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Discussion Starter #1
I understand the very basics of this topic. If I was thinking of buying a second bike would the fact it had a chain drive be an automatic "do not buy" for me?

For example, the 2014 Suzuki Vstrom 1000 is a great bike with very good reviews. Its pricing is solid vs the competition. But, the Yamaha Super Tenere has Shaft drive while the Vstrom is chain drive.

Some people really hate chain drives because they are messy and may need a front sprocket at 15,000 miles.

I read that shaft drive is considered the lowest maint. but Yamaha uses a lot of belt drives on their bikes. For example, the Vstar 1300 is belt driven.

I realize the B650 is belt driven but that's because it has a CVT. I assume Suzuki had no option but to go with Belt drive for the Burgman 650.

Anyway, all posts are appreciated.
 

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First off the Burgman 650 does not have a belt final drive. It does have a belt but that is inside the CVT. What it has as a final drive in a series of gears that run along the left swing arm. Suzuki could have used a chain final drive or a shaft final drive or a belt final drive but it chose to use a gear final drive.

As for which kind of final drive is best. That is a matter of opinion and preference. Each type has it's strong point and weak points. Some folks would not buy a bike with a chain and some would not buy a bike that did not have one. It all kind of depends on the use you plan to put the bike to.
 

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Agree with Buffalo post, all have minus and plus, not remember here on BUSA someone ever post problem with 650 final gear drive, it almost bullet proof.



Me borrow this, cut & paste this from someone else:

Probably one of the big reasons why Suzuki chose to use an all-gear final drive is its inherent lack of slop that most other final drives have so that the CVT could react to rider input more efficiently.

If I'd venture an observation, I'd put the most common types of motorcycle final drives against the Burgman's gear drive in this order according to "sloppiness" (from least to most):

1) Gears (relatively quiet; most efficient; least slop)
2) Shaft (quiet, but less efficient due to 90 degree cut gears; little slop)
3) Belt (quiet and efficient; prone to stretch and wear causing slop)
4) Chain (noisy, but efficient; prone to stretch and wear causing slop)

Interestingly, this is also the same order I'd choose for maintenance needs (between gear and shaft, shaft should have it's fluid changed more often since the 90 degree angle of power transmission on both ends of the shaft cause torsional loads that shear and break down oil molecules faster than a straight set of gears).

So I think Suzuki made a unique, if not calculated decision in choosing an all-gear final drive. It's efficient, helps the CVT react to input better and is easy to care for.

Sure those gears whine a little, but think how much you'd be whining with a broken belt on the side of the road.... :wink:
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Here picture of 650 Engine with CVT that show well inside setup.
 

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After 8 or 9 motorcycles with chains, I swore I would never have another. They have improved greatly since the early 90s, but the ones I had were dirty and required frequent lubrication and adjustment. I then had 6 shaft drives in a row until I got my Burgmans. My latest purchase has a shaft drive. I think the gear drive on the Burgman is a little misleading because the majority of the distance to the rear wheel is via belt.

My first choice is shaft drive but I would be happy with belt drive. I think they are designed for around 100,000 on the Yamahas (since the cost around $800) but the Harleys wear out more frequently but the are under $200 (I have been told). I think chain is the most efficient and the shaft drive probably the most inefficient.
 

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I think the gear drive on the Burgman is a little misleading because the majority of the distance to the rear wheel is via belt.
Absolutely not true. There is no belt at all in the final drive on the 650. The full length of the left swing arm is taken up with a series of five gears. The belt is in the CVT and the CVT is bolted to the side of the engine inside the loop of the frame. The output of the CVT does not even feed directly to the final drive. It feeds the clutch which is in part of the engine crankcase housing. The clutch feeds the reduction transmission also inside part of the engine crankcase. The output shaft of that transmission is the pivot point for the left swingarm and drives the first gear of the five in the final drive.

