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Preferred Drivetrain

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Discussion Starter #1
There was a time when some bikes were available with an enclosed chain.
A belt drive stills needs to be inspected and adjusted.
Shafts needs the least maintenance but are heavy and the least efficient.
Which would you prefer?
 

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Chains and belts are easy to inspect/maintain. I don't care for that hidden stuff.
 

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For a street bike I would pick a belt every time. They are fuss free, quiet, clean, and last pretty long now.

For my strom which will be taken on unsealed roads and offroad I want a chain and I want to be able to see it.
 

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I would prefer a belt, yes it means it wouldn't be as easy/cheap to change gear ratios, but not having to do the clean/lube thing every 600 miles would be worth it to me.
 

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On a Dualie chain all the way. IMO the ability to swap out the sprockets is a major advantage. :mrgreen:
 

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I stick with the chain on the vstrom. it I know for a fact I can go 2600 miles and it don't need adjusted. Went on a trip that was that long and I adjusted it when I got home!
 

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Street bike = belt.

Dual sport = chain.
 

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Chains are easy to change, find and change gear ratio. properly cared, lasts very high mileage. But need to be cleaned, adjusted, oiled and are a mess...
If you have a shaft, and need to change a tire, its a lot of work... (Exception is the BMW, that you change tire like in a car)
So, the belt I think is better, no mess, almost no maintenance and adjustments and lasts 100k km... :thumbup:
 

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Yamaha Chose the shaft

yamaha must have an awful lot of faith in their shaft because they just introduced the super tenere that appeared as though it had no issues with the shaft no matter how it is ridden. I chose shaft if it can handle the rigors that I've seen lately in the dual sport application. Far less maintenance, quieter, and I've had them last over 100K doing nothing but changing the gear oil every 10 K.

Clem
 

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Street = Belt!! I love the Belt on my Buell!! 25,000 miles on it and still holding strong. Super quiet, worry free, and super strong. Loaded with Luggage and riding 2 up it still held up. This is one of those things I have never had to worry about on my Ulysses. Electrical...is another story.....
 

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Shaft drive, every time.

I'm not just thinking about bikes either...

Why exactly is it that a shaft drive has a greater power loss than a chain?
Have you done the math, or are you just going with "popular wisdom"?

I can understand a power loss if there is a differential involved (as long as the differential is torque limiting and uses clutches rather than gears), but since motorcycles have only one rear wheel, they do not have nor need differentials.

- Sealed chain drive systems are really good, because they are sealed.
- Belt drive systems don't need to be sealed, but they have the drawbacks of an unsealed system.
- Shaft drives are the perfect sealed system.
 

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Enclosed chain would be ideal.

Shaft drive is heavy (and much of that weight is unsprung) and inefficient. (right angle power transfers have significant losses)

Belt drive is better, and if drive ratio changes were easy/cheap then I'd consider it. Biggest down side IMO is that failures tend to be sudden, no warning, unlike a chain that you can see/feel going south.

Chain, in the real world at least, is best for me. Cheap, easy to fix/replace, easy to change ratios, efficient and light. Enclosed would cut down on the negative, it would last longer, take less maintenence and make less of a mess.
 

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Having one chain and one shaft, I like both for different reasons. I did break my Wee chain at 12,000 miles, and it cost very little to fix it. I have spare equipment now to fix it on the road. Shafts are harder to break but it can be done, and when its broken its REALLY broken, you won't fix it on the road. I like the shaft for the highway-eating Connie, but wouldn't want it on a bumpy rutted dirt road, I think. The shaft needs less maintenance until it NEEDS maintenance or repair then the balance goes the other way. Also, remember you lose a lot of horsepower with a shaft setup, in addition to the extra weight.
 

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I voted chain!

Chain for me eveytime for any bike...todays chains are robust, easy to care for and last a long time. The cost of chains is low too. Have you guys ever changed a belt?? It's mega work by comparison to chains and hugely costly! I've done several of them. Chains take no time at all and cost less. I've not had too much to do with shaft drive. Only ever changed the oil on them and ridden a couple of bike with them. But again they can be expensive when they go wrong...which hopefully isn't too often. Efficiency of chains and belts is high compared to shaft, although losses through todays shafts are not very significant but you prolly all know that. :jawdrop:
 

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Why exactly is it that a shaft drive has a greater power loss than a chain?
Have you done the math, or are you just going with "popular wisdom"?
Shaft wins the vote so far.

I am very puzzled by the comments that shaft drive causes a huge loss of power. And would like to see some evidence of this please.

