The two most prominent types of electric skateboard motors are hub motors and belt-drive motors.
Even though they are both used to power electric skateboards, the differences between them affect the riding experience greatly.
So let’s take a look at the differences between hub motors and belt-drive motors and help you determine which are the right ones for your riding needs.
Hub Motors for Electric Skateboards
Hub Motors Explained
Hub motors are the most common type of electric skateboard motor.
They sit inside the rear wheels of the electric skateboard and directly spin the wheel when they turn.
For this reason, they have a gear ratio of 1:1. This means that for every 1 complete rotation the motor makes, the wheel also makes 1 rotation.
Advantages of Hub Motors on Electric Skateboards
Hub Motors Are Low Maintenance
Electric skateboard hub motors are very low maintenance.
Because they are completely housed inside the wheel sleeves, it’s much harder for dirt to get inside them.
However, it is still important to keep them clean and free of debris. Make sure to clean any dirt or dust from the motor and the surrounding area every now and then.
It’s also worth taking the wheel sleeve off to give it a quick clean every few months.
Doing this minimal maintenance will increase the longevity of your wheels and motors, so you don’t need to replace them as often.
Clean motors also mean that they are less likely to cause any issues or fail, keeping you safe while you ride.
Hub Motors Are Quiet
One of the key benefits of hub motors is that they are very quiet, especially when compared to belt-driven motors.
This means you can ride with very little noise, making it easier to remain inconspicuous.
Being able to quietly go about your business is great for both commuters and anyone who is worried about disturbing their neighbours or the people around them.
Hub Motors Can Be Kick Pushed
If you happen to run out of battery while you’re out on a ride, you are still able to kick push an electric skateboard that’s fitted with hub motors.
Hub motors have lower rolling resistance which makes this much easier than with belt drives.
Hub Motors Are Cost-Effective
You might notice that a lot of the more affordable brands use hub motors, while the more premium brands only offer belt-drives.
This is because hub motors are a lot cheaper than belt-drives motors.
Hub motors are simple, come as a single product and are easy to install.
This reduced cost can be passed on to us riders in the form of affordable electric skateboards.
Disadvantages of Hub Motors on Electric Skateboards
Hub Motors Have Reduced Power
Compared to other electric skateboard motor types, such as belt-drive motors, hub motors sit at the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to power.
This is mainly due to the 1:1 power ratio we spoke about earlier.
It is very evident when you compare hub motors to belt-drive motors in acceleration and hill-climbing tests.
But it’s important to remember that power isn’t everything when it comes to electric skateboards.
Some of my favourite eboards have hub motors.
Historically, hub motored electric skateboards were labelled as being less comfortable than belt-drive eboards.
This was because the polyurethane on the wheel sleeves was naturally thinner compared to belt drives that could have a set of full wheels providing more cushioning.
However, wheel and motor technology have advanced, and this has become less of an issue today.
Motors are now smaller (with the same amount of power) to allow for more polyurethane leading to more comfort.
And we also have companies like Cloudwheels that produce larger and more comfortable wheels than your regular skate wheels.
Best Hub Motor Electric Skateboards
Meepo NLS Pro
The Meepo NLS Pro is a great hub motor electric skateboard that is comfortable and doesn’t compromise on power.
Belt-Drive Motors for Electric Skateboards
Belt-Drive Motors Explained
Belt-drive motors have many components that work together to propel the electric skateboard forward.
The motor sits externally from the wheels and is held by a motor mount that is connected to the trucks.
Both the wheel and motors are attached to gears called wheel pulleys and motor pulleys respectively. Between these pulley’s is a belt.
As the motor spins, the belt transfers that rotation to the wheel and propels the eboard forward.
All of the components of a belt-drive system, including the motors, motor pulleys, wheel pulleys and belts come in all different sizes.
By mixing and matching these different components you can create unique configurations that affect the acceleration, top speed and range of the electric skateboard.
Advantages of Belt-Drive Motors on Electric Skateboards
Belt-Drive Motors Are Customizable
All of the components of belt-drive motors are external from the wheel meaning you have access to them at any time.
You can change the pulleys, belts, wheels and even the motors themselves to make the board ride exactly how you want it to ride.
Belt-Drive Motors Are Powerful
As a result of the customizability above, you can really dial the configuration in to be as powerful as possible.
You are no longer restricted to the 1:1 gear ratio you get in hub motors meaning you can get a lot more power out of belt-drive motors.
You will get much more acceleration and hill-climbing power with electric skateboards that have belt-drive motors.
You Can Repair Belt-Drive Motors.
If something fails on belt-drive motors, you can easily purchase and replace the individual part that needs fixing.
Unlike hub motors where if it breaks, you need to replace the entire motor.
Disadvantages of Belt-Drive Motors on Electric Skateboards
Belt-Drive Motors Are Loud
By far, the biggest let-down of belt motors is their loudness.
And unfortunately, there is no way around this.
It’s virtually impossible to ride a belt-driven electric skateboard without having people around you turn their heads in your direction.
Some belt-drive eboards are quieter than others but generally speaking, they are all loud.
Belt-Drive Motors Require Maintenance
All of the extra moving parts in a belt-drive motor system means there are more points of failure.
Generally, they are fairly robust, but it’s not uncommon to snap your belts every now and then, especially if you ride hard.
Due to the motors sitting externally, it’s easier for dirt, dust, leaves and sticks to get into the system. You’ll usually find small stones stuck in the belts and sticks getting wedges between the pulleys.
You’ll need to clean the motor system regularly to ensure the longevity of the parts and your own safety while riding.
You Can’t Kick Push Belt-Drive Motors
The belts create a lot of tension on the motors and wheels which reduce the rolling resistance of the electric skateboard.
This means it is VERY hard to kick push the eboard when you run out of battery.
Best Belt Motor Electric Skateboards
Meepo NLS Belt
The Meepo NLS Belt is a great belt-driven electric skateboard that is ideal for commuting.
The WowGo 3X is a powerful belt-driven electric skateboard that is comfortable and customizable.
Hub Motors VS Belt-Drive Motors
So which motor type is better? Should you get hub motors or belt-drive motors on your next electric skateboard?
The answer isn’t black and white, so let me try to help you make your decision.
If you want something affordable to casually ride around on, is quiet, and you don’t want to spend time maintaining the board or tinker with the parts, then a hub motor electric skateboard is for you.
They are a hassle-free vehicle that will get you where you need to go without any problems.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for power, you like to play around with different configurations to make your eboard unique and you don’t mind the odd maintenance jobs here and there, then a belt-driven electric skateboard sounds like it’s right up your alley.
Along with the recommended eboards throughout this article, I highly recommend you check out my list of the best electric skateboards to help you get started at narrowing down which eboard is right for you.