I have heard and talked to people that did this only to regret it very shortly after installing the belt drive. Apparantly there is a very SMALL margin of error for installing a belt drive system. The chain drive system has a larger margin of error as far as measurements go. Get a chain a little off center, and it won't effect your riding much...get a belt off centered and your in for BIG trouble and a whole lot of belts being chewed up. Both the people I knew that tried this went back to their chain drives because converting to the belt was too damn much trouble. I would stick with the chain, unless you have some VERY precision instruments to line up that final drive system with. "Eyeballing" it just won't due.
There used to be a kit sold by HD themselves a few years ago. I do know some people who bought it and did it. It was no big deal. I think there was a bit of shaving involved inside the sprocket cover but besides that, everything was just a matter of R&R. Sure alignement is important with a belt drive but no precision equipment is needed if you only "convert" your bike by adding both pulleys and the belt. I mean the motor company's parts just fit there without shimming involved or spacers to add. Just make sure the rear axle is "square" and even in the swingarm adjusting slots and you're home free. It's not as if you were installing a belt drive on a bike for which the kit is not designed and you would have the figure all the spacers and "offsets". This kit, if still available, is THE way to go. Good luck and welcome to the SMOOTH and CLEAN world of belt drives ! Frank.
Would also suggest to check HD kit first. By the way if you want to put a fat tire, then stay with your chain, you will have less problems. Also most engines providing big HP are using chains (dragsters) ... so up to you to decide following your next wishes for your bike. Olivier
first off...thanks for a great board!!!
next..i have just changed my 88 883 from 4 speed to 96 5 speed also converting to belt. i noticed that the clearance between my pulley and the swing arm is scary close. do i have to use the swing arm off of the 96 frame or maybe my adjustment is not true? thanks for any advice. SC
I converted my wife's 1987 883 from chain to belt. I would never go back to a chain. It has about 40K miles on it trouble free in the past 20 years. I used the HD kit just when it came out. I was going to use an aftermarket kit that needed swingarm mods to make it fit, and I was just about to order it when HD came out with the kit. You just take the old stuff off, make one hole deeper with the supplied end mill (later years didn't need that step) and put the new stuff on. I really like it because I don't have to constantly adjust the chain or lube the damn thing and my wife likes it because she doesn't get chain lube all over everything.
i have a rubber band drive(2001 xl) and i can say it does hold up well and will take punishment, does not need lubercation and runs quieter. i do not like it because you are stuck with only a few ratios and the parts are extremely expensive. i can replace a chain set up for what the rubber band costs. chains you can get anywhere, no so for the rubber bands. my 74 xl has 150k miles and i have only bought three chains for it. my secrete, every few thousand miles, i take it off and clean it in solvent, place in a can of water proof grease and melt the grease. i let the grease turn soild and pull the chain out wiping the excess as i go. that is another advantage of a chain. you do not have to take anything off to install, not so with the belt as it has no master link.