General H-D questions and concerns

Discussion in 'General Harley Davidson Topic' started by jinglebob, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. jinglebob

    jinglebob Member

    Greetings once again. I apologize if some of the things I discuss below are repetitive or seem kinda basic or even dumb, but I don't know a lot about Harleys and I'm in learning mode. I'm thinking about getting an H-D, probably a Street Bob or Fat Bob. I tend to do a lot of research before I buy vehicles and have done so with fact, let me admit I'm probably overthinking this...but when you are going to shell out $15K or more on a motorcycle, you tend to get a little picky. My research has revealed several areas of concern which make me less than willing to shell out the large $$$ for an H-D at this point. These concerns include the following:

    1. High speed wobble: I am aware that this problem has been documented for FL baggers and for Sportsters with rubber mounted engines. It is apparently related to the rubber engine mounts, which (as I understand it) allow a significant level of driveline flex in corners, causing the driveline to flex out of line with the bike's chassis, thereby setting up a speed wobble.

    I know that some of the H-D models have solid mount engines with countershafts to offset vibration. I'm not sure which models have these...would also be interested to know whether these models have the same speed wobble problems.

    2. Engine case porosity: Don't know how widespread this problem is or whether it is limited to a particular model. Any information about this would be appreciated.

    3. General reliability: Let me admit upfront that I currently ride a UJM cruiser. It's a very good bike and very reliable...I'm pretty used to providing basic maintenance for the bike...oil changes, etc... and with that level of care, the Kawasaki just keeps chugging along. I'm no mechanic and don't pretend to be...I will not be rebuilding engines or transmissions. I've heard all the horror stories about H-Ds falling apart on a routine basis and requiring large expenditures of $$$ and time to keep them running. Please don't misunderstand...I'm not knocking H-Ds and I'm certainly willing and able to do basic maintenance items, but I don't want to have to be in constant repair mode to keep the bike running. Is there some truth to this, or is the anecdotal information I've received about H-D general reliability a complete pile of horse manure? Or somewhere in between?

    Anyway, sorry to be so long-winded and again, I apologize if these questions seem uncommonly stupid or repetitive...I consider this website to be a great source of information regarding H-Ds. I want to love my next bike and can only have one, so it has to be something that will work and be reliable. Any information about these or other recognized issues regarding H-Ds will be greatly appreciated.

  2. MikeL

    MikeL Member

    I have an '07 Road King with 23k on her. I have never had a problem with high speed wobble. I don't do much interstate riding, but the times I have, I've put the cruise on 90 and put my feet up and cruised on without any problems.
    As for reliability, I've never encountered any problesm. I do my oil changes at 5k and I reguarly check my tire pressure. Scoot has never been in the shop for any maintenance.
    I checked with a cpl of friends who ride Ultra's and they've never noticed a problem with wobble, nor have they had any reliability problems. Both of them are riding '06s.
  3. toad451

    toad451 Member

    I keep seeing the stories about the high speed wobble but have not experienced it. I have only had my 07 RK since the beginning of June. I haven't put a whole lot of highway miles on it yet, but I must say that traveling at 75+ MPH seems to be pretty smooth. There have been a couple of times when I thought I was doing 65 and looked down and I'm doing 80. That's been my experience so far.
  4. Fossil

    Fossil Active Member

    I have been involved in motorcycling for about 47 years. Any motorcycle improperly loaded, maintained, tire pressure and so on can experience a high speed wobble. I have never heard of a high speed wobbles happening a lot on Harleys. My Gold Wing's front tire would lift off the ground at high speed or go into a handle bar slapper at slow speed with my hands off. Still I never heard of any real complaints about it. There are turn key clubs and Haters who gleefully start lies and false rumors about Harleys. I have never heard about porosity of a Harley engine case. From 1984 on the cases are die cast and not sand cast. A very strong case indeed. My Harley is twenty years old with over 100K miles. Original paint and no engine over hauls. I have never ever used synthetic motor oil and have used a lot of ordinary car oil like Castrol GTX but use Harley's 360 now. Ride what you want and enjoy it. You are paying for it and not your friends. Their comments are just that. An uninformed opinion for reasons unknown to you. Fossil
  5. Fourdogs

    Fourdogs Junior Member

    Started riding at age now 63...Bought a new 2004 Road 04 of course. I have been to the East coast and the west coast and lots of places in between. I now have 48,000 miles on her ...Never had a problem. I do do the maintenance. I do a lot myself ..Fluid changes, adj. clutch cables, lubing the accel cables, changing brakes and rotors,..changed them only because i went to the floating disc...besides there Installed a inner primary ( chrome)..have been able to do lots of things to her...and I'm no mechanic...these things on a Harley are pretty darn easy to manage...When I travel I always travel 2 up, and I pull a Uni-go one wheel trailer...I cruise general about 8 miles over the posted speed limit ( probably should not admit to ). I've never experienced the wobble you are speaking fact I've never heard of it till tonight. Please don't misunderstand my next statement i do not mean this in a mean spirit way...but I've heard a few people put down Harleys...most it someone who wants one but just can't swing they gotta put them down ... sorry but I gotta say that. I did not know anything about a motorcycle ..not even how to ride one when I bought this thing..its a long story how it all came to pass..I'm gonna skip have heard stories in the pasted about Harley when AMF go a hold of the company...but since they sold it back I general think the bike is a very good and reliable product...Now the reason I bought a Harley coz to me it looks like a motorcycle and its American made ..the money stays in this me being a Union man for over 37 years and a American that means a lot to me and don't care who knows I live in Missouri..very strong union town....but bottom line most its American Made...nuf said..So if you want a Harley get a woman you take care of it she'll take care of
  6. Vibratinharley

