Listen to the podcast

Do you have a scooter? Then you’ve probably not got a conventional manual gearbox. But you don’t have an automatic transmission either – it’s a special kind of transmission known as a “CVT.”

Tune in to discover:

  • What “CVT” stands for, and how it works
  • Some advantages of a CVT transmission + 1 disadvantage
  • How much a CVT belt can cost



Hello and welcome to 30-minute motorcycling – a podcast for new aspiring and returning riders where you’ll learn about motorcycles and other two-wheelers in 30 Minutes or less. 


And this episode is dedicated to those “other two-wheelers” – specifically scooters, because this time, we’re talking about the CVT transmission.


If you’ve got a scooter, you’re probably sitting right on top of a CVT transmission. But what is it? How is it different from an automatic transmission? And what are some of the advantages and disadvantages?


That’s what you’re about to find out.


CVT stands for “Continous Variable Transmission.”


It’s often regarded as an automatic gearbox, but that’s not true. An automatic gearbox has gears in it, hence the term “gearbox.” while a CVT transmission has no gears.


Instead, the power transfer is handled by a pair of pulleys attached to a belt, typically made from either steel, rubber, kevlar, or even aramid. 


And just for the record, a “pulley” is a type of wheel that is attached to a belt.


Anyway, one of these pulleys inside the CVT transmission is fixed in place and known as the “drive pulley” while the other one, which is known as the “driven pulley” slides on a shaft.


As the driven pulley slides, the belt moves either up or down, which increases the diameter of one of the two pulleys. 


If the belt moves up, the drive pulley’s diameter increases, which also increases the amount of torque the engine produces.


If the belt moves down – the driven pulley’s diameter increases, as do the RPMs.


This makes the CVT transmission work like a regular transmission. 


So what are some advantages and disadvantages of a CVT transmission?

The first and most obvious advantage is that a two-wheeler with a CVT transmission,  especially a scooter is much easier to ride than one with a manual transmission. 


Scooters are often associated with the term “twist and go” –  all it requires to get moving is to twist the throttle handle – with no shifting required. 


And the CVT transmission makes this possible since there are no individual gears – instead, the two pulleys function as one “long” gear.


This means that it’s easier to ride a scooter in city traffic. 


The second advantage is of a CVT transmission is much lighter than an automatic transmission. 


Remember, the CVT transmission doesn’t contain any additional gears –


And since it doesn’t have any gears, it’s much more lightweight, and being lightweight has its own advantages, including:


  • Being easy to handle
  • Increased fuel economy, at least when compared to an automatic transmission
  • And faster acceleration


Speaking of which, the third advantage is that the power delivery is much smoother compared to a manual transmission.


Shifting through gears on a motorcycle or scooter with a manual transmission is an art in itself – you have to time it just right to avoid accidentally over-revving or “redlining‘ your bike because you gave it too much throttle and didn’t upshift in time. 


Or on the flip side, if you shift too early, the bike might struggle to accelerate properly, and if you’re going too slow, you might even stall the engine.


This is not a problem with a CVT transmission – the acceleration is fairly smooth and consistent, and poor acceleration due to high gear is not as much of a problem.


So those are the advantages, what about the disadvantages?


The biggest disadvantage of a CVT transmission is that if one goes wrong, they can be expensive to repair.


While it’s nowhere near as expensive to fix as a car CVT, which can go as high as $7000, replacement parts for a scooter CVT can still be quite steep. 


For starters, the belt for a good quality scooter alone can cost anywhere from $30 to $50. Some CVT belts for Maxi Scooters can go as high as $80 or more. 


And if you need to replace both the drive and driven pulleys, prepare to spend between $100 to $400, especially if the scooter in question is a Yamaha T-Max, a Suzuki Burgman 650, or some other kind of Maxi Scooter. 


So while a CVT transmission gives you a vehicle that’s easy and smooth to ride, it’s safe to say that a regular maintenance schedule, which includes transmission fluid changes are vital – you’ll save a lot both in terms of time and money.


And that covers a basic introduction to a CVT transmission for a scooter. 


If you’d like to see how a CVT transmission works in action, I’ve included a few links in the show notes to some videos about the topic.  


And also, if you know any advantages or disadvantages of CVT transmissions that I skipped over, please send them to


Until next time, keep your helmet on and your eyes on the road! Bye!