How to Adjust Motorcycle Drive Belts


The manufacturers of most cruiser motorcycles have done away with messy drive chains in favor of cogged rubber drive belts. Although there is much less maintenance involved with a belt as opposed to a chain, the drive belt will still need periodic adjustments to keep it from failing out on the road. If you can handle a wrench, don’t spend money at a shop on belt adjustments when you can do it yourself in just a few minutes.

Things You'll Need

  • Belt tension tool (available at motorcycle dealers)
  • Chalk
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Place the transmission in neutral.

  • Place the motorcycle on its center stand so that the rear wheel is off of the ground.

  • Rotate the rear wheel slowly and find the spot on the belt where it is at its tightest. Do this by pressing down on the belt directly in between the front and rear belt sprockets with a belt tension tool. Check the belt in several different positions to find the spot where the tension is at its most on the belt tension tool. Make a mark with chalk at the tight spot.

  • Rotate the rear wheel so that the chalk mark is at the bottom of the belt directly in between the front and rear sprockets.

  • Check your bike’s owners manual to find the correct belt tension specifications. Press down on the chalk mark on the belt with the belt tension tool. Be aware that the belt does not need to be adjusted if the tension tool reads the correct belt tension specified in your manual.

  • Loosen the rear axle nut with an adjustable wrench in a counter-clockwise direction. Turn the rear axle adjusters on each side of the swing arm an equal number of turns each with an adjustable wrench in the direction needed to either tighten or loosen the belt. Check the belt tension with the belt tension tool.

  • Tighten the rear axle nut in a clockwise direction with an adjustable wrench when the correct tension is achieved in the above step.

Tips & Warnings

  • Inspect your drive belt frequently for damage. Check your owner's manual for the correct maintenance intervals for your belt. Have your drive belt replaced if it is worn or has missing cogs.
  • If your motorcycle does not have a built-in center stand, raise your bike with a motorcycle jack until the rear wheel is off of the ground.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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