The name just about gives it all away. A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is just that: there’s a continuous range of gear ratios as opposed to a conventional automatic which has a fixed number of gears.

What’s the advantage of a CVT? Without oversimplifying what is a glorious creation, it’s all about maintaining an optimum rpm range for an engine that delivers the most efficiency – power and torque – in any given situation. Staying in that sweet spot, if you will.

On the land, that’s why a CVT dominates the ATV and UTV landscape, and CFMOTO is no different. A CVT is also universal on our sports side-by-side vehicles, where performance and ‘maintaining the rage’ are the key to getting the most out of the high-horsepower machines.

But, like any system, the likelihood of component failure increases if it’s not shown appropriate love and care – excessive heat and premature wear being a major one for a CVT setup that uses a drive belt.

What is a drive belt? It’s like a clutch plate on a manual vehicle connecting the engine to the transmission. When CVT belt temperature increases beyond 100 degrees Celsius, the likelihood of CVT component failure increases.

Below are some causes of CVT heat build-up, and how to minimise it:

• When towing or carrying heavy loads, low range must be used to prevent belt slippage. Belt slippage causes heat. When high range is used, it’s the same as starting in second gear in a manual vehicle.
• When taking off, use a smooth and constant throttle movement. When the throttle is pressed too gently and slow, the drive pully can’t fully grip the belt, causing belt slippage and heat. This is similar to ‘riding’ the clutch in a manual vehicle. Eighty per cent of belt wear occurs during engagement – therefore prolonged engagement speeds the wear process.
• Use low range when driving under 20km/h to ensure the belt is not running constantly in the low section of the drive pully (engine pully). When the belt runs constantly in the low section of the drive pully, excessive heat is generated, damaging the belt and drive pulley.
• When riding or driving in mud, sand, or up steep hills, use low gear. The full torque of the engine is needed in this type of terrain, putting excessive load on the CVT system.
• Do not run at top speed for extended periods of time. At high speed, the belt runs in the low section of the driven pulley, creating excessive heat to the belt and driven pulley (transmission pulley).
• Regularly check for a blocked air intake or outlet. The CVT needs good air flow for cooling. The higher the speed, the more air is needed to cool the CVT system.
• Don’t leave the engine running for more than one minute without moving. This causes excessive wear to the bearing in the drive pulley. Turn the engine off if it needs to sit for more than one minute.
• Whether you need to use high or low range depends on the type of work you want your machine to do. If you want to travel constantly above 20km/h on smooth ground, select high range. On the other hand, if you are planning to undertake a lot of driving at low speeds, carrying loads, towing, negotiating obstacles or traversing mud and water, low range is best to use.

There you go: follow those steps and it'll help to keep excessive heat generation of your CVT at bay. Of course, a vital part of ATV, UTV and SSV ownership is also adhering to service schedules, and that's where your local CFMOTO dealership comes into play.

Happy riding or driving!