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Thread: Chain drive vs shaft or belt drive

  1. #46
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Central PA
    Quote Originally Posted by lstayner View Post
    Never a stranger. I view this forum almost every day. I have only owned one Beemer so far. I live by the mantra - "It is better to be thought a fool than open my mouth and remove all doubt"
    I specialize in eliminating doubt...........
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

  2. #47
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Quote Originally Posted by ncpbmw1953 View Post
    I put 23K miles on a '13 F800GT with its elegant belt FD. It was quiet, reliable, clean & more efficient than shaft driven designs. Besides looking kind of cool I find the fact the front & rear sprockets (as w/ chains) are all turning in the same plane as the crankshaft is just a very good thing compared to splines, u-joints and 90 degree changes of direction to just be the picture of inelegance and clunkines, and indeed my '16 RT does clunk here and there! I loved the ZERO maintanence for the belt drive. Plus one gets a warning when the belt is beginning to give up the ghost as you will see hairline cracks in the some of the teeth in the belt if you look now and again. I think the risk of a hard rear-wheel lock up due to a catastophic failure is greater in shafts than belts. They aren't great for off-road but my dream replacement for my RT as I age, besides losing 100lbs, would indeed be incorporating a belt drive, and to lose 100lbs and be 100% capable as a Sport Tourer w/ full on tech, performance AND comfort you would need the belt to help meet weight and power concerns.
    I do like the belt for a street ridden bike. My wife's F800ST has been the least dramatic final drive system I've ever maintained. In 12 years it has demanded nothing in the way of repair or maintenance other than a quick check at service intervals.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2019 F850GSA

  3. #48
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Lansing, Kansas
    Quote Originally Posted by mcmxcivrs View Post
    I do like the belt for a street ridden bike. My wife's F800ST has been the least dramatic final drive system I've ever maintained. In 12 years it has demanded nothing in the way of repair or maintenance other than a quick check at service intervals.
    For me it has been eight (8) years this month, but the result is the same.
    On the coast of Kansas
    2012 F800ST

  4. #49
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Southern Indiana (near Louisville, KY)

    Chain VS Shaft

    Over the years I've had a number of both BMWs, Guzzis, Hondas, H-Ds. Years ago chains were a big pain in the butt. They didn't last (metallurgy just wasn't there at the time), were dirty and noisy. On the other hand, the shaft on the old Airhead BMWs ran in oil and rarely failed without abuse and required little maintenance. Early Gold Wings ('75, 76,77) had numerous shaft failures. Never had a problem with the Guzzi shaft. On the old XS 1100 Yamaha 2nd gear failed long before you could wear out the shaft. I've had 3 chain drive BMWs: F650 Funduro, F650GS and F700GS. Still have the last two. The 650 GS has over 100K miles. The chains from the factory on the F650s was a POS rated for 400ccs and was usually good for about 12-15K miles. Replace it with a good high quality 520XSO or 520VM, lube it occasionally with ATF and they are good for 30K. In fact, the rear (AFAM) sprocket on the F650GS has over 50K on it and still looks good. I learned early on from "Chain Gang" ( friends that if you ride off road, ATF is a much better lubricant as dirt and grime do not adhere to it like the thicker chain lubes. I can change out my chain and sprockets in about and hour and it you shop around can find a set for about $150. From a purely economical view, that beats the modern BMW shaft hands down.

  5. #50
    Registered User bigjohn72's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Haskell, Arkansas
    If I could have a choice I would go with a chain for all duty. Adventure bikes would surely be chain. I have speculated (no evidence to back up my theory that I have cared to research) that shaft drives on big adv bikes have been prone to failure if ridden off road for the simple fact that there is not enough slack built into the system, or can be built into it to allow for the shock and torture that off road work causes to the drive train. For example: Go back and forth between hard tension to complete slack rapidly when working off road, the shock of bump absorption through the drive train itself, normal wear and tear, dirt and water ingress into the drive system... the list goes on. The demands of a bike on the street does not come close. I have also wondered if anyone has put any thought in offering a bike that has the option of either shaft or chain drives, the buyer simply orders what drive he/she wants, and it is installed. Imagine a GSA with a big honking chain drive! To this point I bring up the cost of the eventual repair/replacement of a final drive or drive shaft. I can handle a couple of Franklins every so often compared to that...

    Does anyone know how the weight limits are effected for a bike that has chain vs. shaft vs. belt? that may also be a consideration to think about as well. If I can carry 75 more pounds because it has 'this" drive on it, it would also be a consideration.

    I do however like the shaft drive on my sport touring rigs as far as maintenance on the road goes, but a can of chain lube doesn't take much space, and 5 minutes isn't a big deal at the end of the day...

    I simply don't like belts for the reason that I have broken 2 of them when I was younger, and was under the impression that if it was a chain, it would not have done that, and would have at least gotten me home.
    Big John in Arkansas
    2014 K1600 GTL
    2007 R1200GS Adventure (Sold)
    MOA# 200130

  6. #51
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    gig harborr ,wa
    I like belt drive for road bikes. But go very cautiously on gravel roads! F800ST/GT change belts about 40K to 50K.

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