective your little motors are in keeping the spinning going and your board climbing. The hub motor is located at the point of turning, while the belt-driven motor is further away, meaning greater torque. If both boards have equal horsepower, then the belt-driven model will perform better going uphills because it has more torque to apply to the wheels than the hub does.
Since the belt-driven motor is not in the wheels, changing out or replacing wheels to match the terrain or being worn out is simple. Also, the options in terms of look and type of wheel available are much more diverse.
Due to the hub motor being within the wheel itself, replacements are much more complicated. There are fewer options, and instead of replacing the wheel casing, it is necessary to replace the wheel casing and motor since they don’t come separately.
Another downside of the hub motor is that it degrades quicker due to constant exposure to shock and heat – a problem the belt-driven motor is not exposed to.
Since the belt-driven skateboard has so many options for wheel type, size, and texture, the ride is more pleasant, as the shock absorption is better on most wheels compared to the hard rubber used to surround the hub motor.
Finally, the braking system on the belt-driven is more efficient, as the opposing torque that can be exerted is more significant than that on the hub motor.
Who Should Get A Hub Motor Electric Skateboard?
Both motors have their advantages and disadvantages, so deciding what to get is based on your preferences. Many people are irritated by the loud whine of the belt-driven skateboard. If this is the case with you, then the experience of riding the hub motor has more preferential, provided you live in an area that isn’t too hilly and the roads in good condition, the hub will be great!
Also, if you’re in an area where riding electric skateboards in public can be deemed problematic, the hub is subtler and more difficult to spot than being an electric skateboard.
Finally, if you prefer to wait for less for recharging and if you also like kick-push riding, the hub is better for you.
Who Is Better Suited To A Belt Driven Electric Skateboard?
Anyone who lives in a hilly area should aim for a belt-driven over a hub motor, as the torque will be vital for attempting the climbs—Additionally, those seeking a smoother, more comfortable ride along with more wheel options.
It’s worth noting that in the ‘serious’ skating community, belt-driven boards are preferred due to having the ability to switch between wheels and have easily replaceable parts.
Which E-Skateboard To Get?
While the skateboard that’s right for you depends on many factors beyond hub or belt-driven motors, I’ve found two boards that are reputable and have great reviews.
Evolve Stoke Electric Skateboard
- Top Speed (Km/h & Mph) – 36 kph or 22 mph
- Max Range (KM & Miles) – 15 km or 10 m
- Charge Time (Hours) – 1.5 – 2 hours
- Weight (lb & KG) – 8.16 kgs or 17.9 lbs
- Maximum load – 100 kgs or 220 lbs
- Braking – Regenerative Braking
- Battery – 4.2AH Sony VTC4 Lithium-Ion with Custom BMS
- Incline Capability – 30% grade
The first is Evolve’s Stoke, a belt-driven, 2 ply plywood and 2 ply fiberglass board. Measuring at 33.5 inches, the Stoke is small and snappy looking, built like a surfboard, and has wheels available in orange, purple, and blue, providing a bit of color.
This is a skateboard you can enjoy anywhere, and with a negligible charge time of 2 hours, you can have this board up and running in no time.
Reviewers said that the acceleration on this board is extreme, so while this might require a bit of getting used to, this board’s smooth efficiency makes it ideal for city streets and commuting, as well as just for entertainment.
UrbanPro Electric Skateboard
- Top Speed (Km/h & Mph) – 20 mph or 32 kph
- Max Range (KM & Miles) – 10 mi or 16 km
- Charge Time (Hours) – 3 hours
- Weight (lb & KG) – 17 lbs or 7.7 kgs
- Maximum load – 265 lbs or 120.2 kgs
- Braking – Regenerative Braking
- Battery – Lithium Ion 36v 4.0AH
- Incline Capability – 20% grade
If a belt driven E-Skateboard is not for you, then this hub motor skateboard from URBANPRO is a great choice. Comfortably sized at 35 inches, the URBANPRO is black with a cool stylized design and a grainy finish for extra grip.
The URBANPRO is an 11 layer board made up of Canadian maple wood and fiberglass for an extra-strong, durable board with the right amount of flex for a stable ride.
This board has a higher weight capacity than the Stoke, so it is a bit more suitable for larger riders.
On the subject of quality, reviewers said that the board felt good and that the control was easy to use. Some had issues with the battery charge, but overall the response was very positive, and riders enjoyed this skateboard.
So as you can see, both types of motors have their good points and bad points, so it will boil down to what you are looking for in an electric skateboard. Either way, I’m pretty sure you will have fun with whatever option you go with.