Belt Drive Max!

Arizona's Charlie Bernardie and his unique V-Max

by Terry Campbell

Charlie and his bike (Brad Thomas in background)


Its not everyday you see a belt-drive Vmax and Charlie Benardi's '85 may be the only one in existence. Thanks to Charlie for providing a closer look at this very unique ride.

The original beltdrive conversion was completed by Mad Max Enterprises but the bike has been continually refined. According to Charlie, the only things that remain unchanged is the machining of the cases and the center bearing Mad Max used on the output shaft. Everything else has been modified or a new part fabricated to make the setup more robust and/or efficient. While all this was going on Charlie also managed to increase the displacement of his engine to 1260 cc.


Business end of the "Beltdrive" Max
"Big Twin" belt, guaranteed to last 10,000 miles


When the conversion was first completed the engine was still pretty much stock with mild head and intake manifold porting. Charlie says at that time Harley didn't make a 139 tooth belt so Mad Max used steel pulleys and a Gates poly "chain". Due to the pulley sizes the final drive ratio was pretty high at 1:46 but could stay with a stock Vmax (2:86) on spirited launches. These pulleys were extremely heavy with the front weighing in at six lbs and the rear at twelve.

Later, due to an encounter with a car (executing a left hand turn), Charlie had the opportunity to open things up for some additional improvements. This included his home-brew 1260 kit and the installation of light-weight Supermax pulleys. He noticed a significant increase in power but credits much of this new "feel" to the lighter weight pulleys. The front pulley (28 tooth) now weighed three lbs and the rear (41 tooth) weighed only four. This configuration allowed Charlie to rip the Harley belt in half while "banging" second gear the first time out.

Charlie opened the bike up one more time to address chronic transmission problems. He noted that the transmission had been jumping out of gear and that the problem kept mysteriously re-appearing. He discovered that movement of the bearing carrier (required for the conversion) was allowing the output shaft to shift after several miles of usage. The bearing carrier was being held in place only because it was pinched between the upper and lower cases. This was resolved by the installation of an alignment pin into the center bearing carrier that fits into a hole drilled into the lower case.

Other modifications to the bike are numerous and include a GSXR rim with a 180/55/-17 inch tire and Works Performance Shocks. Charlie says he still plans to do some additional transmission refinements and wants to bump the 1260 up to a 13:1 compression ratio.


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Mock-up to determine frame and belt clearance.



1985 Beltdrive Vmax - Modifications/Vendors