Category Archives: Tech

Tire Tech, Straight from the Top!

If you’ve ever worked on your own bike, you know the value of good technical information from the people built the machine. And Harley-Davidson has offered up this info to help enthusiasts and mechanics alike. We’re happy to share the following tips from The Motor Company on keeping your tires happy and lasting as long as possible. -ed.

Authorized H-D Dealer Tire Service

A patch of tire rubber no larger than a credit card is what connects a motorcycle to the road, and maintaining those tires is critical to motorcycle performance and to the safety of your ride. The motorcycle tire experts at Harley-Davidson have put together the following tire-care tips for all riders.

A number of factors can influence the rate of motorcycle tire wear. One of the most critical is also frequently overlooked by riders: maintaining proper tire inflation pressure.

“Checking tire pressure is one of the most important tire-maintenance functions a rider can perform,” says Steve Bindl, H-D Product Portfolio Manager. “Properly inflated tires wear longer, and correct pressure promotes better braking, better fuel economy, maximizes traction, and reduces the risk of tire damage or failure.”

Tire pressure should be checked before every ride as a part of the pre-riding checklist in the motorcycle owner’s manual. Pressure should be checked when the tires are cold (before riding), and adjusted to the pressure listed in the motorcycle owner’s manual or on the tire information sticker located on the motorcycle. Use a high-quality gauge intended for motorcycle use when checking your tires. The Harley-Davidson Digital Tire Pressure Gauge provides accurate pressure readings in 0.50 psi increments up to 60 psi, and features a 12-inch braided line and 90 degree angle chuck for easy access to valve stems.

Check Tire Pressure with an Accurate Gauge

SERVICE TIP: Pressure gauges can become inaccurate over time due to wear and tear and should be replaced or checked against a gauge with known accuracy.

Exceeding the load capacity of any motorcycle can lead to loss of control and sudden tire failure, either of which could result in an accident. The load capacity of the motorcycle should always be considered when adding accessories, a passenger, or luggage to the bike. Check the motorcycle owner’s manual or the information label on the motorcycle’s frame down tube for the load capacity and never exceed the maximum load.

Another factor that can greatly impact load capacity is trailers and sidecars. Trailers should never be used with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Pulling a trailer will void both the motorcycle and the tire warranty. Sidecars are appropriate for some motorcycles but should not be fitted unless approved by Harley-Davidson.

SERVICE TIP: For every 4 psi a tire is underinflated, you could lose up to 80 pounds of load-carrying capacity.

After checking and adjusting the pressure, give each tire a careful inspection for cuts, gouges, or foreign objects that may cause punctures and loss of air pressure. If any damage or excessive wear is noticed, contact an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer immediately, says Bindl.

Worn tires can adversely affect motorcycle control and traction, and are more prone to road damage. Most tires have tread wear indicator bars that will appear between the tread block when tire tread depth reaches 1/32 of an inch, which is the legal limit. It is best not to wait until the tread is at the bare minimum. Once a tire gets to 2/32 of an inch or below, tires should be replaced. The pocket-size Harley-Davidson Tire Gauge Tread Depth Indicator Tool provides a precise tread depth measurement, and also has an air-pressure gauge.

Motorcycle tires are integral to the dynamics of the bike, so choosing a replacement tire is an important decision. Harley-Davidson has partnered with Dunlop and Michelin – two of the premier tire brands in the world – to create Harley-Davidson co-branded tires which are exclusively designed, tested and approved to deliver optimal performance on each Harley-Davidson motorcycle model. These tires can be identified by the bold “Harley-Davidson” script on the sidewall and are available through authorized Harley-Davidson retailers. Harley-Davidson advises its customers that it is essential to use only Harley-Davidson tires that are the approved fitment for each individual year and model motorcycle. Using non-approved tires or mixing approved tires from different manufacturers on the same motorcycle can adversely affect stability, which could result in death or serious injury.

