Is There A Difference Between CVTs?

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Is there any difference between the Can-Am CVT and that of Polaris or yamaha?

Is the belt always tight on the Can-Am?


Dennis Chase


Thanks for your email!

The Can-Am, Polaris and Kawasaki all use the belt for engagement – simply put these CVT’s work the same way as on a snowmobile.

At idle the primary (front) clutch is spinning with the engine – solidly attached to the crankshaft.

On Yamaha’s, Suzuki’s and Arctic Cat’s the primary clutch does not move when the engine is idling.

An oil-cooled clutch pack triggered by centrifugal force as a result of RPM “picks-up” the CVT which is supported by it’s own bearing set and causes it to engage at a predetermined engine RPM. The drive belt therefore is permanently engaged.

It’s always in “low gear” when the primary is picked up by the engagement clutch. This is an arguable issue between OEM’s. It is true that this method controls engagement heat (like when you’re moving very slowly – particularly with a heavy load in high range).

In these situations the oil bathed engagement clutch pack takes the abuse – not the belt and CVT sheaves. I personally feel the advantage of the snowmobile system comes from better backshifts when hammering into the throttle at speed.

The snowmobile based CVT’s are all more responsive in this area. As well, the tuning possibilities with the sno-mo-based systems appear numerous while the others seem to be somewhat limited.

It’s interesting to note that the Arctic Cat, (Suzuki), and Yamaha systems are permanently engaged and the Polaris and Can-Am systems are snowmobile based using the belt for engagement.

It appears two snowmobile makers (Arctic Cat and Yamaha) have gone one way while the other two snowmobile makers (Polaris and Can-Am) went the other. Go figure.

Hope this helps,

Motorhead Mark

Dirt Trax Online
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