I have a Trek 1st District bike that was given to me.

The belt drive is not very satisfactory. I have asked here about upgrading it to a newer version, but perhaps it would be better to set it up with a chain instead.

I would need to replace at least the chainring and rear sprocket. What about the rear freehub - is that special to the belt drive?

Are there any other points to be aware of converting a belt-drive bike to a chain-drive?

  • Belt drive frames have to split the rear triangle to permit the belt to be fitted. Other than that there is no reason why you couldn't go to a chain. I like the belt on my District but it is fussy to setup properly. Jul 2, 2020 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


I have not worked on one of these bikes so I've gone online to find documentation around what parts are on that bike and what might be compatible in chain drive parts.

I think that bike comes with a Shimano 9 spline freehub. If this is true you should be able to:

  • Replace the chain ring
  • Replace the rear sprocket
  • Get a chain to match

and you'll be chain drive.

Let your local bike shop take a look at it. They should be able to give you a free estimate on what parts and labor will cost and verify the freehub type. Even if you will do the work I always like to know how much I'm saving.

Given your previous issues with the lock ring it would be good to have that looked at. No sense spending the money to go chain if the lock ring isn't going to tighten.

If the local bike shop confirms that they can get a chain drive sprocket for your freehub and a chain ring that will mount on your current crank here are some things to be aware of.

If this is your bike then it has a 22 tooth rear sprocket and a 55 tooth chain ring which is a ratio of 2.5. If you like your current gear ratio you will need to go with the exact same size sprocket and chain ring

If you don't like your current gear ratio you'll need to decide what ratio you would like and select the sprocket and chain ring you need.

Chain Alignment
You want the chain to be as straight as possible.

You can mount the chain ring 2 to 4 different ways - depending on the chain ring type. If the chain ring is flat it can be on the inside or the outside of the crank spider (the five arms that hold the chain ring). If the chain ring is not flat you can flip it over and get different alignments.

On the rear sprocket you can use the spacers to get different alignments.


Yes, you can. Just as covered above. I never thought the 700 aero rims and skinny tires made sense… but the orange and grey colors first released on the 1st always looked great to me. I built out a slightly maltreated grey/cream 1st with 26” wheels and the widest tires (in matched size) I could fit… Michelin Country Rock 26x1.75 (excellent). Bull Moose one piece bar, Thule rear rack, folder pedals, C-19 Imperial saddle, kept the belt. VERY happy (experienced) female rider as a under 15 mile pavement/gravel country scooter.

  • Welcome to the site - can you use edit to add a clear photo of the rear of the bike into your answer? It would be relevant and useful to see if anything had to be changed to add the chain instead of a belt. Specifically, how does the hanger work?
    – Criggie
    Jul 1, 2022 at 14:17
  • Wait, you say you kept the belt? Then how does this answer the question at all?
    – DavidW
    Jul 2, 2022 at 13:38
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – DavidW
    Jul 2, 2022 at 13:38

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