I Love Harley-Davidson, But You Must Know This


November 7, 2012 | By: Scott Holton

Here is the ignored elephant in the corner……

There is a potential major issue in the Harley-Davidson Twin-Cam engines. This is a statement of fact, not a bunch of wild guesses.  I’m not here to bash Mother Harley, but you should be educated to its causes, and possible solutions.

Okay, what issue are we looking at? It’s a very serious one that is enough to alarm you.   However, you can fix these defects and end up with a nice bike. Our objective today is to educate, and we are also going to outline some ways to fight back.   Yes, even the new Harley’s have serious, potential problems.  Even the expensive CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) bikes have issues not to be taken lightly.

Here we go…..

The problem is the design of the cam chain system.  It uses plastic “shoes” riding on the cam chains that can (and do) wear out. Harley has made some changes in later model bikes, but even with the new hydraulic tensioning system, it is not a true fix.  What is the problem?  The shoes rub against the two chains and the plastic shoes wear out.  When they wear in extreme cases, there will be metal to metal contact and this grinding creates metal shavings that can result in a catastrophic engine failure. If not caught soon enough, this can be so bad that the entire engine can be destroyed; cams, pistons, crankshaft and even engine cases broken.  It is a wickedly serious possible engine problem.  Be aware… it can fail as soon 15,000 miles (in extreme cases).  Even the newer hydraulic system can fail at 50,000 miles or less.  The cam chain tensioners have a section in every service manual that covers the Twin Cam engines and is very enlightening.

If your pipes are loud, you may not hear or get any warning.  The oil pump passages can clog up without making any noise whatsoever except when the engine starts tearing itself to pieces.

The scary thing is every Twin-Cam engine has the potential to have the cam chain follower issue, even the new models.  Check things out before this happens to you.  If it has a cam chains, it has the potential problem.

It is our intent to make you aware that pre ’06 Dyna’s and the 1999 to 2006 Twin-Cam Harley-Davidson engines have possible, serious issues and they can mess up.  How? In the most severe cases, as the spring loaded cam chain follower fails it shreds plastic material that fouls the rotary gear oil pump cutting off oil flow to the engine that can cause sudden catastrophic engine failure and destruction.  Also, metal to metal contact in these shoes produces metal filings to disperse into the oil prior to being filtered by the oil filter.  If this happens be prepared (worst case) to buy a completely new motor as rebuilding the engine may not be feasible. This is not a likely situation, but a realistic possibility.

Are the 2007 and newer, updated Twin-Cam engines immune?  No.  Do not be fooled.  Hydraulic cam chain followers are now used to get rid of the stiff spring that put too much pressure on the followers rubbing on the cam chain, but this is “no cure” as it only “delays” the problem.  Instead of the engine failing at 15,000 to 30,000 miles, it now fails at 50,000 to 75,000 miles.  There is only one true cure… getting rid of the chain system entirely and switch to gear driven cams.   Harley-Davidson should, in my opinion, make this a standard fix and not an after the fact option. If you can’t afford to install the gear drive system, then you need to disassemble and inspect the inner and outer shoes every 15,000 miles or risk engine failure.  The shoe material can also clog the oil pump destroying the engine.  There are plenty of motorcycle magazines explaining how to fix this problem and they can fail beyond the factory warranty period.  The problem has not been fixed; only delayed to fail above 50,000 miles and when the engine fails it may not covered under warranty.  Check the fine print in your extended warranty as this cam chain related failure may not be protected. Dealers will tell you it is a failed maintenance issue unless you take the steps we suggest.

You won’t even get a straight, honest answer from Harley dealers regarding this engine defect.  As I did research for this article, I called a local dealership, and the service writer would not answer my questions, and frankly gave me quite a song and dance, refusing to forward my questions and concerns to the mechanic or management. Disturbed and curious, I read a number of different service manuals, and while the drawing of what is good and bad with the cam tensioner shoes is published, there is no inspection interval listed. This leads me to believe Mother Harley knows a problem exists and Harley-Davidson dealers are actively not giving straight answers to customers. How can they not have published inspection intervals? The only mention of this possible failure is in the troubleshooting guide under “Valve train noise.” You will not hear any rubbing sounds or receive any indications the cam follower has failed even if you have quiet stock exhaust pipes on the bike. This is an issue that nobody wants to talk about, but is a real threat to your pocket book.

OK, now that we have ruffled everybody’s feathers, how can we combat this? S&S has truly been visionary in solving this issue. They had the foresight to develop a gear drive system to combat this very issue. It is my opinion, that all Twin Cam engines should have this conversion done, so you can rest easy on your higher mileage TC engines. The gear drive replacement is an excellent and the only true bulletproof solution.

As an alternative to gear drive, our only choice would be periodic tensioner shoe inspection. While not outlined in any Harley Service manual I’ve seen, looking at them and replacing as needed should be done every 15,000 miles. There are nice pictures of what to look for, but no recommended inspection interval. If you decide not to go gear drive, this is emphatically recommended. This periodic inspection can make any future warranty claim valid. On earlier engines, an update to the later style hydraulic tensioners will relive pressures and delay required service, but periodic inspection is still recommended. Check things out before this happens to you.

One way to help understand what may be happening inside your engine is to cut apart your oil filter at each oil change. Look through the pleats for any metallic or plastic debris. If you see junk, it’s time for your engine to come apart. You may be able to save your engine’s life by doing this.

Another thing to consider is better oils. Today’s better performing premium oils can delay the destruction.  While a bit more expensive than conventional oils, oil is still cheaper than engine rebuilds. Here, synthetics, such as the Bel-Ray Synthetic (part number 900-405), the Revtech MTP Synthetic (part number 740-786) or the Lucas Synthetic (part number 900-687) may be your best choice.

As we have a decent oil filtration system in our TC engines, a way to help the filter is to apply a magnet such as PN 740-742 to the outside of the filter. This will help trap any metallic grunge that may be floating in our oil.  Remember though, most of the bad stuff is plastic, and the magnet will not capture that.

I have tried not to bash Harley regarding this, and I’m sure they don’t care about my opinions. It has been my objective here to educate, not to assassinate the dealer network. Being forewarned is to be forearmed. As we pointed out earlier, if you have a higher mileage TC, you might want to inspect the tensioners before they bite you.

Comments: 682 Comments | Categorized Under: Editorial/Commentary Articles

Comments (682)

Hey Doug H
Here you go


and I could live with a cyl offset and dump the current rods
Thats a minimal change for major benefits.

Its time to harden that motor.

Interesting read.
I honestly knew about the oiling issue when the TC was in the design phase, (There was a time when I was a strict Honda man and pointed/snickered at Harley) as I had been following the TC since the idea was first made public .
Having said all of that, I must further admit that my current engine was a very deliberate choice. (I actually went to another State to purchase my bike)
I knew about the tensioner issues on 88 engines. I also knew that by and large that problem was mostly solved with the 96. I also knew that the 96 has the better oil pump to prevent the bearing issue .
My cam swap at 50k proved that correct, as the bearings were still original, and in perfect condition . I changed them only as a matter of correct shop practice for the new cams. The tensioners also showed the same thing . But as a matter of correct procedure, I changed them too while I was there. (I don’t do stuff 1/2 way LOL)
I also knew the later 96 cranks had indeed been hardened to withstand the 103, and I knew that was done by tightening up the spec on the press fit . (I actually spent lots of research hours before I ever saw my bike in person)
That new crank spec proved to be a correct thing on mine too, as when I measured the crank it was well within spec and technically could have taken a gear drive .
All that aside, I live in the desert. Riding in extreme heat is not uncommon for me . With that, I also added an oil temp gauge and an oil cooler . (I have yet to see my oil temps exceed 200 so I wonder if I actually needed the cooler, but it will stay there)
I also think that having my bike tuned has reduced overall temps, while improving performance and rideability . The de-catted exhaust, with slip-ons and high flow air filter help too .
With those mods I am approaching the power levels of the 103, but still not worried about my crank as the later 96 uses the 103 crank . (My bike is a 2010 FLHTCU with 96)
As to Harley coming out with the TC to protect sales and patent infringement . I actually believe that, and I can’t say I blame them for protecting themselves in that way .
Remember Atari? They lost their dominance over the home video game market because they left the door open to aftermarket programmers . I can’t help but wonder if Harley saw the same thing happening to them .
Ride safe

Good points Doug.
But I am still sceptical about being days from home and relying on a Twin Cam. And I am not one of todays yuppies with a big bank account. Friend of mine has a CVO but it only comes out on sunny days for short rides. Other friends also dont put many miles on so they will never have an issue. Love the looks of the Ultra and the fit and finish is amazing I really enjoy listening to the sound of the Twin Cam. But reading and talking to so many that have had many many issues I will wait and see if Harley is getting serious about reliability and cost of ownership.

I have an 07 electraglide and I’m at 25000 miles and am having issues with running hot,back fire when backing out of trotted and pinging. Have a thunder max tuner,true duals Vance and Hines and high flow air intake. Has been on dyno and stil no change. Has any one else had this issue

Nice comment ! Be safe out there !

Well, guys, too nice out to sit in front of comp anymore. Gonna take my “old” 1998 EVO Heritage out for a good ride today.

No sadness here man I ride at least three hours a day five days a week. I have completely rebuilt an 1988 sportster hotrod, a 1971 ironhead chopper, a 1972 FLH along with helping others repair or rebuild numerous other bikes. I don’t need bike week or any other main stream motorcycle gathering to tell me what’s cool or not. I get what I like and if it don’t quite fit the bill I make it fit. If you’ve been around so long then you had to have heard the same stuff that’s coming out of your mouth right now in regards to and rightfully so the shovelhead and not so deservingly the evo. Remember the saying about shovels ride a mile and walk the rest. Bad thing is with very little work those shovels can to be a reliable source of power. The saying see no evo, hear no evo, speak evo. And all the crap about the factory catering to yuppies instead of real bikers. Not that any of this has anything to do with the cam chain tensioner “issue” that this blog is supposed to be about. Thing with that is HD rolled the dice on automotive technology that’s been in use for years. When they seen that was an issue they revised it. As far as the crank thing goes, S&S did a great job and there is no disputing that they improved upon the design just like they do with every part they manufacture. I will never agree that an engine capable of propelling roughly 600lbs down the road over a 100,000 miles is a POS. If anyone in the history of manufacturing made a product that could not be made better, that product would not only be boring as hell. It wold eliminate the thrill of competition.

Hey Doug, That’s not TRUE ! S&S, builds some BIG ASS Motors, both EVO & Twin Cam, that won’t tear your frame apart ! They are BUILT, BUILT WELL, the crank run-out is true, (hence the Gear Drive), they are balanced, etc. IMO, the Best thing that could happen to H-D, is to have S&S buy it, & own it outright ! Then we’d get a motor & bike, deserving of the H-D name ! H-D keeps putting out these POS motors, & S&S keeps making parts to FIX them. H-D subs out so many components,, WHY NOT, have S&S build the motor in the 1st place ? No more problems, Heartache, etc. Think about it, sounds better, the more I think about it !

I’ve never discussed or looked up SS . Don’t know why or where you got that idea .
I did look up how Indian drives their cams . They do it with either a belt drive system with a myriad of pulleys or gear drives with themselves are driven by a timing chain using a plastic guide and a spring loaded plastic shoed tensioner .

Sad Chad, Have you read the 3 Blogs on J&P, 1300+ comments, 1000 Blown Motors ? Or the Jim Russell Article. Most of it is very good, BUT, the 2004 & up Sportsters are POS ! I’m not the New Kid on the Block, I’ve been riding H-D since 1963, bought my 1st bike from the Lowell HA, in 1967, in 1969, bought a 1950 Panhead, turned it into the Fastest Panhead in N.E., with a rebuild by the Infamous, Bob Labrie, with Sifton Cams & SU Carb. Had a small paint & custom shop, 1968 to 75 ! Been to every Laconia, since 1969, did Indians 100th Birthday Ride, from Springfield, Ma., to Gilroy, Ca., & back to Springfield, Ma.. Rode 2 Dozen S&S powered Indians. Rode to H-D 100th Party, been to Sturgis in 03 & 04 ! Went to S&S 50th in 2008 ! Rode 2 Dozen New Polaris Chiefs in 9 Demo Days, 2 weeks after the unveiling at Sturgis ! We have an International M/C related Business, selling 3 M/C products all over the world, everyday.
PS, I’m 66, I don’t take anything as Gospel ! My whole thing about the POS motor, is it could have been, SO MUCH BETTER, BUT, H-D doesn’t care ? They know most of you, have drank the H-D Kool-Aid !
PSS, Bert Baker, a well known H-D tranny builder, his personal street/drag bike is a BIG Inch EVO powered Monster, I wonder why, he didn’t go with a Twin Cam, because he Knows Better ! Get Real, Chad !
PSS, You should email H-D, tell them you have an early Twin Cam, with over 100K, never been opened up, still stock ! Maybe, they’ll want it for the Museum, & give you a new POS ! What have you done ? Boston Jim

I dunno, mine has 52K, and has been opened up. But that was only to hop up the cams. (went from stock to 255’s man that ended up nice) But mine is a later style 96 with the later crank and hydraulic tensioners .
I found zero wrong (I did the cam upgrade at 50k), crank was good, tensioners were good, oil pressure is still good at 35 on the highway, no oil leaks, starts every time, runs down the highway at 75-80 on cruise control with no vibration or issue and with ease .
I didn’t drink anyone’s Koolaid, I’m letting the product speak for itself . Honestly it has been the most reliable motorcycle I have ever owned . Even better then all the other Hondas I have had. (CX500, VF700, GL1200) They needed constant electrical repairs, and maintenance was downright awful . The dealership in my neck of the woods didn’t make repairing or maintaining my bikes any easier and they are the reason I made the switch to another brand.
I don’t like Indian’s styling and some of the creature comforts do look like something that could have been done at someone’s home with parts from fast food auto parts stores . (I gave Indian the first shot when I switched brands, and they weren’t for me)
That being said, Harley has earned a repeat customer in me .
PS, I bought my bike used from a Polaris dealer . The original owner traded it for a Can Am, as he was getting up in years and balancing a motorcycle was getting difficult for him .
So yes, I made sure to start out with minimal investment and no warranty so the product could actually speak for itself and I would have that learning curve .

You Harley bashers are really providing nothing of substance to this conversation. Mr. Blow Hard Jim and his POS this and POS that and I love the new Polaris Indian and I love AmsOil. Just cause it’s what you use don’t mean it’s the best. I have well over 100,000 miles and counting on my 2000FXDX that I purchased three years ago with 30,020 already on it. If you have something constructive to say, then by all means say it. But if your going run off at the mouth with your negative crap then keep it to yourself.

Hey Chad,
Based on my own experience, (Which is becoming similar to yours)I’m beginning to think experiences like ours are actually the rule, not the exception .
We’re not the only ones who have butt loads of miles on TCs and have had zero issues. I have several other friends who ride TCs and have never experienced so much of a hiccup . One of them died recently, he was a Harley man from the word go. Hated Goldwings and insisted Harleys are the best . He felt his Screamin Eagle 103 was the best engine to ever wear the Harley name .

Rob; I see what you are saying and I guess they may be an alternative but like I said out of the 80 guys i know and ride with TWO have bought Indians. One guy has a problem with all his leather cracking.

when I trade again I’ll give them another look, but they have their big units priced way up there…24K or so…and that IMO is just too much.

I care nothing abt the new harley buildings, I go in there and play hardball with them. They dont like what I offer, f### em. I’ll go elsewhere. I rode out on my new Electra Glide Police for 16K out the DOOR ALL taxes fees license etc INCLUDED. Best money I ever spent (so far anyway)

HAHAHA, You Indian guys have been jerking our chains (and your chains and/or belts) . Puns fully intended.
I finally decided to spend some time looking into what makes an Indian tick.
What I found should embarrass the Harley bashers.
Hang on guys, because I am going to spill the beans .
One of your Indian designs uses one timing belt that wraps it’s way around 7 pulleys . 7 pulleys!! For the crank to turn only 2 cams!! That is a design that will cause issues just from the perspective of it being so complicated (3 of those pulleys are idlers, with their own set of permanently lubed bearings)
The second Indian design does indeed use gear drives . It uses a main gear to spin the 2 smaller gears on the camshafts . BUT GUESS WHAT??? It doesn’t end there . That main gear is connected to the crankshaft by a ……… wait for it ……. TIMING CHAIN !!! That timing chain is supported by a white PLASTIC guide and tensioned by a Hydraulic tensioner with a PLASTIC shoe .
I also take back my being incorrect about Indian’s final ownership . It is indeed a subsidiary of Polaris, that information came directly from Indian’s own website under their history page. (That explains why my local dealer also sells Victory motorcycles and Polaris vehicles)
Guys, if you are going to bash my Harley using another brand as an example to do so . You’d better get your facts straight . Because eventually I will get curious and verify (or in this case disprove) what you are saying .

HA! How do you Update a motor design from 1936? 80 Years ago?


I read it, about 5 years ago, it really confirmed for me, everything , that I had been reading about this POS motor, since 1999. Remember, this motor went on sale in Sept. 1998 ! The Article might need a little redo, BUT the POS motor needs a MAJOR OVERHAUL ! What say you guys, the old school guys know better, the wannabes, with deep pockets , don’t care, buy another & another ?
The Twin Cam B motor is a real joke, 14 lbs, of extra chains & weights, how much extra torque to move that boat. My 99 FXSTC, doesn’t have any of those problems & he said my 86 Evo Spiortster was the BEST. He is wrong about the 2004 & up Sportsters, it’s A POS, No trapdoor in tranny, you’d need to split the cases to get at the tranny ? DUH ?

