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  1. #1
    Handlebar Consultant
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    Shaft, belt, chain...pros and cons

    I've talked to about 10 dealers now. Like I'm doing here, I'm trying to get as much info as possible to make an educated choice on a bike. Amazingly, whatever technology is on the bike that any given dealer carries is the best. They have pros for their stuff and cons for everyone else's. Can you all just give me the pros and cons of each?

    Thank you VERY much.

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  3. #2
    Lost but forgotten

    My Bike(s)
    2012 Ninja 1000 ABS, 2002 Bandit 1200 S, 2002 Honda XR50R, 1992 Honda CR125R
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    St. Cloud, MN, USA
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    Off the top of my head:

    Chains

    Pros: Light weight, cheap to buy, easy to work on, no torque loading (easier wheelies)

    Cons: Frequent maintenance, periodic replacement, can be messy at times

    Belts

    Pros: Quiet, smooth

    Cons: Must be very wide for high-torque engines

    Shafts

    Pros: Low-maintenance, cleaner, nicer looking

    Cons: Heavier, more expensive, tougher to work on

    Simply put, belts aren't often used among mainstream bikes. Chains save a bunch of money up front, and aren't a problem for most riders. Shafts are very nice if you're a LD rider or just hate getting your fingers dirty.
    'Busa shock, Racetech forks, Holeshot stage 1 & pipe, Hella headlights, CBRXX clipons, Givi E360 & V46, Zumo 550, Pilot Road 2CTs | Symtec grip heat
    Arai Signet GTR | Joe Rocket Meteor boots, Alter Ego pants, jacket
    | Gerbings liner | Alpinestars SP-1 gloves | Hanes boxer-briefs
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  4. #3
    I took the All Bran Challenge
    My Bike(s)
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    Aldergrove, B.C., Canada
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    7,753
    The difference between the 3, is not so great today as say 20-25 years ago.
    The use of new materials has reduced the diff., so you have a little higher maintenance on the chain, a loss of % of power through the shaft.
    The belt, if of good quality and width has a longer life than before.

    So it gets down to more or less a choice of which is pleasing to your eye.
    I have used shaft drive for the past 15 years and the only time I think about it is when some asks which is better. It is a personal choice, ask and you will find as many choices as you started with. 3.

    So narrow down the style of bike, then look hard at choices within that style.

  5. #4
    Still crazy after all these years

    My Bike(s)
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    The "purists" would claim that chains are the cheapest to maintain / repair, but cost a bit in performance because they have the highest rotating mass.

    A belt drive is light, quiet and virtually maintenance free. However, if something does go wrong (you get a stone or something under the belt), it's expensive to replace, any may take longer since not everyone has the right one in stock.

    A shaft drive is a bit heavier, very quiet, and also virtually maintenance free. The downside is that removing the rear wheel is a bit of a problem when you need new tires.

    There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    blog: gsx1400

  6. #5
    Happy-ass Lunatic
    Posts
    11,409
    Don't forget that having a chain makes it convenient for a person to change gearing.
    Go to hell

  7. #6
    Still crazy after all these years

    My Bike(s)
    Blue Suzuki GSX 1400 (2003)
    Location
    Schliengen, Germany (47.754543, 7.631989)
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    13,854
    Yea, there's that too.

    There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    blog: gsx1400

  8. #7
    Sit speling cheker
    My Bike(s)
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    Quote Originally Posted by themeatmanlandry
    Don't forget that having a chain makes it convenient for a person to change gearing.
    For a Sportbike, I'd use a chain any day as you can change the gearing which is performance.

    For a Cruiser, shaft drive is fine for me because performance is not an issue, if it were, I'd have a sport bike. I get a smoother ride and less maintenance with a shaft. There's nothing like the thunk thunk of a chain when one of the links has froze up.

    But chains aren't exactly that cheap considering you need to change the sprockets along with it. I've spent 150-200 on a chain along with 60-80 on sprockets. Of course I bought lighter weight performance sprockets which don't last as long.
    --------------------------------------------------
    I don't care if it's the unholy four, John Wayne and Dorothy Lamour
    I just don't wanna talk to him now......


