Motorcycle Club » Vstar 950

Belt vs. shaft drive issues?

26 posts from 13 voices
About This Topic
  1. DJ372
    #

    I'm still deciding on which bike to buy, and shaft vs. belt is one of the factors I'm condidering. So, a friend of mine who rides a shaft drive told me that belts can get something (road debris) stuck in them from time to time, which can cause the belt to fray and/or disintegrate. True or not, or maybe virtually never? Also, how would you compare the two systems as far as performance, noise and such? Thanks from a wannabe. (I think I can see a crack or two in my wife's resistance, so I'm happy!)

  2. Suzhipiger
    #

    Shaft drives are nearly indestructable. I recently owned a badly neglected 1982 XJ750 and it's drive system was just fine. Fresh oil and away I went.

    I've been told (though I didn't really seem to notice) that shaft drive bikes exhibit something called "torque steer" which makes the bike want to stand up on certain cornering manuvers. Some folks don't like that. There is also a *small* power loss in the transfer from the engine when compared to belt or chain driven bikes.

    My XJ was an old sport bike. It didn't lack any power that I could notice!

    Now, I own a 1700 Warrior. At first I was leery of the belt drive. You have to check the tension. Too little and you overwork the engine. Too much and you stress drive-line components. Still, it's a good system and I've had no complaints. Tension checks aren't ridiculously frequent and unless you kick up sharp road debris they can last tens of thousands of miles.

    Noise? Well, these two bikes are so different that I can't really say if one drive system was noisier than the other. I didn't notice a whine on the shaft drive bike.

    You know, someone asked this question before and the general consensus was that they're both so good that there's no need to let the drive system be the final determinator on which bike you buy.

    I'd focus more on buying the right bike that suits your purpose or intended style of riding and one that fits your size and body type.

  3. zm667
    #

    I agree w/Suzhipiger on this. I too was debating myself between the shaft and belt drives (one Suzuki model vs. my V-star 950). IF the drive has a problem, it can be expensive. The belt does last a long time with proper tension and is easy to work on. There is a slight 'pull' on draft drives especially when you get on it coming out of turns. Bottom line-makes little difference when you look at all of the other things to consider - happy buying! As long as you you cracked open the hesitance from your wife (like mine), she too will be riding with you - just take it slow and hit the back roads to start!

  4. poppj
    #

    most everyone i know likes shaft drive over belt or chain....i have two riding buddys that have over 60,000 miles on there shaft drives.....never a problem.....change fluid every 10,000 miles....you can change it in 10 minutes....i feel they are maint free....bob

  5. tyzcarap
    #

    Anything without a chain and carbs!!!!!

  6. dveag29
    #

    A properly maintained belt drive system will likely outlast any given owner (how long they have the bike).

    While shaft is nearly zero maintenance it does have it's power deliver issues and adds weight and can have the shaft drive whine. You are pretty much stuck with the gearing. It can also take away from the looks of a bike, IMO.

    Belt drive also has very little maintenance and a long life. Smoother power delivery compared to both chain and shaft drive.

    While it seems I'm knocking shaft drive I'm just pointing out some things you would have to deal with. I've had chain, shaft and belt driven bikes and am very happy with the Belt Drive. IMO, takes the best attribute of chain and shaft drives.

  7. poppj
    #

    if you ride hard and often carry a spare belt....not to many belts last 20,000 miles....most break way before that....a belt will not last long if you dont keep it adjusted.....chains and shaft drives last longer....bob

  8. dveag29
    #

    if you ride hard and often carry a spare belt....not to many belts last 20,000 miles....most break way before that....a belt will not last long if you dont keep it adjusted.....chains and shaft drives last longer....bob

    I don't know about that. While a belt CAN break at that mileage, a chain can also fail with that many miles. I would say between 30-50,000 miles is a more accurate number. I've known a couple with over 75,000 on their touring bikes.

    But, I know a lot more people that will never reach that mileage than will reach it.

    Cost wise, cheapest to maintain in order are Shaft, Belt then Chain. Figure in the cost of chain cleaner and lube over the life of a PROPERLY maintained chain, and it kind of evens out if you were to have to replace a belt as early as 20,000 miles.

  9. MachinekunWarrior
    #

    I had only ridden chain drive bikes in the past. When I went to buy one I rode a couple shaft and a couple belt. Honestly I could tell the difference.
    Belt felt so much smoother to me. Ended up with a Warrior.
    All the technical points to a belt vs. shaft are beyond me.
    Go with what feels good to you.

  10. tyzcarap
    #

    The local dealership here had a guy with a touring bike who used to stop in whenever he was cruising around the country. He had over 80,000 miles on his belt and they had to force him to replace it before they would let him go anymore. So, the belts can, and do last a LOOOOONG time.

