Q. Should I use roller weights or sliders in the variator?
There are varying opinions about roller weights (rollers) and sliding weights (sliders). Some prefer rollers, some prefer sliders, and some find that one works better than the other in certain applications. Before going any farther, take a look at a roller weight (left) and a slider weight (right) in the picture below. Roller weights are cylindrical, or round if you look at them from the side. Slider weights have their own unique shape that is designed in an effort to improve performance and reduce wear.
Rollers are easily installed. You simply place them in the grooves in your variator so that they will roll along the ramp. Sliders are also easy to install once you know how, but because of their special shape they must be installed in a specific orientation.
It has been my experience that installing sliders generally has one or more benefits. They can improve performance by allowing the variator to open a little farther for increased belt travel, while still using weights that will allow good acceleration. The claims of big MPH gains I've seen are generally from people or companies that profit from the sale of sliders in some way. I like sliders and I use them in pretty much every variator that I own, but I've never experienced 5MPH and beyond gains as some sales pitches would have you believe. I'd only expect that sort of result when the CVT was previously in a poor state of tune or lacked maintenance.
One of the biggest selling points for sliders from my experience is their longevity. I can't speak for all sliders, but I own numerous sets of DrPulley sliding weights that have exceeded my expectations for durability. I have one set of off-brand sliders that have also held up pretty well. Rollers tend to get flat spots over time. Cheap low quality rollers sometimes form flat spots very quickly, even within the first few hundred miles. Flat spotted roller weights cause all sorts of performance issues, so they need to be replaced regularly. Sliders will wear out eventually, but in all of my experiences it takes much longer for them to wear to a point that performance is degraded. I have sets of sliders with thousands of miles in different variators as well as numerous CVT failures that are still just fine.
In my opinion the biggest downfall of sliders is that there are no cheap tuning kits like you can find with roller weights. Sliders don't always cause the CVT to operate at the same RPM if you use them in place of the same weight rollers. For example, if your CVT works well using 5 gram roller weights, 5g sliders are not necessarily the right choice. I have found that the 1E40QMB / Minarelli / Jog style variators I've used work pretty well with the same weight sliders and rollers or perhaps just slightly heavier sliders. 139QMB / GY6 50 variators seem to need heavier sliders in order to operate at the same RPM as with rollers, and I hear the same from other users and about other engine platforms such as the GY6 125-150 and 250cc scooter engines. The most common advice for matching sliders to rollers is this : slider weight = roller weight + 1 gram. To really find out what is best for any setup though, you need to go through a tuning process.
Related Info :
DrPulley Slider Operation Video
Rollers vs Sliders With Video (90cc Minarelli Clone 2T)
CVT Service Video
Removing The Variator Without An Impact Gun
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