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Belt instead of Chain?


<t>Belt or Chain?</t>  

9 members have voted

  1. 1. Belt or Chain?

    • Belt
    • Chain
    • Neither

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I got my first belt driven bike a while ago, just wanted to find out which people prefer or whether anyones had more experience with them.

Are there any pro's or con's of a belt instead of a chain?

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Belt is the kinda halfway house between a Shaft Drive and Chain Drive.

You've not asked about shaft, So I'll ignore those until the end.

The Pro's for a belt are pretty straightforward.

1. essentially maintenance free. aside from checking the physical condition every now and then - no maintenance required. You check the front and rear 'sprockets' for damage and fit it.. check its tension and thats it. Nothing more to do until time to replace. (no adjustment or anything at all needed to be done - ever)

2. replacement on my bike takes under 15 minutes. Only the belt needs to be replaced - the 'sprockets' last practically forever.

3. weighs next to nothing.

4. lifespan - BMW say replace at 24,000 miles. Many people have followed this advice and taken the old one off only to discover it is in virtually perfect condition. And so it has been kept as a spare. usually replacing it when it loses a tooth or two. or shows signs of damage/wear - the longer average life is >40,000 miles. (BMW don't approve)

5. cost - The belt for my bike is made by Continental and is a 'standard' size used by a fair few vehicles and machinery - So a new one isn't expensive £120 posted.

6. The last are less important maybe. if it snaps - it simply 'falls off' - no drama. makes for a very smooth ride - no 'snatch'. and a clean bike - no lube needed. so savings in time and money.

Cons? the only one that springs to mind is you can't play with the sprocket size as you can on a chain bike.. changing sizes to affect performance and so on.

or.. if you're one of those people who thinks that anything that doesn't have the BMW badge on it is 'inferior' - even if the badged one and the non badged one are identical, made in the same factory just with slightly different printing. then you pay more.. and probably feel everso superior.

Contitech BMW:


Contitech Original:


Shafts are heavy and if they fail thats a show stopper and very likely an expensive one too.. they're not entirely maintenance free - they need oil changes and though this isn't really an issue - they eat into the power output. the usual figure is a 10% loss of power.

Belts.. If you're touring, you can take a belt with you - if it is damaged or worse case: snaps. you can put the spare on in 15 minutes and be on your way.

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Damn belts sound good for casual riders like myself :D Is it something you can modify a bike to use or is it a different type of bike altogether.


I doubt you can modify a bike.. its not quite as straightforward as changing 'sprockets' belts are a lot wider - 3.5cm on my bike. so to make it work thats a lot of 'work' - impossible? maybe not.. but its certainly not a practical idea.

which is a shame.

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The design of belt drive bikes allows quick change of the belt

Converting a chain drive is a no go IMO as you would need to remove the swingarm to fit a belt as belts don't split

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Changing the belt on the Harley is a bit longer than 15 mins to do more like an hour or 2 but is meant to last 50,000miles or more and belt cost is about £125 on average


Ive never really looked at the belt drive on a HD.. as for the cost a quick google turns up a fair few suppliers.. whereas for BMW there is only Contitech/Continental. so the price is comparatively high because there is no competition. seems reasonable. theres also the BMW tax. but as you can buy direct theres no need to pay that.

Im not entirely sure how BMW arrived at the 24,000 mile change advice. maybe based on Conti's own recommendation - as it happens one fella on the F800 board replaced his at 37,000 miles. that would mean 6 years of riding this particular bike for me. Im not going to complain.

Changing the belt actually takes less than 15 minutes.. theres a video on YT of a chap doing it in 13 and he's not exactly rushing - its just a matter of removing covers and unbolting the RHS hanger. sliding off the old and sliding on the new.. the consensus seems to be so long as nothing else is touched there is no need to retension the belt.

I only bought this bike because i had the GS version as a hire bike in the Black Forest last year.. I really enjoyed it. but i already have a GS so why bother with two. I was a little dubious about the belt to begin with.. needing even less maintenance than the shaft of the other bike just seemed wrong. but as its turned out all I need to do is walk the bike backwards and forwards and look at its condition, make sure none of the teeth are missing and thats it. Most people nowadays as the bikes are out of warranty leave off replacement until 2 or 3 teeth are missing. which is easy enough to spot.


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I just find it odd that more bikes don't have belt drives........there must be some kind of limitation that is stopping them......maybe it is the problem of configuring the bike so that it can be replaced without having to drop the swingarm for replacing them....... :?

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On the Harley bob you need to remove silencers' and rear master cylinder so the right hand casing can be removed but I do know on some of the big Harleys with drive belt on left you need to pull both inner and outer primary cases off so that's all primary belt and clutch out as well

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