The chain is the most direct power to the ground, but they're dirty and high maintenance. They constantly stretch and eat sprockets. They're easy to change or repair along the road. They are the best for low millage bar hopping.
The belt is cleaner, smoother, quieter and last a long time but slower power to the ground than a chain and a bitch to change.
I'm a shaft guy myself cause I'm a long distance kind'a guy. . They have the least power to the ground, but beat out the chain and belt on everything else.
That's just my humble opinion, but my VTX shaft will eat my brother's HD belt for breakfast. But my buddy's 750 Shadow chain is twice my Yamaha 650 VStar Shaft, a whole lot more than the 100cc difference.
It's a matter of choice. On the long haul I prefer the shaft (02 Valkyrie). On short hops like TT racing (Tavern to Tavern) I prefer the belt (08 XL1200 Nightster). On rides to the local car and bike shows I like the classics (75 CB750 / 69 305 Dream) not a lot of miles.
my thoughtsand not in agreement with all,wow, cripes, if i had a mack truck very early models i would have chain drive but this is a little later and on about everything execptsome thumper cycles the chain drive went out with button shoes, then came the belts, all seems a little crude when compared with shaft drive,ive rode mostb of them ad i can say that for my type of riding ill keep y shaft drive, to each his own .
god bless all------------------frenchie
I ride an Intruder 800 with a shaft. I like it much better than a chain but cannot speak to the belt as i have had no experience. Every day riding is close to 100miles on average, sometimes more, so the shaft drive is great for me!
I think it depends on the bike and it's intended use. Sportbike-chain, Cruiser-belt or shaft and Touring-shaft. I have a one with chain (zx9r) and one with shaft (Concours). They each have their pros and cons. But the shaft is worryfree and the easiest to maintain. Just check it and relube when you change the rear tire.
IMHO Shaft is the smoothest, less maintenance. I have had all 3 and enjoy the shaft drive the most. There is no takeup rythem to it like with chain or belt. I noticed less takeup with belt drive but still felt it at superslab speeds.
My feelings are mixed. I live in a rural high desert area in Arizona on a horse property, and have to travel every day about 4 miles on a maintained dirt road. This basically forces me to have a shaft drive. I feel that a belt is the best of all worlds but belts and dirt/gravel roads are not the best of friends. Chains are archaic at best and serve the dirt bike world very well, but have long outlived their usefullness on cruisers and touring bikes.
Ya I dont think you could get away with a belt on a dirtbike without some kind of tensioner because of the wheel travel involved, not to mention the rocks in the sprockets. It is amazing how far belts have come. The patent that Gates had on the Harley type belt has expired. Goodyear is making one now that has a heringbone or v- shaped "tread". We recently re-built a very lage milling machine at work (300 inches of travel in X) and have converted the 75 hp spindle as well as the tables to this kind of drive. So far so good with 7.5 ton average work weight. Reminds me, the timing belt in my car need to be changed it has 97000 miles on it.