Nah, it needs an update. Cranks have changed, hydraulic tensioners have shown that they work, and it doesn’t even mention the partial liquid cooled version . (No comment from me there, haven’t researched it)
No comment on sportsters either except to say I had a buddy who had a 1989 model and it was a disaster .
He now rides a Buell, and it has proven very reliable for him)

For me, reliability will not be an issue as I will not put more than 40000 mi on my new 2015 (if even that) before trading and from what I read the hydraulic tensioners can handle that much.

As to Indian I am sure thay are decent bikes, however
not many guys are switching and/or buying. My reasoning for that is not many people have 24 grand to shell out but still want to ride. And they’re NOT going to buy a scout as their primary ride. So they have no choice but to buy USED. And there are very few used Indians out there and those still cost the better part of 20 grand. In south Florida I have seen and ridden with only TWO Indians
and one of them was a secondary ride to his Electra Glide. They will never become the ride of choice, not in my lifetime for the reason above, as well as guys just prefer harleys.

Give a guy 24,000.00 and tell him to visit BOTH dealers and he has to come back with one. What would be the odds he’d buy Indian? Maybe a few would, but I would bet MOST would come riding up on a new HD bagger of some sort.

If had 24 extra grand to part with. (I dont) I’d visit the Indian dealer and ride one or two. But I’d most likely go to the MOCO and get a SG or a Road Glide in the end.

Actually Tom if you drop into a decent Indian dealer you will be blown away by how many used Harleys are there.
The majority of Indian sales are to X Harley owners or as a second bike to a Harley owner. This is about 50% of Victory owners are X Harley owners.
I do a lot of research into problem cars/trucks and bikes.
Dont get me wrong I love the look and sound of a Harley but most people will tell you they changed brands because the cost of ownership was to high.
I keep hoping they will refine the twin cam or at least fix the deficiencies. But if they do who is going to pay for those big gorgeous dealerships?
I refuse until they address the issues.

What refinements would you suggest ? And what deficiencies (when comparing an 88 from the 1999 model year to a 103 from the 2016 model year) would you like addressed?
Keep in mind they have addresses several issues in the past 17 years .
Also, the only way to hard mount a 45 degree V-twin of a size much larger then 80-85 CID and not have it shake itself and the bike to pieces is to use a balancer shaft . Otherwise, the V-twin needs to change to a basic design to 60 degrees to eliminate the need for the shaft . But then it wouldn’t be a true Harley and they wouldn’t sell .
Car engines (and a few motorcycles too) have used chain driven balancer shafts for years . The technology is not new and was not new when the B motor came out .
I’m beginning to think that if the MoCo built an engine that needed zero maintenance, never needed any form of repairs and lasted well over 500k miles while constamtly being abused, that we would still have people complaining . (They are usually the arm chair quarterbacks who couldn’t read a dial micrometer, and believe everything they hear on the internet)

I don’t want a major change. I like the fact that the motor has push rods. The sound has to stay it’s iconic… It’s Harley..
But let’s address some of the issues that have and still do bite to many people.
Cam bearing failures.
Weak pressed pin crank (forged steal 1 piece pls)
Tension shoe failures. ( not fixed but yes patched)
Takes to long and ridiculous amount of work to replace a belt.
Stator failures
I am not saying these items should never fail. What I am saying is they fail to often.
I read an article on the development of the twin cam. During testing they found the oil temp was getting to high. Instead of adding an oil cooler they decided to reduce the amount of oil that gets to the head. The hot head was causing the oil to get to hot. It’s decisions like that that make me shake my head in wounder.
I don’t know much about the reliability of S&S motors. But if they are as good as I keep hearing then maybe Harley could learn from them.
But really I don’t think they can afford to loose all that service revenue…. So nothing will change…
Not bashing ….. Just not going to get that new Electra Glide Ultra until I see some effort put into reliability….

Let’s address your recommendations one by one and see how we could make them fit in . (I’m going to play Harley engineer here, cause it sounds like fun)
1 piece crank. You also said you wanted things to remain traditional Harley. We can’t do that and still give you the knife and fork rod setup that we have used for 80+ years . We are known for knife and fork connecting rods and that is done so that we don’t have to offset the front and rear cylinder to make room for a side by side rod setup with connecting bolts at the crank end of the rods . Instead, we now offer a pressfit that is also splined . Expect to see the sticker price of the new bikes rise by $500 to cover that cost when introduced
We have address tension shoe failures in the past and are satisfied of their longevity at this point. (Warranty claims suggest our fix was adequate) However, the service and owner’s manuals now require inspection and/or replacement at 50k mile intervals. No warranty claims will be accepted for bikes that have not been inspected after 50k for chain tensioners
We have reverted back to gear driven camshafts for all new models . To fulfill EPA noise regulations we have also made our exhaust systems whisper quiet . Expect a price increase of another $750 to cover the costs of the new exhaust systems and complexity of the new gear drive setup . (The gears are cut to very precise standards and there are 4 of them)
Warranty claims also suggest that by upgrading our oiling system as we did that cam bearing failures are minimal and within expected failure rates. (about 2 in every 1000)
Belts are a lifetime item and should last 100k miles minimal as is . (Unless abused, damaged, neglected) Warranty claims since changing the belt materials a few years ago are showing this to be the case. A change at this point would make the bikes differ significantly in appearance from their predecessors .
As to alternators, that to me personally is a new one as there is usually another factor involved there .
Adding an oil cooler to every bike would drive the cost up even further. (indeed there are oil coolers included when engine size and application requires it)
Historically, oil coolers aren’t generally a part of the power train . But no, we did not reduce oil flow to the cylinder heads as we knew that would give us warranty issues with the rocker arm assemblies .
Gee that was fun (back to being John Q Bikerider now)
I think it underscores the devil and the deep blue sea that Harley’s engineers face . Customers want the traditional look and feel of a Harley, the EPA has changed the guidelines and ratcheted down heavily, and yet they can’t make buying prices too high without loosing customers who then couldn’t afford the product . I suppose they could send more production off shore, but customers don’t like/want that, (myself included) and quality control would only suffer .
Never the less, they still somehow manage to address the issues (some say in good ways, others say in bad ways) and to even attempt to bridge all of those gaps is amazing to me .
(Thanks for letting me have some imagination with this today)

For me, reliability will not be an issue as I will not put more than 40000 mi on my new 2015 (if even that) before trading and from what I read the hydraulic tensioners can handle that much.

As to Indian I am sure thay are decent bikes, however
not many guys are switching and/or buying. In south Florida I have seen and ridden with only TWO Indians
and one of them was a secondary ride to his Electra Glide. They will never become the ride of choice, not in my lifetime. I personally would own one for a secondary ride and had 24 grand to part with. (I dont and I wouldn’t) But I’d most likely go to the MOCO and get a SG or a Road Glide first.

It’s kinda funny. The shovel guys said the same about the EVO, The pan head guys use shovel heads .
AMF era was not good at quality control, even when compared to what some feel that what we’re getting today . (I’ve read horror stories about AMF stuff that never got past the first block after purchase, and leaked oil on the showroom floor)
But yet, in spite of oil leaks and reliability issues, all of those bikes became desirable . I have no doubt we’ll see that with TC’s as they become classics too . We already have a cottage industry built up to support all of them, so it’s not too far out of whack to think that .
Will that be the case with Indian? Will their reliability be better in the end? Will parts for repair be easy to find and inexpensive? It’s a bit too early for me to say.
As to Indian, I have no negative sentiment towards them, other then the fact they are no more then a subsidiary of foreign corporation . (Even that is minor because that corporation is based in Canada)
I personally try to buy from companies that are based in the US and do most of their manufacturing of the product I am buying here too . (I realize that I can’t have every piece made here, no matter who it is)
Back on the crank issue, another forum suggested to look up the NHTSA complaints . So I did. I have to admit early 96 engines pop up a lot . But later versions don’t . (The running change to the later crankshaft directly coincides with the drop off in reports)
Mine being a 2010 model with the later crank may also be direct evidence that the problem has been addressed . (I’m not making this up, at 52k my crank is still running true with no issues. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe I’m doing something different that prevents the problems)
At any rate, based on my experiences with my machine, (It has been nothing but reliable, inexpensive to maintain, and is holding it’s resale far better then any other bike I have ever owned) I would definitely recommend and purchase another.

Your doing your Country a disservice!
Indian is owned by Polaris inc of Minisota…….
It’s a State in the USA !!

Bombardier is in Quebec Canada
They don’t build motorcycles
They build ATVs Snowmobiles and the Spyder 3 wheeler

I stand corrected. Thanks for the correction .
Still, I’m not interested in Indian .
That is a purely personal thing though, in that I don’t care for the styling, and the units I looked at (Yes, I looked at them first before buying my Ultra) are lacking in some of the creature comforts I got on my HD . (The biggest was the CB which I use frequently on group rides)
The lack of a large dealer network, (for parts, I do all my own work) and rider support groups, (I joined and enjoyed national HOG and my local chapter and have made many friends there) also played heavily on my decision.

I read that.
It is what got me researching.
I think it needs to be updated.

Hey Kevin, Congrats on catching the problem ! What year & model is your H-D ? And, what fix procedure did you choose ? Any upgrades ? fatzusadotcom, BJ

This is dead on. I got lucky. During a routine oil change I asked them to check this out for me. Mine was damaged and ready to break apart. I had it replaced. I have warned all my Harley friends to this issue.

I keep reading about crank issues and that Harley increased the crank run-out spec so they could duck paying warranty claims . I’ve also read that they use chain drives in the Twin Cams in an effort to deal with cranks that are out .
So, I researched this one to the hilt. I hit the books, ignored the internet, and used my experience as a machinist/mechanic .
Here’s what I discovered. The way we measure cranks on a Harley is not the correct way to measure them . They should be measured when removed from the engine, in a fixture and on both ends . If they are measured in the engine, you will also see bearing deflection . That gets worse when measuring only 1 side of an installed crank .
So, to adjust for the way we typically measure the cranks (in the case, on the bike) Harley gave us the larger measurement to compensate for our follies . Their new measurement takes into account bearing deflection and the fact that all the run-out is now being shown on only 1 side. (Logically there should be more then twice what one would see if the crank were removed and the measurement taken on each side. But the sum of those 2 measurements will come close to the single measurement when in the case, plus any bearing deflection) So no, they didn’t do that to duck any warranty claims. They did that to aid in the way we measure the cranks in the field .
Next, I took on crank scissoring . The biggest problem I found there was abuse and improper engine builds .
The parts manuals clearly call out different part numbers for larger engines. The 88 requires Part number 23957-99, Early 96 requires 23729-07, Late 96 and 103 requires 23729-07A. The 110 gets 93729-07B (The last crankshaft superceeds all other numbers except for the 88)
As you can see, Harley changes the cranks for larger engine sizes even when the stroke stays the same. (The 96, 103 and 110 use the same stroke)
Why would a person build a big bore stroker motor without first addressing the crank to handle the added stress it will see ? (I wouldn’t dream of building a hot rod car without making certain the crank could handle it)
The abuse part I see is usually caused by doing burn outs, (That is a lower rpm thing) and/or engine lugging . Remember that when the throttle is cracked wide open with the crank not being allowed to accelerate that puts one hell of a stress on it (Particularly on the primary drive side) . Couple that with a crank that was not designed for a big bore kit and scissoring will occur.
The last thing is about chains. Harley did not go to chains to be cheap or as a way of dealing with crank run-out. They did so to bring the engine noise level down . (Gears are noisy)
In fact, due to the complexity and added parts needed to use chains, it’s actually more expensive for them to do that then it would be for space craft perfect cranks with gear drives .
Make no mistake, they need to make a profit too, and if a gear drive setup would have saved them money while still allowing for EPA noise guidelines, they would have done it .
Also, has anyone ever looked at some of the automotive engines that use chain drives? (It is very old school in that arena) Some of the setups on those make my Harley look very simplistic in design . Yet we see some of those auto engines last for well over 200k miles and never have problems with chains .
Good luck with your endeavors guys .

Doug H
Your living in a bubble. Your towing the company line.
Tell that story to the guy that tried to install an S&S gear drive on a STOCK Twin Cam and couldnt do it because of excessive crank shaft run out.
Try to convince the guy with a sissored crank in a stock motor.
Pressed pin cranks are cheep and unreliable.
If your VERY lucky you MAY not ever have an issue.
But for the price they want for these bikes they can do better.
Its all about keeping those dealers rich doing repairs.

No bubbles here.
Press fits on crankshafts are not new, nor are they endemic to Harley-Davidson .
Small block Chevrolets used press fit harmonic balancers for a time. Both GM, Ford and Chrysler press fit their power steering pump pulleys to the pump crankshaft
Ford 9 inch rear axles use press fit bearings to both support the weight of the vehicle and drive it forward.
However, even those will have issues when the vehicle is modified, just like the guy trying to install a gear drive on a TC is modifying his .
I still stick to the fact that a stock motor that is being abused (by burnouts) will absolutely have an issue .
As will an engine that has been souped up without a corresponding crank update .
Incidentally, my indy is not recommending big bore kits for performance anymore . He states that he can get the same power with cams and tuning . He also doesn’t recommend gear drives. His reasoning is that they are noisy and the parts he has gotten to install aren’t up to his standards .
He also dispels the myth that cam timing suffers with chain drive, by reminding me that a Harley engine built for the street, should never get to that high an RPM where a gear drive is needed to keep cam timing in line . (The cases will have a problem at that high an RPM)
Also, Harley cranks are supported by real roller bearings. (Part number 24605-07 for the 96) Naturally there should be some deflection in them . Automotive engines use Babbit bearings, the only deflection they give is with the oil clearance . Not thinking I’d want a gear drive on a crankshaft supported by roller bearings . By nature they move around more then an engine equipped with Babbits .
It is the fact that the crankshaft is supported by rollers, (and yes they do wear with time and will cause even more deflection) that I would never measure crankshaft run-out on a Harley with the crank in the cases . Only sure fire way to get an accurate measurement is with the crank completely removed and placed in the correct cradle .
I wonder how many cranks were replaced when the person measuring them actually saw bearing deflection? I also wonder what the readings would have been with just a new set of bearings? Or if the crank was removed and measured correctly?
At any rate, we are dealing with very old school technology in the area of reciprocating parts with these motorcycles . (That is part of the reason we bought them. We knew that going in. At least I did.) To attempt to use modern standards, to gauge the wear characteristic isn’t the wisest thing to do .

Yes the FLIMSY press pin crank will fail on a modified motor that obvious its a serious weak link.
Your talking history in some of your examples lets stay with (todays technology)
I had a Japanese bike with pressed pin crank and it sissored. that was back in the 70s ..IT WAS STOCK
Check out YouTube on the new Dodge V6 diesel with pressed on over head cam sprockets that are slipping on the cam shaft.
No serious engine mfg today would use such backward technology unless they were building in a design failure to make service profits.
You cant in all good conciseness argue with that.
Installing S&S cam gears is NOT modifying the engine its IMPROVING IT…
You cant be for real ??????

If our Harleys were of a more modern design, they most likely would not use pushrods, or be a 45 degree angle V-twin . (The latter naturally causes an engine imbalance)
The fact that they are not, means that measuring them in the same way one might measure a Goldwing crank is not correct .
I have yet to have someone tell me that measuring a crank in a cradle in incorrect.
They won’t either, because I’ll counter with the fact that the spec for my crank is on page 3-4 table 3-12 of my factory service manual and shows the spec for run-out when measured in the case max .010 and run-out when measured in truing stand as .004 . Where do you think that extra .007 came from . THE BEARINGS !!! .
Don’t believe me? Jack your car up, put a micrometer from the fender to the wheel and see if there is play in the wheel bearings . They are after all, the same type of bearing .
Couple that with the fact the primary side is held in place by the chain and sprocket, and any run-out on that side will show on the cam chain side where being measured . (And yes a good seal will indeed hold that, that’s why they are made from flexible rubber with a garter spring built in)
Harleys are built the way they are because the customer and government have demanded they be that way .
Harley can build a proper V-twin, but we, as a whole don’t buy a lot of them (It’s called the V-rod)
As to auto manufacturers using press fits on cranks and cams, I can site a few success stories (There are a few Ford’s around that do just that. Makes it a pain for the uninitiated to properly set the cam timing on a 2.0 ZX2 engine)
Having said all that, I’m going riding on my Harley-Davidson Twin Cam 96 with 52k miles on it, and have every bit of confidence it will give me no issues .
(It really can’t, I check everything regularly, and more often then required by the book. I am that anal)
Sorry to have raised a hornets nest. But I know what I see in mine, and I know where the evidence has lead me .
Should I ever need to replace mine, damn straight it’ll be another Harley. I’ll have no qualms about it being a Twin Cam either . I know their strengths, I know their weak spots, and I know how to avoid problems with them .

Hey Doug, Congrats, nice job, a lot of research ? How’s the rebuild on your Bike doing ? What I don’t get is this EPA Noise Issue with the Twin Cam, has anybody seen it. The Sportster has had 4 cams, since it’s Great, Great, Grandaddy, back in 1929, the 45″ Flathead, that’s 87 years. It has 4 cams & revs higher, so the noise should be higher ? YES/NO ?

