Final drive: Chain, Shaft, Belt?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by LPRoad, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. EastSideSM

    EastSideSM Isn't that dangerous?

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    I would ride the bikes yourself. You may find you do not like one over the other for various reasons, and one of the reasons may or may not be the type of drive. I prefer a chain driven bike myself. I have ridden several different shaft and belted bikes. My least favorite type is the shaft due to the (not sure if this is the correct term) "shaft torque" where you can feel the power in the shaft drive which to me feels strange. Some people I know actually like that, but to me it feels off-balance. But I don't know if I wold rule something out due to the type of drive without knowing what it feels like "to you" first hand.
    #41
  2. scootrboi

    scootrboi Long timer

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    After crossing the USA (1974)on a chain drive Honda I swore I would never put up with that nonsense again. Every hundred miles I checked the chain, lubed it and adjusted if needed. 32 times Vermont to Arizona.

    This is a variation on chain drive I am surprised was a dead end. http://www.flickr.com/photos/29821169@N06/10636065643/sizes/o/in/photostream/ No adjustment, new oil once a year. This chain and sprocket lasted 70,000 miles. Monoshock.
    #42
  3. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    I am not a fan of shafts on a motorcycle... Certainly not an Adventure motorcycle. I have seen grenaded shafts on Goldwings, FJR's, VMax's, Concours', BMW's... Granted it does not happen often but when it does fail you may as well light the bike on fire and call it in stolen. (Something I would never do and I am not actually suggesting it)

    Shafts are Power Robbing and very expensive to repair or replace.

    Belts are the smoothest and most efficient transfer of power and can easily last over 100,000 miles needing adjustments about every time a tire needs replaced... Belts do not get along well with gravel.

    CHAINS ARE THE SHIT!!! A modern O-ring or X-ring chain needs little to no maintenance and if one should break you can generally repair it on the side of the road in about 10 minutes.

    I once rode home over 30 miles with a 530 link stuffed in a 525 chain (see pic) Just stuffed in there with no backing plate or clip to hold it on.
    [​IMG]

    Replacements are generally just over $100. Hands down the best for most motorcycle applications.

    I currently own all three... Chain, shaft, belt... They all have their place. IMO Chain is preferred.

    I have found and plan on buying ONE more shaft drive bike... It would be a better bike with a chain but they don't come that way.
    [​IMG]
    #43
  4. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    Yes, an enclosed chain running in oil is great. Several makes of scooters used that system. Better yet is the original Vespa gear drive system. Just running a chain in a metal or plastic enclosure to keep the road grit and water out like the Cub type bikes works well, and it was used for a time on a few large bikes. Wish I had it on my chain drive bikes.

    I wonder if shaft drive really robs power? My old Honda CX500s seemed to be just as fast as the chain drive 500s of the day. Never noticed any jacking on my CX500s or GL1000 either but did on my old BMW.





    #44
  5. 2tallnwide

    2tallnwide Long timer

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    Yes it robs a little more than the other two, and it weighs a tad more too.

    Neither one was noticeable when I was doing 100mph wheelies on my GS though. :lol3

    Some folks will whine about a sunny day, such is life. :D
    #45
  6. MagyarMan

    MagyarMan Been here awhile

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    Enclosed chain in oil bath is ideal,however is very rare now a days. Manufactures prefer looks over efficiency-what a shame!
    #46
  7. SamRus

    SamRus Been here awhile

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    I'd definitely go with a shaft instead of chain! Requires almost no maintenance, and that's why they put it on the touring bikes.

    Drain and replace final drive fluid once in a blue moon (every 30K miles?), and grease the splines whenever you have the wheel off for putting on new tires.

    Chain, on the other hand, will require frequent cleaning and lubing, as well as replacing the chain and both sprockets every 20K (or how-ever long yours lasts).
    #47
  8. DSTEVENS

    DSTEVENS Been here awhile

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    I prefer a chain, never had any issues with KLRS or Vstroms. rain, mud, 100+ mph, the latter NOT on KLR, but always got 20,000+ miles even without a great deal of care. Easy to regear too. I would like to ride GSA with BIG rear sprocket:D. D.
    #48
  9. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto

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    +1

    For NM and points west I would go with new KTM 1190 or new BMW GSA because almost everything worth doing involves dirt roads and tracks. Having a bike with off road capabilities will open up an incredible range of possibilities out west. Chain or shaft not that important IMO. Suspension and fuel range would be my criteria. Saludos, JIm
    #49
  10. Tuna Helper

    Tuna Helper Rawrr!