For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at

Charge Up for the Spring Riding Season

Depending on where you call home, spring is likely right around the
corner…or already on top of you! That means longer days, warmer
weather and a better excuse than ever to get out on the road.
Lead Image Horizontal H-D Technician Services a BatteryUnfortunately, months of waiting are rarely good for our motorcycles.
Especially the batteries! Even with top-quality batteries and
carefully sorted electrical systems, a little neglect can go a long
way towards ruining that first beautiful riding day. Thankfully, we’ve
got some great tips straight from the source for you. Dig into this
literature from The Motor Company, and see if they can’t shed a little
light on keeping those little lead heads charged and eager:

Harley-Davidson Advice on Avoiding Battery Abuse

A motorcycle battery never gets a day off. The service experts at
Harley-Davidson® point out that even when a motorcycle is parked the
battery discharges continuously in small internal loads called
“self-discharge.” Self-discharge speeds up drastically as the
temperature rises – for example in a hot garage in the summer – and
accessories like alarm systems will further increase the rate of
discharge. If a battery is discharged too deeply, for too long, it may
be permanently damaged. Instead of a V-Twin rumble, a push on the
starter button produces … silence. And there goes a Saturday ride.

Which is why a motorcycle, that may often be parked for some time
between rides, is especially prone to battery damage from deep
self-discharge, even during the riding season. The best way to prevent
premature battery death, according to Harley-Davidson, is by keeping a
parked motorcycle plugged into a maintenance-type battery charger like
a Harley-Davidson Battery Tender. Unlike a standard battery charger,
Harley-Davidson Battery Charger products feature internal circuitry
that charges a motorcycle battery at the proper rate and then changes
modes to protect the battery from over-charging.

Cutaway H-D AGM Battery

Chargers for Long Life

The Harley-Davidson 800mA Waterproof Battery Tender (P/N 66000004,
$49.95) features a three-step charging system that constantly monitors
battery voltage to bring the battery up to full charge and switches to
float mode to maintain the charge over extended periods. Its
waterproof case protects the charger from damp floors and outdoor
elements, and the charger is reverse-polarity protected and
spark-proof, even when the leads touch.

The very compact Harley-Davidson 750mA SuperSmart Battery Tender (P/N
66000038, $39.95) is an ideal take-along for touring riders. Its
built-in circuitry cycles the charger to turn itself on and off as
needed to prevent overcharging.

Both of these charges are sold with a fused alligator-clip harness
that’s handy for charging the battery when it’s removed from the
motorcycle for long-term storage, and with a fused ring-terminal
harness that can be connected directly to the battery terminals and
left on the motorcycle. It’s then easy to plug the charger into the
on-bike harness whenever it’s parked. Responding to customer input
gathered through Project RUSHMORE, Harley-Davidson has equipped all
2014 Touring-model motorcycles with a factory-installed battery
charger wiring harness.

Another option is the Harley-Davidson LED Indicator Battery Charging
Harness, (P/N 66000005, $14.95) which features ring terminals and an
integrated LED indicator light that glows when battery voltage drops
to a level that requires charging. It’s a reminder to “please plug me
in!” It’s compatible with all Harley-Davidson battery chargers and

Battery Life and Replacement

While the ultimate life of a motorcycle battery is determined by many
factors, according to Harley-Davidson a well-maintained battery should
deliver at least five years of service. When it’s time to replace a
battery, an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer can supply the exact
replacement battery that’s specified for each Harley-Davidson model.

New Harley-Davidson motorcycles are equipped with an AGM (Advanced
Glass Mat) battery engineered specifically for use in Harley-Davidson
bikes. These sealed batteries never need added electrolyte, and won’t
leak even if the case is punctured because the electrolyte is absorbed
in glass mats placed between the positive and negative plates. Genuine
Harley-Davidson batteries are specifically engineered and built as
part of the vehicle’s electrical system, and meet strict
Harley-Davidson design and test standards. Internal components are
designed to meet the Harley-Davidson electrical and vibration profile,
which provides superior, long-lasting durability. The patented
flush-mounted terminal design provides superior cable contact, and
stainless steel terminal bolts resist corrosion. A genuine
Harley-Davidson battery works better and lasts longer than
less-expensive, off-the-shelf batteries.

Service Tips for Battery Safety

Always exercise caution when working with batteries!

Wear eye protection.

Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries at all times.

Never lean on a battery when jump-starting a bike.

Never store a battery in a sealed container; always allow for proper

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces custom, cruiser and touring
motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle
parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise.
For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at