Belt Drive The Pros & Cons.

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by MATTY, Oct 22, 2021.

  1. 5spd97

    5spd97 Been here awhile

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    My 2012 Harley is my first belt drive bike and I've previously owned plenty of shaft and chain drive bikes. I've put 45k on tne Harley with no issues and minimal adjustments and the belt looks great. I fuck with the chain drive bikes constantly. My 86 700 shaft drive Nighthawk gave me no trouble but I only put 20k miles on it. I think belt drives are great.
    #21
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  2. HaveTwo

    HaveTwo Adventurer

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    Two things I wish more bikes had, hydraulic valves, and belt or shaft drive. I like to ride more than work on them. I've got more miles on shaft drive bikes than chain, and love shafts. Only once changed the sprocket sizes on a bike, and that was a very mild change.

    Though I have to shake my head when people get into bikes, get a Harley, and then tell me they don't think they are good enough to work on them. Most of what I do on my Wee-Strom is cleaning the chain weekly. Don't even have that to do on a Harley. Basic routine maintenance is all of a couple oil drain/fill, and a filter? Check things aren't loose/wobbly, and move on. I know many don't get ridden much, but I've seen enough that get ridden long and hard, and just keep working. Oh well.
    #22
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  3. echo15

    echo15 Been here awhile

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    My Ulysses was belt driven and I
    rode it places I was advised not to and never had a problem. The first generation of Buell belts were not up to snuff, but once upgraded to handle the HP/torque they were plenty good.
    #23
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  4. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    I now have two identical travel bikes with a belt, the first I've ever owned in 40 years of riding. One here, one I keep in Germany.

    It is, without question, the best thing since sliced bread. It is abso-freaking-lutely the best street drive system there is, bar none, IMO. Simple, quick change, takes 15 minutes. Never goes out of adjustment.

    BMW specs 24k for a change, they look new at that mileage, but I changed it anyway. ZERO maintenance, no drive slack, quiet, clean. No oil to change, no lube, nothing to adjust. Never change the sprockets.

    I cannot believe it has taken me this long to "discover" this, and that a belt isn't the "standard" drive system for virtually every street bike, especially anything destined to travel.

    Ducati should put it on their Multistrada instead of the Diavel. As buyers, we should demand this. Soooo much better than a chain.

    IMG_20210419_132940119_HDR.jpg IMG_20210807_120153048_HDR.jpg
    #24
  5. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Long timer

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    Pros: easier to service, easier to adjust, eaire to maintain, no messing about with chain lube.

    Cons: unless you hunt around for the limited number of alternatives, you may be forced to embrace the concept of, "potato potato potato..." :D
    #25
  6. panhead_dan

    panhead_dan This aint jo daddy's Grundle.

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    The drive chain on a motorcycle is the single most maintenance intensive item on the bike.
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  7. anotherguy

    anotherguy Long timer

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    Not nearly as bad as it used to be. Just buy DID ZVMX and quality steel sprockets. Very low maintenance.
    #27
  8. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    I think belt drive, for most riders, falls into the "you don't know what you don't know" category simply b/c it is on so few motorcycles. I know that was true for me; been riding for 40 years now and the F800GT was the first bike I'd ever ridden with a belt. Never even thought about it.

    If more riders were exposed to it, for street riding, it would become a de facto standard. There's just no comparison to a chain, and it is so much lighter/simpler than a shaft.
    #28
  9. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    I heard the Japanese don't have patents which is why they don't do them as its a cost for them on lean margin bikes.
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  10. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    If that's true, the Euro manufacturers should be all over belts as a differentiator.
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  11. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    Would a belt make you buy a bike?
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  12. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Desmo was my dog. RIP big guy.

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    https://www.jpo.go.jp/e/faq/yokuaru/patent.html

    ^^^ That's a link to a page on the website for the Japanese patent office.

    If the Japanese didn't have patents, how could there be a cost for them that is avoided by not doing them?
    #32
  13. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    I meant patents for road bikes which are powerful. Honda does have belts on their scooters. As does Suzuki and Yamaha at least
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  14. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Nearly all scooters use a belt final drive. The final drive is also the transmission (CVT). No maintenance or adjustment required but the typical belt replacement interval is around 12,000 miles. Since it is fully enclosed you don't have to worry about rocks damaging the belt however if water gets in the belt may slip. Rain won't get in but a deep water crossing could get water in the CVT. In over 100,000 miles of scooter riding I have had one belt break on me. Luckily I was fairly close to home when it happened.

    With Automatic transmissions becoming more popular we may start seeing more motorcycles with a CVT and belt final drive.
    #34
  15. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    It would now that I've owned one. For example, if the BMW F900XR had a belt, I'd likely replace one of my F800GTs. Same if the Ducati V2 Multi had one. I really, really don't want to go back to a chain on a travel bike. And I've had 4 shaft drive bikes...they are far from "maintenance free" and very expensive to repair.
    #35
  16. Don03st

    Don03st Been here awhile

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    Chain drive is simply the most durable, until it's time to replace the chain/sprockets.
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  17. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Have to disagree. I've never gotten more than 25k out of a chain/sprocket set and I clean them religiously. 20k is more typical; they are usually "kinked" and showing some wear at that point, but I don't run them (or anything) until failure. The BMW belt is spec-ed for replacement at 24k and it looks NEW at that mileage. They typically go 40-50k without problem.

    And there is ZERO maintenance. None, nada, zilch, that would be NONE. They win, hands down.
    #37
  18. Don03st

    Don03st Been here awhile

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    I hear you. I just mean a rock or whatever can't take out a chain, nor can it leak. It just goes until you replace the parts. I've also wondered why you don't see more belts at least on road touring(ish) bikes. As an aside I bet that belt can go quite a bit further then what the spec says.
    #38
  19. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Got it, misunderstood your post. You're right...the belts are potentially vulnerable to rocks. Street bike drive system only...
    #39
  20. anotherguy

    anotherguy Long timer

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    Like I said earlier been working on bikes w/belt drives since 1982 when the original Sturgis was released. And can't say I've seen many (not counting primary :D ) belts break. Other than abused Buell XB models due to the idler style tensioning combined with abuse,i.e. clutching wheelies and hard launches. There used to be (may still be) a myth of Alaskan bikes breaking belts 'cause of rocks and stones. Actually contacted an Alaskan dealer and asked a tech and he said not the case.
    #40
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