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I once owned a 82 Yamaha Seca Turbo, back in 1988. Rode the heck out of it, until I hit the side of a pickup at 80mph. But that's another story. Anyway, the Seca had a shaft drive. So does the Goldwings. However my Hurricane has a chain. I can't tell the difference. Apples and oranges...............?!



So, what's the skinny on chains vs shaft?
 

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I never did like the chains throwing oil off and getting my pants dirty.

Nor did I like having to take 'em off and give 'em a good soaking to lube them up.

I know the newer versions are supposed to be "life time lubed", but sprockets wear, and chains stretch.

Drive shafts, when lubed and rear pinions when oiled, just go and go and go and go forever. Never drip on the ground or sling oil on my clothes.
 

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Personally, I like the shaft better and it is smoother but I think you can feel the road better on the curvy mountain roads.with a chain. JMHO
 

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In theory, a chain drive pulls you around a corner & a shaft drive pushes you around a corner. There is supposed to be a difference in handling.:baffled:
what I like is the lower maintenance costs. 2 bike sprockets & a chain is over $200 here unless you buy the cheap ones!
 

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with the proper maintenance shaft will last forever, its very reliable, chain wears out very quick, needs constant lubrication, also with the chain, the sprockets have to he changed. the advantage of chain driven bikes is that you can change the output ratios very easy just by swaping the sprockets, on the shaft driven bikes, that is impossible or just very very expensive.

there is also a myth that there is a gyro effect that if you try to pop a wheelie on a shaft driven bike, it would spin by the force of the engine output being perpendicular to the wheel while the chain is parallel. something like that, its about physics that i dont really understand.
 

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I got one of each...... KLR with chain and sprocket, ST1300 with a shaft......

Fie Fy Fo Fum, I don' care which one.....!
 

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My EX's always gave me the shaft...so that's all I know....:(

Ohhhh, you mean 'motorcycle wise'.....I like the shaft drive better ! :D:action:
 

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AZgl1500 wrote:
I never did like the chains throwing oil off and getting my pants dirty.

Nor did I like having to take 'em off and give 'em a good soaking to lube them up.

I know the newer versions are supposed to be "life time lubed", but sprockets wear, and chains stretch.

Drive shafts, when lubed and rear pinions when oiled, just go and go and go and go forever. Never drip on the ground or sling oil on my clothes.
Yea, what he said!!! I've rode both, prefer shaft drive.
 

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I've had both, I prefer the shaft drive on a larger bike.

I like the ability of a chain system to be able to change the ratios. Mostly you do this for off road use, so on smaller bikes it makes sense to stay with a chain drive. You will be changing out the sprockets and chains as they wear. Depending on the bike it will be somewhere between 5 to 15,000 miles. I never had a chain last longer than that even when well maintained. Could be I was just hard on them.

On a larger bike I like the shaft drive. My Moto Guzzi was the first shaft drive bike I had and I never had to do any maintenance on the shaft system except to replace the rubber cover over the front U Joint.

My wing now has over 50,000 miles on it in less than 5 years and I have never once even thought about the shaft system. Just runs and runs.....

Both have their uses, adaptability vs reliability.

Henry
 

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Yea, I did like the fact I could take the 17 tooth primary sprocket off my 750A and put the 16 tooth one on for riding in the mountains, only took me 5 minutes to switch them out.

I'd get about 15,000 miles out of a good o-ring chain on that bike.
 

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I've had a chain break on a Harley once, nasty thing to happen. Don't worry about a shaft drive doing that, might shear a tooth on a gear, but more than likely it would still roll and not lock up the rear wheel like my Harley did at 60 mph. BTW, it isn't fun when that happens, slows you down real quick though. And I managed somehow to keep it up, but it was scary as hell.:shock:



Gene:waving:
 

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If pain free, long-distance touring is your goal, the shaft is the only way to go (well, a HONDA shaft, anyway!)

I put 13K on a CB750 in 4 months touring the eastern seaboard, and after running in the freezing rain etc. for far too many miles, I was heartily sick of it, by the time I traded up to a GL1000. There's nothing like oiling your completely dried-out chain on the side of the road, in inclement weather, to put you off chains.

Shafts don't fail; U-joints fail. I know a number of folks who ride steadily and gently (even two-up) who've basically worn out GL engines (200K range; minor/major rebuild required) who've NEVER "broken" a shaft.

I had my first one fail at 90K (the U-joint) and the beauty is, they still don't really fail...they start to go "klunk klunk" because the U-joint bearings are breaking up, and you have many many miles to replace them, without being stranded, although the sound of it is disturbing.

On my CX500, which has a far lighter drive hub, the hub splines failed before the u-joint did. (70K). I would note that the older BMW boxers have a shaft that runs in an oil bath; if the seals fail, so does your shaft. Not that they often do, but a friend's did, and I'm just pointing out that the GL's original competition wasn't so perfect, after all.

