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Old 01-03-2015, 12:09 PM   #1
thetubespoke OP
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Question Chain vs Shaft.... again

Hi everyone,

I've found a few things missing from most of the chain and shaft threads, so I wanted to bring it back up, with a few explicit questions.

Chain users, how do you clean your chain when touring? What kind of kit do you bring with you?

Obviously, the chain itself is a maintenance item. But as are sprockets and setting the axle (evenly, unless you have a single sided swingarm) for slack.

I can see the chain being quite reasonable in most riding, but offroad in dirt, sand, and mud for days, seems like it would dry up the chain a whole lot faster. Is that the case?

The shaft seems more or less immune to these things. I have no doubts that it's heavier and probably even in paralever form, imports some kind of resistance moving up and down. I think for offroad continual adventure use, the shaft is superior.

What do you guys think?

Sincerely,
TheTubeSpoke
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Old 01-03-2015, 12:23 PM   #2
gmk999
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I lube with wax that has a low spin off rate , but it does spin off taking debris with it. In long term dirt situations I use a spinn off racing lube.
I rarely clean my chain with anything other then a rinse with a hose if i am washing the bike.
My chain kit is a small can of lube ,Chain breaker and master link.
Replacing a sprocket and chain is a simple 10 minute Job.
Even Adjustments are marked on the swing arm sides.
If my chain breaks, finding another one or repairing mine is an easy task #520 chain can be found everywhere.
If a shaft drive fails... not so much.
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Old 01-03-2015, 02:30 PM   #3
jeeves
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I have a Scottoiler on my KLV1000.
Put it on with the last chain and sprocket change. The chain is a DID 525, the sprockets also DID.
That was in 2009, 50000+ km (30000+mi) ago. Slightly tightened the chain twice. A lot of two up riding with full luggage in all kinds of weather.
Maintenance consists of adding oil to the Scottoiler reservoir every couple of thousand km, and eventually cleaning the chain with a dry cloth.

The only downside is that there is a small amount of oil drops that fling around the rear wheel, but nothing to be concerned about.
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:12 AM   #4
Aj Mick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thetubespoke View Post
Chain users, how do you clean your chain when touring? What kind of kit do you bring with you?
Having ridden more than 400,000 chain driven kilometres on the road (and about 1,000 shaft driven), and many more off road, in more than a dozen countries over the past 50 years…….

I don't clean the chain. On multi week rides I have taken just a can of spray on chain lube, and squirted a bit on as required, every few hundred km. Best to use it sparingly at the end of a ride.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thetubespoke View Post
Obviously, the chain itself is a maintenance item. But as are sprockets and setting the axle (evenly, unless you have a single sided swingarm) for slack.
Non o-ring chains do require fairly frequent adjustment, but it is easily done in a few minutes. No big deal. They are still used on smaller bikes and raining bikes as they are cheaper and (provided they are regularly lubed as required) more efficient at transferring power.

The lifespan depends on the bike and the use.

On my current little scoot I get 2 or 3 years (25 - 30 thousand km) out of a chain and sprocket set, that costs about $20 where I am at now. Usually done at the same time as replacing the brake shoes and tyre (and an oil change) it takes less than half an hour to get sorted.

Some folks advocate frequent cleaning, and may get a bit longer chain life as a result, but I feel it is not worth the hassle.

On the bigger bikes I used to own, I got about 10 - 15 thousand km (about a year) out of a chain and would replace the sprockets every second chain.

O-ring chains require very little maintenance, and last two or three times as long as a standard chain; say 3 to 5 years, depending on use. They just need a squirt of lube every 500 km, again best done at the end of a ride. Once set they seldom require adjustment. When they do require frequent adjustment they are worn out, and it is time for a new chain and sprocket set.

O-ring chains are usually continuous, without a joining link. It can be a bit of a major replacing them on some bikes, but it is usually infrequent enough not to be a bother.

While O-ring chains are a little less efficient at transferring power than a (lubricated) standard chain, the lack of hassle involved makes them a trade off with having on a quarter litre bike or above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thetubespoke View Post
I can see the chain being quite reasonable in most riding, but offroad in dirt, sand, and mud for days, seems like it would dry up the chain a whole lot faster. Is that the case?
Off road, with dust, dirt and mud, if necessary chains can be rinsed off with water (not jetted), then cleaned with kerosene or chain cleaner, and lubed in a few minutes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thetubespoke View Post
The shaft seems more or less immune to these things. I have no doubts that it's heavier and probably even in paralever form, imports some kind of resistance moving up and down. I think for offroad continual adventure use, the shaft is superior.
Yes, a shaft may require the least maintenance of all, but that comes at a cost. Shafts are expensive, heavy, and less efficient at transferring power. They are also expensive and time consuming to repair when they do need attention. Fine if your adventure bike is a big powerful one, you don't mind the weight, and you have the budget.

For me, less is more in motorcycling; I prefer keep things simple, and light. Cheap 'n' cheerful chain drive does it for me.
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Aj Mick screwed with this post 01-05-2015 at 06:22 AM
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:22 AM   #5
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:36 AM   #6
MagyarMan
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I like enclosed chains. Keeps dirt out ,keeps lube in. Was quite popular back in the day,however has fallen out of favor due to it's less than pleasing looks. Looks-smooks -get over it. It works!!!
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Old 01-05-2015, 02:32 PM   #7
Sparrowhawk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thetubespoke View Post
Chain users, how do you clean your chain when touring? What kind of kit do you bring with you?

I can see the chain being quite reasonable in most riding, but offroad in dirt, sand, and mud for days, seems like it would dry up the chain a whole lot faster. Is that the case?

I think for offroad continual adventure use, the shaft is superior.
No need to over think it. Both are well proven, along with belts (but they don't play well with stones).