OK, the Twin Cam A, has the rubber mounting, it jumps around at idle, calms down, out on the road ! But, What about the Twin Cam B, it being Solid Mounted, & so out of Balance, it needs Huge Chains & Weights, to offset the problem ? My 99 EVO, doesn’t have any of that Nonsense ?

I didn’t quite understand your crank part #’s ? You seem to think the 96, 103, & 110″ cranks, are different, BUT, with the same Stroke ? Why, because they have different Part #’s ?

OK, Here’s my experience with part #’s ! We have an International M/C business, sell 3, H-D related products Worldwide. Around 2007, H-D started to change the size of a part, on a couple bikes. I went to my local H-D Stealership, with the original part, that went back to the first EVO, then carried over to TC’S up until 2007. I was driving the Parts Manager Crazy, we both finally realized, he had a Dozen trays of this part, all the same, BUT, each box had a different part #? Go Figure, the parts manager didn’t know this, because of me, he does now.

So, Doug, what is the difference in the 96, 103, & 110 cranks ? OH, the Scissoring, what a Stupid Ass way to assemble a crank, press it together! If anybody reading these 3 Blogs, & they shouldn’t be, if H-D had Built a Good Motor to begin with ! But, if yours implodes, & you want to fix it, find the Best Independent Tech, Balance & True the Crank, then WELD IT ! Better yet, Buy an S&S, Better & Cheaper ! IMO, Boston Jim

Well said Jim
I cant believe some people are so blind to the Crank issue.
Did you ever see the Video of the Harley assembly line ?
There is a section in there showing the cranks being assembled. Cool Vid
And to think there is that much run-out caused by the roller bearings is crazy. If there was you would NEVER keep a seal in there. There would be motor oil leaking into the primary.
I love the sound of the Twin Cam and love the look of it. But man Harley is loosing customers because of the weak points in that motor. MoCo fix the damn thin…..

My bike isn’t in need of a rebuild at 52K miles . Oil pressure is great (34 psi hot cruise), as is performance, fuel economy and overall rideability .
Try as I might, I can’t find a problem with my engine. (I do maintain, service and inspect it as though it were an airplane though. Maybe that’s why?)
Best I can tell you on the cranks is this . (I had one heck of a time finding the facts here)
Early 96 VS late 96 and 103 = The interference press fit spec is changed (made tighter I would assume to withstand the 103)
Late 96/103 VS 110. = My understanding is that there is a bearing change in the con rods . I couldn’t find info on any changes to press fit.
On my own machine. I have souped it up with a stage 1 and SE 255 cams. But, I did my homework. As mine is a 2010, it has the later 96/103 crank. So given the fact I did not increase the cubic inches, and am producing torque numbers just at (or slightly below) a stock 103, I’m confident I’m not overstressing the crank . I also don’t lug my engine, (tough not to do cause it sounds so cool) do burnouts, and it never sees RPM near or at the redline .
Being an Ultra Classic, all out balls to the wall speed isn’t what I have in mind . (Hanging out on cruise with the occasional passing maneuver is)

Oh, I forgot to add.
The EPA makes the rules for motorcycle noise emissions.
Their test take into account all the noise the motorcycle makes when running . (Minus the horn, tire, and wind noises)
From there I have to speculate. But it would be this. (at least for me) When I fire up my Harley I want it’s exhaust to somewhat sound like a Harley . The only way to do that and still pass EPA regs is to quiet other engine noises .
Being an air cooled engine, which by nature makes more mechanical noises then a liquid cooled. (The liquid coolant in the passages actually dampens quite a bit of noise) That puts my bike’s manufacturer between the devil and the deep blue sea . They want to please me to get me to purchase, but they still must please the EPA.

Hey Rob, He’s not a Tech ! You’re spot on ! You explained it, in layman’s terms, the Best I’ve seen, Good Job ! If anybody sees the S&S Truck at a Rally, give their display Gear Drive Cams a spin, with your hand, it’s amazing !

BJ. Some folks need to be educated in the ways of HD. Who knows the guy might be only 18-20 years old. Cut him some slack, wait for the next one. No snow. Out today on the Slide Glide for the first long run. 60 NICE.

Not at all. Not even close.

Hey Donny, Got Snow? How the Phuck are you? BJ

PS, Can you believe that Guy? Just when you thought you heard everything!

Hey Gerry, I’ve got to hand it to you, you’ve got Balls asking a Stupid question like that on this Blog. They say, there isn’t a Dumb Question, well this is one of those Rare exceptions! At this moment in time, you have NO business owning a H-D! You’ll KILL yourself! Do yourself a favor, Google H-D Sportster, educate yourself, on the difference of the 2 Bikes. What’s behind the question? IMO, the 2004 & up Sportsters suck, NO tranny trapdoor! Sportsters, 2003 & back to 1957, are much better, IMO! Twin Cams, 2006 & back,really suck! I’m 66, when I was 10, I knew the difference between an XLCH & a Panhead! Be Safe, BJ

i am thinking of but this xl sportster c 2011 it has av twin, there are 8000 miles on bike it will cost me roughly 6500 . i really need to know if this bike falls into the catagory of twin cam engines – PLEASE LET ME KNOW

My 02 RK has 50+ miles and change the oil every 3K miles and use syn oil.I inspected the chain tensioner summer of 2015, they were like new.A buddy hadnt changed his oil since time began…an 01..with 70+ miles and they were laying inside..chewed up.Needless to say he needed a toltall rebuild.

Perhaps that’s why Harley doesn’t list an inspection time frame?
Proper maintenance and use of suggested oils inhibits the problem?
(Just a guess)

Hey Doug, I’m Glad, that you’re Glad, that everything is sorted out, & you’re happy with the outcome. Did you do it yourself? Can you share, what the parts cost, for the next guy thinking about doing it? Beware, Be Smart, Be Safe, & Good Luck, Boston Jim, fatzusadotcom

Hey Jim, I assume your asking me about the SE 255 cam swap .
IIRC the cost was about $400. I got the cams as new take outs from eBay (The 110 guys take the cams out first thing, because the SE255 isn’t too good in a 110, but they make a 96 scream)
The cam bearing puller/installer tool also came from eBay.
The cam chest service kit (with gaskets, Torrington bearings, O-rings and breather service parts) came from Fuel Moto USA.
The rocker cover gaskets and tensioners came from my local dealer .
The lifters came from SummitRacing, as Crane Cams makes a replacement lifter for the EVO/TC Harley that is made in USA and inexpensive compared to the O.E.
I don’t remember the exact cost break down though.
Yes, I did do all the work myself as I find my Harley the easiest machine in the world to work on .
Be sure to have a service manual for proper procedures and torque specs, as well as a way to tune your fuel injection for the new parts . And always use red or blue Loctite where the manual says to .
Good luck and enjoy, it is fun and worthwhile experience .

Hey Donny, Did you do it? Are you Mech. inclined? Bugsby, got bite in the ass twice, OCH!
Why didn’t you make the J&P YouTube thing, clickable? I can’t be phucking around with these computer things! I think Bill Gates is the AntiChrist! Got Snow, I got some last night, more Monday morning! Sucks, I just took the snow tires off my Bike! BJ

J&P has a very good video on U-Tube that goes into great detail on this repair. If you are in any way mechanically inclined it should be a breeze. You all should have a look. Saves a fortune.

Hey Jammmer, I always wanted a Joe Teresi (Easyrider Mag.) Jammer frame & bike! AMSOIL will lower your oil temp., 30 degrees! Are you using the long Dyna oil filer?
Oil cooler, every little bit helps?
I’d find the BEST TECH in your area, before, I’d go the Gear Cams. There are many shops, that won’t check out, the crank run out, just throw the Gear Cams in, now you’re worse off, than with the chain tensioners? Taking a bolt cutter to the push rods, eliminates, taking off the tank & valve covers (less labor)? fatzusadotcom, Good Luck, BJ

I upgraded my TC96 and put SE255 cams in it . (As I stated before, I found zero wrong with the engine. But did replace the hydraulic tensioners and cam bearings because they are cheap and I was already in there)
I didn’t cut my pushrods and went through the process of removing the tank, rocker covers and rocker arms .
That meant I could use my OE pushrods and tubes, and would never need to concern myself with pushrod adjustment .
I did replace my lifters too. Being an old school auto tech, I never run old lifters on a new cam no matter how good they look .
My results so far (about 1,500 miles now) have been flawless .
The engine now has 52k on the clock BTW .
PS, I chose the SE255 cams (some hate em some love em) because my machine is a heavy weight Ultra Classic which rarely sees anything over 5,000 RPM and low end torque and extra passing power were what I wanted . (I am extremely happy with it BTW)

Thanks so much that in my opinion is the most info I have found regarding this situation. I only ran across the issue after i did a stage 1 upgrade to my 2012 fxdc . v&h slash slip ons Arlen Ness big sucker intake and a v&h fuel management system. I read in a blog somewhere that the engine ran hot from the factory so i went on a quest to cool it down . I am still not sure about the exhaust system as they are just slip ons . this is my first harley and i like it. It only has 2000 miles on it now but i am seriously considering the gear drive cam upgrade already . question do i have to change the rods and lifters too.

Hey Don, Actually $8.73! Right now, I’m setting up a Biker from Texas, as one of my AMSOIL Dealers! Why don’t you become my 1st Canadian Dealer. Buy wholesale, sell retail, US profit $3.17 qt.? I’m also working with a Biker from South Africa, wants to be Sole Distributor of my FATZ? FATZUSAdotcom, click yellow Fatboy, click Mcoil, click Buy Wholesale, fill out app., your my New Dealer!
Hey, I hear there’s a Big Wabbit, looking for Hairy Bags, to make a nest? BJ

Jimbo $9.00 a quart? Come north of the boarder and see how Our government puts the screws to it’s own people. You guys can buy OUR beer for less then we can, just walk across the line. Hay Jimbo, how long have we been on this blog. BTW I bet I have more bag hairs then you. LOLOLO Have a Happy Easter out there.

Hey Donny, I’ve got Boots older than you! Where are you? Still got snow? BJ

Hey Donny, you found what was stinking up the place, the Dead Horse, the 99 to 2006 TC!
Fram! I wouldn’t put a Fram Filter on my lawnmower! AMSOIL is the BEST! The AMSOIL Nanofiber oil filter for your bike is EAOM134C, C = chrome.
AMSOIL MCV, 20W-50, less than $9.- per qt.

Jim, I’m almost sure that today’s V-Rod is the devils spawn of a grand son of the motor that you are talking about.(could be wrong)BTW I turn 65 next year.So that makes you an older old fart!

Hey Donny, I don’t think Porsche had anything to do with the Evo’s? But, they did with the watercooled V-ROD! Rumor has it, that some variation of the V-ROD motor will be in all the Big Twins, sometime in the future? Let’s hope they dump that POS Twin Cam Motor soon! Today, wouldn’t be soon enough!
Donny, if you’ve got an Indian Dealer in your area, go for a Demo ride, on both the Chief & Scout! And post HERE, what you think! Be Safe, BJ
PS, I received 2 emails last night, an American Biker working the mines in South Africa & a Biker from North Hollywood, Ca., they both want to buy one of my FATZ’s! FATZUSAdotcom, BJ

Hay Jim wasn’t that motor supposed to be water cooled and weren’t the Germans(Porsche) involved in the design. I think they were involved with the evo top end, and heavily into the Sporty motor also at the time. I might be wrong though.

Hey Donny, I’m a 9/11/49 Baby Boomer. One of my Harley’s is a 1986 1st year Evo Sportster, punched out & lightened, it will blow off those XLCH Strokers, of Old! Hey, an easy way to check on the yellow or white plastic shoes, open up your dirty oil filter, stretch out the pleats, at next oil change! Do you put your bike away for the winter, with dirty or clean oil? Pretend it’s a boat, always put it away with AMSOIL & a Good Filter, not a Made in Thailand, K&N, TOO restrictive! Later, be safe, BJ

Easier to just pull the cover off each spring Jim. Only put 1500 last year so put away dirty. Change every April. my oil is clear. Then again I ride like an old lady. This is my last bike. Had enough of the blind drivers in horse trailers, funny looking people from other countries trying to run me over. Besides my eyes are bad, reflexes suck, don’t pay attention anymore, time to quit this year.(AMSOIL, Fram all the best stuff. Used to cost about $30.00 to do it. Now it’s almost $100.00. God knows how much the service guy charge. It’s been a fun 40 years riding. My bike is the best that I can afford and i’m glad that there is a forum like this that People like me and you other guy’s can vent their rage and flustration on and do nobody any harm. But at the and of the day isn’t this topic a bit of a dead horse? After all it really only involves 2000- 2005 HD TC 88’s Twinkie motors?(Don’t make em any more?) After that the MOCO tried to cover this s–t- up with the present set-up.

The problem Doug,is the yellow material that was supplied for the shoes. As it cooks it gets brittle and falls apart also the chains are not polished a little finer. They act like a chain saw also some of the springs could be a little to firm. COULD GO ON. Won’t. The newer shoes on the hydros should last longer if you use full syn. but they will ware out later rather then sooner.(My 03 FXDWG’S shoes are 1/4 gone at 25’000 miles I expect that If they don’t explode I might make 35-40,000. And Doug I was told by a service teck. They could explode all over the cam chest at any time….. = Big bucks.


Hey Don, I read somewhere, that back in the late 70’s, that AMF, was working on a overhead came motor, similar to the Victory! Then in 1981, the sale back to H-D executives who had barely enough money to buy H-D back, they had NO money to finish the overhead cam motor! All they could do was refresh the Shovelhead into the EVO! The EVO motor saved H-D, it was like the Phoenix, rising from the ashes. There was only one reason the Twin Cam was crap, Greed! They found a way to build cheap motors quickly, the cam chains are very tolerant of a sloppy, unbalanced motor. And, sell upgrades, when you complained! It was a perfect plan, made a lot of money! Donny asked, What’s next? I don’t know, but, they need to pull a rabbit out of a hat! There backs are against the wall, stocks are down, Indian & Polaris is soaring! S&S makes wonderful motors, the X-Wedge, 124 Touring, with or without cam chains. I’ve been thinking about something Donny said, he got his bike at a bike junkyard! Get a junkyard bike, buy a S&S 124T (was approx. $5800.), now you have a real bike! Or, if you have Deep Pockets, buy a New H-D, get the 7 year warranty, & ride the Hell out of it! Be Safe, Boston Jim

Hey Donny, ya got the day off? Four comments in a row!I thought I had pissed off Tom, with my last comment, HA! Remember the 60’s, you could buy a used XLCH for $250. to $500., I bought my 1st Panhead in 1969, it had a rebuilt motor, for $250., the owner was a truck mechanic, bike had come to a screeching halt. I took it home in the back of his pickup, I adjusted, the tranny & primary chain & was back down his house in 2 hours. I sold it in 1975 for $2500. I think the early Twin Cams will be like those cheap bikes of the 60’s, starter bikes, for cheap money! They will always be POS motors, real sad motor.
This is the 18th year of the Twin Cam, same as the Panhead & Shovelhead? I’m liking the New Scout, 100HP, from 69″! Suppers ready!

Hey Marc, Did you buy one of these POS motors? Did you not READ all 1200 comments, here on the 3 blogs about the Twin Cam motor? Why are you Thanking Spyder? He says he’s been a H-D Tech for 20 years, that means, he’s been there for the last 2 years of the Best motor H-D ever made, & all 18 years of the POS motor. He’s been drinking the MOCO Kool-Aid for 18 years. Today, a H-D Tech, could be a Certified mechanic, or the kid that washes your bike after service? I have never heard any employee of H-D EVER, say a Bad Word about the TC motor. It’s a Maintenance issue, Maintenance issue MY ASS, it’s a very Bad design! Designed for profits, chains on both sides of the cams, DUH! They built motors for 96 years without chains on the cams. They had a gear driven Twin Cam in 1929, with NO chains. The Twin CamB , has chains & weights on both sides of the motor? Why not just take the time to balance the motor, like the New & Old Indian. Why bother, we’ll sell them, we are H-D! I guess the EPA, hasn’t discovered the 4 Cam Sportster yet, DUH! Pans & Shovels lasted 18 years, the Evo 16, the TC is into it’s 18th, What’s next H-D, is this POS, the BEST you got? H-D owner since 1967, Boston Jim

Mark please convert K’S to miles for our American friends so they can budget the proper most likely repair needed:(I guess pretty soon we won’t need this blog any more. Most of the older Twin Cam’s will be either repaired or blown-up. What do ya think Jimbo? (Wonder whats next?)

Thanks, Spyder for telling it like it really is. So I guess my new 2015 103 is good to go for a few thousand, eh? Thanks

Good information on Harley Davidson motorcycle.

harley starter replacement

Why can’t they use a roller set up similar to the one found in a snowmobile chain case

The “Stealerships” are bad news….especially the HD dealers. No wonder their stock is dropping…

I’ve been a H-D technician for 20 years and I must say, very nice sales pitch, too bad so much of it is bull. The ’06 and earlier spring tensioners do wear quickly, about 30-50k but you can upgrade to the hydraulics that the ’07 and later have and you can use your old cams, I have seen over 100k on them with almost no wear, never had to replace a single hydraulic tensioner but have had to replace dozens of gear drives, they have gears meshing which constantly enters metal shavings into the engine, the gears never are sized correctly and if they are too tight they whine, too loose and they rattle, both conditions prematurely wear out the cam bearings. The gear drive system is junk not to mention if you have a new bike they will void your warranty. The first question you should always ask yourself when reading tech articles is “Is this article trying to sell me something?” If the answer is yes then how can you trust if the info is true?