If you like to be sporty (I believe the current term is a "zoom-splat" :shock:) I'd probably stick to a chain...a shaft does have a "jacking" action...if you want max clearance, you need to come into a corner hard on the brakes, and then "power through it", which lifts the rear end. I can't explain the physics, but I know it to be true, at least with any I've ever ridden. :waving:
 

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Yes, it's true, the shaft drive does indeed give smoother ride, BUT:cool:. . . . the mild vibration from the chain did, does, will induse sudden amorous inclinations on the part of the pinnion rider, often in remote area's, or going down the New York State thruway near the Port Byron exit.:action:
 

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:cheeky1::cheeky1::cheeky1::cheeky1::cheeky1:

So....is that the exit, for the monument/memorial? :D
 

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Automobiles gave up chain drive many years ago for one reason. Shaft drive is better. Less maintenance, long life are the primary reasons. The downside is that it's more expensive to build and a bit heavier than a chain. In the case of a longitudinal crankshaft it makes little sense to use a chain since you'd have to change the power flow direction by 90 degrees to operate a chain. Honda' pretty well proved the use of a shaft driven bike especially in the the 35 years of Goldwing production. These things seem to last forever. If the splines are treated to moly past every few years the system is trouble free.
 

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I don't know of any road-racing motorcycles that use shaft drive. Rotational Torque causes shaft-jacking of the rear suspension. Jacks up when on the throttle, jacks down when off the throttle. If you've ever hammered down on a V65, you'll know what I'm talking about (maybe even your 'Wing). More mass means more weight and more friction. Due to the gears,it's stealing power from the motor to move the bike around. Shafty's are quiet, durableand maintenance-free, more or less. Perfect for a 'Potamus.

Chain and sprockets on the other hand, for all their drawbacks and lack of comfort, are perfect for racing bikes and lightweights. Lower mass means less weight and less friction, givingmore power to the rear wheel from the motor (in comparison). The bike will squat when on the throttle, un-squat when off. They provide that "feel" described earlier. They are noisier, dirtier and require periodic, and sometimes frequent (weekly in dusty climes) maintenance. Ratio changes are a benefit. Perfect for my CBs.

A lot of early-mid 80's Jap V-twin shafty's got converted to chain drive (essentially getting the shaft IMHO) so someone could have a "chopper". Sad....:(


Edit: Remember AWoL... I know some of you guysand galsdo. Tons of chopped Yam and Kaw shaft-to-chain convertbikes.
 

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Okay then, what about a belt vs. shaft vs. chain?

I haven't ridden a chain driven bike since my youth and it was constantly giving me fits - wearing/breaking, etc. My son had a belt drive Kawi 900 and it seemed to do fine for 10,000+ miles until he crashed and totaled it. He was fine by the way.

So, what say ye?

dw
 

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The belts give a long life and low maintenance with the benefits of a chain, but they will fail. I know of one HD that had a belt break recently, belonge to someone in one of the groups I ride with around here. First one I've ever heard of, but it can happen. Belts do require periodic checking for stretch, but modern kevlar belts don't stretch much.
 

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Now-a-days... the best of both worlds IMO:
Quiet, durable andrelatively maintenance-free.With the developement of composites over the years, Kevlar primarily, broken belts rarely happeneven withmoderate abuse.

The various drives work well with the type of bike they're designed for.

Would the GLs have been as durable if Honda kept the chain final drive? Probably not. Shaft drive is undoubtedly strong, but with some trade-offs that fortunately fit a Touring bike well. Mother Honda would've just given us more maintenance costs by keeping it. The GoldWing, along with most BMW models, have got to be the most durable road bikes ever made. Witness the mileage they rack up. That's not to say other bikes don't compete. Posted somewhere hereis a couples on-going storyof a World Trip with 500K+ miles on a HD belt drive. Evidence enough there.

Hondas2010 VFR1000 Sport/Tour willuse shaft drive and I trust they have a smooth, quiet and maintenance-free ride in mind for us. If shaft jacking is an issue on this bike, that person probably bought the wrong bike.


Picture the original Aussie-market "GL" below. It bares witness to maintenance-free efforts by Honda and chain drive. A broken chain can be repaired by the addition of a link or two. Belts are adifferent story but technology has caught-up. Never heard of a shaft breaking, but joints may I suppose, and gears wear.

One of the best bikes I've everowned was a '85 KZ454LTD... belt-drive. I never had a problem out of it, belt included, for 6+ years. It was my primary transportation while in the Navy. Fit like a glove and was a smooth riding bike.
 

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I remember chain drives over the past 40+ years & chains breaking at inopportune times. It seems they usually took part of the casing with them, along with my peace-of-mind.

Good riddence to chains & [clutch/brake cables], IMHO.

They just have no place on a long distance-luxury-touring motorcycle, that's expected to be trouble-free.

Trouble-free and peace-of-mind are mygoals, whenriding in the 1st place.

I've donemycurb-sitting time over the years & am tired ofold-time cables & chains.
 
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