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Discussion Starter #1
I am buying a 900 LT this very afternoon. I have just realized that it is belt driven, not chain or shaft driven.
How much difference does that make in your ride?
How about maintenance?
How often should one replace the belt and how complicated is to do it?
 

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wocka, wocka, wocka
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I am buying a 900 LT this very afternoon. I have just realized that it is belt driven, not chain or shaft driven.
How much difference does that make in your ride?
How about maintenance?
How often should one replace the belt and how complicated is to do it?
chains, shafts, belts. each have their place in skoot'dom.
chains are best for high performance sportbikes. require maint w/short life.
shafts are best for large touring bikes. next to zero maint w/long life.
belts are best for large cruisers. quiet, min maint w/long life.
belts are the drive system of choice for big bikes, smooth power delivery like chain, quiet maint free like a shaft. w/o abuse it should last 100k or more.
they'r on these bikes for a reason.
 

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To support what poncho said, I've been browsing/posting in these forums for a while now (ever since I got my bike), and I've yet to see anyone 'wear out' a belt. The only belt failures I've seen are the result of some sort of debris or foreign object. Plenty of folks around here are packing miles on their bikes, so, evidently, 100k+ on those belts is true!

I learned to ride on a chain driven sport bike. Rode it for a few hundred miles before getting mine, I wanted to start on something easier and smaller. It was noisy, plus the maintenance kind of stinks (gotta oil that thing every few thousand miles, and most recommend every time it rains). Power delivery is smooth on the 900, and I don't ever hear anything at all. Best part, I don't ever have to look at it or deal with it (except for the occasional look-over to make sure I don't have a tear somewhere). Better yet, I don't have to jack the rear up and oil it! :p

I will say someone did give me the advice of being extra cautious on gravel. The idea being that a rock could get kicked up and wedged between the pulley and the belt and punch a hole or just shred the thing. I haven't experienced any issues but heeding his advice I take gravel real slow (probably a good idea anyway on a bike)

Good luck!


John
 

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Discussion Starter #5
There is no way on earth that I would ride on the gravel. It's a cruiser. It was meant for normal roads, not off road riding.
 

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wocka, wocka, wocka
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sometimes the road yor on just turns to gravel.. well if like to explore anyway. go slow.
 

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sometimes the road yor on just turns to gravel.. well if like to explore anyway. go slow.
Yep. Or sometimes you just don't live in the big city! While they have been paving alot of these roads in the past 5 years, there are still quite a few gravel ones I have to deal with on an almost daily basis. It's not exactly off road these are primary public roads, I just don't exactly live in New York City!

Plus, like ponch said, sometimes it's fun just to see what'll happen if you turn right instead of left! I just go slow so that I don't kick any rocks!
 

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Drive Type, fact of the day!

Chains are the most efficient way to get power to the rear wheel. Thus the reason sport/racing bikes use them.

Belts are second most efficient in that some of the power is lost due to the natural stretching & recoil that occurs in the belt as you apply power. You would probably notice a difference in acceleration between our bike with a chain compare to the belt. But the belted bike should run about the same at cruising speed as it would with a chain.

Shaft drives, are the least efficient means of getting power to the road. This is mainly due to the heavy mass of the drive system itself. This means there would be power loss both during acceleration and while cruising at speed. Thus meaning your engine has to work harder all the time compared to chains or belts.

I'm not knocking any of these systems. They all have their proper place to be used. However, I am glad that our 900's have belts. They are easy maintenance and keep us from loosing to much power on what is relatively a small motor to begin with.
 

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All of my bikes have been chains up to this point. I haven't have to do a thing with the belt since I got her. Just nice, smooth power delivery with no chain whine/rattle.
 

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Drive Type, fact of the day!

Chains are the most efficient way to get power to the rear wheel. Thus the reason sport/racing bikes use them.

Belts are second most efficient in that some of the power is lost due to the natural stretching & recoil that occurs in the belt as you apply power. You would probably notice a difference in acceleration between our bike with a chain compare to the belt. But the belted bike should run about the same at cruising speed as it would with a chain.

Shaft drives, are the least efficient means of getting power to the road. This is mainly due to the heavy mass of the drive system itself. This means there would be power loss both during acceleration and while cruising at speed. Thus meaning your engine has to work harder all the time compared to chains or belts.