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    I wouldn't rule out Buells just yet, sure some people have bad luck, but most seem to go a long time without breaking a belt. I've got a Lightning with 18k on the clock, for the 12k I've owned it I've done plenty of clutch wheelies, stoppies, run up and down dirt roads, and it doesn't show any signs of failing.

    Of course, if you like the bike but not the belt, you can convert to a chain.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=869894&highlight=buell+belt+break
    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=546118&highlight=buell+belt+break
    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=642293&highlight=buell+belt+break


    BTW, the belt on my Road Glide went at 57k
    #50
  11. scootrboi

    scootrboi Long timer

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    What is the approximate inefficiency of a driveshaft? I have been thinking about final drives for a long time, and if a chain is significantly more efficient than a shaft (assuming in good condition) wouldn't this arrangement be superior to a shaft drive? It not only is a sealed part of the engine, but is a monoshock design with wheels that are fastened on one side.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29821169@N06/9873274406/sizes/c/in/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29821169@N06/10635798994/sizes/z/in/photostream/
    The hollow swingarm looks heavy, but it is a magnesium alloy, and only weighs a few pounds at most. The chain is endless, and does not stretch because the sprocket is centered on the pivot point of the swingarm. The chain oil throws oil onto the rear wheel and front sprocket bearings.
    #51
  12. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    No longer the case. :nah
    #52
  13. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

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    A shaft is less efficient than a chain or belt but the difference is insignificant, maybe 2-3 percent depending on how many times power has to make a 90 degree change in direction, the type of gear used, etc.. Compare that to wind resistance, putting on a few extra pounds, tire rolling resistance, engine tuning, and all the other variables that affect motorcycle performace and the type of final drive is meaningless.

    Other characteristics of final drives are much more important. Shaft drives are quiet and require less maintenace but if they fail repairs are expensive, parts may take time to receive, and special tools may be required. (Lube those splines!) Belts are quiet, low maintenance, and carrying a spare is light weight but they don't like dirty environments.

    Chains require frequent minor attention but newer technologies make them easily last 30-50K miles even in the worst environments. (How hard is it to squirt a little lube every other tank fill and wipe it down with a paper towel?) It is easy to change final drive ratios with a chain. Chains are easy to inspect. They are insignificant cost wear items compared to tires, oil, fuel, etc.. The cost per mile is probably about the same as brake maintenance. Chains can be found in just about any backwater village around the world and no special tools are required for repair. Trail-side fixes are easy.

    All three drive systems work just fine so long as they are used as intended and maintained properly.
    #53
  14. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    Wish I could get 30K to 50K miles out of a chain and sprocket set. Best I ever got was about 18K with a top quality DID chain and OEM sprockets.
    #54
  15. advNZer?

    advNZer? Long timer

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    buy the bike you want.If manufacturers made bikes with proper enclosed chain and belt drives that would be the end of any discussion.Having said that some careful fab work could solve that probem too.
    #55
  16. advNZer?

    advNZer? Long timer

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    i agree!!
    #56
  17. k-moe

    k-moe Long timer

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    If the final drive drives the final, who cares which one you use?

    Ride.

    Be happy.

    Repeat.

    :1drink
    #57
  18. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    Shaft drive also adds weight. Might not matter on a big tourer, or a cruiser, but on sportier bikes it´s a different story.
    #58
  19. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

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    More importantly, it adds unsprung weight.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
    #59
  20. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    I was under the understanding that Belts are at or about 1%, Chains are 2-3% and Shafts are at or around 11%.

    :scratch :dunno

    (By way of example: A Honda Shadow 750 Chain Drive has similar performance numbers to the Shadow 1100 Shaft Drive and is noticeably better than the 750 Shaft drive)
    #60