The process for changing the drive belt on a Sportster differs from the traditional process of replacing a chain. Belt drives offer smoother acceleration and longer lie than older chains, which is why Harley moved away from installing chains and started installing belts on their Sportsters. Although the process is different, overall it is no more difficult than replacing a chain. But even if you’ve never done either, it’s something even the beginner can learn.
1. Remove the Allen bolts that secure the rear brake caliper to the frame with an Allen wrench. Pull the brake caliper off the rotor and suspend it from the frame using a wire tie.
2. Loosen and remove the axle nuts on each side of the axle using wrenches. With the axle nuts loosened, back the setscrews off that adjust the belt tension with a wrench. There is a setscrew beside each axle nut. Make sure you back the setscrews out using equal rotations. This will help to keep your wheel straight during the installation process.
3. Slide the rear tire forward and remove the drive belt from the rear axle pulley.
4. Drive the axle out of the rear wheel using a screwdriver and hammer.
5. Pull the rear wheel off the Sportster.
6. Remove the bolts that secure the right shock to the swing arm using a wrench. Push the shock upward and suspend it from the frame using a wire tie. This keeps the shock out of your way while you work to remove the belt.
7. Remove the Allen bolts that secure the transmission cover onto the left side of the Sportster. This exposes the transmission pulley.
8. Reach in through the hole left by the transmission cover and pull the drive belt off the transmission pulley. Pull the belt backwards and out of the transmission.
9. Slide the new belt into the hole in the back of the transmission and place it over the transmission pulley. Secure the transmission cover plate back to the transmission using the Allen bolts and Allen wrench.
10. Cut the wire tie holding the shock to the frame. Secure the shock to the swing arm using the wrench and bolts.
11. Place the rear tire inside the swing arm and place the drive belt over the rear pulley. Make sure you do this before you drive the axle back into the wheel.
12. Drive the axle back into the wheel and thread on the axle nuts. Do not tighten them at this point.
13. Turn the belt adjustor setscrews in until the drive belt is tight. Turn each screw equal turns to keep the wheel straight.
14. Tighten the axle nuts using the wrenches.
15. Cut the wire tie holding the brake caliper onto the frame. Slide the caliper over the rotor and secure it into place using the Allen bolts and the Allen wrench.