As the title states, for me at least this is my yearly downtime. With Christmas, New Years, Birthdays, and chilly weather, I just dont get much riding in. I dont like the cold and wont ride when its under about 45 degrees. 9 months out of the year I ride 110 miles a day just for my commute to work and back. Then add in any Chapter events on evenings and weekends and I can quite easily put in 1000 miles a week. Since this is my first Harley it will be interesting to see how well the bike holds up mechanically to putting that kind of mileage on it. Everyone in my Chapter tells me the 103 is a great engine and should easily run 100k miles without any major issues if any. Barring routine maintenance of course. I havent performed any engine mods outside of the V & H monster rounds. I prefer to ride it stock and avoid some of the issues Ive seen that other members have from doing performance upgrades. I need long term reliability, not a mean modded machine.
I’m easy on the transmission, not doing burnouts, wheelies (yes, you can do a wheelie on a street glide), or grinding gears so I am confident the tranny should hold out along with the engine. Our Chapter does a skills day once a month where we can practice obstacles, 20″ circles, stopping, weaving, etc. Some of the competition riders are pretty hard on their trannies during this. One of our members burned his tranny out and ended up fusing the clutch plates together during a skills day. Feathering the clutch and revving the engine can definately cause issues. But this type of riding is not the average daily ride and problems related to skills events are to be expected.
My Yamaha V-Star 1300 had just over 30k miles on it when I traded it in for the Harley and I never had even one breakdown or mechanical issue with it. I would have kept it except for a few things that just bothered me about that bike. The reach was just too far forward and I would have a horrible pain in my shoulder area everyday from riding slouched forward. That could have been solved with longer handlebars but there were other things I didnt like. The transmission on the V-Stars are known to be noisy. It had a rattle when in first gear going slow that would sound like it was going to drop out under the bike at any minute. It is a known issue, nothing is wrong with it, but its just annoying. The other thing is that it was a 5 speed. It is a metric and they do run at higher rpm’s than Harley’s but damn it would scream at 75mph. If it was a sport bike I wouldnt have been bothered by the high rpm’s, but its a CRUISER! When I want to cruise at 75-80 I want to enjoy the rumble of the engine, hear the roar from the exhaust, and feel more of a loping vibration on the grip. Not just hear the engine SCREAM and a thousand tiny needle point vibrations through the handlebars the entire time.
The last issue I had with it was a continual surge at low speed. This is also a known issue with no resolution. When moving while holding at a steady speed at any point under 20mph the bike would surge forward and then back off. This would be continual until you rolled on the throttle and put the bike into an accelerated state. It had something to do with the factory computer. Everyone that was able to fix the issue had to install a power commander. I dont believe you should have to buy and install 3rd party componants to make the bike run properly, unless you are performing mods. It should come off the showroom floor and run correctly in a stock state. My Harley ran just as it should from the day I bought it, no complaints.
Since were talking about mechanical reliability I wanted to mention a couple maintenance tips that anyone can do and save a LOT of money in the process. I perform all of the maintenance on my bikes short of opening the tranny and crankcase, but there are some easy things that anyone can do that can save themselves some cash.
The first is “Get a battery tender”. This is not like a mandated maintenance practice like changing oil (which I will cover next post) but it will save you a LOT of money and hassle by helping to preserve your battery. Nothing can be more frustrating than a nice weather break after not riding for a couple weeks than to get geared up, excited, and hop on your bike only to find out the battery is dead from the extreme change in tempurature. Cold weather is especially hard on batteries and even more hard on them if the vehicle is outside instead of garaged. I am fortunate enough to have a garage large enough to accomodate both of my SUV’s and both bikes. Even so, I use a battery tender. I wired an electrical outlet next to where I park my Harley just for the purpose of a tender. The tender comes with leads that you connect to your battery with a quick disconnect at the end that you can quickly plug the tender into when you park your bike. This way you dont have to connect to the battery every time you want to use the tender.
What does a tender do? Good question if you’ve never used one! It provides a trickle charge to your battery as your battery drains due to extreme heat or cold while sitting. When the battery is fully charged, the tender stops charging until the battery charge drops again. Then it will trickle charge the battery back to full. This preserves battery life by not allowing it to drain completely, then charge completely, etc. on and on. You can buy them at any cycle shop for around $20 to $30 + dollars. Cycle Gear had them on sale during black friday weekend for $9.99!!! Now you may say, bleh, so my battery dies. Well lets look at that.
Some people simply perform absolutely no maintenance on their bikes at all. Everything, and I mean everything done to the bike outside of washing it is done by a service center. For arguments sake were going to approach the situation from that persons view. So they decide to ride, hit the starter, and Voila! Dead battery. The following breakdown will give an idea of the final cost of this one simple and mostly preventable situation.
Towing to the shop for repair= $50
Frustration of waiting for tow, being dropped off to pick up bike, time not being able to ride= $Priceless
This is a worst case scenario but a realistic one depending on your competancy level of mechanical skills. Even if you can replace the battery and find one online or locally for cheaper your still out over $100. I am not saying the battery will never die if you use a tender. I am saying you will preserve the overall life of the battery by using one and thus save quite a bit of money over the years by having to replace batteries less often.