Riding a motorcycle is indeed a blast, especially when you have an open stretch of road ahead, and a series of bends to set the tarmac on fire. But ever wonder what makes these motorcycles fun? This is where the engine takes most of the credit, but it is the drivetrain that puts the power from the engine down on the track. In the market currently, there are three types of drivetrains in the two-wheeler world, chain drive, belt drive, and shaft drive. Which fairs better of the lot? let’s ponder on that together.
Here in India, more than 90% of the motorcycles running on road transmit the power to the rear wheels via a ‘Chain Drive’.
- This drivetrain requires two sprockets, one on the output shaft of the transmission and the other on the wheel, just like a cycle.
- The sprocket size differs, depending upon the engine’s power and torque output.
- For reference, KTM Duke 390 uses a bigger wheel sprocket than a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
Why use Chain Drive?
- Firstly, a chain drive is cheaper to research and manufacture.
- These are highly efficient in power transmission.
- Chain Drives can operate in any conditions, be it wet or super dry.
- Can withstand high power and high speeds.
- Fairly convenient to repair and install.
- Chain drive experiences less slip.
Chain Drive Disadvantages
- One of the annoying disadvantages is that a chain drive requires frequent lubrication.
- As this drivetrain is a bit heavy, the rider can experience speed fluctuations.
- The driving and driven sprocket must be perfectly aligned to reduce power loses.
- They have a lower service life.
Almost every motorcycle on the road is chain driven so specifying one would be tough.
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Talking about this drivetrain, usually, cruisers are the ones that are belt driven. Yes! most of the motorcycles in the Harley Davidson’s lineup are a prominent example.
- The principle remains the same as the chain drive, instead, this uses two pulleys.
- One on the output shaft of the engine and the other on the wheel.
- A belt connects both the pulleys and it snugly fits on the grooves of the pulleys.
- The belt is made up of reinforced rubber with a strong synthetic material making the belt durable.
Belt Drive is Useful
- Require less maintenance.
- Are less noisy and have fewer vibrations.
- They weight way less than a chain drive.
- These last longer as high as 1,00,000Kms.
- They have fewer transmission losses.
Disadvantages of Belt Drive
- This drivetrain eats up more space.
- They can only function up to a certain speed.
- When compared to a chain drive, they tend to slip more.
This functions the same way as a drive train in an RWD 4 wheeler. BMW’s high-end motorcycles like the R1000 GS or the recently launched cruiser R18 shaft-driven.
- The engine runs the main shaft inside the transmission and the output shaft is connected with a propeller shaft.
- The propeller shaft runs the rear wheel by transferring the rotation via a 90-degree differential. For you to know, Bevel gears are used in a motorcycle differential.
Advantages of Shaft Drive
- Very high transmission efficiency
- Longer service life when compared to both, a chain, as well as a belt, driven motorcycle.
- These can transfer large power and torque without reducing efficiency.
- This drive train has almost negligible noise.
Disadvantages of Shaft Drive
- A shaft drive has high initial research and manufacturing cost.
- When compared to belt and chain drives, these are less economical.
- This is the heaviest type of drivetrain.
- Can fair really difficult and expensive to repair.
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So, these were the basics of 3 types of drivetrains used in two-wheelers. Do let us know in the comment section, did we forget any point?