The drive belt is one of those parts that you don’t really think about until it fails—but when it fails, you’ll know. There are lots of things you can do to extend its life, but properly breaking in your drive belt tops the list.
If you don’t break in your belt the right way, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But don’t worry—we’ll tell you everything you need to know to execute a solid break-in.
The break-in period doesn’t start once your drive belt is installed on the machine. There are several ways to extend the life of your belt before you make it to that point. Here are some things to keep in mind.
The first step is choosing the right belt to match your machine and ride style. OEM drive belts usually work just fine for casual riding. But anything beyond casual requires a specialized belt.
SuperATV’s GBoost Drive Belts are designed for specific terrain types and ride styles. Do you plan on spending most of your time in the dunes? Grab a Sand Storm belt. Are thick and gnarly mud bogs your cup of tea? That’s what the Mud Monster belt is for.
Selecting the right ATV or UTV belt is the best way to get the most out of your drive belt.
You don’t want to damage the drive belt before it even makes it to your machine. Be sure to handle the belt with care before installing it. Make sure to avoid any excessive bending, crimping, or flattening, and never zip tie a drive belt.
If you purchase a belt that won’t be installed right away (as you should—always have a spare on hand!), make sure to store it somewhere safe. Find a place out of the sun and where it won’t get bent.
Some treatments during the manufacturing process can cause your drive belt to slip once installed. For example, some manufacturers apply silicone to the belt to get it to release from the mold during production. Silicone is a lubricant, which is not something you want on your drive belt. Washing your belt with mild soap and warm water straight out of the gate can help to prevent slippage.
If your clutch is dirty, your belt won’t be able to get a good grip. This is something else that can lead to slippage. To give your drive belt a clean, smooth surface to grip onto, use a can of compressed air to blow dirt and dust off your clutch before installing the new belt.
You can also spray some alcohol on a rag and use that to wipe down your clutch components. Just make sure to never spray the alcohol (or any cleaner) directly onto your clutch.
Improper installation is one of the main culprits of a blown drive belt. Make sure your belt is in it for the long haul by installing it correctly.
Not confident in your install skills? If you got your belt from SuperATV, we’ve got you covered. We provide easy-to-follow instructions, and we’ve even filmed some install videos that will walk you through the process. If you’re still not sure, though, you can always take it to a professional to have it installed.
After prepping your belt and successfully installing it, it’s time for the actual break-in period. This part requires a good deal of patience—it’s not always easy to keep your speed down when you’re itching to ride like hell. But this period is crucial if you want to maximize your belt’s lifespan and performance.
Here are three crucial things to keep in mind while you’re going for that first ride on a new belt.
Your first ride on a new drive belt should be an easy one. Shoot for 20 miles, or around 30 minutes, at a minimum. And if it’s really cold outside, you’ll want to extend that by 5-10 minutes. Your belt will need a little extra time to warm up in frigid temps.
While you’re riding, don’t accelerate too fast, and definitely don’t shoot for top speed. Keep it in low range on technical terrain. Vary your speed as you ride, but again, don’t go too fast.
The key during this break-in ride is to take it easy and stop frequently. Pull over every few miles and shut off the engine to give your belt time to cool down. Stopping every now and then is a vital part of a proper break-in period.
A little patience goes a long way when you’re warming up your new drive belt. But after going through this break-in period and then letting your belt cool down for about half an hour, you should be good to go.
Neglecting to break in your drive belt will result in a significantly shorter lifespan. Rubber belts have to be precisely aligned in order to not slip. If you don’t give the belt plenty of time to settle into the groove before riding hard, it’s more likely to slip and fail.
Belts are also more sensitive to high loads before being broken in, and they’ll run hotter, too. Excessive heat is the number-one killer of drive belts, so a belt that runs hotter than usual is bad news. If you skip the break-in period, you’re just asking for your belt to overheat and snap.
So there are a few good reasons why the drive belt break-in period is so important. The last thing you want to do is install a new belt and then hit the ground running. If you do that, there’s a good chance your belt won’t live to see the end of the day.
A busted ATV or UTV belt is inconvenient, and nobody wants to change out a belt every few weeks. If you’re a hardcore or professional racer, frequent belt changes are inevitable. But for most of us, there are things we can do to avoid excessive replacements.
Breaking in your drive belt the right way helps you avoid that telltale burning-rubber smell and will keep you on the trails (or in the dunes or on the road) for longer.
And remember what we said—maximizing your belt’s lifespan starts with choosing the right belt. Check out SuperATV’s GBoost Drive Belts now to find the perfect belt for your ride style.