I mean, think about what you're saying for a second...
Where does the energy loss occur? I don't see any signs of twisting on my k100's shaft; It doesn't even get as hot as my wee's well-lubed chain.

About the durability/maintenance/expense: I would never own a chain-driven car; driveshafts last a hell of a lot longer and can handle a hell of a lot more power...

Interesting that while shaft is ahead in the poll, not a lot of people speak up in its defense.

Maybe shaft drives are like ABS brakes; those who do not understand them dislike them are vocal about it. Fortunately, truth is a function of whether something corresponds to the way the world is, not of how many times nonsense gets repeated.
 

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I think the reason people click shaft and then don't post is there is no point. Most comments about chains or belts here has been wrong. Same with most of the shaft comments.

I'll pose a question. Why is it that almost every long distance bike (above a certain price point) is shaft driven?

I do freely admit there is some weight to a shaft drive as well as some expense. They are also a real bear to work on when you are on the side of the highway. That said the smoothness and power delivery of the system more then makes up for all of that. On most shaft drive motorcycles there is only a single bend, meaning the power comes straight from the flywheel and the 90 degree is at the rear wheel. That power loss is only SLIGHTLY more then from the internal friction of a chain drive. In some shaft drives there is NO 90 degree bend.

The arguments for chain work equally well with most other setups including belt. When a manufacturer decides on a final drive the "efficiency" of chain is rarely a consideration. More often it has to do with weight/fuel economy, and the simple ability to change drive ratios in minutes. For me the biggest detractor of a shaft is not being able to change my drive ratio. But since most shaft driven motorcycles are so big (usually over a liter) its rarely a problem.

As previously noted a belt drive has two huge problems: 1: When they fail its as bad as a shaft failure, you are STUCK. 2: You are stuck with whatever ratio they give you at the factory. Given a choice I would always take a shaft over a belt.

Personally even with a slight power loss over chains I would still go shaft. The ability to go 80,000-150,000 miles without maintaining or changing a chain is well worth the loss of a couple horsepower.

Of course YMMV,
-GW
 

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A shaftie costs more to build and is heavier.

Chain costs more (a LOT more) to maintain, but allows the user to change gearing.

I'm not sure where some of you are getting the idea that it's more difficult to remove the rear wheel on a shaftie. It's a lot easier than on a chain-drive bike actually.

Chain drive is one reason the V-Strom is affordable to buy, but I consider it a handicap for serious sport-touring use. I'm also not looking forward to spending another $200 on a chain and sprockets every 30,000 miles or so (being optimistic about chain life). That's every year and a half for me.

I know there will also be a point where I'm leaving on a long trip, and the chain isn't quite dead, but I'll have to replace it early for peace of mind... I detest stuff designed to wear out under serious use. Everything is a compromise, so I installed the best chain I could find on my V-Strom and I'll try not to let the chain tax bug me too much next year when I'm due for another.
 

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Enclosed chain would be ideal.

Shaft drive is heavy (and much of that weight is unsprung) and inefficient. (right angle power transfers have significant losses)

Belt drive is better, and if drive ratio changes were easy/cheap then I'd consider it. Biggest down side IMO is that failures tend to be sudden, no warning, unlike a chain that you can see/feel going south.

Chain, in the real world at least, is best for me. Cheap, easy to fix/replace, easy to change ratios, efficient and light. Enclosed would cut down on the negative, it would last longer, take less maintenence and make less of a mess.

Enclosed Chain :thumbup:

my XV920R with enclosed chain has 60,000+ miles on the original (non o-ring)chain & sprockets with no visible sign of wear, easy to access inspection port. virtually zero maintenance, (change chain grease once every 30k) I have to adjust the valves on the bike more often than the chain

a little more work to replace chain & sprockets, kinda like the difference between working on a faired bike and a nekid bike




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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for relating your experience,Randyo. Using a little eyeball engineering do you think it would be hard to adapt the Yamaha chain enclosure to a Strom?
 

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I've also heard all the arguments about shaft drives being less efficient than chains, but on the other two forums (I've been on) Nobody ever has the numbers to back up this claim? Why are some of the largest bikes shaft driven? Gold Wings, Rocket III"s and the 200 hp V Max come to mind. I've never heard of to many Wings with broken shaft drives, I'm sure it could happen, but even the supercharged Valkyries aren't having driveline problems? Does anyone have any actual numbers? I do agree with chain drive for a off road bike, lots of ratio's to choose from, but some bikes do that now with a switch electronically. Cheers--BB
 
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