Now if you are talking about the 400 then you statement would have some merit as it's CVT is carried on the left swingarm not inside the frame like the 650. Even there you will find a final drive that consists of gears that connect the output from the secondary pulley/clutch of the CVT to the rear wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I would rather not deal with a chain drive if it is messy and requires lubrication after each ride.

I'm glad to read that the Burg 650 has a gear drive. I appreciate the posts.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
After 8 or 9 motorcycles with chains, I swore I would never have another. They have improved greatly since the early 90s, but the ones I had were dirty and required frequent lubrication and adjustment. I then had 6 shaft drives in a row until I got my Burgmans. My latest purchase has a shaft drive. I think the gear drive on the Burgman is a little misleading because the majority of the distance to the rear wheel is via belt.

My first choice is shaft drive but I would be happy with belt drive. I think they are designed for around 100,000 on the Yamahas (since the cost around $800) but the Harleys wear out more frequently but the are under $200 (I have been told). I think chain is the most efficient and the shaft drive probably the most inefficient.
I think Yamaha switched to Belt drive for more expensive V star lineup (950 cc and up). The Vstar 1300 uses Belt drive and if you trade up the Vstar 1300 or Vstar 1300 Deluxe are nice bikes.

Suzuki continues to use Shaft Drive in their Cruisers like the C90T and M109R bikes. Honestly, if I could own 3 or 4 bikes the M109R would be one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
For cost reasons Yamaha maintained the Shaft drive for the Vstar 650:

2014 Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom - Total Motorcycle USA Specifications/Technical Details
US MSRP Price: $6,990 (Liquid Silver) Available from August 2013


Engine
Type 40-cubic-inch (649cc) air-cooled 70° V-twin; SOHC, 2 valves/cylinder
Bore x Stroke 81 x 63mm
Compression Ratio 9.0:1
Fuel Delivery (2) 28mm Mikuni® CV carburetors
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive Shaft
 

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My first choice is shaft drive but I would be happy with belt drive. I think they are designed for around 100,000 on the Yamahas (since the cost around $800) but the Harleys wear out more frequently but the are under $200 (I have been told). I think chain is the most efficient and the shaft drive probably the most inefficient.
Harley's drive belts are nice and quiet. I owned three in a row (90 Fat Boy - 95 Ultra Glide - and 2001 Ultra Glide) with belt drive. Never had a problem with any of them until the 2001 Ultra Classic. With about 18k miles it broke. Harley says they are good for 50k miles. I put 56k miles on the 90 Fat Boy and nearly that on the 95. The good thing was it broke in the garage when I put it in gear to take a ride. The bad thing was it cost me a hair over $500 to get it fixed. The belt may have been cheap but the swing arm must be removed to replace the belt. That takes about 4 hours of shop time. With a bad back I wasn't going to tackle it myself.

The only shaft drive bike I ever owned was a 1977 Yamaha XS-750 triple. At first it was kind of weird as the rear end would rise slightly on take-off - and in corners as I accelerated out of it. Nice bike. The best chain drive bike I've owned was an 82 Yamaha XV-920 (not a Virago which had shaft drive) - the European version that Yamaha sold in the US to help deplete stock. It had a fully enclose chain case that used a heavy gear lube - never leaked and each time I pulled the inspection cover the chain was in spec for tightness. Very nice and very quiet. Without the shaft's HP loss it was slightly faster than the 920 Virago.

The worst chain drive was a 54 BSA. I wish mine had looked that good. It was a bit worn when I bought it. New sprockets and chain did nothing to help it stay in adjustment. And the suspension was terrible.
 