Hey Spyder, Happy New Year! What year & model is your bike? What H-D oil is better, Dino or Syn 3, both good for 5K? So, if what you say is true, Big Twin Evos & all Sportsters since 1952 (KH flatheads) & all real Sportsters since 1957, must be wearing out. You didn’t touch on the real problem! A poorly designed motor! Sounds like your blaming the aftermarket, they are trying to rectify the problems, with that POS motor? H-D stock is down around $40.-, from around $70.-, Polaris is over a $100., the BEST thing for H-D, sell out to Polaris! H-D is Sad! BJ

The reason gear drives dont work is because harleys rotating assemble are so far out off true that the techs putting them in doesnt check to c how far the pinion shafts are out anything over .002 is to much,and harleys were gear drives from the beginning of time y did they change??

Hey Croz, Spot on! Happy New Year, BJ

PS, Today, a Tech, at a H-D Dealer, means the guy that you pay $115.- for labor, who changes your oil, & washes your bike after, & if he’s done sweeping the floor, maybe they’ll let him spend the rest of the day, trying to change a tire!

Thanks for the great info Scott. I am 65 years old, so it looks like my 2013 Harley Ultra will probably outlive me as it regards this business of cam chain tensioners.

Hey Dave, What you talking about Willis? My 1986, 1st year Evo Sportster & my 1999 FXSTC, last Evo Big Twin, will outlive you. Your Twinky, has a slim chance of outliving you! I’m 66, been to 47 Laconia’s! Be Safe, BJ
PS, FATZUSA dot com

thanks, Spyder

I’ve been snooping around the Indian chat sites and problems are starting to crop up . I won’t list them, rather I’ll let you all do a Google search and find them. On the flip side, my Twinkie is running trouble free and is not experiencing any issues with it’s chain drive or any other systems (and yes, I inspect it regularly)
While were at it though, knocking a chain driven camshaft design is a bit on the nutty side .
If chain drives are such a huge problem, we wouldn’t see them en masse on automotive engines . (You very rarely see a production V8 engine from Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, MB, etc etc without a chain driving it’s camshafts) In fact every vehicle in my fleet has camshafts driven by chains . Those engines are a Ford 460, a Ford 5.0 HO, my 32 Valve 4.6 Ford and my HD TC 96 . (Heck my Honda VF700F and CX500 even had them, My Goldwing used them for the starter and as the primary means of moving power to the transmission shaft. Current Goldwing’s also use timing chains to drive their cams)
Never ever have I seen or experienced an issue with timing chains unless the vehicle was abused and neglected . (I’ve been twisting wrenches for over 30 years professionally)

The only reason the GEAR DRIVE system fails is because of crank shaft run-out.
You as a so called Harley tech should know all about crank shaft run-out. Its a BIG known issue. If there is a lot of run-out the cam gear drive will be lose then tight during the 360 deg rotation of the crank.
Matter of fact Harleys cranks have in most cases (unless you are one of the lucky ones) so much run-out the MoCo HAD TO use chains to compensate for such poor tolerances.
If the MoCo would spend an extra buck they could use a forged crank like everyone else.
As long as they keep pressing those 3 pcs cranks together at the factory there will be the need for chains not gears…

Just the facts, not Harley bashing.
If you really are a Harley tech you know this is true!!!

Provided Great Information on harley davidson issues.

Hey D.D., Happy New Year ! What year & model is your H-D ? Be Safe, Boston Jim

Pan and Shovs are antiquated POS compared to my counterbalanced TC88,
That said the spring tensioners are a problem, SMALL problem.
The hydraulic conversion is simple and excuse to throw an andrews in. not bullet proof but gears are noisy unless everything is perfect.
That all being said were talking about a Harley, wouldnt trade mine for anything !!!!
You want performance buy a Ducati
Reliability buy a Honda !!!!!

Pans & Shovels are worth there weight in Gold ! They are desirable & in demand. Your “Counterbalanced 88” POS, will NEVER attain Pan or Shovel Status. Yes, you’re right, you will keep the Money Pit Forever, because anybody with a 1/2 brain knows it’s been a POS since 1999 ! Good Luck & Merry Xmas, BJ
PS, Maybe, if you leave Santa a Hot Chocolate & 3 cookies, he’ll take it ?

Ya know, I read the post about this issue. (As well as others)
It didn’t stop me from buying my 2010 EG Classic used in 2014 with 40k miles on the clock . (Sweet bike, looks and rides like new and my first Harley) From a Polaris dealer no less.
I wouldn’t trade that Harley for anything else, except maybe another TC powered Ultra .
Granted I have only put 10k miles on it .
But in that time it has been an exemplary machine, and so far has been the best motorcycle I have ever had .
I see folks complaining about chains in engines . Car companies have done this for years, as have motorcycle companies . (My Honda CX500, VF700 and GL1200 all had a chain(s) of some sort inside their engines)
You complain about keeping a Harley running? Try keeping an 84 GL1200 on the road . (Oh and BTW the new GL1800’s use chains to drive their camshafts)
The trick is to maintain/inspect your machine like it is an airplane . You would never fly in an airplane that has not been inspected/maintained recently . Why not treat your bike (or car/truck) the same way?
Ever watch the pilot go over his plane, checking things before they climb in the cockpit? You should do the same before you sit in the saddle .
It has been said in this thread that if one truly does not understand how a machine works and how to keep it that way, then maybe they shouldn’t be using it. I tend to agree.
How many of you have actually read your owner’s manual from cover to cover? (be honest) Much less even cracked open a service manual?
My last point is this. If these issues are so rampant, where are the class action lawsuits and/or government mandated recalls? (The goverment can enforce a safety recall for engines that stall unexpectedly causing the possibility of loss of control causing injury or death. Regardless of warantee status or accrued mileage) Those things simply don’t exist, leading me to believe these issues are not as rampant as this thread leaves us to believe.

Hey Doug, I hope you enjoy your used H-D, with 50K on the meter, you’ll be digging DEEP in both pockets to service that POS ! Happy Holidays, Boston Jim

Boston Jim sounds like either an Indian rider that regrets his decision to buy a Polaris, or a Harley wanna be that cant or wont step up to the plate

Yeah Jim it’s a lifestyle and you definitely aint harley material only wannabes bash other riders bikes usually because they’re jealous. Pretty sad, man

After inspection and finding nothing unusual or nothing needing replacement, we’re still rolling along with zero issues.
I noticed someone complaining about finding neutral, I haven’t experienced this and can find it from 2nd or first with ease .

I think you’re right, I hear no one in real life talking about this also see many with 80K and 100K on them
Your 2010 has the hydraulic cam tensioner in it which really isnt an issue I’ll never live long enough to see my 2015 police have that issue

Hell they recalled my hydraulic clutch I’m not even taking mine back cause it works perfectly why let em bleed and put a kit in it to possibly start trouble? If it aint broke dont fix it has been my motto of course religious maintenance is always good. I heard a new Indian chief Saturday and it sounded like a weak 750 honda shadow…no thanks, I’ll stick with HD Ride safe

Hey Riders, I want to wish everybody, Happy Holidays & a Merry Xmas, except Wannabee Tom, he already has everything & ALL the answers ! Boston Jim

Problem is Doug, the MOTO didn’t mention the inspection of this potential problem in the service manual. Lot’s of service guy’s got caught off- guard on this one I bet. Please anyone correct me if they will. Your motor seem’s to be OK. Can’t wait to see what’s next down the line.

Far as I’m concerned and based on my observations, (That would be with later model’s equipped with hydraulic tensioners) THEY DON”T NEED TO.
This issue is far overblown and any issue has long since been corrected . (That does not mean a failure rate of zero percent, which is statistically impossible for ANY mechanical device)
It is forums like these that have and are making a mountain of a molehill on this one. I have asked my indy, my Harley dealer tech, and fellow long time Harley riders if indeed this problem is as bad as this post makes it seem, and they all agree that the percentage of failure is quite small .
In addition, the percentage of failures I could confirm, vs the number of bikes built puts the failure rate under 3%, that is statistically in line (in fact better than) with accepted production and engineering practices of the best and most respected companies .
The fact there is no class action lawsuits, (that I can find) nor any mandated safety recalls or investigations into the matter via NHTSA, (as of yet anyways) bears this out .

Thank you very much for educating us with this article.

Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after looking at
a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Regardless,
I’m certainly happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

Hey Glock, Welcome ! What year & model is your H-D ? Have a nice Thanksgiving, Eveytbody have a nice Thanksgiving ! BJ

I did the S&S 585 gear drive in my 2010 softail cvo . I had it professionally installed. It woke the bike up great. The run out was perfect prior to install . But the vibration is horrible. It’s been tuned 3 times on the dyno. S&S blamed the crank. Sure easy to point it too something else I’m slowly getting use to it but once in a while it is total crap under load and heat. I would not do the gear drive ever again. The only thing left I wonder is the fuel system and injection is messing up the timing. I now have to live with the B motor vibration very bad from 2800 rpms and up. Oh well the price we pay for speed . But if you are going gear drive go with a more mid range cam if you like to ride hundreds of miles in a day.

Hey Mike, I believe S&S is right. The H-D cranks aren’t balanced worth a shit. You’ve got those balance chains, with weights on the ends. The rubber mount bikes don’t have to use extra HP, to move the stupid anchors. You should have kept the EVO.
PS, Today, H-D stock is down $9.50, 17% right now, they are blaming the surge in Auto-Trikes, Slingshot, Stallion, etc. The CEO, will be on the Stock Market Show, Wed., I’ll report what he says. They should have just built a better, balanced motor ! The New Indian, learned what not to do, from H-D mistakes !

Check your front motor mount, I have vibration issues and was reading online about replacing the stock rubber mount with a urethane mount. It is located under the voltage regulator and oil filter in the front on TCs. Check out Drag Pros, they are available on Amazon for$20.

Hey Bzoned, Let me be the 1st of many to comment! ALL Softails from 1984 to the present, have rigid mounted motors, bolted to the frame, NO RUBBERS! Who wears rubbers today, only sissy’s. I suppose Charlie Sheen should have ? Did you just get your 1st H-D for Xmas? BJ
PS, I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist! H-D owner since 1967! 47 Laconia’s !

Charlie Sheen? RUBBERS? Really Jimbo! LOLOLO

I have been riding and wrenching on motorcycles for over 45 years. I have a 2003 Pearl White FXDX that I love! Nice Machine. Also, currently own a Norton, Triumph, and BSA. I have 40,000 on my Twin Cam to include a Coast-Coast trip to the “Wall” in 2005. I’ve known about the twin cam problem for quite sometime. I plan on either replacing the shoes or getting the gear conversion this winter. I’ve been lucky with motorcycles I guess, but I keep them maintained. In 1997 I rode a 1963 Norton Atlas all over the United States. A magneto for spark, and used the stator and rotor for my lights. I would check my valves and file my points every three hundred miles. Also, checked my primary and rear drive daily. All motorcycles have issues of some sort.

Hey Mike.
If you go with gears make sure you check or at least have someone check the run out on your crank. I went with the Screaming Eagle upgraded can plate and hydraulic tensioners for my 2000 FXDX. It came in kit form and cost me $499.00+tax at Historic Harley Davidson in Topeka Kansas. In my opinion the best dealership I have ever visited and they have a small museum in the basement that’s worth a look. Fits like a glove and with close to 20,000 miles since the installation, shows virtually no wear at all.

Thanks for the info. I’m considering the hydraulic tensioners. Sounds like a better and more economical solution.

Hey Mike, Yes, you have been a Lucky SOB ! The 2003 models were the 1st of the Worst Motors, Cast Crank ! Nice 100th Birthday present from the MoCo, to it’s loyal customers. Don’t wait too long, NO coast to coast trips !
Good Luck, BJ

I plan on checking them soon. Before I ride again, I’ll pull the cover off and have a look. I can’t believe I’ve gotten 40,000 without problems. Lucky! I had a 1976 FXE back in the day LOL….and I only got 20,000 before it needed a top end. AMF…I went to BMW’s for years after that bike, but hey, BMW’s have problems too.

Great information. I’m selling my 2001ultra and buying a metric.

Good, then you can figure out first hand all of the issues with metric bikes and sell it for a car.

Jim, do yourself a favor ! Demo ride a New Indian Chief & Scout, you’ll be pleasantly surprised ! Be Safe, Boston Jim

04 FLHTCUI: I wish this post had been around in 07 it might have saved my engine. It shelled at 50,000 miles due to cam chain tensioner failure. As I traveled the country and talked to dealers, they either denied knowledge of the problem or denied it being a problem.

Hey Rod, do you live under a rock ? This has been a problem since 1999 ! Consider yourself lucky, some blew at 25K ! Buy a New Indian ! BJ

Indians just havent caught on, I have seen ONE on the road in the last 6 months. No Harley guys will buy them because of Polaris and the price is up there with a new Street Glide, also the economy. Bikes just aint sellin right now. Older monied guys will either buy a GW1800 or a trike, Indians have no market.

Look for incredible deals to come on these soon, they just aint movin

TomTom, I have an Indian Dealer, less than a mile from my home, in Worcester, Ma.. Back in 1999, when the Gilroy, Ca. Indians started, my Dealer bought the rights to New England. In 2001, I was the only rider from New England, to ride from Springfield, Ma., the original factory from 1901 to 1953, to Gilroy, Ca., & back to Springfield. These were all 88″ S&S motors, nice ride. There was 12 factory riders & me, we had a 53′, 2 tier trailer, 80 bikes. I must have rode 2 dozen New Indians, in the 2 weeks out, & rode a New Scout home, with the ole flatheads, doing their annual pilgrimage back to their birthplace, Springfield. At Sturgis, 2003, a buddy & me rode the New Indian Bottlecap, nice ride. The week after Sturgis, 2013, the Demo truck came to town for 3 days. I made friends with the factory crew. You had to make an appointment, rides went out every 1/2 hour, if you missed your time slot, the crew Boss, would call out my name, I’d grab my helmet, & ride. In 9 days of Demo rides, I must have rode 2 dozen Polaris Indians, Sweet Ride. I want to ride the New Scout, 100HP, out of the box ! Take a Demo Ride, if YOU ride ?
Tom, I’ve read all 1193 comments on the 3 J&P Blogs about the cam problems, 75% had Blown Motors ! The Twin Cam is a POS ! I have 2 Evo’s, have been riding H-D’s since 1967, every Laconia since 1969. What have you done, what year & model is your virtual bike ?
On the 3rd Sunday of July, the Indian Museum has a big party, there was a club from N.J., 12/18 New Indians. I don’t know where the rock is you live under, but, there was a lot of New Indians at Laconia, & all over New England. BJ

I have not read all 1193 comments but of the comments I have read I wouldn’t guess even close to half of them ride and they sure as he’ll don’t wrench. The TwinCam makes decent power and is pretty reliable if you perform checks and the up on the maintenance. I was checking my tensioners every so often and eventually went out in the Screaming Eagle can plate with hydraulic adjusters so I wouldn’t have to check near as often. Several years back I was told “don’t get a Shovelhead all they do is break down”. So I went and bought a 1972 FLH. It had enough miles to justify a rebuild so I took out the engine and transmission, rebuilt them and put them back in. I put another 80,000 on that bike before someone was able to talk me out of her. Back in the day remember the old saying “here no evo, speak no evo, ride no evo. I remember people being up in arms about the introduction of the evo, going on and on about how it wasn’t a real Harley and all of that crap. It’s the same thing over and over. People have it stuck in their minds how a Harley should be or even motorcycles in general. Soon as something new comes out you can here the arm chair quarter backs and outright protesters stating their discontent with the newer version and they just don’t make em like they used to. Just cause you own a bike, does not automatically make you an expert on the subject. I know lots and lots of people who own motorcycles and I don’t see anyone of them when it’s raining or snowing out. He’ll I don’t see many of them out unless it’s eighty degrees on a Sunday. I guess what I’m trying to get to is, instead of jumping on a goddam blog, running your mouth and putting down another person’s ride. Why don’t you get out and ride your bike and figure your own shit out.

Maybe in NE but in miswest and FL seems everyone is on a Harley, they may have some cam issues but I have also seen hi milers that were never touched.

I rise a 98 EVO Heritage and a brand new 15 electra glide Police, and if i want a TRULY trouble free LONG ride I have a 1996 XV1300 Royal Star to fall back on.
I’ll trade my police on a new one LONG before some (if any) cam issues come up so it is a non event for me

I do like the scouts but i just bot a 2005 Roadster 1200R with 6000 miles and NO cam issues for 3300 so that’s my “scout” for now.

I just wonder, how hard would it be to SELL a new Indian in a couple years…my guess it it wouldn;t be easy unless you want to give it away.

You sound like those Polaris Victory Guys…bunch of know it all snobs that think THEIR ride is better than anyone else’s. I sure hope what Indian riders there are out there are not like THAT, or they’ll be riding without ME in the group.

Pffft…. So you took demo rides and recommend someone buys an Indian? You sold me pal! Not to mention one of the ugliest bikes on the road. To each his own I guess…

BJ- WOW dude! You are the epitome of a forum troll. Anything after your youthful days is a “pos.” While I agree HD should have done far more to improve quality and R&D when they had the money I do not see the point in telling everyone with a HD that if it is after 99 it is a POS and they should buy and Indian. I am here in Daytona at Bike Week, all the demo fleets are here and there are NO LINES TO RIDE ANY BIKES HERE. I have ridden 2 Indians, 2 Victories, 1 HD and I ride an 07 FXSTB. They are all decent rides. I do not have any faith in the current 103″ or 110″ motors myself because of some good friends that have issues with them but I wouldn’t bash them or their rides.