  11. poppj
    #

    The local dealership here had a guy with a touring bike who used to stop in whenever he was cruising around the country. He had over 80,000 miles on his belt and they had to force him to replace it before they would let him go anymore. So, the belts can, and do last a LOOOOONG time.[/QUOTE ...... YOU CANT BELIEVE ANY STORY FROM THE DEALERSHIP....I HAVE TWO FRIENDS THAT HAVE WORKED IN MOTORCYCLE SHOPS FOR 30 YEARS....THEY HAVE SEE DOZENS OF BELTS FAIL BEFORE 20,OOO MILES....THEY TOLD ME TO CARRY A SPARE BELT ON THE BIKE....THEY HAVE ONLY SEEN A FEW PROBLEMS WITH SHAFTS....THEY SAY THAT IF YOU RIDE THE BIKE REAL HARD THE BELT WILL WEAR OUT BEFORE THE SHAFT 95% OF THE TIME...BOB

  12. dveag29
    #

    The local dealership here had a guy with a touring bike who used to stop in whenever he was cruising around the country. He had over 80,000 miles on his belt and they had to force him to replace it before they would let him go anymore. So, the belts can, and do last a LOOOOONG time.[/QUOTE ...... YOU CANT BELIEVE ANY STORY FROM THE DEALERSHIP....I HAVE TWO FRIENDS THAT HAVE WORKED IN MOTORCYCLE SHOPS FOR 30 YEARS....THEY HAVE SEE DOZENS OF BELTS FAIL BEFORE 20,OOO MILES....THEY TOLD ME TO CARRY A SPARE BELT ON THE BIKE....THEY HAVE ONLY SEEN A FEW PROBLEMS WITH SHAFTS....THEY SAY THAT IF YOU RIDE THE BIKE REAL HARD THE BELT WILL WEAR OUT BEFORE THE SHAFT 95% OF THE TIME...BOB
    I know guys who ride chain drive bikes that have gone through 2 sets of chains and sprockets in less than 20,000 miles. If you ride any bike that hard you are going to accelerate wear and tear on many parts.

    Of course a belt (or chain/sprockets for that matter) will wear out before a shaft drive. Rubber/Kevlar will wear out far faster than hardened steel gears.

    Every type of drive has it's benefits and disadvantages. I could probably find a shop mechanic who says he hardly ever sees drive belts fail at 20,000 miles. In the end, to the average rider it will never come into play.

  13. poppj
    #

    i think tweak 89 is right....rubber/kevlar will wear out far faster than a shaft drive.....thats why you should carry a spare....one of the reasons belts wear out early is that any time you kick up gravel, sand, etc it gets between rubber belt and sprockets....the main thing is to keep the rubber belt adjusted....i like the shaft drive over belt.....thats just me.... bob

  14. zoudherngomferd
    #

    poppj, IT'S OBVIOUS TO EVERYONE WHAT YOU PREFER. Do you carry a spare tire with you because you might have a blowout sometime. I like the smoothness of a belt drive. and to me it's worth maybe having to replace the belt if I wear it out. Thats just my opinion. DID EVERYBODY GET THAT.

  15. tyzcarap
    #

    haha. What? Can't hear with all the yelling going on.

    So, say you carry a spare belt. Could you really change out your belt on your bike on the side of the road? Just wondering what all that would entail...

  16. VTvinChic
    #

    HEY.... FELLAS.... TIME OUT! Play nice!

    Peace.

  17. Shebhertezz
    #

    So, a friend of mine who rides a shaft drive told me that belts can get something (road debris) stuck in them from time to time, which can cause the belt to fray and/or disintegrate. True or not, or maybe virtually never?
    TRUE. My husband had his bike for only a year and got a good size chunk of gravel imbedded in the belt. It was so imbedded that it was flush with the belt. He drove it for awhile - didn't know he had it until he went in for an oil change & service - and was told that it could split at any time. Cost over $600 to replace. I should mention that we do have a 4 mile drive on gravel to get to the highway so I'm thinking this would not happen with the usual highway riding that most do. We're just gonna have to find the $$$ to pay the municipality to pave our road!

  18. cole2273
    #

    on a low torque motor a shaft is just fine, when you get in the bigger bikes like the VTX 1800 the shaft is a bit on the squirrely side. but in the case of the 1900 roadliner with a belt drive, its more straight line power and a lot more forgiving. and than you get into big HP and they will only run a belt or chain and sprockets, but with the understanding that they will have to be changed more often. each have there pros and cons, but they would not reinvent the wheel. the belt drive is here to stay and for good reason, they are the best for our mid size and larger cruisers. and as far as belts breaking and having to carry one with you... NO WAY. I ride with many Boss Hoss bikes that have over 600-1200HP plus NOS and a 330mm rear tire or very large corvette tires and every one of them runs a belt drive and they can burn the tire off at any speed. I don't think you have to worry about your bike breaking a belt with HP. you might get something that will cut it but that can happen with anything. something could cut your brake lines or your tire but that don't mean your going to carry an extra or that its a bad system.

  19. tyzcarap
    #

    OK, so still wondering about changing a belt on the side of the road....

  20. poppj
    #

    OK, so still wondering about changing a belt on the side of the road..
    you should have a spare belt if you travel, just like you would carry a tire plug kit when traveling....if you can not change the belt yourself, at least you have the part that broke....if you get stuck in a small town, they may have someone who can change the belt for you....they probably would not have a belt that would fit.... side of the road fix would be a block of wood to get the rear wheel off the ground...most motorcycle riders would be able to change it...not all....belts are notorious for picking up debri and damaging belts...many new belts fail for this reason.....bob

12

Reply »

You must log in to post.