Belt Drive Conversion? GOOD IDEA?/BAD IDEA?


XS400 Addict
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North East Indiana
Ok, I did some pretty hard core research today and I think I am going to do a belt drive conversion to my bike. From what I can tell, belt strength has made huge gains in recent history, and seeing that HD guys rarely have to change a belt, thought it could be something plausible for us to. Found a website called Company out of Laporte , IN that specializes in High Torque belt drive system, and do custom work. I like the "no maintenance" and "less weight" aspects of the idea. What does everyone else think? I think I will be attempting a conversion at some point so I'm looking for thoughts.
How often are you changing your chains? A good one should last 20,000 miles. Are you just annoyed by having to lube or adjust yours regularly? There is such a thing as an automatic oiler.

Do you do an extreme amount of riding? How many miles per year/season?

If you're bored, have money burning a hole in your pocket, and want a unique project then by all means do it. It certainly isn't going to be practical or cheap though.
Even modern belts break without warning. Was riding last summer with a guy on a Buell Ulysses who had a fairly new belt just snap. No spare belt and not enough tools on hand either. It made for a long 2 hour wait at the side of the road for a tow truck to arrive. I've also heard that just like a chain, the pulleys should be changed when the belt is changed. That is going to get expensive if you are having to order custom pulleys. What about a belt tensioner? I'm sure that you'll need one. Not saying you shouldn't do the conversion, just playing "Devil's Advocate".

I recently installed an "expensive" X-ring chain and new sprockets on my bike for under $200 (including taxes), what would a comparable belt and pulleys cost?
I've had several belt drive bikes, and loved them all. They are smoother and quieter. The biggest problem I see on the xs400 is clearance. You will have to do some frame work to get the belt to clear the rear tire and or shocks. If you were modifying your frame then it's possible...heck, like my signature says, anything is possible. Go for it if that's what you want to do. Check the swing arm differences on a Suzuki S40 or Savage 650. You may be able to make some swing arm mounts for the Suzuki swing arm and utilize the pulleys and complete rear end. Keep in mind the clearances also on the crank case where your front pulley would mount. Most belt pulleys are going to be larger diameters than chain sprockets...... another point to ponder is belts require more tension than chains provide. Ask yourself, could your front sprocket/pulley bearing handle the tension. I have known several modern bikes that have aftermarket belt conversions done and they have had bearing problems rather quickly.
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If some attempted and it work it would be cool as heck,but changing a chain and sprocket isn't that difficult and if you get 20k mikes from a new chain and sprockets which is a lot of riding time why make the change over.With added weight of the belt pulleys I don't see any advanatges.
I agree with BamaBill: "if it's what you want to fo then do it"! The whole point if chopping a bike is to have something unique, sometimes something only you will like, and there doesn't ever need to be a sound reason for it! we all like to see things that haven't been fone before ...:thumbsup:

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Well since my bike has been a project since I bought it, it has been in pieces the whole time. I have not ridden it once. :D Can someone tell me what the center to center distance is between the front and rear sprockets? Needs to be fairly accurate. Within 1/2" I'd say.
What pullies/sprockets are you gonna use? That's where the $$ will be unless you can repurpose pullies from another bike. Also, have you actually checked the prices on the belt you're gonna need? Last time I bought a belt for my Sportster, the cheapest I could find was $100. I'm thinking with the pullies, belt and whatever fabrication that needs to be done, it's gonna cost you at least $250. That's like 15 years worth of chains. :)
Esmith87 your bike would be a perfect cannidate to try this setup.I would say if you got the funds give a shot,Id like to see this setup on an xs400.:thumbsup:
Also what about converting one of these bikes to shaft drive would it be easier or more difficult than a belt and pully?
Lol!!! .... I be a shaft conversion would be next to impossible unless you were an engineer.....I really hate shaft old VStar tormented me with drive shaft spline failures, but I do have a VTX with shaft, but it was a good deal$$$ hard to beat. Big bikes the belt is definetly the way to go. I loved my old Roadstar 1700, wish I had it back.........I'm really thinking about finding another donor bike after I finish the XS build and doing a trike, just not sure what bike I want. It will be belt or chain drive.