    Vibratinharley Junior Member


    1. High speed wobble is a bagger Fact! For every person that says it's a rumor, I will find you 5 that know it to be fact especially with 08 touring bikes. I never felt it till I bought this 2008 Ultra Classic and I have put over 100,000 miles on Harleys and have been driving them since I was 16 ( first one was a 67 250 amf Sprint)
    2. No engine case porosity issues that I am aware of
    3. 8,000 miles on my 08 with only issue being rear steer (high speed wobble). Bike has a recall with fuel system but my dealer doesn't care so I willl just keep driving mine till it breaks. I can't get enough of it especially since I installed the rear stabilizer. The bike rides straight and smooth at all speeds Woo Hoo!
    Harley Davidsons are a great bike. They require maintenance like everything else but with routine maintenance the bike should last a long time. No reliability issues with todays Harley's.
  7. Joyflyin

    Joyflyin Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator

    I have asked my husband about the 'high speed wobble' and he has never experienced any such feeling on the bike. I have watched his bike as he has ridden it at 85 & 90 and he didn't feel anything, and I didn't 'see' anything.

    As for # 2, I don't know anything there....:s

    And for # 3, we have an '04 electra glide and an '05 deuce in the garage, not many miles for the most part, @ 9k on the eg, and 8k on the deuce, and we haven't had any mechanical issues with either of them. We do maintain them, regular services, and general maintenance such as tires breaks & such. No problems, happy with both. BTW, we bought both bikes used, his eg from ebay, and my deuce from a dealer.

    Good luck.
  8. Bud White

    Bud White Well-Known Member Retired Moderators

    High Speed Wobble .. wobble is really a misnomer its more of a rear steer or flat tire feel it doesnt actually wobble it feels more like you are on ice and sliding .. yep got it on the 08 Road king Classic

    Case problems no that would be the old old old bikes

    So far mine has been reliable
  9. jinglebob

    jinglebob Member

    OK, so:

    1. The wobble, or instability, or whatever you care to call it, has been experienced by two of you.

    I know there are aftermarket kits which can be installed which will supposedly eliminate that issue. One such kit was recently highlighted in American Iron magazine. It would seem to me that if the wobble was nothing more than rumor, I doubt companies would develop and sell such kits, unless people simply buy stuff based on rumor...I guess that's possible, but pretty unlikely that they'd sell many of them, since the word would get out quickly that those items are useless. I conclude that there may be some level of handling instability with '08 and earlier baggers and that the '09 frame redesign seems to have resolved those issues.

    Also, since it is the softails which have the solid mounts, I assume they don't have the wobble...

    2. I've read one or two accounts of recent engines having porosity...I think one was on a Fat Bob and may have been reported on this website...but if the cases are die cast, I'm not sure how that could happen. Maybe it's a fluke, because none of you are aware of that as a chronic problem with H-D.

    3. I'm aware of the hydraulic lifters and so on...that does, in fact, make maintenance easier. My current bike also has them and it's nice not to have to worry about valve adjustments. As I stated earlier, I'm no mechanic nor a design engineer, but I see no obvious reason that H-D engines could not go for many miles without major repairs or ripdowns/rebuilds. BMWs also have air-cooled, basic brother had an early 70's R50 which he rode for many, many miles when we were young and he may still have that bike.

    Incidentally, Fourdogs, that's precisely why I said I was not bashing H-Ds...I like them very much and I want one...I just don't want to have to spend my life wrenching on it or worrying that I'm going to get thrown off because of a handling misdesign. Let's be honest...I'm one of those people you refer to who might have some difficulty affording an H-D, particularly when there are many bikes out there at lower cost which are equally reliable and handle just as well. Yep, they're not Harleys, but I don't want to pay for a name and a slick marketing system...if the H-D will work for me and it rides well and is reliable, I'm down with it. If a Star or a Suzuki will do the same tasks more reliably, with less maintenance and lower cost, I would be foolish to blow them off and I'm not going to...regardless of how others perceive me.

    Anyway, thanks for all your responses and for your willingness to be open about your experiences with your bikes. You've given me a lot to think about and now it's on me.

  10. Bluesugar

    Bluesugar Member

    OK---I don't post that often, but this thread has my nose hairs itching; I felt I had to take the motorcycle traning course, and then the advance riders training course to acquaint myself with pertenant life-saving maneuvers. I did this on my '04 RK Shrine. The instructors were well versed on different bikes and their quirks!! I must say that they showed me how to react in most any situation. Most helpful at Dragon's (Deals) Gap!! If you are on a HD tourer and think you are experiencing a wobble, you are either not fit to be riding at that speed (if you can't adjust to the dilemma ) or need to be riding a more prone bike of that nature(sport), and hopefully have the smarts to know the difference!--There!