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Nightfly
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Which do you as a rider prefer as a final drive system and why?

Shaft drive - Approx 20 to 25 percent power loss at rear wheel
Belt drive - Approx 9 to 15 percent power loss at rear wheel
Chain drive - Approx 1 to 4 percent power loss at rear wheel plus the extra maintenance needed to keep it in top working order...
 

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Zip
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It depends on the kind of bike and the kind of riding. For everyday street riding I don't like the hassle of maintaining a chain. My first choice would be belt: lower maintenance than shaft drive, better performance.

For racing it's got to be chain.

Oddly, I've never owned a belt driven bike.


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Belt or shaft is great. My '09 Harley was a belt, I sold the bike with 90k on it, never had one single issue with it. My BMW K1600 has a shaft. If it's losing power because of it, I can't tell. That bike is like a rocket. I hate chains. Total pain the arse.

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For street bikes I prefer them in the order you listed them in TR. I've done my years of 700 to 800 mile chain maintenance intervals and really like the convenience of shaft and belt drive.
 

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On The Road Again!
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20% power loss with a shaft??
Where? When?
I've been riding mostly shaft driven bikes for the last 40 years. The two Goldwings I have here FLY!!
And no maintenance to speak of.

172,000 miles on my '74 BMW.
Just about to turn 99,000 on my 1500 Goldwing.
 
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Which drive do I prefer? Right now with my riding style, (as little off-road as possible) I prefer the shaft drive. Low maintenance and clean, which outweighs the downside to me right now.

My newest bike has the belt drive, and I'm finding very little to dislike about it. But I've only put a little over 2,000 miles on it so far. It is more quiet than the chain drives I've owned in the past and, so far, less maintenance also.
 

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Belt or shaft for me. They suit my purpose of riding as much as possible with as little as possible pain in the maintenance department. Currently have a Harley, which uses a belt. Trouble free the first 18k. Fully expect it to stay that way. Whatever maintenance it needs takes place at the dealer during the 5k service intervals.

Wife's BMW 310 has a chain. So did my first motorcycle. Don't miss the maintenance or the chain lash. Back then, as a student, I was just so happy to have two wheels I didn't care. Later in life, able to be a little more selective, I'd probably go with shaft first, then belt, and avoid chains.
 

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I prefer chain drive, and here's why:

If you buy a high quality chain it will not need adjustment until the tire wears out, at which time adjustment is just part of the process.

If your bike has a center stand, lubing the chain is not difficult or time consuming.

If you do a lot of miles, like I do, then when the time comes to replace the chain it is not difficult compared to replacing a belt, which requires removing the swing arm.

I only had one shaft drive bike, a 1983 Suzuki GS650G, and the shaft drive failed due to corroded splines in the hub.
 

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Shaft: very little to no maintenance and the bikes I've had with a shaft have had LOTS of Horsepower and torque---so who missed it?

Belt: My 3 past Harley's and my current Indian have belt drive. after the break in adjustment and maybe another @ 50,000 miles they are wonderful.

Chain: If taken care of properly: adjusted and oiled according to the type, they can last a long time and allow gearing changes that isn't easy on the other 2 types. They also have the greater ability to handle VERY high Horsepower and are easy and cheap to replace.

In the order above is how I prefer them.:grin:

Sam:nerd:
 

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I once had the hots for a BMW F800ST. It seemed like the perfect bike for my type of riding. Then I discovered the drive belt cost over $500! And it was supposed to be replaced at 50,000 miles. That killed it for me.

I don't know what it costs to replace a Harley belt, or how often it needs to be done, but doesn't matter as Harleys have other traits that turn me off.
 

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I don’t know who came up with those numbers or why but unless your primary use is on the drag strip, who cares. Street riders do fine with any of them. I prefer shaft because of the gravel roads I have to ride. Chain would probably be a better choice over the belt I currently have but there I question the maintenance issues. I’ve never seen a chain go 30K miles which is the recommended interval on my current bike and when it was done. Had I not run in gravel I would have pushed it. But I think the drag strips are what those numbers are for.


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I'm fine with chains as keeping them in shape, i.e. cleaned, oiled, and adjusted, doesn't bother me much at all. I have found that applying a coat of gear oil to a small paint brush is easier and less messy than the spray-on waxes I had been using.

The OE chain on the F4i is still in good shape at a bit over 20,000 miles and I usually ride... vigorously... :devil:

When the time comes for replacement, I will be going down a tooth in the front sprocket for a bit more "umph". Pretty sure that's not a mod you can do with a driveshaft or belt... or is it?
 
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Nightfly
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm fine with chains as keeping them in shape, i.e. cleaned, oiled, and adjusted, doesn't bother me much at all. I have found that applying a coat of gear oil to a small paint brush is easier and less messy than the spray-on waxes I had been using.

The OE chain on the F4i is still in good shape at a bit over 20,000 miles and I usually ride... vigorously... :devil:

When the time comes for replacement, I will be going down a tooth in the front sprocket for a bit more "umph". Pretty sure that's not a mod you can do with a driveshaft or belt... or is it?
I agree Doc. My Harley is the first belt drive bike I've owned, and I do like belt drive, mine is ridden very aggressively.. And I was able to go down a tooth for more "umph" as you say, without problem, I had enough adjustment in the bike to do it.

Before the Harley I've always had chain drive and unless a person is just prefers a drive shaft for whatever reason, I'll stay with what I have, never had a problem keeping up with the chain. And with the advent of O-ring chains long ago they really are not much of a hassle.

That 15% power loss rule for drive shaft can be thrown out the window. It all depends on the bike and the transmission etc., usually it can be higher.
 

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Nightfly
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I don’t know who came up with those numbers or why but unless your primary use is on the drag strip, who cares. Street riders do fine with any of them. I prefer shaft because of the gravel roads I have to ride. Chain would probably be a better choice over the belt I currently have but there I question the maintenance issues. I’ve never seen a chain go 30K miles which is the recommended interval on my current bike and when it was done. Had I not run in gravel I would have pushed it. But I think the drag strips are what those numbers are for.


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The information about percentage of power loss in a drive train came from TVS Motor Company. A motorcycle company headquartered at Chennai, India with revenue of over $2.9 billion in 2018-2019. Second largest exporter in India with exports to over 60 countries. Been around a long time.

I would think taking into account the amount of drag produced by a certain drive train would be a good indicator of the over all efficiency and ready capability of the machine for everyday use, not just drag racing.
 

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My GL1000 Suzy has a shaft drive. My old 'Wing' had a shaft drive. My '66 shovel has a belt primary and chain final drive. My Sportster has chain and chain drive. So, having had all three, I still prefer chain. Chain drive has been around since the beginning and I'm sure belt and shaft has it's advantages, but with normal maintenance, chain drive is perfect for me. Easy to replace and easy to maintain.
 

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I have both a shaft drive and a belt drive. Haven't had a chain since the 70's and don't miss it.
 

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I have chains and shafts. Used to have whips on the farm.
With the chain, you can scream down the road and imagine what would happen, if the chain snapped and got stuck around the front sprocket.
With the shaft, you can scream down the road and imagine what would happen, if a bearing seized.
I bought the shaft so I could ride in the winter and not need to oil the chain.
My primary winter bike tho, is the XS400 with a chain. I am running the cheap chain that would normally be used on a manure spreader. Woz Slums idea. Is stretches a bit more than the good stuff. I would not use it on the bigger bikes. I oil lots and hardly ever need to adjust. Running the chain tight just stretches it.
Running it a bit loose you can go back to imagine number one. But it has never happened.

UK
 
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