Chain, Belt and Shaft Drive Bikes

Understanding the Technical Details to Pick the Perfect Bike

There’s more to buying a motorcycle that fits your riding style than selecting a nice color and appropriate engine displacement. You also have to consider the way your new ride’s drivetrain functions.

The majority of modern motorcycles feature a chain, belt or shaft drive. Each has unique maintenance requirements, repair costs and power-delivery advantages. As you might expect, this makes the subject of which is best a matter of some debate. Here’s a quick primer on the three families.

Chain Drive

This basic system is similar to a common bicycle’s gearing arrangement. A larger sprocket on the rear wheel is driven by a smaller counterpart attached to the transmission’s output shaft. The two are connected via a tensioned loop of chain that must be kept clean and lubricated.

Those who favor chain drives say they like the fact that the mechanisms are relatively basic. Chain drives are by far the most prevalent mechanism. Parts are generally inexpensive, light and strong, so it’s easy to find interchangeable replacements that function well.

Belt Drive

This drive mechanism upgrades the chain-and-sprocket arrangement of the chain drive with a belt made from a strong material like Kevlar. Such layouts completely forego the lubrication required with chain drives. It can’t, however, be disassembled and customized with the same degree of ease.

Belt drives need less maintenance than chain alternatives, yet replacement parts can be expensive. While they often deliver smoother, quieter power without increased weight, more of this energy goes to waste than in a chain drive, and repairs are more complex. Belt drives are commonly found on cruiser bikes and zippy scooters.

Shaft Drive

Shaft drives are similar to what you might find in a car or truck. These mechanisms are completely enclosed, and they feature a set of internal gearing and a shaft that work together to transmit torque directly from the transmission’s output to the rear wheel. Shaft drives are known for being smooth, quiet and stable, although their predetermined gearing gives riders less room to tinker and customize.

Shaft-drive bikes require expensive replacement parts and expert shop repairs, but their closed drivetrains keep general maintenance requirements lower. Although they’re very durable, they’re also among the heaviest types of bikes. The power-loss characteristics of their gears are known to have a big impact on handling.

Choosing Your Drive Type

Beginner riders may feel more comfortable learning on shaft or belt bikes so that they can avoid maintenance. Those who get into activities like racing and tuning, on the other hand, are likely to argue for the advantages of chain drives over all else.

The type of drive system you favor may also impact factors like accident likelihood and potential collision outcomes. A good way to learn more is to join a local motorcycle riding group and ask your fellow riders about their experience on different types of bikes.

If you or a loved one ever gets into a motorcycle accident, get in touch with Gary Poole Law Office today.

Gary Poole – North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorney “On the Side of Those Who Ride”

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