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For cost reasons Yamaha maintained the Shaft drive for the Vstar 650:

2014 Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom - Total Motorcycle USA Specifications/Technical Details
US MSRP Price: $6,990 (Liquid Silver) Available from August 2013


Engine
Type 40-cubic-inch (649cc) air-cooled 70° V-twin; SOHC, 2 valves/cylinder
Bore x Stroke 81 x 63mm
Compression Ratio 9.0:1
Fuel Delivery (2) 28mm Mikuni® CV carburetors
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive Shaft

Belt drive system cost OEM less to install than shaft drive system, so cost reduction for OEM, belt drive system also offer weight reduction over shaft drive. Shaft drive, require many more part in system than belt drive and also require regular schedule maintenance of gear oil.

Industry say average belt life is 30,000 mile between change, problem with belt is that small stone, glass etc. cut belt, so stay off gravel or stone road.

What Yamaha do on larger bike model is cut cost primarily, it not because it better or want to play Santa Claus !
 

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Agree with Buffalo post, all have minus and plus, not remember here on BUSA someone ever post problem with 650 final gear drive, it almost bullet proof.



Me borrow this, cut & paste this from someone else:

Probably one of the big reasons why Suzuki chose to use an all-gear final drive is its inherent lack of slop that most other final drives have so that the CVT could react to rider input more efficiently.

If I'd venture an observation, I'd put the most common types of motorcycle final drives against the Burgman's gear drive in this order according to "sloppiness" (from least to most):

1) Gears (relatively quiet; most efficient; least slop)
2) Shaft (quiet, but less efficient due to 90 degree cut gears; little slop)
3) Belt (quiet and efficient; prone to stretch and wear causing slop)
4) Chain (noisy, but efficient; prone to stretch and wear causing slop)

Interestingly, this is also the same order I'd choose for maintenance needs (between gear and shaft, shaft should have it's fluid changed more often since the 90 degree angle of power transmission on both ends of the shaft cause torsional loads that shear and break down oil molecules faster than a straight set of gears).

So I think Suzuki made a unique, if not calculated decision in choosing an all-gear final drive. It's efficient, helps the CVT react to input better and is easy to care for.

Sure those gears whine a little, but think how much you'd be whining with a broken belt on the side of the road.... :wink:
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Here picture of 650 Engine with CVT that show well inside setup.

Very good diagram explanation of CVT, clutch & 5 gear final gear drive set up.
 

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For cost reasons Yamaha maintained the Shaft drive for the Vstar 650:

2014 Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom - Total Motorcycle USA Specifications/Technical Details
US MSRP Price: $6,990 (Liquid Silver) Available from August 2013

Engine
Type 40-cubic-inch (649cc) air-cooled 70° V-twin; SOHC, 2 valves/cylinder
Bore x Stroke 81 x 63mm
Compression Ratio 9.0:1
Fuel Delivery (2) 28mm Mikuni® CV carburetors
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive Shaft
The V-Star 650 Custom was introduced in 1997 as a 1998 model. It has a MSRP of $5,599 and is still pretty much the same as when it was introduced other than slight trim variations. Less than a $1,400 price increase in 16 years is pretty remarkable to me.

The drive shaft is open and exposed. I've had 6 or 7 shaft drives before but this is the first one with an open shaft.

I bought my 09 with 700 miles on it because they have proven dead reliable, they are cheap to buy and many aftermarket accessories are available for them. I wanted a small motorcycle to replace a very heavy BMW R1200CLC. A 250 pound difference is very noticeable to an old codger.
 

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Life is full of trade-offs

Belt, chain and shaft drive all have their strengths and weaknesses (so to speak). Belts are limited in their strength by their width, which is why you usually only see them on low-powered engines like cruisers and dual-sports. Belts are the most efficient way of transmitting power from the transmission to the rear wheel, and very low maintenance. But if they break you're in a pickle, because they're often model specific and can be difficult to replace.

Shaft driven bikes are low maintenance, but are heavy, and as a previous poster wrote they can exhibit shaft-jacking, where under acceleration the drive shaft will attempt to climb down the rear pivot gear and cause the back of the motorcycle to rise. That can be bad for mid-corner traction. Most modern shaft driven bikes have overcome these problems through technology (paralever on BMW, tetralever on the Kawi Concours-14) and geometry (FJR1300 has a really long swingarm). Most shaft set-ups do require some maintenance, often in the form of lubing the gears in the power train during tire changes. And if one breaks, you're really in a world of hurt.

