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Tuesday, 18 December 2018 20:45

Chains, Shafts, and Belts - How do I maintain them?

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motorcycle chainPeople will tell you how fantastic the feeling is of riding a motorbike down the highway; and they’re right. There are few feelings as great as this simple one which makes you feel alive.

But, if you don’t perform some regular maintenance then you are likely to find that this feeling is short lived. The chain, shaft or belt is the main drive mechanism of your bike. It transfers the power from your engine to your rear wheel. If you don’t look after it you’ll notice a drop in power or even find that your motorbike is off the road.

Of course you can pop into your local Motorbike Sales and pick up, new bike or get them to do the maintenance for you. But, it is a good idea to understand the principles and differences of each kind of drive first.

Shaft Drive

A shaft driven motorbike has a tube with a pinion and bevel assembly at each end. This connects the engine to the wheel but the bevel assembly needs plenty of lubrication.

However, shaft driven bikes are generally designed so that the shaft is sealed and self contained; this means there will be enough lubrication to run the shaft for a long period of time; you’ll rarely need to do maintenance n this type of drive.

However, it is the least efficient of all the drives as power is lost through the bevels at both ends of the shaft.

Belt Driven

The belt runs round a cog from the engine and round the sprocket on your rear wheel. They offer the smoothest ride of any drive type and actually need very little maintenance.

They don’t rely on lubrication; a periodic visual inspection will be enough to reassure you that the belt is in good condition. If it shows signs of fraying it will need replacing.

Fortunately if a belt drive fails it is unlikely to cause any damage to the bike or the engine.

However, it does also need to be tightened regularly to ensure that the belt doesn’t start to slip.

Chain Driven

This remains the most popular option simply because it is the most efficient of all the drive types. The chain will transfer 95% of the power output by the engine to your rear wheel. This maximizes the potential of your bike and even improves the responsiveness.

However, this is the drive type that needs the most maintenance and is most likely to cause body work and engine damage if it fails.

To maintain a chain you’ need to lubricate it at least once a week. This means applying a few drops of chain oil to the top of your chain as you slowly spin the wheel. Ideally you should do this until the chain has been round three times.

You’ll need to keep the chain lube off the wheel as it can make it slippery.

It is also important to check the tension and tighten the chain periodically, it will stretch as you use it but you’ll see a tension nut and tension lines on the rear swingarm; allowing you to keep it taut; but not too taut.

Last modified on Friday, 08 March 2019 10:06
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