So I'm about to roll 60k miles on my 2012 Street Glide. I have had it for 2.5 years. As I mentioned before, this is my first Harley and I am the first in my family history to ride a Harley. I am still curious as to how far will it go? It's interesting to hear the variety of opinions on the longevity of Harley's. I understand there were issues historically with Harley's. They required a lot of wrenching to keep on the road. But how about the newer Big Twins? I suppose we won't really know how long they will keep running until some future time when people begin looking back and talking about how good or bad they were. Right now the only answers I hear are speculations.
Up There In Miles?
The majority of riders I talk with about the mileage of Harley's state they will trade in their bike between 20-30k miles. The usual response to my question of why are you going to trade it in that soon is the same. Because it's getting "Up There" in miles. Well……What does "Up There" in miles really mean though? The factory Harley Davidson warranty on a new bike without purchasing an extended warranty is 2 years, 75k miles (Whichever comes first). That's actually pretty good in comparison to some other bike manufacturers.
Why Trade Them So Soon?
My Yamaha V-Star 1300 only had 1 measly little year for the factory warranty. So if Harley is taking their warranty to 2 years or 75k miles my translation of that is they believe their bikes can run pretty much trouble-free for at least that amount of mileage. So why are riders trading their bikes in so early? Are they stuck in a programmed mindset from other people's opinions and speculations that Harley's simply won't make it much past 30k miles? Was this opinion formulated over the historical problems Harley has had with its bikes that are still lingering in people's minds? If I subscribed to this theory I would have to trade my bike in every year since I put an average of 25k miles on it per year. At that point, it would be unreasonable to even own a bike.
Everyone Has An Opinion
It's fun to read forums over this question too! If you search" How long will a Harley run" you'll get days' worth of reading and opinions. So many that you won't know what to think and you'll be more confused about the question than ever. The opinions can also place a lot of doubt in your head about how long the bikes will last leading you to consider trading it in to avoid future issues. All I can do is quote the well-known saying "Opinions are like assholes and everyone has one".
Getting My Moneys Worth
I believe in riding or driving my vehicles into the ground. I want to pay them off, and then get my money's worth out of them afterward. Repairs don't worry me or if it's beyond my capabilities, paying to have repairs made. Every bike will eventually break down in some way. But does a breakdown mean the bike is at the end of its life? To be discarded and left to die in some motorcycle graveyard? I have had a few breakages on my Harley which were covered under the warranty that the dealership repaired. The list is short and I find it quite acceptable considering the number of miles on the bike.
- Rocker box gasket leak
- Broke engine mount (the rubber mount cracked and had to be replaced)
- Voltage regulator failure (this was a known issue and was a recall item on some bikes)
- Oil filter housing leak
- An electrical wire that stopped conducting current and caused my speedometer and tack to stop working
Should I have given the bike up at any one of these breakages and purchased a new bike? At what point does a breakage warrant a trade-in? Again, it's a matter of opinion. One of our Chapters Road Captains has over 160k miles on his Road King. He refuses to trade it in. Like myself, he performs his own maintenance and has had no major breakdown issues. One of the parts employees at our local dealership has over 150k miles on his bike, does his own maintenance, and won't even consider trading his bike in.
How many breakages are caused by maintenance neglect on the owner's side too? That is a very good question worth investigating. For instance, my bike will burn 1 quart of oil between every 5k mile oil change. I check the oil level every week and over the course of the 5k miles and keep it topped off. It doesn't leak, it just burns that 1 quart and has done so since it was purchased new off the showroom floor. On our summer trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I checked the oil at 2700 miles and sure enough, it was half a quart low so I topped it off. I know of one time when riding with someone, they checked their oil level while stopped at a gas station and it was showing a half quart low.
Rider's Neglect Cause Most Issues
So my bike isn't the only one that does this. Keeping that in mind, consider the rider that does nothing maintenance-wise on their bike. They take it to the shop for everything. If they are not checking and possibly topping off their oil they could be riding with an ever-increasing low oil level before it goes in for the next oil change if their bike does the same thing. Low oil means more wear on internal parts which will translate to breakdowns earlier and possibly to an extensive repair. And there are a LOT of riders that won't do any type of maintenance on their bikes. Owner neglect that contributes to breakdowns doesn't apply to the reliability or longevity of the bike in my opinion.
It's Been Good So Far
What I do know is my Street Glide has been a good bike. It's fun to ride, comfortable on long trips, easy to maintain, and has been reliable up to this point. I am also happy to have proven naysayers wrong who say a Harley won't run much past the 30k mark, or that it needs a rebuild at 50k. We shall see as we move forward past the 60k mileage mark into the unknown and speculative future of How Far Will it Go!