  9. #8
    Lost but forgotten

    My Bike(s)
    2012 Ninja 1000 ABS, 2002 Bandit 1200 S, 2002 Honda XR50R, 1992 Honda CR125R
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    Quote Originally Posted by inspiron
    The "purists" would claim that chains are the cheapest to maintain / repair, but cost a bit in performance because they have the highest rotating mass.
    Depends on the flavor of the purist. I'd consider the effects of unsprung weight on my suspension long before inertial drag on the drivetrain. In that case, the chain wins by a mile.

    AZRyder, most people might change a chain and sprockets once, maybe twice during their ownership of a bike. It's still cheaper than buying a shaft up front.

    I'm not trying to sell anyone on chains, but they do have some good selling points. I'd much rather have a shafty like the FJR for touring, though.
    'Busa shock, Racetech forks, Holeshot stage 1 & pipe, Hella headlights, CBRXX clipons, Givi E360 & V46, Zumo 550, Pilot Road 2CTs | Symtec grip heat
    Arai Signet GTR | Joe Rocket Meteor boots, Alter Ego pants, jacket
    | Gerbings liner | Alpinestars SP-1 gloves | Hanes boxer-briefs
    Gems for motorcyclists

  10. #9
    Sit speling cheker
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    Quote Originally Posted by RowdyRed94
    AZRyder, most people might change a chain and sprockets once, maybe twice during their ownership of a bike. It's still cheaper than buying a shaft up front.

    True, I guess most don't keep their bikes as long as I have. I had my GPZ for about 11 years and probably went through 3 sets that I remember. Bike had 95k on it when I sold it
    --------------------------------------------------
    I don't care if it's the unholy four, John Wayne and Dorothy Lamour
    I just don't wanna talk to him now......


  11. #10
    Handlebar Consultant
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    More info that I forgot upfront. I bought a Magna v45 cheap about 10 years ago. Just turned it for a profit, but rode it around the 'hood a few times. It was shaft driven. When I twisted my wrist, the back end lifted. Is that a normal characteristic of the shaft (Please, no innuendos!), or was it just the shaft in the Magna? If the lift is inherent to the shaft, how does that affect the demeanor of the bike?
    Last edited by PhotoJoe; 03-16-2007 at 03:04 PM.

  12. #11
    Lost but forgotten

    My Bike(s)
    2012 Ninja 1000 ABS, 2002 Bandit 1200 S, 2002 Honda XR50R, 1992 Honda CR125R
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    It's called shaft-jacking, and that's what I mentioned in my first post.

    You didn't turn a profit unless you beat inflation.
    'Busa shock, Racetech forks, Holeshot stage 1 & pipe, Hella headlights, CBRXX clipons, Givi E360 & V46, Zumo 550, Pilot Road 2CTs | Symtec grip heat
    Arai Signet GTR | Joe Rocket Meteor boots, Alter Ego pants, jacket
    | Gerbings liner | Alpinestars SP-1 gloves | Hanes boxer-briefs
    Gems for motorcyclists

  13. #12
    Handlebar Consultant
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    Bought it for $700, sold it 2 weeks later for $2200. I think I did OK.

  14. #13
    Still crazy after all these years

    My Bike(s)
    Blue Suzuki GSX 1400 (2003)
    Location
    Schliengen, Germany (47.754543, 7.631989)
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoJoe
    Bought it for $700, sold it 2 weeks later for $2200. I think I did OK.
    Dammit man, can you recommend any good stock picks?

    There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    blog: gsx1400

  15. #14
    Handlebar Consultant
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    Don't buy anything I'm invested in! Trust me. I was at the right place at the right time. Northridge earthquake knocked it over and broke the wind screen. I took it off, replaced on lever and good to go. Never been that lucky since.

  16. #15
    Sprocket Pilot
    My Bike(s)
    Silver/Grey VStar1300
    Location
    Colorado Springs
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    862
    Most of the newer systems have been engineered to reduce the shaft-jacking problem. I know it is not a problem on my M50, but I rode an 80's vintage shaft drive bike that my uncle was fixing and it was really noticable..
    Carpe equus ferrum


 

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