For light-weight, easy to service and fix systems you can't beat a chain final drive. O-ring chains have come a long way since the days when you had to boil them in paraffin on a stove-top (yeah, I'm that old). But they do require regular upkeep to stay happy; the biggest thing is to keep the o-rings in the links clean of grit. The grit can puncture or tear the o-rings, which lets the chain roller lube out. You can spend a lot on chain lubes, but most manufacturers tell you (or did, until they starting selling their own lubes) to clean the chain with kerosene to remove the grit, and use automatic transmission fluid (ATF) to oil it. If you do that, you can get 15,000 to 20,000 miles out of an o-ring chain. After that, you're on the hook for a couple hundred $$$ for a new chain and set of sprockets. And pretty much regardless of where you are, if you need a new chain someone will have one in a common size that you can buy. So many bikes use chain drives that every dealership will have at least the chain, if not the sprockets for your bike. And you can repair a chain using a spare master link enough to get you out of the woods, something you can't do with a belt or shaft.

And, if you don't want to do chain maintenance, you can add an automatic chain oiling system that will drip oil on the chain as you go down the highway. I had a Scottoiler system on my old ZX6E Kawi, and I got 25,000 miles out of the OEM chain before I replaced it. The system did add a bit of oil fling-off to the back of the bike, but I'm not a neat freak, so no worries.

So, don't let the final drive choice bug you too much unless you're planning to do endurance riding or compete in an Iron Butt rally.
 

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Chain drives are lighter so for dual sport ( the 1 litre Vstrom is a pig off road so really does not apply ) chains are pretty much required and can handle the crazy long changes in the geometry long travel suspensions offer.

Yes they are messy but with today's auto-oilers and "sticks like glue" lubes it's far less of an issue.

I prefer shaft - there is little "slack" on rolling on and off..a chain can be annoying if not adjusted properly.
I noticed my KLR was getting noisy and sloppy and had the dealer tighten and lube it ( was already there for rear brakes ) and it made a big difference.

Down side with shaft ....if it does go it's $$ compared to chain and sprocket.

I liked the rubber belt drive on the F650cs single ( Scarver ) that BMW produced.
That was a very unique machine.





BMW was way ahead of the curve on this....and I think a better machine than their scooters.
Low seat height, fuel down low ( tank is actually storage )


This bike is on my short list for Australia.
 

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Yamaha V-Star 650 open drive shaft.

650 V-Star only have about 40 hp, Burgie 650 have 56 hp.
 

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Apart from recent BMW's and not recent Guzzi's, most shaft drives last forever.
By the time/miles it is worn out, so is the rest of the bike, and if not, you can buy used spares, if the particular bike model doesn't have a weak shaft drive.

Open chains should have died off along with the British bike industry in the seventies.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I really appreciate the posts. Very informative. I like the Vstrom 650 just not the chain drive. Oh well. I can live with it. The Vstrom 650 would be a great motorcycle for me to gain riding experience before moving up the food chain. Of course, I'd still have a '13 Burg 650 as well.

I understand why Suzuki chose the Chain drive but still wish it had another type of drive.
 

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Ummm...how tall are you??

Vstrom650 is very tall and top heavy.

I'd look at the CB500x if you want an agile light machine you could poke around the back roads with.
 

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I liked the rubber belt drive on the F650cs single ( Scarver ) that BMW produced.
That was a very unique machine.





BMW was way ahead of the curve on this....and I think a better machine than their scooters.
Low seat height, fuel down low ( tank is actually storage )


This bike is on my short list for Australia.
Those were great little bikes. The only drawback to them is that oil changes are unbelievably complex.
 
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