I'm not knocking any of these systems. They all have their proper place to be used. However, I am glad that our 900's have belts. They are easy maintenance and keep us from loosing to much power on what is relatively a small motor to begin with.
Belts are in fact the most efficient as there is no internal friction. Most belt driven bike sales literature highlights this as a primary benefit, along with low maintenance, high mileage, low drive lash, low er unsprung weight and quietness.
Sports bikes use chains as its cheap and easy to change sprockets and most don't keep their bike more than a couple of years. Sprockets and chain replacement interval is 30,000 kms or about 18,750 miles
 

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Just what I wanted to hear.
Thanks for the quick reply.
Don't be alarmed if you hear a whirring sound when you are coming to a stop. It may be that the belt is too tight. It would seem that's the way most of them are coming from the factory. Mine was and I loosened it slightly and the sound went away. You may never want or need to change your belt but if you do it requires dropping the swing arm in order to snake the new belt onto the front pulley.
 

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I was in second gear, just starting up from a stop at an intersection, on pavement, when I somehow picked up a rock and forced it through my belt. It made one helluva noise as the rock punched through the belt. Then I heard a click, click ,click each time the rock went around the rear pulley. I had to pull over and pry the rock out, about 3/8th in diameter. The hole is right in the center. Still riding with the same belt, hole and all 12K miles later.
 

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I was in second gear, just starting up from a stop at an intersection, on pavement, when I somehow picked up a rock and forced it through my belt. It made one helluva noise as the rock punched through the belt. Then I heard a click, click ,click each time the rock went around the rear pulley. I had to pull over and pry the rock out, about 3/8th in diameter. The hole is right in the center. Still riding with the same belt, hole and all 12K miles later.
Someone once told me as long as the tear isn't on the sides of the belt it doesn't matter. I guess that proves that then huh? lol.
 

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<Shaft drives, are the least efficient means of getting power to the road. This is mainly due to the heavy mass of the drive system itself.>

Aside from the mass of the system, you loose torque any time you use gearing to change torque direction. On a V-twin with a shaft, your torque has to change twice: one from the tranny to the shaft and again from the shaft to the axle. I know they have their advantages, but they are very inefficient. I was shocked to see a shaft on Yammi's V-Star 650. Those bikes must crawl.
 

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There is no way on earth that I would ride on the gravel. It's a cruiser. It was meant for normal roads, not off road riding.
On Thanksgiving day I was riding on a large street near my home when my belt just snapped. 2008 900 Custom, less than 4k miles. Most likely it was a small stone that was lying around from recent road construction. Never felt anything until a small bang.

Changing the belt is a bit tedious but OK for a home wrench-turner. I would suggest using a MC jack so that you can adjust the height as needed. Instructions can be found online or, in sections, in the service manual. Took me about 3 hours, going very slowly and with several mistakes.

I have to say that I am still a bit anxious about the belt breaking again (there's lots of gravel and other debris all over the place, of course), but I try not to think about it. My next bike will likely have shaft drive for this reason (my first had a chain, but I wanted to get away from maintenance). Best of luck.
 

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On Thanksgiving day I was riding on a large street near my home when my belt just snapped. 2008 900 Custom, less than 4k miles. Most likely it was a small stone that was lying around from recent road construction. Never felt anything until a small bang.

Changing the belt is a bit tedious but OK for a home wrench-turner. I would suggest using a MC jack so that you can adjust the height as needed. Instructions can be found online or, in sections, in the service manual. Took me about 3 hours, going very slowly and with several mistakes.

I have to say that I am still a bit anxious about the belt breaking again (there's lots of gravel and other debris all over the place, of course), but I try not to think about it. My next bike will likely have shaft drive for this reason (my first had a chain, but I wanted to get away from maintenance). Best of luck.
Was it over tightened? As others have mentioned, the VN900 belts are often too tight from the factory (tighter than service manual specs and, I've even heard some say it should be even looser than that). I imagine if it's way too tight it'll break much easier.

Shaft drives are nice but, except for the Concours, Kawasaki doesn't have the best track record for those as I understand it. The VN750 was a shaft, and I remember when I was researching a possible first bike, it seemed like everyone had a story of a drive shaft failing on that bike. Not sure if it's just that nobody maintains them correctly or what it is, but it certainly seems like the VN750 shaft system has a less reliable record than a VN900 belt system. Belt's a wee bit cheaper to replace than a shaft, too! haha.

The old Virago's had a sealed chain system where the chain was submerged in oil and sealed in a little box. I wonder if anyone will ever make an aftermarket (or Kaw just do it OEM on a future line) protective 'case' for the belt drive. Just a simple, light, plastic shroud that covered the entire belt would have prevented both of the belt mishaps mentioned in this thread.

-John
 

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I don't know if it was too tight from the factory - it had only 4k at the time, and I had purchased the bike only a few weeks before. It was probably just a fluke. I'm less concerned about the annoyance of changing it (I learned about the frame) than the idea of being stranded in the middle of nowhere. BTW, when I replaced the belt I used a tension gauge, so I believe it is now at the correct tension.
 

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Since we're on the subject of belt tension, MotionPro has a tension gauge that is a lot cheaper than what Kawasaki sells.
 
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