Debunking the
HD-Maintenance Myth!

Take a closer look at what you are about to pay top dollar for!

Don't let the intimidating Driveway-Jewelry Service and Maintenance Schedule from HD scare you away from owning a great machine.

We deal with maintenance schedule fears and concerns on a weekly basis on the RK forum, and spend lots of typing hours debunking the HD myth surrounding that bread-and-butter maintenance chart that comes with every bike. In short, your new bike will require little, if any more maintenance than the average cruiser by any other brand name, and in many cases LESS!!

Harley's Service/Maintenance schedule is a major income producer for the company, based on its opinion that many of its customers have plenty of money to spend, and do very little riding of their "trophy" bikes. People who actually RIDE their bikes, and have basic mechanical skills and a few tools, can bypass that whole expensive maintenance nightmare scene by simply following a few basic common sense guidelines, and keeping some minimal service records for warranty and resale purposes.

One Price Fits All??

First of all, the single largest scam of the service schedule is the fact that you pay the same price for "inspection" as you do for "adjustment". It takes mere seconds to inspect a drive belt or primary chain for tension specs, but you still pay the full cost of actually adjusting those items (in the rare event that it would even be necessary)! Unless you are a hotdogger, your drive belt will likely never need adjustment between rear tire changes, and the primary chain will likely not need but one adjustment in the first 20,000 miles, and even then, only one notch on the slider, to make up for initial shoe wear when new.

Wasted Dinosaur Meat

Many shops automatically include a three system oil change with EVERY SERVICE (2500 miles) even though your own service manual stipulates fluid changes at every 5000 mile service. You are paying for twice the number of oil changes as your bike needs. Harley's three-bag oil system keeps specific oil doing specific duties, thereby reducing the wear, tear and breakdown of oil that other single case engines encounter. Additionally, the engine oil is stored in a separate oil chamber from the engine itself, so it isn't pounded by crankcase pressure or excess heat. Additionally, your engine doesn't have to rely on oil that has been pulverized by the transmission gears, or been seared by the clutch plates. Everything works in its own oil, so it stays cleaner, and works longer.

Get your Bearings Straight!

A major expense issue with the maintenance schedule is the high cost of neck and swingarm bearing servicing. Most models have a service schedule that at some point specifies that the neck be disassembled and repacked, even though there is a zerk type grease fitting on some of the touring models!! Consider this...Actual bearing cost is minimal compared to the labor to replace them, which ain't much more than disassembling and packing them. If you follow the "plan" you would have paid for this service whether it was needed or not! Same goes for the swingarm bearings. Ever heard of one single bike ever having a swingarm bearing failure? I'm sure there are one or two out there, but you just don't hear of it. Not even on bikes that never ask for bearing servicing. It would be cheaper to forfeit the warranty on bearing replacements than to pay for unnecessary  disassembly and repacking of those bearings.

Tranny Abuse

If you put 10,000 miles between transmission oil changes, your oil will still look and smell just like it did when you put it in. (how often would a car owner change the gear oil in his/her standard transmission car?). I change my tranny oil every 10,000 miles, just to keep the accumulated moisture content down. Use transmission specific oil, and save yourself some oil consumption and service time. Your bike just don't need it!

Lubes and Links

As for proper lubrication of cables, linkages, hinges and so forth, your bike will tell you when it needs attention. Over maintaining a bike can be just as harmful as lack of it. Of course this is a personal call, but consider whether a cable or pedal needs lubricant before tearing into it. If its working flawlessly, why risk the damage to your paint job by a dropped throttle cable, or stripping the head off a soft control fastener just to lube something that didn't really need it in the first place? And why the heck would you pay someone else to do the same damage, then try to worm their way out of it, saying that chip in the paint or scratch on the chrome was already there!

The Final Word

If your bike should ever need any type of warranty service, it will likely not be something that the service schedule would have prevented in the first place, but the service list does give you an idea of things to watch for as you normally ride and clean the bike.

I recommend that you create a printable check off list (you can use mine if you want) and keep records of your own maintenance, along with any receipts for oil, filters, an other items, just for the sake of argument if you encounter a sticky dealer. In my very limited experience with service shops, I have never been asked to see or produce any service records.

When a dealer does warranty repair, he gets paid less than customer charges, and he has to wait for his money, along with getting prior approval to do the work. If you feel that you have a legitimate warranty claim and your dealer is giving you a hard time, chances are that he has cash customers lined up and waiting, so he will try every trick in the book to disarm your warranty. It simply isn't worth his shop time. Find yourself a new shop!!

Many shops are more than happy to help you with warranty claims, They pretty much know what's covered and what ain't, and are not likely to ever even question who's done what maintenance, unless an obvious LACK of maintenance led to the problem in the first place. 

Check it off!!

You can use the attached schedules (for Touring models), or create one of your own if you like, using information from your owners handbook.

If you would like to tailor these Microsoft Word documents to fit your own needs (like adding your VIN number), just save them to your hard drive, open one up, click on "Tools", click on "Unprotect Document", add, remove or change whatever you want then go back and click "Protect Document" and select "For Forms", then save it. The mileage box at the top allows you to input your current mileage interval before printing the page.

Mid Service (2500 mile intervals) Main Service (5000 mile intervals)


Mocc's Harley Place