My impressions of the Indian (Roadmaster, Chieftan)- it is a comfortable ride and the styling is spot on! I felt it under powered. The papers show it puts out more torque than my 07 FXSTB (the only mod to my bike is an exhaust) but the feel and throttle response go to my current bike and the 2016 FLHTCU that I rode here. I could easily get my front wheel to get light and the 2016 HD got very light with a quick snap of the wrist. This was definitely not the case for the Indian.

The Victory (vision, cross country) was, again more comfortable than the HD. While I did find more power than the Indian it was still not as quick to respond as the HD (the cross country I rode had $7500 in extras including a performance exhaust). The sound system in the Victory was great and seemed superior to the Indian (the Indian roadmaster had a blow speaker at 2k miles).

Both the Indian and the Victory were balanced decently and handled well. The Indians trans seemed to shift smoother than the HD or the Victory. A welcome and long past due small feature found in the Indian and Victory but lacking in the HD – NEUTRAL FIND! While at a stop you can only up shift into neutral, a feature that was on my 1985 Kawasaki but HD has still failed to embrace.

For reference I have had and owned Kawasaki and Suzuki both in racer and cruiser form. I know what a 0-60 in 3 seconds or less feel like and I know what a balanced cruiser engine feel like. HD, Indian and Victory do not even come close, I am sad to say. HD should have passed the other manufacturers in V twins and in line 4 and 6 cylinder models back in the 80s when they had the chance.

I have a 1989 Suzuki that is now worth what it retailed for back in 1989 because few of these survived and they are sought after by vintage competitors. As far as Pans, Knuckles and Iron heads they will have value, especially as their numbers decrease and their collect-ability increases but there are other bikes that will hold and even gain value.

Tom & Chad; I wasn’t running my mouth, I was using my middle finger…. typing ! “you don’t know, WHAT, you don’t know”, one of my favorite sayings ! In my case, I knew from the Get Go, in 1999, that this Twin Cam Motor was a POS ! You Guys failed, you drank the MoCo Kool-Aid, you eat up all the H-D Bullchit, now you have some on your face, & you STILL WON’T admit, the Twin Cam is the worst motor in H-D History. The TC has NO value, they are not desirable or in demand, TOO many made ! And the problems ?

I do want to thank all the TC owners, for buying all those POS, 10 years ago, we bought a lot of H-D stock at $8.- per share, sat on it 10 years, sold it for $65.-, thanks again, you made me rich ! Be Safe, BJ

I actually prefer sweet tea to koolaid and the odometer on my 2000 FXDX proves that my TwinCam is far from a POS. It has been road tested through every type of weather condition that mother nature can throw at you and still runs strong at 100,000 miles. Glad you got rich on an investment you didn’t believe in. Maybe you should write a book.

When I took mine in at 60000 miles it was still ok but I replaced it anyway. I asked the guy about why some last and some dont and he said he thought it had to do with how you rode. Not riding hard or not hard but more like if you rode long distances for at high speeds a lot. But both dealers/mechanics admitted that it was a problem/weak link

I replaced the tensioners at 30,000 miles on my Wide Glide. They already had specks/chunks coming out of the lining. It wasn’t going to be long. Thanks to the internet for telling me there was a problem, Harley Davidson didn’t say a word. That much is true. I love my Harleys but I don’t think much of the Motor Company. FTF

Have a 1999 Fatboy and a 2014 Indian Vintage, love them both.

78,000 miles on my 03 Deuce. Never a problem.

I’m amazed, 78 K on a 1st year cast crank Duece, you’ve got a keeper ! Maybe Willy G., will put it in the H-D Museum, someday. Good Luck & Be Safe, BJ

PS, Did you replace anything ? Did you put in the “upgrade kit”, 95″ kit, gear drive cams, or hydraulic tensioners, something ? Did you buy it new, or did you buy it from a real biker, who knew, there were a lot of upgrades to make it last forever ?

I am a very grateful HD 2007 Heritage Soft Tail Classic owner, thank You for your candid view on HD Shops. I have come across the same denial on mechanical issues. Like you I am not badmouthing HD, just that it’s impossible to get them to open up and explain this cam issue as well as other ones. Grateful to you for the solution , I have 36,000 miles on my 07′ the O2 sensor went this week, and the fuel filter clogged , all the same day.
Now it looks to be another major issue if the cams don’t get changed, at least I am informed now, thank you.

My brother has a 2006 Street Glide w/a 88 c.I.motor that will lose power when it heats up, he seams to think it’s the fuel injectors causing the problem. He went back where he bought it, because of the warranty & they didn’t know how to fix it & couldn’t fine any problems & it still does it & they don’t know what to do . Any suggestions about the problem, he is in bad health & these people are not helping matters ,so I may half to go fix it myself. So a good tip on what is wrong might help me. Thanks ,Ron

Hey Ron, this blog is all about the Twin Cam , Chain Tensioner problems. Your bro bike is the last year with the really bad spring loaded ones. How many miles ? I suggest you try J&P Forum, you can ask all kinds of questions, maybe there is already an answer there. Find the BEST Independent Tech in your area, take the bike there. Don’t phuck around, do it, before you have a blown motor & a $4,000.- bill. I wish you & your brother Good Health & Good Luck ! BJ

Sounds like ignition problem. Possible coil failure

I have a 1995 Harley Fatboy with 30,000 miles. Is an Evo a Twin Cam?? Thanks!!


Hey Bob, 30 K, that Twin Cam Evo is ready to blow, I’ll give you a penny per mile, what say you ? On 2nd thought, that was a BAD, BAD year, made in China cams, cheap cam chain tensioners, etc. On 3rd thought, let me sleep on it ! Boston Jim

What the hell is a “Twin Cam EVO”? Are these twin cam motors with the cam fixed? Why not just get an EVO and be done with it?

Seriously, it’s either an EVO (84-99) or a Twin Cam (99-UP)

Seriously Tom, it’s Evo ONLY ! I have the last one, 99 FXSTC, & 86 1st year Evo Sportster, love them both. The 2004 1st year rubber mount Sportster, has a serious flaw, NO Tranny Trapdoor, DUH ? I was on a H-D Forum yesterday. A 2004 Sporty owner, since new, with 18 K miles, had a 1st gear problem. Because of NO trapdoor, they had to split the cases, to fix the 1st gear problem, the bill was $2,000 +, DUH ? H-D of Gettysburg, said the 1st gear was not getting any oil, WTF, it’s a splash lube, like every H-D since 1903. Right now, H-D is putting the final touchs, of the 2016 model year. Hopefully, the Twin Cam, will be gone ? It would be the 18th year, the same as the Panhead & Shovelhead, iconic motors. The Twin Cam will go down in History as AMF’s step-brother ! S&S’s Wedge motor is flawless, you would think H-D could do the same thing ? Maybe the new CEO of 5/1/15 will wake up the sleeping Giant, get us back to the Early years of the Evo, & all that excitement. I mean, what other company has grown men putting tattoos on their body’s ? BJ

Hey new member here,I all so have a 2004 1200r that second gear blew.same hd dealer battle field Harley in gettsburgh pa told me that second gear did not get oil and up in smoke it went!!! Around 2200$.took a bout 6or7 months to fix but I was told that I wood get free winter storage for the delay.when ii got the bill there was 300$ extra on it!! Last time they worked on my bike!! Last year they wanted 225 for a back tire 75 to put on.I went to a Indy and got the back tire oil change and insp all for 250!! See ya BFH

No….Its an Evo. Single cam.

Thanks for this article and all the subsequent posts (except the nasty emotional ones). I was considering buying a Harley after being out of the saddle for 40 years when I ran into the large article that I believe is mentioned in this article. I asked the Harley salesman about serious problems with the twin cam engines and he denied it, of course. Can’t blame him. Then I found this article which is consistent with the larger, more detailed article. But it was the posts by honest HD owners that has convinced me to NOT buy an HD. I’ve always done all my own work on every vehicle I’ve ever owned in my 65+ years and will until the day I can’t anymore so how an engine is designed and built is important to me.

BTW, I agree with those who say that someone who can’t or won’t work on his bike shouldn’t even own one. The guy who said he absolutely refused to ever work on his bike as no business having one, IMO.

Hey Tom, I’m also 65, with 2 Harleys. been an owner since 1967. HD made the Panhead & Shovelhead motors for 18 years each. This fall model year 2016, will be the 18th year of the POS Twin Cam motors. I would never sell my 2 Evos, they’re Bullit Proof. IMO, the only TC’S worth owning, would be the 1999 – 2002, which had forged cranks, the only ones worth rebuilding, balancing, welding the crank, gear driven cams, etc. IMO, every all other TC’S are crap, NO resale value, they’re disposable, HD, designed & built this motor on purpose. If anybody reading this is in the market, BEWARE, BE SMART, BE SAFE. I’d be buying a New Indian, all Gear Driven, 3 cams, NO primary chain, Gear Driven, nice bike. The New Scout, 69 c.i., with 100 hp, take a Demo ride, I rode 24 different Chiefs, in 9 Demo Days. PS, I was the only New England rider, to ride Indians 100th Birthday ride from Springfield, Ma. to Gilroy, Ca. & back to Springfield, Ma., 30 days, I’ll never forget, the USA is beautiful from the seat of a motorcycle!

Hey all. Very good article. Harley isn’t the only motorcycle culprit with this design. It’s rather prolific in the motorcycle world. I like the direct drive idea. I’m looking to get my first Harley. I can’t afford new, so the bike I get will have the direct drive installed!!!

Converting to gear driven cams is a mistake as there is too much end play in the factory crankshaft assembly which will cause the pinion shaft gear to worm around. You can actually feel this at higher speeds (80+). The best and safest upgrade is the modern style cam plate and tensioner offered by H-D. It is proven to be reliable and all you have to do is check every 50,000 miles.

Then my idea is a good one…buy new run the living dog shit out of it and enjoy then TRADE for another new one at around 30K…and dont worry or fuck with the tensioners…sounds like a plan

What a plan. Pass it on to the next sucker?

Well if you feel that way YOU go ahead and do a complete workup on yours then go trade it. If 1000+
eases your conscience by all means have at it.

And NO….NO…….NO….I’m not passing it on to the next sucker…I’M TRADING IT IN AT THE F****N HD DEALER YOU MORON…

THEY….THEY……….are passin it on to the next sucker just like they always do….what the hell is your problem….you prolly dont even own a bike…LOL

Besides, on these newer HD models, even at 30000 I would seriously doubt they needed ANY adjustment other than maybe a quick inspection and maybe not even THAT…like people said on here there are other makes that have similiar problems, me i’m gettin a little bit tired of the harley bashin. I ride a new HD I dont whine or make excuses just enjoy it. It’s a fine machine and I for one am PROUD to ride American Iron…’nuff said

I agree with you. HD has crew of world wide class top engineers. There are reasons for chain rather than gears. Look at sport bikes – all driven rear wheel by chains rather than shaft or belt. Assure goo shoe on tensioner and twin cam is ok. In other view – how many twin cams are on second hand market today and all doing just fine. I think S $ S is lobbibg to buy yheir gears for doooozens of bucks… If I was S $ S CEO I would do the same.

comparing final drive chain to a chain within the motor. What a stupid dumb ass statement. OK then why does HD use belts. God your stupid. My sport bike chain needs replacing every 10 to 15 K. Not that comparing the two makes any F(^^ing sense. Ignoring something or saying it is not so, does not change the facts. I have owned two HD in the very distant past, AMF’s, Yuk. I am shopping for a HD now. I love them. My brother in law has been a HD mech at the local shop for over 20 years and he is always telling me about these problems, but like they are a part of the whole joy of owning one.
What is an old man suppose to do. I guess buy new, pay for the service intervals and warranty. trade when the warranty runs out. Lot of $$$, but hey it is a HD, just like a sailboat, a large money sponge.

Ed; Go buy a new one and forget all about these ramblings, my 2015 is rumblin right along and realistically I’ll have it long traded before it sees 30000 miles. You will love these new rushmore models, ask your HD mechanic, these are the best they ever made. Go ride one, tell me if I’m wrong

Hey Ed, You have a way with words, I love it ! I have no use for AMF bikes, except the 78 Café Racer. I also have no use for Twin Cam H-D’s, POS. This August the 3016 model year bikes will be out. This will be the 18th year of the Twin Cam motor, same as the Panhead & Shovelhead, both Iconic Motors, in H-D History. I believe the Twin Cam will go down, as the BIGGESY POS, since 1903, hands down. Buy yourself a low mileage , late model Evo, almost bullet proof, you won’t regret it. Or buy a New Indian, Chief or Scout, everything is Gear Driven, Cams, Primary, etc.. Nice Bike !

My ’01 FatBoy is at the dealership right now. Took it in for the 50k service and after reading this article a few weeks ago, I asked them to inspect the inner/outer shoes for me. Turns out they were very worn and needed replacing. Thanks Scott Holton for writing this article!! Anyway Al Valiant, I opted for the “Hydraulic cam chain tensioner upgrade”, they mentioned it came with a new high flow oil pump and adjustable push rods….don’t recall anything about a “cam plate”. Does this sound like the same upgrade you are talking about?

Hey Kim, the new cam support has the new upgrade hydraulic tensioners, included. The inner side of the cams, rest in the block of the motor, The outer side of cam rests in the cam support plate. IMO, the 1999 – 2002 are the best, because they have forged cranks. I would have gone to the BEST independent shop or tech in your area, instead of the H-D Dealer. Can you post, what it cost you to upgrade ? Lets get some cost numbers going on these J&P Blogs, find out what cost what, in different parts of the country ! Good Luck & Be Safe, BJ

If it helps I purchased the kit I put into my 2000 FXDX from Topeka Harley for $499.95 + tax. The kit includes the Screaming Eagle cam plate, high flow oil pump, hydraulic tensioners primary chain and sprockets and miscellaneous hardware. The chain and sprockets did not work with my bike as the cam sprocket did not have the timing ridge. The Harley parts guy did tell me I would need a spacer kit also but the instructions said that for my bike it was not needed. He also suggested using adjustable push rods but I went ahead and put the stock pieces back in. I did notice that there is a bit more valve train noise so I will probably try some adjustable push rods to help with the noise but from what I’ve been told it’s supposed to be normal. If anyone has knowledge to pass on about the valve train noise I’m all ears. Other than that my bike runs much better than my buddies 2012 fuel injected 96″er.

I’ve had my 2000 Dyna Glide Sport for almost 2.5 years now. Bought it used with 30,060 miles on it and didn’t get much history from the previous owner. I had put around 10,000 more miles on it when I first heard of the chain tensioner issue. I checked the tensioners and found they normal wear as illustrated in the article above but since it was already opened up I changed them. My Dyna now has just over 75,000 miles on it with minimal wear. I still check them on a regular basis but they are still good. I looked at gear drive cams for my bike and the S&S stuff was priced around a $1,000. I don’t have the authority to discredit this information but I do feel that if this was such a huge problem then the demand for product would be helping to lower the costs to around that of any other comparable cam shafts. Just my two cents worth. Oh and I’ve been riding for 37 years and this FXDX is by far the most adaptable bike I’ve ever ridden. Wish Harley would bring this model back.

Normal wear? I’m sure if you read the whole blog , you would consider your self one of the LUCKY ones.

I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t wrench on their on bike. As for the cam chain tensioner problem, pull the cover and inspect the damn thing! When the time is right go with the gear drive set up. Install ’em correctly with the proper lash setting and forget about ’em. Amsoil from axle to axle and ride on…

Speaking about lubrication, I have used Harley synthetic oil since new in my flhtk. Is Amsoil the very best lube a guy can use in engine, trans., and in the derby cover?

I’m not an oil engineer but I have seen cooler running temps, smoother running, smoother shifting, no more trouble finding neutral, and better fuel mileage since switching to AMSOIL.

Thanks fo the info Cav!

Hey Cav! You are a wise man, smart, too! Dave would be wise to heed your advise. AMSOIL is the best oil money can buy. We have been the unofficial AMSOIL dealer for Laconia Bike Week since 2004. We supply ACME Choppers and Laconia H-D with their AMSOIL for rally week. Contact me at mcoil2 [at] verizon [dot] net if you would like to get AMSOIL for wholesale $. Boston Jim & Nancy

Watch the S& S “adjustable pushrods and cam change” videos. Seems the end of the cranks on twin cams get too much runout relatively easily;( the crank flywheels are just pressed together, not trued and welded)When the runout (wobble)at the end exceeds a certain spec you can’t just install gears. the chains give the sloppy assembly room for SLOP. Glad I looked into this twin cam crap motor before walking into a dealership.

Thanks for the great article! I have a 2015 street glide and want to take out the plastic parts and replace with the steel gears after reading your comments

Everyone who is considering a Harley needs to read this in-depth article about the potential issues and expensive labor costs you will most likely face if you own a Harley.

I’ve had many problems with my 2012 Twin Cam engine, and I have pretty much given up on Harley’s at this point. At least until they develop a fix for the problems.

It’s really a shame that such an expensive product is sold with so many defects and the average consumer has no idea the types of costs you could be facing. Yes my bike was under warranty, but trying to get the warranty honored was a complete headache.

Read away and buy a big Harley at your own peril.


