Jump to content

Belt versus chain

Green RT

Recommended Posts

I am thinking about acquiring one of the F bikes, maybe an F800R or F800ST. I notice the R has a chain drive and the ST a belt drive. Does anyone have any comments on the relative merits of these... Maintenance issues, wearlife, repair/replace expense, etc?




Link to comment

From a Sportbikers.net page:


The cons:

gearing options are limited, Belts are expensive and difficult to change


The pros:

quieter, last many times longer than a chain, rarely require tensioning, don't require lubing and No more friction loss than a chain


Since I will not be likely to want to change the gearing, it looks like the pros outweigh the cons pretty heavily.



Link to comment
I don't think belts hold up so well if the bike is ridden alot on gravel roads.




Belts are subject to being cut by debris. If you plan on anything but highway use, buy a chain driven bike. Also, gearing changes are easy on a chain/sprocket bike.


Belts are great for touring bikes.

Link to comment

Did you know that VW has a new engine with a "lifetime" timing belt?


Of course timing chains are "lifetime," too.


And, it's always psychology and intuition and nothing to do with engineering knowledge 'cause I know you'll let a genius mekanik talk you into a proactive change of a lifetime timeing belt but never a proactive change of a timing chain.


Yeah, those designers have heard about dirt and grit, too.

Link to comment

Chains are great for efficiency and ruggedness but are also the very worst part of any bike that has one. Would want anything except a chain on a road bike. Haven't had a chain drive road bike since my first V-4 Honda in the early 1980s. After almost 20 years of cains on the road I was very glad to be rid of them..

Link to comment

Modern O-ring or x-ring chains are pretty low maintenance, the one on my v-strom has never required adjustment, other than with tire changeout. Oil every 600-1,000 miles, clean every other oiling, I won't be surpised if it lasts 20,000 miles.

Link to comment

I have both. Smokey, my 1997 flstc has a belt, and Blue, my 2011 F650GS twin has a chain. My 06 F650gs single before it also had a chain.


I found that the belt is indeed fine for pavement, but going offroad at all gives a chance for a rock or some other nasty thing to get into the belt and put a hole or tear in it and then it's replacement time and on some bikes that is very expensive.


Chains on the other hand allow sprocket changes and on my particular bike with it's high ratio, I do plan on changing out the front sprocket for a little lower ratio. That is a very nice ability to have. I lube the chain after every 3rd gas filling and since it gets around 60 miles per gallon is ok with me. I have devised a very quick method of lubing the chain which takes at the most 5 minutes. I have not had to adjust the 2011 yet and with the 06 I had to adjust it just once in 20,000 miles.


So, I agree with what has been said before. Belts are better on pavement and chains for sure are better in the dirt, unless of course you have one of the very rare bikes that has a totally enclosed/mostly enclosed rear belt, or of course the Harley with a totally enclosed and lubed rear chain.

Link to comment
... I have devised a very quick method of lubing the chain which takes at the most 5 minutes...


Can you tell me how you do this? I'm running a KLX250 and eager to learn how to maintain the chain. Thanks.

Link to comment

First I made a cardboard template to put between the chain and the wheel so that any spray that doesn't get onto the chain will not get onto the wheel/tire. I also use a couple of carboard pieces to put under the chain to catch any drip.


I put the rear tire onto a Chinese made wheel spinner; put the template between the chain and the wheel/tire; place the cardboard pieces under the chain. Then from the rear of the bike, I spin the rear wheel as I spray lube onto the chain. The template keeps the lube off of the rear wheel/tire and the cardboard pieces keep the lube off of the floor. After I lube the chain, I push the bike off the wheel spinner and am done. Took longer to write this than it does to actually do it.

Link to comment

You can also just flop a piece of cardboard down under the chain area between the front and rear sprocket. I spray on some chain cleaner while rotating the wheel backwards (keeps hands away from getting caught in the bottom of the rear sprocket-ouch). Then, wipe chain with rag. I use a "puppet" or sock type rag as I can stick my hand in it and "grab" the chain while rotating it backwards (see above reason for backward rotation!). After cleaning chain, use Bel Ray Super Clean chain lube (no affiliation). Spray it on the edges of the rollers where the O-Ring seals are. There is no need to spray it anywhere else (o-ring chains). You are merely lubing the o-rings to keep them pliable. This lube is very clean and dries almost immediately- no flinging poo all over your bike.

Chain maintenance takes all of 5 minutes. My stock chain has almost 20K miles on it and has been adjusted twice and is still in good shape. Sprocket/gearing changes are easy. I can swap the counter shaft sprocket in about 15 minutes. It's great to be able to change ratios at will, depending on the type of riding you want to do.


Chains have come a long way.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

BMW-wise, i had a belt driven F800ST and a chain driven S1000RR at the same time. The belt was perfect on the ST - quiet, low maintenance. The single sourced belt is expensive ($400?) but not rocket science to change.


The chain was the right thing for the RR - I can't think of any other drive system that could take that kind of abuse. Fairly low maintenance - just a some light lube and a visual check on tension and sprocket wear.


For low HP bikes like the 800 series, it's really an inconclusive toss up.


Aside: I had a belt driven Sportster that I converted to chain, solely for looks. HDs belt drives have been around the block a time or two and work great, IMHO.

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

The belt on the ST takes about 15 minutes to change from what I've found on the F800riders.org forum. If you have to do sprockets it takes a bit longer.


Chains aren't hard either and is a pretty quick job if you have a riveting tool. I've got one and don't even have a chain bike anymore but I keep it because it makes chain replacement so very easy.


I've used DID X_Ring chains on all my chain drive bikes and usually got about 23k miles out of them. The belts according to the F800riders.org guys are lasting them between 40 and 50k miles as long as they don't get damaged or cut.



So far I'm really liking this belt on the ST. Very little driveline lash, very quiet, and no chain muck all over the tail of the bike.

Link to comment
  • 2 months later...


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...