Explaining the function of a drive belt is simple: The belt transfers power from your engine to your transmission.
Don’t be deceived by the straightforward explanation, though. The drive belt carries a large amount of responsibility when it comes to keeping your ATV or UTV on the trails. To put it briefly: if the belt explodes, your ride is done-zo.
The drive belt is a “wear and tear” item, so you know yours will need replacing at some point. Chances are, you’ve already replaced one (or twenty). And although it’s impossible to know how much life is left in your drive belt, you can pay attention to certain factors and make an educated guess.
If you know the behaviors that decrease belt performance, you can avoid them and be better prepared to replace that belt when it gives out. So let’s take a deep dive into drive belt lifespans.
There is no cut-and-dry answer to how long it’ll be before your drive belt needs replacing. It could be 5 miles or it could be a couple thousand.
That distance depends on a lot of things. In fact, you can’t even accurately hammer down a range. Evaluating the health of your clutch parts and the intensity of your driving can give you an idea of how long you have before your next replacement.
But that still doesn’t explain everything. Like how is it that Johnny down the street has been able to get 1,500 miles out of the same belt, while you’re replacing them every 200?
Here are some of the variables surrounding the lifespan of a drive belt.
We can’t tell you how long your drive belt will last, but we can cover some factors that will impact its performance over time. Here are some things to be aware of if you’re trying to maximize your belt’s lifespan.
If you’re still running stock, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. OEM drive belts are designed for casual recreational riding. So if that’s your thing (and barring other factors), you should be able to get several hundred miles out of your belt without issue. But if you prefer to ride on the wild side, just know your stock belt won’t last as long.
The health of your clutch impacts the health of your drive belt. If your clutch isn’t clean or is out of alignment, you’ll notice that your belt might not last as long as it should.
The rougher you ride, the more stress you put on your belt and the quicker it will wear out. We’re certainly not cautioning against getting wild on the trails—we live for that kind of stuff. But just be aware that kicking it into high gear and putting the pedal down means you’ll be replacing belts more often.
It’s not only about how you ride—it’s about where you ride too. Harsh climates and rough trail conditions can negatively impact your drive belt. Exposure to mud, water, and dusty environments can do a number on your belt. Extreme temperatures are the main thing to watch out for, though. High heat is the number-one killer of ATV/UTV drive belts.
Certain machine modifications can also put additional strain on your drive belt. Anything that adds weight to your ATV or UTV—think lift kits, portals, and bigger tires—can cause your belt to wear out faster than normal. The more modifications you make, the stronger drive belt you’ll need.
Now that you know the factors that can kill a drive belt’s lifespan, you can take the necessary precautions to keep your belt healthy for as long as possible. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your ATV or UTV’s drive belt.
Breaking in your drive belt is crucial if you want to avoid burning it up. Why is this break-in period so vital, you might be wondering? We mentioned earlier that heat is the main culprit of drive belt deaths. Well, heat is generated by the belt slipping. When the belt slips, extra heat is created, and your belt is more likely to go kaput.
Breaking in your new drive belt ensures that it’s properly seated in the clutch. Proper seating = less slippage = less heat generated = a healthier drive belt.
Some riders prefer to play it safe by changing the belt every 1,000 miles even if they haven’t had any trouble out of it. Keeping a schedule like this gives you more control over when you replace your belt. After all, it’s way more convenient to change a belt in the garage than it is while broken down on a trail.
We’re not saying you can’t let loose and ride like hell. Just be smart about it. Stick to low gear in low-speed situations—the less time you spend in high gear, the happier your belt will be. And give your machine some time to warm up before totally hammering it.
Also, be sure to follow manufacturer recommendations when towing or plowing. Ignoring those guidelines is a good way to blow a belt fast.
Drive belt temperature is directly related to drive belt lifespan. And using a belt temperature gauge is the only way to make sure yours isn’t running too hot. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge while riding to make sure your belt’s temp doesn’t go past 200° Fahrenheit. The general consensus in the industry is that temps over 200° F aren’t great, and temps over 400° F are critically bad.
Since belt life is so unpredictable, we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping a spare on hand at all times. You want to make sure your spare is in good condition, though, because a busted spare is helpful to no one.
The main thing to keep in mind when storing your spare is sun exposure. Heat and UV rays can cause the rubber to deteriorate, damaging the belt before it ever makes it to your machine. So as long as you keep the belt out of the sun, it should be good.
Want to make sure your spare is still good after a year or two in storage? Just turn it inside out and squeeze it together on the ends. If you start to see cracks, you need a new one. If not, you’re good to install it and get back on the trails.
You can’t always know when your drive belt is going to snap, but you can monitor the affecting factors to minimize risk. And that starts with getting the most specialized, high-quality drive belt on the market. With a GBoost Belt from SuperATV on your ride, you can ride confidently knowing you’re getting the most out of your drive belt’s lifespan.
SuperATV’s drive belts are designed for the way you ride. We have four styles to choose from, each catered to a specific type of terrain or environment. Sand Storm Belts are made for dune riders, Mud Monster Belts for peanut butter lovers, Extreme Badass Belts for hardcore off-roaders, and World’s Best Belts for versatile, do-it-all riders.
So what’ll it be? Get your specialized drive belt now and you’ll be tearing up the trails in no time.