What a load of shit, you and Boston Jim need to buy and ride your Polaris Canadian junk and quit trying to make people think Harley’s have all the problems. Sounds like you both work for J&P.


Evidently he hasn’t ridden a Rushmore 103
and rolled out on a 2015 FLHTP Electra Glide Police


HD got it right with these new machines, love that hi output 103 and you cant even tell the fairing is there…I haven’t ridden Indians but I know of THREE reason not to but one:

1. Victory….nuff said
2. No dealer network established, finding parts and foreigners to work on em could be trickey
3. Nobody I know is planning on riding one, HD guys won’t accept them as they aren’t really Indians…go ahead, buy one I will pass

2 of my buds got 2015 HOGS last week after seeing mine in person…HD is back on top and THIS machine will keep it there!

Ride Safe

polaris is american dumbass ! and pretty fu**ing bulletproof at that , I eat , breath, and sh*t harley davidson. the guy has a very truthful point, he’s not out to bash harley! he’s just stating the fu**ing facts , if you can’t handle it then don’t read the fu**ing articles. I think he did awesome job looking out for the rest of us that do love our hogs !

Check your web site on Polaris DUMBASS , offices in Mn, Main headquarters in Canada. Bulletproof , what do you think CAN AM means?

can am is owned by bombardi you fucking idiot , polaris and can am are two different companies , polaris started up in mn and has always been american dumb fuck ! it was started up by two farmers that built the first snow mobile and the rest is history! there’s a honda america , which has a head quarters here in the U.S. as well , check your website ! Does that mean honda is a american company as well ? according to your dumbass it would be ! fact is your dumb ass got pissed off because he stated a fact , american iron magazine did a article on the same thing !maybe if you weren’t so small minded you’d take it for what it was worth ! are you that fucking ignorant !

WTF is wrong with you? Apparently you subscribe to the adage that a sucker is born every minute….. Go crawl back into your twisted world and stay the hell away from the rest of us.

I’ve got a 97 FLHTP EVO, runs good has lo miles, I’m considering trading up to a 15 FLHTP. They’ve made a lot of improvements in 17 years (excluding the twin cam, which I’ve never owned)

Should I trade my trusty EVO or just keep it? Harley has some good prices right now (after you get done slapping the dealer around a bit) I do like the new rushmore models, I may go for it.

What do you guys think abt reliability of the new 14 up 103s?

I’d buy a New Indian, Chief or Scout ! The Chiefs are all Gear Drive, cams, primary, NO stupid ASS, chain tensioners ! I’d keep the Evo ! If you read all 1000+ comments on the 3 different J&P Blogs, you’ll keep the Evo, & sleep well at night, not worrying, if your Twin Cam will make it to Sturgis or not !

Are you really saying that a Polaris “Indian” is a better motorcycle than a Harley? Polaris ha what a joke. I spend all day every day working in a multi line motorcycle shop and can tell you anything made by Polaris(under any name) is pure crap. As far as dealer networks and factory support they are almost as bad as the Chinese crap that the shop across town sells but will not support.

Hey Chad, yeah, I’m saying that Polaris’s bikes are better than any 1999 & up Twin Cam ! And the Undisputable King of Custom Bikes, Arlen Ness, likes them too ! And what was H-D thinking, when they took the trapdoor out of the Sportster, when they started the rubber mount in 2004 ? Maybe you should
transfer to a H-D shop, then you’ll see all the crap H-D gets from China, then you can Bad Mouth them ! Do your Homework, this is NOT your fathers or grandfathers H-D ! The current CEO, came from Johnson Controls, hadn’t even rode a bike, yet ! First thing he did was Fire, Erik Buell who forgot more, than the CEO would ever know ! And, all us “Baby Boomers” thought AMF were the worst years ! Merry Xmas, I hope Santa brings you an Indian ! Boston Jim

i’ve had two polaris 4 wheelers and haven’t had any problems with mater of fact i ride year round with a bunch of other guys that have hondas, artic cats, yamahas , and can ams, me and two other guys have never had an issue with our polaris’s. and as far as service goes never had a issue with that either . don’t know what shop you work at but it sounds like it ain’t worth a shit , they probly don’t pay worth a shit either! the gear drive that polaris uses will always be better than the chain set up that harley uses , that’s what my harley has in it now ! pretty sad that harley couldn’t have done it to begin with !

keep the evo , what the dealers will try to give you for
it will almost be a slap in the face . I have a 99 fat boy with the evo, 07 fatboy with the 96 ci and in oct i got a 2015 fat boy with the 103 ci . theres not that much of a real difference in the 96 & 103 motors as far as performance , I went with the gear drive set up in my 07 and have been extremely happy with that choice and plan on doing the same thing to my ’15 once the warranty runs out , but out of all three my favorite is still my evo . if you can swing it keep the old one and get the new one ! you can never have to many harleys !

Well, I traded the 97 Police and a 2001 Venture in on a new 2015 103 Electra Glide Police. Damn, this is a sweet ride! Big open rotors and fairing air vent reduce the buffeting and crosswind hassle a LOT. Still getting used to the linked ABS breaking but I think I scored a pretty good cruiser. The damn cop seat was WAY too high for me so off it went and I put an Ultra LO off a 2012 on it, it sits perfect. Instant Electra Glide Standard which is the scoot I wanted all along anyway.

I still have my 98 Heritage EVO which I will not sell so I’m good. I got this 15 FLHTP for a great price, about 7500 less than a “regular” civilian one, for that kind of difference who cares if it doesn’t have a radio? Biketronics has a kit for $400 if I want one that bad. I’d highly recommend to anyone who’s thinkin about a new Rushmore to check out the Police models. Bug the hell out of the dealer he’ll come up with one if he doesn’t already have one. They’re out there, and most of them you won’t have a waiting period on. You will NOT regret straddling a new Rushmore, believe me!

yeah ! a good friend of mine went last week and got a 2015 police bike and my other buddy who i also ride with got a new limited , they are leaving out tonight with the bikes in trailer heading out to arizona to ride in the warm weather for three weeks so i’ll get updates how well they like them ! congrats on yours though , i hope it gives you many years of carefree enjoyable memories ! ride safe

Got 39,000 miles out of my 2003 anniversary road king and sooooo needed to change the shoe. Went hydrological.

Hey Medula, you’ve got the 1st year of the worst motor, IMO ! The 1999-02 had forged cranks, H-D birthday present to 03 H-D buyers, cast cranks ! DUH ? All of them, 99 to present, the NEW 100K motor, were designed to be made cheap & quickly, the cam chain tensioners are very tolerant of a sloppy motor, unlike gear driven cams, where the motor needs to be tight, & true. Why do you suppose they had to put chains & counterbalance weights in the TCB motors, (softails) ? All the new Indian Chiefs, have a gear driven 3 cam motor, & a gear between the motor sprocket & the trans sprocket, NO primary chains, Great Design !

The forged cranks didn’t come out until the 2005 model year. 2002 was the last year with timken bearings in the cases.

Hey Simmz, I believe your statement is wrong. If H-D started the forged crank in 2005, they’d still be making them today, yes/no ? They cheapen the motor every year, not make it stronger (longer lasting) ? You are right about 2002, to a point. They got rid of the Timkin Bearings & the Forged Cranks, at the same time ! Doesn’t that make more sense ? The Twin Cam motors, are making the AMF motors, look good. The TC motor, will never hold it’s value, will never be desirable ! On the other hand, there are millions of them out there, in the near future they will get a lot of new riders on the road, for cheap $ ! There will be a new breed of backyard mechanics, to keep these POS, on the road ! BACK to the FUTURE ! BJ

’99-’02 hot forged/Timken, 4.000″ stroke
’03-’04 cold forged/roller, 4.000″ stroke
’05-’06 cast/roller, 4.000″ stroke
’06 Dyna cast/roller, 4.000″ stroke, sprocket shaft accepts new compensating assy.
’07-present cast/roller, 4.375″ stroke, sprocket shaft accepts new compensating assy.

Go check out some bike shops look for all the twin cam 88s motors that are for sale. Hmmm I wonder why.

Robert, your 2014 model has a different and improved system. It’s not without its issues, but it is a major improvement over the early Twin Cams.

New Sporty, two cams allows you to straighten out the valve train which makes it more efficient and allows the pressure from the valve springs to be distributed across two cams rather than one, thereby reducing the load on the cam(s) relative to that seen by Evos and earlier bikes (all gear driven).

Gear drive cams require pinion shaft runout to be within .003″, not .100″ as stated by Bill Kruse.

If the flywheels are within spec, gear drives, while they do make a mechanical noise, aren’t “noisy” if they are installed properly. You have to establish the proper lash (.0005-.001″) between the gears. There are oversized and undersized gears available to establish the proper lash. If they are too tight, they will whine, if they are too loose, they will chatter. When set up properly, gear drives are no noisier than the stock system, though the noise is different. If the gear drives are just slapped in without proper procedures being followed, you bet, they can be noisy.

The condition of the chains plays a big part in how fast the shoes wear. Some chains have relatively sharp edges on the links which will wipe the shoes out. I’ve seen them gone at less than 10,000 miles. Some chains have nice, clean edges that don’t shred the tensioner shoes nearly as bad. I’ve seen a bike with 75,000 miles that looked great. How hard you whack on the throttle and load the shoes will make a difference as well.

The shoes are brittle. Once they start to wear, they start coming apart in chunks, then massive destruction can happen very quickly. Check them regularly; if necessary, clean up the links on your chain and you will likely get some extra life, but know that the writer is correct, these shoes can be very problematic in the early Twin Cams.

If you read Kruses’ reply again it says .10 run out, and once again how many riders have or know of someone who has had tensioner trouble. This is a parts vendor running a scare scam.

you think its a parts scam, I know 3 folks I ride with that have the best oil and services don regularly and its cost 3 of us I ll be the 4th this winter out of 10 that the shoes have went to sh*t this year. it starts at 25000 miles to 38000 miles, think what you want but folks like you and those who like you WILL pay the big $’s rebuilding if not replace the motor for having a blind eye. take the cover off look at outter shoe use small mirror for inside and you will be like the rest of us a little p.o. ed and I change oil @ 1500 miles in trans. primary ,engine so look at 15,000 to 20,000 or pay the big bucks. call if need be (e mail).

Amen brother.

What really irritates me is the fact that HD has not done anything to make things right for those of us that have purchased motorcycles with our hard earned money. Sure, they offered the “Upgrade kit” for $500.00 and another $600.00 for labor. That really stings in not only my wallet but my hind end as well.
Granted, I can save the labor fees as I can turn a wrench but it still, to me and obviously a lot of other Twin Cam owners, leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.
After wanting a Harley since as far back as I can remember, I finally took the plunge and bought my first FLSTC this last June. In September, I started her up and immediately heard an ominous metal on metal sound. Cam Tensioner Shoes!
Now, I am in the process of not only converting from 88ci to 95ci, but converting to gear drive as well. I’m waiting for the Cam Tension Shoe tool so I can pull the the the Cam Plate to check the run-out. Regardless, machine work will be done and I will have a gear drive setup in place by this spring and will hopefully be able to make it to the ROT Rally this summer. Would I have bought the bike had I known the issues in advance? Probably. Would I have been a more informed buyer. Possibly.
I am hoping I am not the only one here but I just “knew” this particular bike was for me. So, with that said, having the previously mentioned options still would not have swayed my decision to purchase my 2000 FLSTC. The bike cost my a little over 6K and by the time I have it back in running, reliable running, condition I will still be under the 10K price tag. Maybe someday I might win the lottery but untill then, I will be perfectly happy with my purchase and upgrades. I just wish HD would have had the balls to come clean and make it right. Thank you for reading my 2 cents worth.

Hey Ed, you’re overdoing the 1500 mile oil changes, just a bit ! If you were using the Best, (AMSOIL) you could go 10K on the motor oil, 20 K with the Trans (75W-110), primary is 10 or 20 K, memory lapse. I’m using 20W-50, motor, 75W-110, tranny, & 10W-40 in primary, (less drag), might start using ATF in the primary, this spring. Always, put your H-D away with a belly full of clean fresh oil, every winter. Use a good filter, AMSOIL, H-D, or S&S, NOT K&N, they are crammed full of cellulose material, so restrictive, that the By-Pass valve is always open, letting unfiltered oil, flow into your motor. Beware, Be Smart, Be Safe, till later, Boston Jim

You should probably get a harley manual, bike lift with jack, some tools and learn to upkeep your own ride. I’ve owned harleys for 35 years and have come to an understanding. First Harley Davidson warranties aren’t worth the paper their written on. (First hand experience with them, all the way to them calling the police on me) Every company makes shit to wear out. I just don’t like the look of the new indian (sorry if you own one). I would like to have an original. But I do like to wrench on things.Back to my point. If you can’t take a cam cover off and change the shoes yourself find a friend who can or just pay that dealer the ransom he wants. But I suggest you all learn to mechanic on your bike if your going to ride. You Tube is a big help there are some really nice mechanics willing to share knowledge.

I have a2014 sgs please tell me this bike is safe from this problem..

You should probably get a harley manual, bike lift with jack, some tools and learn to upkeep your own ride. I’ve owned harleys for 35 years and have come to an understanding. First Harley Davidson warranties aren’t worth the paper their written on. (First hand experience with them, all the way to them calling the police on me) Every company makes shit to wear out. I just don’t like the look of the new indian (sorry if you own one). I would like to have an original. But I do like to wrench on things.Back to my point. If you can’t take a cam cover off and change the shoes yourself find a friend who can or just pay that dealer the ransom he wants. But I suggest you all learn to mechanic on your bike if your going to ride. You Tube is a big help there are some really nice mechanics willing to share knowledge.

Thanks for the warning gear drive sounds like the true fix, after all spending 20 grand or better on a Harley not many people like my self can afford a new engine every 35 to 50 thousand mi. S&S is a well proven, they have always bettered what ever harley builds.

You must remember the MOCO adamantly stated that these motors were supposed to last 100,000 miles with no major problems. What suckers we turned out to be.

I beat the hell out of my 2000 Roadking for 50K miles, and have put another 10 on it since I grew-up a little. I’ve never had any issues with my motor, but I am definitely going to check the cam tensioner before next season. BTW, I’ve been using Full Synthetic since break-in & have only used K&N oil filters. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

Hey Steve, was wondering, did you buy your 2000 H-D new, & what’s the total mileage today ? The 99 – 02 Twin Cams, has forged cranks (good thing), H-D’s 03, 100th birthday present to us, was a cast crank, to the present, BOO ! From 99 – 06 (except 06 Dyna) they had the strong spring loaded, cheap (made in China) tensioners ! Starting with the 2006 Dyna, H-D started using the hydraulic cam chain tensioners, much better, BUT, not the end all, they still need looking after. I also am, a Big Fan of synthetics, AMSOIL, is the only oil I use in ALL, my vehicles. I’m not a Big Fan of K&N, look at the tiny print on box, made in Thailand. I know for a fact, their air filters let in a lot of air & DIRT ! The bike will be faster, but, will die a premature death. The oil filters are made from the same filtering media. I’m looking at an Oil Filter Chart, from an Donny Petersen column, Sept. 2004, American Iron Magazine, that states; K&N-171c has 164 sq in of media, H-D 63731-99 has 63 sq in, WOW, what a difference, in the same size canister. There is so much media, crammed into the can, it restricts oil flow, that K&N has the Bypass Valve set at 14 psi, while H-D is set at 10 psi. The TC oil pump, is so much more powerful than the Evo pump, pushing oil against a much more restrictive filter, than the Evo filter, IMO, the Bypass Valve in the TC, MUST always be open, letting unfiltered oil, circulate thru the TC motor. One more fact, the Evo filters oil, after it leaves the motor, the TC filters oil, JUST BEORE, it enters the motor, think about it ! MERRY XMAS, to all !

The best way to own a harley is to do what my cousin has done for the last 30 years…buy the damn things new run the hell out of em then trade em in every 2 years with 20-30000 miles on aqnother new one…you get most of your investment back depending on model and no worries abt hi mileage failures…that’ll be the way I go from now on…I’m also old enough to be able to afford it.

My 2000 Road King had 40,000 mi. on it and was getting real loud with valve train noise. Opened it up and saw that I had just missed a tragic failure. The tensioners were in pieces. I went to gear driven cams and piece of mind.

What a bunch of bulls—. Myself like most Harley riders have many times been around hundreds of other Harley riders, whether it was at bike week poker runs, bike nights, etc. How many riders have you heard complaining about this so called major problem with the chain tensioners. probably none! I just recently changed mine at 75000 miles, they looked great , I believe I had another 25000 miles left on them. If I hadn’t already purchased the screaming eagle kit to go back in my fatboy I would have put the cam cover back on. I run Mobil 1 oil, am a daily rider as we can do this here in Florida. This info put out by J&P , sounds like a promotion to sell S&S gear drives. That seems to be what Mr. Holton pushes as the quick fix. What they are not telling everyone is the gear drives are not for all bikes. If your crankshaft run out is over .10 the gears will wine and wear excessively. Everyone knows there can be problems with anything.

Bill some people might be a bit embarrassed to admit that their $15- 45 thousand dream bike was taken out by a .50 piece of plastic that should have never been engineered to be used in this application in the first place. (Would you tell someone at a show and shine that his bike sounds like shit. I’ve heard these things when they are gone and they are very distinctive in sound and by this time it’s too late. Big bucks time. ) I really think after this much time the MOCO would have accepted some responsibility by now. But no they haven’t

You can’t run gear drives on the newer models(told to me by the tech at S&S) because the crank shaft runout must be within .0015 and harleys tolerances on the newer soft pinion shaft is about .003. Please don’t get to scared just check them occasionally. You only have to pull the cam cover and you can see the outside tensioner.

