gears vs shafts - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-01-2002, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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gears vs shafts

hey guys,
I was looking into an older bike, form the early 80's, but every one I find is shaft driven, why is this so bad, I was looking to build a funky cafe racer. any ideas? can it be converted some how for cheap? whats the difference between that and chain driven, besides the obvious.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-01-2002, 05:09 PM
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Shaft driven m/cs are like 1 out of 20 in sales ---

---even back in the 80s. You are simply looking around at the wrong places.
My guess is you are looking at a few of the Touring bikes that were shaft driven.
I have no idea of how many bikes I have had in my 56 yrs of riding, but only 1 was shaft driven & all the rest were chain driven.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-01-2002, 05:13 PM
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I wouldn't consider converting or cafe'ing an old shaft drive. The cost to convert even if it was possible would be rediculous as you'd have to make more than a couple custom parts. Race bike wise the old shafts were pretty weird handling as far as on/off throttle transitions I hear.

Shafts are much less maintanence as you don't have to oil the chain every 200 miles or adjust tension or alignment. Trade off is extra weight, no ability to change gear ratios cheaply if at all, and handling issues due to the rear end jacking up and down with throttle position changes.

The handling problems have been mostly fixed on modern bikes I hear but on the 80's stuff you're talking about I assume it's still an issue??

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-01-2002, 05:57 PM
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I've had plenty of shaft drive bikes. All bmw's and Moto guzzi's and all from the 70's actually. I've set up several as "cafe racers" and they are able to carve the canyons quite well.

It is true that you can really step out the rear if you downshift to high in the revs coming into a corner, but it's really no big deal. They don't transfer power as snappily as a chain and they are much more expensive to repair/replace. They are pretty maintenance free however and are extremely dependable.

I you want something for the track you should look elsewhere (altho there was a mechanic named Chris in the bay area who used to tear it up in the vintage and open twins classes on a BMW, lapping guys on modern twins), but as far as riding FAST on the street, the shaft drive is not going to inhibit you at all.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-03-2002, 09:16 AM
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I don't know what your looking at but if it is a yamaha VISION
don't do it, its junk,looks nice ,very top heavy,unstable on the highways.
Just say NO!! visions suck a$$

did I mention I was a dumb _______ for buying one back in '88?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-03-2002, 09:36 AM Thread Starter
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nope, but thanks for the tip, I was looking into the old gs
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-03-2002, 11:05 AM
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Location: Genoa, Nevada, USA 89411
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For a hoot of a fun cafe bike, that won't cost you big bucks, you might consider a mid-70's Yamaha XS-650. Basically a Japanese Triumph, they have hell-for-stout motors, fairly light weight and very easy to ride. I miss mine terribly!

I had a '74 that came with nice aluminum rims and a single disk up front. After swapping carbs, pipes and some tuning, it was a ball to ride in the twisties. The sound was delightful and it was easy to ride quickly, with lots of mid-range punch.

You should be able to find a fairly clean specimen for well under a grand. Add a few hundred (check salvage yards for add-on stuff) and you'll have a fun bike. There are also a bevy of hi-po parts available, as these were sometimes converted to flat track duty. There are also a few outfits that do street-tracker conversions that look really sweet.

Good luck in your search.


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