Belt Wear

Discussion in 'Softail Models' started by mc2, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. mc2

    mc2 Active Member Contributor

    On my 08 Fat Boy I am replacing the wheel sprocket after 17,000 miles. The wear is excessive in the grooves, and after a recent trip I find the 'crown' on the sprocket wearing also.

    The wear on the sprocket has been more on the outside, with a little less wear on the inside. After closer inspection of both sides of the belt I see the wear is showing relative to the sprocket wear. There still appears to be a lot of wear left in the belt, but it is wearing more on one side than the other.

    I have been aware of this during past tire changes (as I am going thru tires after 3,500 & 4,000 miles respectively in a short period of time) and have been anal about belt deflection and wheel alignment. I always use a straight edge to check wheel trueness after all adjustments. (lay the straight edge on the fork to barely touch the rim, spin the wheel and feel for light contact) Any separation from contact would be in the micro of a measurement, and over such a short distance in the rim that I attribute it to variances in the mold of the wheel!

    If I were to screw in one axle bolt farther to pull the belt over to the inside more, I expect I would have the wheel out of alignment, or am I missing something??


    NEWHD74FAN Experienced Member Retired Moderators

    Axle nut is a pinch bolt pulling in against both sides of the swingarm and should not change the alignment offset par se', the spacers do that. Axle adjusters move the alignment of left or right, and hopefully the swingarm bushings up and down keep the whole thing straight when chassis is loaded and unloaded over bumps. I think the manual should tell you if the belt centers to the right or left, if memory serves, check it to be sure.
  3. Chopper

    Chopper Senior Member

    Mike I think belts do run slightly to the out side, If someone put a over size tire on there bike and the belt is close to the sidewall, the belt clears it moving foward but as you back the bike up the belt moves to the inside and rubs the sidewall of the tire. So I think it is some what a directional thing. I would not mess with vehicle alignment if it is on.
    When I bought my wife a new bike in 94, I was old school and thought bikes should run chains (because they always have) I knew the belt would not last so I ordered a new belt with the bike, well, guess who still has a brand new belt sitting in their garage, I've replaced belts as soon as 500 miles, but only because of a stone.
    I think you're running the 200 rear tire, I have seen a average of 5,000 miles on them, there a soft rubber compound like the V-Rod tires, they really grip the road but not without a price.

    Here's a little info on belt:

  4. RetiredJake

    RetiredJake Junior Member

    Do you have any pictures? It's hard to believe that the sprocket is wearing out after only 17K. The chrome disappears fairly quick, I have seen some that had the chrome almost gone at 5K, but the sprocket itself was in fine shape. I had the HD Rep look at mine at 15K for this concern and he stated it was fine. I have watched it since then, over 30K now, and the sprocket is just fine. Don't be too concerned if the chrome is disappearing, just worry about the meat of the sprocket teeth. If the teeth were wearing badly, I would think the belt was also in bad shape.
  5. 2000classic

    2000classic Active Member

    Trueness of the rim and wheel alignment are two different things. If you have the shop manual for you bike, check it for alignment procedure. My 2000 Ultra, the distance from the center line of the axle to the pivot point of the swing arm must be the same on both sides. I don't know how they check it on a Fatboy.:s
  6. sharpscuba

    sharpscuba Banned

    I agree with Rich, great info. Thanks Chopper.
  7. mc2

    mc2 Active Member Contributor

    Yeah, I know where you are coming from. thanks, I've been waiting for someone to make your comments!
    On the contrary I am monitoring bike conditions, and pulling maintenance more here with this bike than in the last 30 years with shovel, knuckle and a pan. Even my 98 FB in MN requires little service. But here in Vietnam conditions are a little 'rough & abrasive'. I may ride it into the ground, but it will be one heck of a ride.

    I like to ride and have an opportunity, or quest, I am enjoying. By the end of this week I will have ridden the first harley from tip to tip of Vietnam solo, to include both Ho Chi Minh roads! Many here don't even know about the Western Trail! Scenery is fantastic. Roads, well, lots of good hiway, some really good stretches. But some would anger a donkey. And in the rain it can get really messy. I know I get over detailed in matters, sometimes anal, but out where I have been riding it gets pretty desolate. In some aspects 100 miles here can be like 500 miles in the states. It is not where I want to deal with a bike problems.

    I am lucky for sure, but a pretty safe rider too. Otherwise I would surely have hit someone here, or been hit. There are no rules of the road. Don't hot rod or do burn outs. Just enjoy riding.

    I refer to the service manual and keep things as specified, but I do appreciate this forum along with your comments and assistance. The nearest harley shop is in another country.

    People have told me often I should write a book about my travels. Riding down the western trail I thought maybe I should write about this adventure. A short story with lots of cool photos. Maybe I could sell it to pay for my tires!!!!!!!!

    Thanks again guys for your support.
  8. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator


    Without looking back for the answer, did you get that bike used? Is there a chance it had been in a wreck that might have bent or twisted the frame? That tire burn through rate is VERY high, and I would wondering if your tires are out of alignment with each other.

    I am sure you use something like this, right:

    Softail Wheel Alignment - Harley Davidson Community

    Here is a WAY more complex system, but it might give you some ideas for a less complicated system to accomplish the same thing:

    Wheel Alignment - Harley Davidson Community

    Like I said above, that wear rate is so high. But if you have ensured that the wheels are rolling in a straight line and with the rear right behind the front, then maybe it is just the conditions!!

  9. mc2

    mc2 Active Member Contributor


    The bike was purchased new. I am within the 1/32" of tolerance measuring from pivot to axel. Yeah, conditions do get rough and abrasive. In locations of road repair, and there are many, they are using this blasted rock which has some razor sharp edges. I do my best to follow the 'ruts' from the locals, but turning around is not an option as that would add days to a trip! I suspect they use this same rock in their asphalt mix, only smaller stones. With that, soft tires, weight on tires and some high temperatures it adds up.

    I had suspicions about my rear bearings, and since I had new ones arrive I changed them. I don't have precision tools available to check a lot, but bearing play was minimal, just difficult to rotate by hand. They may have been ok, but at least I am riding with confidence.

    Since my last major wrenching was to long term riding on a pan through the 80s and into the 90s, I am learning a lot lately. I am no mechanic, but know what I know, and know what I don't. Harleys are kind of new to vietnam, about 100 total, so the over the road experience limited, but nobody is riding like I am. As far as being around other riders I have been living in a rather remote area. Appreciate this forum.

    May be relocating to Laos. I hear they have very good highways with little traffic!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2010
  10. Roklock

    Roklock Member

    Well, this isn't far off from myself and my buddy are getting. I just 5300 out of my stock tires, and my buddy has been trying several different brands and has been getting and been averaging 4K-5K per rear. He has been changing the front once for every two of the rear.

    I did a lot of searching on this site last year but it seems quite common on the 200 size rear tire.