Leonard; I agree.

RE an earlier post I made, it is much easier to trade Harleys once you’ve shelled out and made the initial “jump” to a new one. I know not everyone is in a position to do that, thankfully however I am. One thing harley dealers are known for is giving outstanding trade in values for 2-3 year old bikes with under 30K miles. My plan is ride the hell out of it, trade in on new and let the next owner worry abt the cams. I’m not debating how long the cams will last, but the concensus here seems to be 30-35000 miles. Hell, my new 15 will be long traded by that point. That for me is the best way to go. Indians are not an option FOR ME anyway.

I have a 2007 road king custom TC96. I found it last year with just 1100 miles at a bankruptcy auction and got a steal. Anyway, I changed all the fluids, cleaned it up, and put 500 miles on before the lifters started tapping (lost oil pressure). (oil and filter are fine) I wanted to have an idea what to look for before opening it up so I’ve been reading up on oil related problems with the TC96. I heard of the plastic guides clogging the oil pump inlet but it would seem odd that this would happen on an engine barely broken in. Any HELPFUL suggestions/comments are appreciated.

You WILL need a new oil pump and camchain tensioners however before all of this inspect them and see if they are worn or missing. Harkey engines are not bullit proof anymore like the shovel engines!
I put on 25000 a year and Harley really screwed us on bikes costing $15,000.00 and up. Now I EXPECT problems!

I still own my shovel . Have a 2008 night rod special with 31000+ and the only thing ever changed is air cleaner, oil, and I think I changed plugs once. Had it up to 144 before rev limiter shut me down just last summer. I ride my 2007 springer classic mostly now. Took it down lately because of noise, did have some wear but shoes looked good at 11000. I think noise was actually coming from shift rod tapping on side of inner primary.(loose ball joints at rod ends) Love my quiet V-rod. And no I haven’t had any valve adjustments done at 10000 miles asHarley manual calls for, which if done by the book calls for removal of the engine from frame. Just wait till you start loosing power from flat cams then pull it and replace cams with hi performance cams and then see if she’ll hit 175MPH like she should.

Just pull off the cam cover and take a look. Use the Harley service manual (No other). It will walk you thru the whole process. You may have to change your pushrods to adjustable if you don’t want to pull the rocker boxes off. You tube is helpful .The mechanic from S&S will show you everything you need to know on the cam change video.

Ty soo much i just did the compinsator sprocket as was same in 88 as 96 hot start issues

Hey Harley-D,

What did adding a 2nd came to the TC do besides nothing and adding at least one problem?

And to add to my previous response, since I missed this REAL GEM, you are about the dumbest person I have ever heard of, short of the mentally handicapped. Im pretty sure, if I started hitting you in the face with engine components, you couldnt tell a camshaft (or spell it apparently), from a spark plug.

Go buy a bicycle.


Man, how many horror stories am I going to read about?

OK, So, I’m considering a Low Rider for 2014. THEN I come across all these cam chain articles. (I’ve never owned a TC, or even a BT. I’ve owned one 883 about 20 years ago. I’ve ridden a few Harleys.).

I’m glad I didn’t go for the Big Twin that I was recently looking at.


I absolutely refuse to work on any bike I own. AND I’m not into leaving it at the dealer for ANY amount of time, besides regular maintenance.

The Yamaha VMAX uses both gear and chain on their engine.
SUGGESTION: Boycott Harley-Davidson BT products until they change the design of their beloved 45deg. VTwin to something more ‘reliable’ than what I’ve been reading about, in articles like these.

I need a bike. Not a horror story.
I like Honda now. I had an 83 V65 I just sold. It ran, and never failed, except for a battery. The thing could barely keep the front wheel on the ground when taking off from a stop. That’s at moderate take off speeds.

Good Luck and wake up all you H-D people that can’t seem to get away from the “Harley mystique”, which is bound to fail.
Boycott H-D until they come up with a solid design.

Hey Sporty, you are absolutely RIGHT ! Twin Cams are POS ! Since last August, I have ridden 24 New Indians, on 9 Demo Days. All 3 cams, GEAR DRIVE, NO primary chain, GEAR DRIVE from motor to tranny, just like all the Indians from 1953 & back. Check them out, 119 lbs torgue, I think you’re going to like them. Boston Jim

Idiots like you shouldnt have vehicles at all, you should have to walk. Thats probably too much freedom though, you might need a chaperone to make sure you dont hurt yourself.

If you refuse to work on anything (because youre too dumb), then you shouldnt own anything (because youre too dumb), and you certainly shouldnt, and cant, rightly criticize anything they build, since youre too dumb to work on it.

But apparently, you’re “smart” enough to read “articles” and learn JUSTTTT enough to come up with an “informed” opinion to rant on a website, when in reality, you’re just as ignorant, perhaps more so, than you were before. Oh, and rant on the blog, OF A PARTS DISTRIBUTOR; that would be like someone thats too lazy to fish, complaining about the build quality of a fishing boat. Who the f**k are you.

Congratulations, you’re a schmuck.

I was just going to tell you you should lighten up just a bit. But then I read the blog you were responding to and realized you WERE being light on him. He has absolutely no business on, or around a motorized vehicle. Maybe a big wheel would fit him well, but then he would complain about having to pedal it.

NEW SPORTY. Get a life and learn how to spell.second you know nothing about Harleys at all. Maybe u should buy that v max jap crap and hang with girls.

good. looks like harley finally found a way to keep ******* off their bikes! move to japan or china while your at it!

You’re reading too much…most of that is horseshit. If you’re THAT worried you have a 2 yr warranty get on it plunk the damn thing in gear and RIDE…ride the hell out of it you aint gonna hurt it. Then when 35000 mi or so comes around trade the damn thing on another nre one! Pretty simple…

OK so “I” need to check my tensioner shoes on my 07 Street Glide soon since my bike just turned 30K miles, (I know no much riding but that’s changed since I told corporate America they can kiss my a** and retired) 30 some years in the field installing, programming and maintaining industrial robots mostly for autos. Back to the “I” need to check my tensioners. Riding to me isn’t about showing the world that I have more money than brains, I have loved every Harley I have ever owned despite their obvious flaws,, 77 sporty,, 79 FXEF I paid cash for new when I was 19,, 97 Roadking FLHRI and finally my 07 Street Glide,, “I” made enough money doing my gig that “I” could have been classified I guess as a Yuppie but I never sold out,, references to a “Certified” Harley Mechanic that doesn’t work for a Dealership are interesting to me. My philosophy when it comes to bikes is if you can’t fix it then you shouldn’t be riding it, but that’s just me. “I” maintain my bike myself and fix whatever goes wrong with it. I like a little window dressing and even had my 79 custom painted once but what’s more important is the condition of what keeps you moving and what keeps you safe. I work on my own and do some work for very close friends for beer money because that is part of the game, if it wasn’t then in my mind I would be just a wanna-be biker. The original article was well written and informative, end of story. People complaining about the cost of repairs should realize they are including labor on something that in my opinion they should be doing for themselves. I don’t care how many certifications you give another mechanic, he is not going to care about my bike as much as I do, to him I am nothing more than a paycheck. No offense intended, I am merely stating the realities of human nature, I also don’t count on any politician left or right for my salvation. Change your oil religiously, get a service manual and educate yourself on how to maintain, repair and modify your ride or find something else to do with your time and money. I run Mobil 1 20w50 and add a few ounces of motorkote with friction modifers. I’ll be interested to see what my tensioner shoes look like. END


I also ride a 2007 FLHX it has just over 115k miles on it. It’s all original engine with a D&D fat cat, stage one high flow and I run Syn3 oil. The engine itself is all stock and never been broke down. It still has the original Cam chain tensioners which I have taken a look at by just popping off the cam cover. They still look good. I’m not easy on my bike, it has seen many 6500rpm shifts and the speedo has been burried over 120 on occasion. All that has failed from my abuse is the input shaft door bearing in the transmission. It lasted till 80k and the belt failed at 90k. Engine wise it has given me excellent service and if it blew on the way to work this morning I wouldn’t blink to rebuild it just the way it is. I don’t need high horse power, big cams big pistons in a daily rider. I’d rather have something that’s going to stay together and get decent fuel economy. I bought the bike from a dealer as a used rental, it had 15,500 on it when I bought it in February of 08. I was working for Earl Smalls HD at the time and we heard many questions about the longevity of the new hydraulic tensioners. I set out then to figure out just how long they’ll last along with the rest of the bike. 115k and counting runs better today then it did brand new. These engines start getting broke in good about 50k. I would suggest keeping an ear out for the Main drive gear bearing around 50-70k.

Good for you. Your one of the few that has one that the MOCO said that was supposed to last that long.

Are you worried about that dredded tire that goes bad too Or the dredded clutch that can go bad or the notorious problem of the forkseals going bad? Yeah it is a chain with plastic shoes, but does anyone actually expect it to last for ever? Well you shouldnt..and if the manual told you to never check if you had oil in our bike would you follow that to? Its common sense yeah sh*t goes bad and keep up woth maintenance on your bike….this guy…is trying to sell you sh*t…….

I never expected a $.50 part to destroy a $5000. motor. This whole problem is redumdent . The MOCO CO. got away with murder. Yes there are fixes but com on give me a break.

I just purchased my first Harley, a 2000 FLSTC Heritage Classic with 38000 miles on it. The bike looks like it has been well taken care of and Cowboy Harley in Kyle Texas said the bike had passed all of the inspections required when buying and then selling a used motorcycle.
Since I am new to Harleys, I am starting with a clean slate, so to speak. I hear what, to me, sounds like gear noise coming from the front half of the engine. Engine performance seems fine to me but, after reading your article, I am concerned I might need to put her in the shop to convert from a chain driven cam to a gear driven setup.

Is there a way I can check to see if the Tensioner Shoes are worn without completely tearing the engine down?

Thank you.

gear drives are very noisy, are you sure yours hasn’t been changed.

No, I haven’t…yet. I know what gear drives sound like in a small block 350 but am unsure if that distinctive whine carries over to a Harley.
Thanks for your reply.

George m Sweeney. Just pop off the cam chest cover and have a look there right under the cover with the oil pump and cam support plate. very simple to check. may have to take off front pipe to get cover off. If you need help give me a shout more than happy to walk you through it just ask….

Custom Iron Works. Thank You for replying and pointing me in the right direction. I’ll let you know once I have checked.

I pulled the cam chest cover and it is not gear driven. Also, I saw small strands or threads of Nylon hanging from the outer cam shoe. I’ve tried taking pictures but the angle and light are poor. I’m waiting on the tools I purchased online to appear this week so I can check the inner cam shoe. Thank You all for your replies and advice.

Good work Scott!! Some points are very interesting and informative like gear drive system, Oil pump system and numbers that you mention in this blog.

Ivv been bitten by these tensioners 900.00 repair bill by harley-davidson this is no bull they told me that’s what they do.

I would definitely not recommend these as ways to break the ice however.
If I knew how to bake cookies, I would do that and send over a
care package but Im much better at telling jokes so I go there and entertain, shake hands and thank the men and women who serve our country.

Whether these are taken live – while you are doing a real
gig – or whether you have them done on a false stage, will depend on you.

31 K on my 03 Supper Glide would like to up grade cam new bearings and switch to gear drive, but would like to know more about the noise the gear drive reportedly delivers?

31K on a 2003, 1st really bad year, (cast crank), your ready for an implosion any minute. Noisy gear drive cams, are the least of your worries, your crank needs to run real true. If I were you, I’d be checking my dirty oil filter for plastic or metal pieces, first. Then check with the best Independent H-D Tech in your area. IMO, theres no value in that bike, so check the cam chains, if bad, replace, if you really love this bike or there’s sentimental reasons for keeping it, then upgrade to hydraulic tensioners. Talk to the Tech, what would he do, if it was his bike, ask about checking the crank for trueness, gear drive cams, new SE cams & support, & how much money is in your budget ?

I bought a 2005 Ultra with 25K on it. I found out about the cam chains and immediately had an autorized Independent Harley technician ( Not Dealer), install the cam gears and have had very minimum noise at all. I now have 45K and running like a champ. I do have a long history with Amsoil synthetics and they have superior lubrication qualities.
Hope this gives some level of confidence to you guys out their with the potential problems.
Big C.

I have a friend that told me of these cam tensioner problems years ago. He was a employee of H-D as a test rider and tried to let the mgmt. of the problems but was ignored for the most part. Nice to see someone else has noticed and has addressed a solution. It is sad that H-D won’t own up to the issue. I just had another friend that had to replace his complete engine due to the catastrophic failure mentioned in the article. $5000 for a replacement engine is a lot of money.

Redundent subject seeing i’ts’ over ten years old and the MOCO didn’t do anything about it, sucked us all in and got away with it. Time to move on. TO SOMETHING ELSE. What a wast of time and money.

Sadly just about everything these days have inherent design and material flaws. I’m a ford diesel technician ask anyone who has an 03-10 powerstroke or the lovely 3v ohc V8 V10 for an alternative Or even the new ecoboosts… What it really boils down to is profits to the company. For example the cranks are noted for becoming out of balance due to flywheel pressed to crank… why pressed on and not welded? $ if it cost say .25 in manufacturing to use a press vs 2.50 for welding x units produced that can be 100s of thousands of dollars maybe millions more. that will either translate to higher msrp or cut in profit. And with pencil pushers running things and using the adage of engineers looks and works good on paper… there won’t be a cut in profit. Chain tensioner failure happens ford uses polymer slippers in their V8s. Sure maintenance is key however what they all should use is a sprocket to mesh with the chain to apply tension not a slipper. However the sprocket would have a bearing in it just another component susceptible to fail… gear driven camshafts… I have had excellent success in small block Chevy race engines. Though I do maintain back lash and in some cases have a machinist fabricate a front cover with a Torrington bearing to act as a bushing if gear whine/chatter is produced on an engine with new cam bearings. I have been tempted to buy a sportster 72 or a used low mileage (4500) rocker c but after reading and talking to owners of harleys especially older dudes, the crank balance issue hasn’t been an issue with just newer engines. Sad to spend 1000s on a bike to spend 1000s more just to get it to be reliable. No different than 6.0 owners that either did egr deletes or installed bullet proof diesel egr coolers, arp head studs, and fresh oil coolers between 40-110k miles. Or the guys with 6.4s who’ve melted pistons using the truck for it’s intended purpose to tow or haul. Inherent design flaw. No wonder why there is a harley davidson edition ford truck… vibe seems to be hand in hand with ford and harley owners. Denial of issues (until the warranty runs up) false sense of pride (never took a bailout, never had an issue with mine so don’t bash me or my machine just because you’ve seen thousands of these things fail)

Hey Wrencher, Well said ! The Rocker might be worth something, someday ! Low sales mean rare vehicles in 25 years, means big bucks. I’d buy a low mileage, late model Evo with carb, phuck the computer ! Stay Safe, BJ

PS, 2007 & up Diesel trucks, suck !

BJ: That’s why I kept my 98 EVO Heritage
runs great only 21K it’ll out live me easily

Hey Tom, Same reason, I’ve kept my 1986 1st year Evo Sportster & our 1999 FXSTC, the last Evo Big Twin. I have NO USE for the POS Twin Cams.
Evo Tip; Bosch 4 prong platinum tip spark plug, #4478, Best plug for Big Twin Evo, like getting a Big Cam for free ! BJ

Will pulling the cover and checking the outer shoe let me know if the inner is ok?

Tom, what year is your bike ? The answer to your question is NO, the outside could be good, & the inner ready to implode, some guys use a dental mirror, but, the best way is to pull cam plate. If it was me, I’d be going the S.E. route, with hydraulic tensioners. If you’ve got any concerns, right now, cut open your present oil filter, go thru the pleats, checking for orange or white “made in china” plastic, quick, cheap, inspection. If you find plastic, you might have saved your motor & a few bucks, good luck. BEWARE, BE SMART, BE SAFE ! BOSTON JIM
PS, AMSOIL is the BEST synthetic V-TWIN OIL !

Yup…agreed. Amsoil is best. Bought a used 99 road king in 02 with 28,000 Klm’s. 1st year of the twin cam 88…and carburated! There was a recall on a cam issue that the previous owner assured me was taken care of. I rode that bike all over north america and at 92,000 Klm’s, I brout it in to the dealer for a checkup. The plastic on the tensioners was worn down to the metal and the chains were getting gouged with most of the plastic gone ( likely in the engine) I asked the mechanic what my o,pitons were. He offered to pull it apart and replace the cams, chains and tensioners with a set he had pulled from an 02 TC88. He said someone had come in, bought the bike new and asked for a stage 3 upgrade befo,re he put a mile on it and the stock cam parts were in a box in back. 900.00 bucks later, I had new cams, chains, tensioners and tappers to boot. So off I went riding all over bells creation for another 5 years. At 146,000 Klm’s I brought it in to get a check up. The mechanic told me the tensioners looked new and everything he could see inside looked like new…no obvious wear. Who am I to argue? Stock bike except for super trap slip ons and tons of cosmetic stuff but 100% stock engine top to bottom! That was in 2011. Last year I got her up to 159,600 Klm’s. No issues. Put her away for the winter and this spring I insured her, fired her up and took off on another adventure. In June a buddy was hurtin for cash and sold me his 2010 FLHTCU. Pulled the insurance off my trusty RK and put the ultra on the road. Heat heat heat…hot hot hot!!!! Great machine on the hwy…love the 6th gear the extra gallon in the tank and the extra power the 96 gives me but in town and traffic the heat is ridiculous. I attribute the overall longevity of my Rk to Amsoil. So I put amsoil in all 3 holes of my ultra, switched to high efficiency plug wires and iridium NGO plugs. It,s coled down a bit but not enough. Now I’ve got V&H true duals on order and a V&H fuel pak to take care of the tuning. Damn fuel injection…damn ECMs! The moral of this story is I have a 15 year old road king TC88 with 160,000 and still running good with no leaks or issues. Amsoil people!!!!!!

