Exway Ace Gear Drive

In this video, I’ll go through the pros and cons of Exway’s gear drive kit for the Atlas Pro electric skateboard. I’ll also answer the questions you guys asked me about it on Instagram.

Pro: the looks

Aesthetically, Exway’s gear drive kit looks awesome. I know this is a very superficial feature, but it is a legitimate selling point. Exway’s gear drive is not cheap, and visually it does look like money. The gearboxes, skid plates, motor cages and wheels all look very well designed. I think Exway has some of the best industrial designs among e-skate brands.

Con: not as versatile

The gear drive kit comes only as a kit, and you can’t buy the pieces separately, at least not from their website at this time. Even if you could, you can’t adjust the gear ratio with different size pulleys like you can with belt drive, and your wheel options are limited to the tires that are compatible with Exway’s Precision Hubs. If you want to use urethane street wheels, you can’t. There aren’t any adapters for small wheels, and the gearboxes are too big for small wheels anyway.

Pro: heavy duty

Exway’s gear drive is designed to take a beating. The CR-MOLY steel gears are enclosed in an alloy housing. The motors are protected in alloy cages. And replaceable skid plates come included. With belt drive, the belts and gears are vulnerable to pebbles and other debris getting inside, causing damage to the system or freezing up the drivetrain. One time I even had a surgical mask on the ground get sucked into a board’s belt drive and cause the board to suddenly stop. Stuff like that wouldn’t happen with Exway’s gear drive.

Con: heavy

Exway’s gear drive is heavy duty, but it’s also just heavy. 4WD with belt drive was already 17.7 kg. 4WD in gear drive came out to 20.6 kg according to my scale. About 3 kg more than belt drive. With gear drive in 4WD, the board is still light enough to occasionally pick up and put in the trunk of a car, but it’s not something you’ll want to frequently carry up and down stairs, or even pull behind you in a subway station.

Pro: torque

The motors in the gear drive kit remain the same as the belt drive kit, but the gear ratio is different. On belt drive, it was 14:56 or 1:4. And on gear drive, it’s 12:57 or 1:4.75. In other words, the gear drive is set up to have even more torque than the belt drive. So it’s really designed to use the 175mm knobby tires that it comes with, on grass or mud, or whatever else requires more torque. Big booties.

Con: lower top speed

Because it’s geared for higher torque, the top speed is lower. With belt drive, the top speed in the stock configuration is 60 km/h. With gear drive, the top speed drops to only… 53 km/h. Ok honestly, that’s still faster than I would ride on an electric skateboard on public roads. But for those of you who care about top speed on the Atlas Pro, technically you can go faster with belt drive, especially since you can trade torque for speed.

Pro: low maintenance

With belt drive, you can be sure that a belt is going to break at some point. You just don’t know when. Some people have belts break all the time. With gear drive, there are no belts. And for maintenance, generally you just add a bit of grease at regular intervals. Exway’s recommendation is every 2000 km. Depending on how far and how frequently you ride, 2000 km could be a very long time. For example, if you’re a casual user and ride about 40 km per week, that comes out to 2000 km after a full year.

Con: time-consuming maintenance

Even though gear drive should be low maintenance for most people, changing a broken belt on belt drive is actually really easy. You just take off a wheel and put on another belt. For gear drive, you add grease, and you do it for every gearbox. It’s not difficult, but neither is changing a single belt. And if something does get inside the gearbox or if you have to change out the grease for any reason, opening up the gearbox and scraping off the grease sounds like a pain in the butt. Especially if you have to do it four times on 4WD.

Now that I’ve gone through the pros and cons, hopefully I’ve given you a good idea of whether Exway’s gear drive is right for you.

Q & A

Now let’s go through some of the questions people sent me on Instagram. I’ll only go through the questions that weren’t answered in the pros and cons.

By the way, the questions were sent through my Instagram story, not by DM. Don’t send me a DM. I won’t see it.

Is it really worth $500?

Well the price is actually even more than that. But the answer to this question is of course going to be different for everyone. My advice is if it’ll be a financial burden for you, don’t even consider it.

Belt drive vs gear drive range?

All the electronics are the same, so if you use the same wheels and gear ratio, I’m guessing the range will be similar. Supposedly gear drive has less rolling resistance but it didn’t feel that way to me. In any case, I wouldn’t have range be the deciding factor for your purchase because I expect any difference to be marginal. But I have not done an actual comparison.

How well sealed is it from the elements? Does dirt get in?

It seems to be pretty well sealed. We rode the board in some conditions where I would generally avoid, including mud. With belt drive, I think I definitely would have had to clean stuff out of the system. I am curious about how well it would keep out sand because sand has a way of getting everywhere. But for keeping out stuff like small rocks and mud, it did really well so far.

Is it loud?

I’ve heard that gear drive is loud but these seemed to be about the same as belt drive to me. The noise is different for sure, but I didn’t feel like one was noticeable louder than the other.

Is it really more efficient like generally? Maintenance, cost, torque, drag, etc.

I think that depends on your use case. If you’re like me and you generally ride your board on streets and bike lanes, and you don’t go off-roading, and your belts hardly ever break, I think belt drive is the much better option. But if you frequently ride in conditions that could benefit from a sealed drive system, using the gear drive is probably better than having to clean out your belt drive system all the time.

How and what to lube with?

You would use gear grease. And you can squeeze it in using a syringe. I have not tried this myself. This is just what Exway told me. As for exactly what type of gear grease, that I don’t know. Electric skateboard gear drives have been around for years so hopefully someone with experience can leave a comment about that. Thanks in advance.

Installation process?

The installation was really easy. You just undo the kingpin nut, take off the belt drive hanger with everything attached, and unplug the motor cables. On the gear drive kit, everything is already attached to the hanger so you just put it on and plug in the motor cables.

Flex Pro compatible?

This is only for the Atlas Pro at the moment. I have no idea if they’ll make a smaller version for street boards.

How scraped is the bottom of the gear drive enclosure?

After some off-roading, it got pretty scraped up but there is a replaceable skid plate on each gearbox. It doesn’t completely protect the gearbox, as you can see here, but it does at least prevent the bottom of the gearbox from getting continually banged up.

How does the braking and acceleration feel?

Compared to belt drive, I didn’t feel a difference. Technically they should both be a little stronger on gear drive because of the different gear ratio, but without a big hill or a heavy rider, it’s a little hard for me to tell.

Is it easy to clean?

Well if you’re comparing to cleaning stuff off belts and pulleys on belt drive, then yes it’s easier to clean. I still have kind of a hard time cleaning the grip tape, but that’s a separate thing. See this is partly why I don’t like going off-roading.

That’s about it. I’m very new to gear drive so if you have additional info or any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

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