Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Side of a mountain in New Hampshire
Belt noise is like wind noise. It's a problem of the brand you ride only because you are riding that brand when it happens.
Yep, there are brands that never seem to have belt noise probs, shaft drives mostly. More times than not though, any belt drive system can squeal but some to a smaller degree than the brands that seem prone to it.
Guys swear it's alignment and mostly they are wrong. By the time somebody is looking at parts swaps they can do alignment in their sleep. Not saying good alignment isn't the first thing to insure, just saying it rarely affects squeal for very long. I have seen bikes way out of alignment, eating the belt and the pulley wall, making a mountain of dust and no noise.
Sometimes it's geometry. A lowering kit can induce it or aggravate it. It can also mediate it.
Sometimes it's the front pulley. Not so much creating the noise as tweaking the belt travel so that it throws it out of kittyhunkus at the rear pulley.
Sometimes it's the belt. Machine cut teeth on a pulley or molded teeth on a belt? Hmmm.
Sometimes it's the rear pulley. Out of round, warped. That's a big continually moving part on a small machine. A miniscule misalignment, slop in a bolt hole, whatever, bad mojo can create the conditions that result in squeal.
Wear. If one or more factors promote squeal then every revolution is reinforcing that condition. You can arrive at a point where replacing the culprit doesn't cure the issue.
You take an aluminum widget and trim it until it's dead nuts balanced and round as a babys head, but start spinning it and subjecting it to the centrifugal, torque and braking forces present at the rear wheel and it can get stupid. A fiber belt whips around it and at the contact points the stupid in the pulley is skooling the belt to go stupid.
You can lather stuff on the pulley and belt. It's lipstick on a pig but if it kills the noise for a few blessed miles and it makes you happy so be it. Pop can't sanction that because I would spend all my time riding listening for when it starts up again. Sucks.
You can swap parts one at a time. That has at least a 1 in 3 shot at some success but Hey! Casinos make a whole lot of cash giving players better odds than that. I don't go this way but if I did I would replace the belt first with a different brand sporting a different compound.
You can replace the belt and rear pulley together which moves the odds into your favor and shows a lot of faith in the front pulley for no real reason.
You can do a hat trick which is as close to a sure thing as you get. It's a scorched earth fix and you never really understand WTF happened but it has more success than other options. It's also pricier. But it does, like you say give you a chance to do some custom work and if you are inclined it lets you play with RW ratios which is a big time kick in the pants.
OR.. keep smearing snake oil on it like so many do and don't let it ruin your day.
Cross Country Tour.
We can't help it
We just keep moving
It's been that way since long ago
Since the stone age chasing the great herds
We mostly go where we have to go
That was written by James McMurtry