Difference Between Chain Drive and Belt Drive (With Table)

Chain Drive and Belt Drive are important parts and types of mechanisms. It adds an advantage of locomotion and transfer of power. The main utilization is to shift power to move objects. Both are used in many vehicles. Chain Drives and Belt Drives are used in automobiles.

Chain Drive vs Belt Drive

The difference between Chain Drive and Belt Drive is Chain Drive is a type of engagement drive, whereas Belt Drive is a type of friction drive. Slip occurs in Belt Drive, and no-slip occurs in Chain Drive. The main part of Chain Drive is sprockets, whereas the main part of Belt Drive is pulleys. Both of them have their own characteristics. Chain Drive needs moderate space for its assembling, and the Belt drive needs large space for assembling.

Chain Drive has a property of strength and durability as it is made from metal. It is made up of chains with a special teeth-like surface on one side, and an etch on the other side. The designs allow the chain to hold it in one place and direction.

Belt Drive is made of a smooth synthetic material. It can be made from other synthetic substances. It is best used for machines and useful in inspection for damage or wear. It requires fewer adjustments and runs smoothly as compared to a chain drive.

Comparison Table Between Chain Drive and Belt Drive

Parameters Of ComparisonChain DriveBelt Drive
Main ElementSprockets, chainPulleys, belt
SlipNo-slipSlip may occur
SpaceModerate spaceLarge space
LifeModerate LifeLess Life
SuitabilityModerate center distancesLarge center distances
LubricationRequiredNot required
Installation CostModerateLess
TypeEngagement DriveFriction Drive
Workroom TemperatureNot affectedAffected

What is Chain Drive?

Chain Drive is a mechanically operating system. A Chain Drive consists of three elements. They have driven sprockets, driving sprockets, and a chain wrapped around driven and drive sprockets. It has no slipping and provides positive transmission. It provides a positive drive as it is free from slip. It produces a constant velocity ratio.

There are three types of chains. They have four chains which are hauling chains, conveyor chains, power transmission chains, and hoisting chains. It is used in bicycles, motorcycles, agricultural machinery, and textile machinery, material handling equipment.

A Chain Drive consists of a roller chain, silent chain, detachable link chain, double pitch chain, and engineering steel chain. There are various types of load classification. They are moderate shock load, smooth load, and heavy shock load. Chain Drive is stronger and more durable. It is easier to change gears when the chain is broken.

Chain Drivers contain two gears. A Chain Drive is used when the distance between power produced and where it has to be transferred is less. Chain Drives are used for longer distances power transfer.

The speed ratio remains constant in Chain Drive. Chains are run over a wheel which is known as a Sprocket. It has numerous teeth around the circumference. Chain Drive requires moderate space.

What is Belt Drive?

Belt Drive holds a pair of pulleys attached to parallel shafts and connected by a flexible belt that can transmit and modify rotary motion from one shaft to the other. The main elements are pulleys, belts. It is looped over pulleys and has twists between pulleys.

The shafts need not be parallel. Belt Drive is the most flexible element of the mechanical system. There are five types of Belt Drive: open belt drive, closed or crossed belt drive, fast and lose cone pulley, stepped cone pulley, and jockey pulley drive. It is a non-positive drive because of slip and creep. The material used in the belt should be chosen on some properties like flexibility, liability, durability, and resistance to temperature.

There are five types of material available for the belt which are leather, rubber, cotton or fabric, plastic, and balata. It is used to change the rotation speed, either directly or by using different-sized pulleys. The power transmitted by the system depends on some factors like the velocity of the belt, tension, arc of contact, and other conditions under which the belt is used in the mechanical system. Belt Drive has the simplest design, manufacturing, and complexity. Belt Drive does not require any lubrication.

Main Differences Between Chain Drive and Belt Drive

  1. A chain loop operates Chain Drive, whereas a belt operates Belt Drive.
  2. Metals are used in the formation of Chain Drive. On the other hand, belt drives are made of synthetic materials.
  3. Slip may occur in Belt Drive, but there is no slip in Chain Drive.
  4. Belt drive has less life span as compared to the Chain drive.
  5. Lubrication is required in Chain Drive, whereas Belt Drive does not require lubrication.
  6. Belt Drives require large space, whereas Chain Drives require moderate spaces.  


Both Chain Drive and Belt drive allow locomotion. It transfers power within a particular piece of machinery. Chain Drive and Belt Drive are used in automobiles. Failure of the belt in Belt Drive never causes damage to the machine or the operation of the system. Failure of chain in Chain Drive never damages the machine.

Belt Drive requires less installation cost, and Chain Drive requires moderate installation cost. Belt Drive is used for a low-velocity ratio. Chain Drive is used for a moderate velocity ratio. Workroom temperature affects the performance of the belt drive. Chain Drive can transmit power only between parallel shafts.

It is preferred for small to medium center distance. Chain drive is one engagement drive. Belt Drive is one friction drive. Initial Tension is desired, which increases the load on shafts in the belt drive. Chain Drive tends to leave the sprocket if the alignment is not perfect.

Chain drive requires proper lubrication for longer life. Larger center distances use Belt Drive, and Moderate center distances use Chain Drive. The design of Belt Drive is the simplest. Chain Drive has a positive drive; therefore, no-slip.


  1. https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/mechanicaldesign/article-abstract/123/4/598/445688
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0020740370900329
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