[URL=http://s242.photobucket.com/user/Tognar/media/20120729_114721.jpg.html][/URL

A good quality sealed chain will endure 20,000+ miles of dirt and dust. I use Dupont's lube every other gas fill, not because I think it's required but it makes me feel better.

http://m.lowes.com/pd/DuPont-4-oz-Chain-Saver-Lubricant/3652579

I carry a chain tool, a few spare links, and master link but have never in 35 years of riding used them in the field.

Shaft drives require nothing between services but are impossible to fix in the field. Usually it requires a trip (or tow) to a dealer with the special tools and training. Modern chains require minimal looking after but can be repaired or replaced anywhere in the world in under an hour with simple hand tools.

I wouldn't let the final drive keep me away from a bike I liked.
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:28 PM   #8
Road Hound
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I'll give you a little bit of my experience with shaft drive vs chain drive.
I've made one long trip with a chain drive bike, a 7,500 mile trip 2 up from Georgia to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and a few other points. I installed a new chain and sprockets just before beginning the trip, adjusted and lubed the chain religiously all along the way. On my inspection after my return the chain and the sprockets were toast, had to install a new chain and sprockets to sell the bike.

As an example of shaft drive , I've owned and ridden 3 Kawasaki Concours since 1990, An 86 for 337,000+ miles, a 2000 for 220,000+ miles, and a 2006 for a little over 110,000 miles. In that time I've changed the final drive lubricant once a year, used a little grease on the splines and final drive driven gear at every tire change. That's all the service the shaft drive components have needed. Compare that to the the chains, sprockets, chain lube, and the amount of time needed to R&R plus time and hassle involved in chain adjusting, required in that amount of mileage.

For my use the shaft drive wins in every way with the possible exception of handling but that is probably only a real issue if you are involved in organized racing.
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:28 PM   #9
dfwscotty
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:32 PM   #10
DAKEZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thetubespoke View Post
Hi everyone,

I've found a few things missing from most of the chain and shaft threads, so I wanted to bring it back up, with a few explicit questions.

Chain users, how do you clean your chain when touring? What kind of kit do you bring with you?

Obviously, the chain itself is a maintenance item. But as are sprockets and setting the axle (evenly, unless you have a single sided swingarm) for slack.

I can see the chain being quite reasonable in most riding, but offroad in dirt, sand, and mud for days, seems like it would dry up the chain a whole lot faster. Is that the case?

The shaft seems more or less immune to these things. I have no doubts that it's heavier and probably even in paralever form, imports some kind of resistance moving up and down. I think for offroad continual adventure use, the shaft is superior.

What do you guys think?

Sincerely,
TheTubeSpoke
Do NOT clean do NOT lube. The lube is on the inside adjust tension as needed and inspect every 5k miles.
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Old 01-06-2015, 12:39 AM   #11
Unstable Rider
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I have one with shaft and one with chain, and appreciate the thoughts behind both. Nice sometimes to hop on the Sunday bike and not have to check the chain.

But if you go "shaft" get the bike that has one that is not made of glass,
the one that has a track record of $2500+ pit stops when it blows.
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:39 AM   #12
Jud
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Buying a FJR spoiled me on shafties. Before the FJR I had always had chain driven bikes and thought that replacing a chain every 10-25K miles {depending on the bike and how used} was no biggie. I recently sold my FJR with 90K miles on it. I changed the fluid three, maybe four times. Lubed the wheel splines every time I changed rear tire which was between 3-9K miles depending on the tire and how used. I lubed the shaft splines maybe 2-3 times and it took all of 30 minutes or so to do. Never a single issue, no leaking seals, no busted joints, no broken ring and pinions,,,,,, no nuttin. Not a single issue.

Contrast that with my DL650 with a new chain and sprockets about every 15-20K miles on average even when using quality chain and sprockets and maintenance that ranged from cleaning and lubing every 1K miles or so, to loobman oilers to finally,,,, no damned maintenance other than a spray every once in awhile to keep rust away. Honestly didn't see a lot of difference in longevity so I decided that little to no maintenance was for me. I have over 80K miles on the DL and just put a new chain on last week. What's that, like four or five chain and sprocket sets? Sucks.

I will admit that on the DL having a shaft woulda sucked because Suzuki didn't feel the need to make the tranny a nice wide ratio and I to get any spunk outta it I had to gear the piss outta it. That woulda been near impossible to do had it been a shaft.

I just bought a Tenere and I'm more than happy to rid myself of the chain. The Tenere has pretty good gearing,,, I wish it was a smidge lower but it's way better than the DL650.

For racer replicas, sport bikes, dirt bikes and dual sports,,,, chain is the best.

For sport tourers, adv tourers, touring and most cruisers,,,, I see no need for anything other than a shaft.
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:47 AM   #13
air-cooled
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broken shaft, new apprx 600$. diy 0$.
fyi shaft is made out of 2 components "glued" together with some rubber like material, which "absorbs" movement like a chain deals with movement.
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:43 AM   #14
vortexau
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I haven't purchased a chain-driven motorcycle since 1978. A couple of ones in the sixties did indeed have full enclosure.

Current ride employs a line of straight-cut gears in an oil bath, but the assembly is sizable and has some weight.

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Old 01-06-2015, 05:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by air-cooled View Post
fyi shaft is made out of 2 components "glued" together with some rubber like material, which "absorbs" movement like a chain deals with movement.
Some shafts maybe. Shaft on my Honda has an all-metal cush-drive (saddle-shaped ramps plus spring). Japanese manufacturers figured out how to build shaft drives long ago.

Roads like the Dempster are pretty hard on chains and sprockets. It may not take long to change them but finding them in N. Canada may take a bit longer.
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