Checking the outer shoe is NOT an indicator of the inner shoe wear. You need a small dental mirror or pull the entire thing to inspect the rear shoe. It usually wears much faster than the out. We can only assume more spring pressure or something. If your outer is showing signs of obvious wear, your inner will be toast. There is a company making a new shoe out of a better hyfax type material now that far outlast the Harley shoes and it is a cheap repair. Couple of hundred bucks in and out. You can google aftermarket cam tensioner shoes. Don’t buy the crap off of e-bay for these. Who knows where they came from. The otehr longer term solution is hydralic. In Canada, you are looking at 1500+ for this job.

Hi Alan, do you have a link to that better shoe?

Metric bikes all use this system. You don’t see them failing all aver the place. Also, the flip side of this is: if your crank travel is out more than a couple thousand, you will detonate your engine with gear drive cams. Funny how they never mention that bit of info in these fear mongering articles.Want to know more? Email me.

Thanks for the post Jordan. Yes, I do want to know more! I have a 06 STC and love the bike. It has 40K. I have been following this topic so recently inspected the tensioners. Pleasantly surprised to see they show very little wear. I will continue to check every 5K or so.
When I do replace tensioners, I know I will need to install adjustable push rods, new plate, oil pump and bearings. ( harley kit is about $500 + push rods) Should I also replace lifters and cams? A complete job could cost to $2k or so.
Does it make any sense to go gear drive or will that just create new problems?
Does it make sense to spend 2k in the cam chest (on a bike with 50k +/- miles) or maybe I should spend the 5k for a new HD engine.?
I love this bike and don’t mind putting money into it. I Just want to spend the money prudently.
Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, David F

Hi, Jordan I bought a 1999 road king 18,000 miles can you tell me a little about the post you wrote about gear drive cams. Thank You jimmy

i hve 2002 electra and i just replaced mine at 66.000 miles. they were badly worn but never got noisy. i went back with new tensioners made out of new material thats supposed to last longer. i do not like gear drive on account of noise.

I have a 2005 FLHT that had to be repaired around the 40000 mile mark, very expensive repair unless you can find a local certified mechanic that does not work for Harley Davidson. With my situation the adjusters fell apart and clogged the oil pump meaning I had zero oil pressure! The motor did not sound right so it was shut down real quick, which saved the rest of my motor! The sad part is that Harley knows about it and does nothing to fix the issue! I went with a hydraulic tensioner that is a screaming eagle setup. Cost around $2000.00, my guess is that this would have been $3500.00 at Harley dealership!

Michael I just today checked my tensioners, and was I pleasantly surprised. I have 21,000 on the clock and about less then a 32nd ware on the front shoe, can’t believe it after all the nightmares I’ve been reading about.I consider myself lucky so far. You can bet I’ll be checking them next fall, or every 5000 miles from now on.(Glad I put Mobil1 in it at 5000 miles)This also gives me a chance to gather all the stuff I need to change them out.

I had mine done the hydraulic tensioner, better oil pump and backing plate it was only $900

oh by the way that was at 61000 miles

where did you have it done?

Harvs Harley
in macedon, ny

So, as far as cam chain tensioners….aside from changing the entire engine to gear driven cams, plastic shoes on a metal chain is the concern? Parts wear… That’s why they made the shoes plastic, they are supposed to wear without damaging other parts (the chain). That’s what scheduled services are for, I know that’s just an excuse for them to make more money, but it’s just more cost effective for manufacturers to use less expensive materials on high wear items, it’s going to need replacing at some point, would you rather pay to replace cheap, plastic parts, or expensive steel parts? Yes, they have engineered better systems, and if you want the better, newer stuff…buy the newer bike. I don’t doubt that we all know how to maintain our bikes, but Harley doesn’t keep any secrets as to what parts will fail at what point. I always hear people complaining about their bike is a pos because it started making a clicking noise at 12k miles…. “Did you have a valve adj. at 10k?”
“…….clicking… Parts wear”
Engineer a 100% efficient engine, and I’ll give you every paycheck I make for the rest of my life.

BOOOO, Trick or Treat !
Do you have a job ?
Can you explain to me, why todays H-D Sportster, 58th year (since 1957), his father, the KH (FLATHEAD) Sportster, his Grandfather, the 45 Flathead (1929-73) all had 4 cams, 86 years & still going strong, without an EPA noise problem ? The single cam EVO, (motor that saved H-D) makes more engine noise than a Twin Cam, with all their chains & BS, I don’t think so ! I’ve recently rode 33 new Indians in 4 days, they have 3 gear driven cams, 119 lbs of torque, very nice bike. Take a demo ride ! I’ve owned H-D’S since 1967, been to every Laconia Rally since 1969. I’ve ridden around the block a few times, BUT,I would NEVER buy a POS Twin Cam !

Having owned 2 sportsters over the years, a 93 883- 1200 stage- 3 conversion wild as all hell(100hp.)and a 1200 custom.I wish I had kept both. No problems at all with the custom . The conversion could’nt run no more then 10 tho.miles, hydro shook apart all the time.I put 75’000 miles on that bike, what a blast. both ran like top’s. Can’t wait for all the fun to start with my 03 FXDWG this was supposed to be my last bike(retired) got a good deal on this bike ,knew all about all the problems , all easy fix’s not too expensive to fix in my case ,after all I didn’t buy it new. It only had 3500 miles on it. and was only 10 years old. So it’s worth fixing even if I have to pay some one else to do the work. Boy if I had bought this new it would be another story. Imagine I if payed 20 grand plus for a bomb.The part that pisses me of the most is the MOCO knew about this almost rite away and 10 no 13 years later they have done nothing but put a band-aid on the problem. Friction wares every thing out. Lets wait and see what happens to this water – cooled head thing , if any thing else it will be a disaster for the next 10-15 years also. Pre- engineers designed these on Friday put in production the following Monday or so it seems. Still have hope though my local guy is a talented wrench says twinkies are not bad at all after the little stuff is taken care of. Evos have gone the way of the shovel-head now most are on their 5-6 rebuild now. Ya you can buy a new one but Twin Cam’s are the way to go now, not much choice now. By the time they get all the bugs out of these things we’ll be winding-up rubber band powered bikes anyway.

Hey Donny, good luck , with the 03, 1st year of the worst motors,IMO. 99-02 had forged cranks, 2003, 100th birthday year, the MOCO, knew they’d sell a million extra bikes, most look alike, great for paint shops, anyway they make a 5 piece cast pressed together crank, wow, big deal. They should never be dynoed, the crank will move. This months BAGGERS (DEC) has a great article about TC cranks, http://www.revperf.com, check it out. If I ever come across a sweet deal, like you got, 1st thing , I’d do is send my crank to REVPERFORMANCE.

Jim, why would I dyno a stock Twin Cam? Don’t plan on racein or building this thing at all. just ride the wheels off it —– slowly. and keep ears and eyes open. I’ve enjoyed it so far. I ride solo so I have nothing to prove to anybody. Python 3’s and a stage 1 kit are all I need buddy. most comfortable bike I’ve ridden so far. Mrs. loves it also. Like you why would I spend $5000-$6000 grand for speed when that’s not me.

Victory motorcycles Freedom 106

Right on. I have spent 20 years in industrial maintenace setting. Seen all kinds of failures. They only had to look in side the primary side, the adjusting shoe is made of UHMW. long lasting not a fix but a better material all- round.By the way how do you adjust your valves in a bone stock raw HARLEY. They don’t come come with adjustable push-rods?20,000 on my FXDWG and not a sound from the top end. I bet the bottom-end is another story.

I have never owned a HD motorcycle, as the price was more than I could afford. However I always dreamed the day would come. In 2 yrs I will be able to afford moving up to HD from the rice burners I’ve been riding and now I stumble across an article that shatters that dream all to hell. Over the yrs I’ve read
many articles addressing aftermarket fixes for design
flaws in HD’s and heard a number of accounts from HD owners of costly eng- drivetrain failures on HD’s
before they were a year old or had 20,000miles on them. I guess some dreams never come true, sad as
HD’s are such an awesome old school classic American
motorcycle. I’m a long haul trucker and I just do not have the time, or $$$ to keep a HD running. I’m still dreaming of owning a American made motorcycle, just that the name tag will read Victory not HD.

Well, Raven, I know how you feel. I bought my first Harley, after I retired, in January 2011. I’ve ridden all types of bikes for 50 years, but I LOVE this motorcycle! It’s a 2003, 100th anniversary edition, Night Train. It had 10,016 miles on it then, and it now has 34,710…and I live in Michigan.

I read all the “horror” stories about the spring tensioner shoes, and was very worried about mine last winter when I was at 24 thousand, so I watched some You Tube videos on how to check them. It’s pretty easy, and mine were almost like brand new!….very little to NO WEAR! I felt a whole lot better, and, while I know some people have had trouble, and I agree it’s not the way I would put together a motor, still, it’s a very small percentage, overall, of all the Harleys on the road.

My advice is find a Harley you really like…maybe even rent that model for a day to make SURE it’s the one for you, then….BUY IT!….I doubt that you will ever regret it….I haven’t, and I have to say….I LOVE THIS MOTORCYCLE! lol

Good luck.

I read some place that the cam’s are crap also (bad grinding ). Bad QC on their part. Sounds like you have had good luck so far. Keeping them.

Raven, don’t listen to Dan ! Everybody, loves their 1st H-D, it took him 50 years to buy. He didn’t do much research or read ALL the 900+ comments on the 3 Blogs here at J&P Cycles. IMO, he bought the 1st year with the 5 piece, cast, pressed together crank, the “first of the worst”, motors. Buy a 1984-99 Evo Big Twin Motor, cheap money & Bulletproof !

I have 65000 miles on my 03 road king. At about 60000 I took it in to have the timing tensioner checked and replaced if needed. It was still in good enough shape that I could have gone another 10000 miles (my opinion) without a failure. other than that I have done nothing other than normal maintenance

Billglitch; If you’re gonna let this one article (which has proven by and large not to be something to worry about) change your mind YOU AINT HARLEY MATERIAL ANYWAY. Stick with the ricers which are proven performers but have no soul.

OR…pony up enough to get a late model lo mile (-15000) Hog and ride and see why we love them.

just talking about the 2004 for um Harley Davidson Ultra Classic with less than 50,000 hubby looked at one at hd dealer the mechanic was selling for 13,995.00 I think its too much he says it rides really nice especially when you’re going 100 lol
just wondering about these 2004’s there is an awful lot there selling that this Harley Davidson

Cathy, don’t buy that POS ! The first 4 years of the Twin Cam were bad, only thing they had GOOD, was a forged crank. So, for their 100th birthday, they gave us a present, a 5 piece cast crank, pressed together, HAPPY BIRTHDAY H-D. These motors should never be dynoed,the crank can move. The Twin Cam chain tensioners are very forgiving, allowing H-D to build a cheaper motor, more quickly. Look around, buy a low mileage EVO motor (1984-1999) for cheap money. I’ve demo rode 30 different new INDIAN CHIEFS recently, for $ 18,999.- & a 5 year warranty, that’s what I’m buying next. I have 2 EVO”S, would never buy a Twin Cam !

This is a true story. It happened to me. My bike is dead now from the death of the tensioners. It will not be fixed anytime soon. Something like this was my issues when I bought this bike. I did concider buying a different brand. I still love the sound of a Harley which I have for over 40 years. Now I will look for something else to ride.

Mine went out at 22,000 had it fixed for about 1500.00, it lasted about 700 miles. Down again what a bummer.

Thanks again. correction on name.

Thank you! I am glad I took the time to read your article. I live in Ft. Wayne IN. rode up to Mackinaw bridge at 42k on my Fatboy and the salesman ar 42nd parallel Harley told me. Not my local s. side dealer or “official” mechanic here in town where I bought my bike. Gaylord MI is awsome and kudos to you and the 42nd parallel Harley in Gaylord. I’d rather buy from an honest man 600 miles away then spend local if I knew then what I know now. Be aware and on point, thanks to you, about my Harley.

Timing chain shoes and guides are a common failure item on any engine with this design, that’s just the nature of them. I’ve replaced timing chain sets on Toyotas, Fords, GMs etc…

I recently purchased a 2013 FLSTC and had to roll my eyes when I seen the “new” Harley technology using this set up, not that there is anything really wrong with it but I think they at least should have gone with direct drive between the two cams.

Anyhow, after reading this article I think it would be wise to check/replace the tensioners at 35k-45k and much sooner on the non-hydraulic ones.

I have an ’03 Road King. I bought it new and in July this year, at 57000+ miles (now 60000)I had them check my tensioner for the first time and it was worn a good amount on one side and barely on the other. I think it could have gone another 10000 miles perhaps, but had them do the upgrade. Nobody wants to spend any money on repairing anything and we all hope things will last forever, but nothing lasts forever. As far as some of the pissing and moaning about this part goes I have no complaints about my bike.

Hi, thanks for this info, this helped me to question my HD dealer and confirm that this is what toasted my 2009 engine with only 30,000 miles (50,000) kilometers on it!

This information helped me keep the diagnosis time below two hours and figure its not worth looking any further, the engine overheated and now I don’t want to spend another $2000-$4000 figuring out and fixing what has been damaged…better off putting the money into a new motor.

Am now up for a new engine…beware!

Just blew up my 95 stage 11 on my 2000 fat boy not impressed ordered a s&s to replace. Hd said they could rebuild it but back to the 88 base. Still with the same problem no thanks!,

Was informed there is no engine to replace the tc88 on the 2000 soft tail . Just rebuild to have another major let down ! No thanks ,so I just have a big pile of junk not worth a hoot!!!

Hey Gary, let me get this story straight. You blew up your 2000 Fatboy, was it cam chain related ? You ordered a new S&S motor, then was informed by S&S, they had no motor to fit your bike, is that correct ? Why is that ? Hey Harley Bros, Gary posted this almost a month ago, can somebody help him out?I don’t know CHIT about these POS, other than, I would never buy one. What a piece of work, POS !
I just spent 3 days demo riding the new INDIANS, WOW, what a nice bike, 119 lbs of torque, it pulls & pulls. I just might have to sell the 2 EVO’S !

I have a 2000 Harley Low Rider FXDL 9300 miles My cam chain tensioners just went out!!!!!!! Bike has been well taken care of and this so early?????????

I just bought a new HD Electra glide limited with the 103 engine. I take it that this engine has this fatal flaw too. What would be the recommended mileage to worry about this?

2007 and up are equipped with hydraulic tensioners which helps. You’ll still want to check them around 50-70k.

Thanks for the info Brett.

Actually the fact that they are hydralically tensioned makes no difference as the shoe that rubbs on the chain is still plastic and still is prone to wearing out.

Hi just taken my 99 fxdwg in to get base gaskets done,he’s found the tensioner on its last legs at 15000 miles, lucky escape me thinks!!!!!!!

Heard cam chain grinding at about 50,000 miles (02 electra glide). Went to dealer bought new tensioners. Went home to my garage and changed the tensioners. Less than 100 bucks. Only work I ever had to do on the bike in 70 thousand miles. Pretty damn good for a Harley if ya ask me. Used to rebuild my shovel every winter to get 10K out of the season.

Sorry to say I am a quite good mechanic as that is how i make my bread and butter. I bought my Bike as a Recreation Vehicle not a repair vehicle.Any bike that I have to rebuild every year just so i can get 10000 miles out of is not a RECREATIONAL VEHICLE in my book it would have to be a bike that I keep for sentimental value.

Wow Toyman, you make it sound easy. Did you remove gas tank and open rocker boxes to remove push rods? Or did you cut push rods and replace with adjustable ?
When I go through all the effort to remove cam plate (in order to get at secondary tensioner)I think it makes sense to spend the money (about 500) for upgrade cam plate, oil pump and hydraulic tensioners.
Also, if you use adjustable push rods it will be easier to get back into the case to replace tensioners in the future. Hopefully 50K+ miles down the rode.

The gear drive upgrade doesn’t work in Harley’s because the crank shaft is never “true” I have yet to see a true shaft that is I. Perfect balance. If you use gear driven cams on an untrue shaft the result is catastrophic engine failure!

Jason i’m glad you posted that went to Sturgis 2013 had a 96 screamin eagle engine put gear drive cams in it 10,000 miles ago before I got home from there,my engine failed,I DON’T RECOMMEND GEAR DRIVE CAMS engine has 16000 on it,changed cams for the cam follower problem.

A good deal of what I mention here was spoken about on another thread I read, and in a nut shell it also speaks of to and of the why’s and how’s this nation is so screwed up.

We got people living way beyond their means in house’s and people paying 22% to finance a $15K +++ motorcycle.

And yet those of you who can afford to play the game are the same one’s who help and have helped sell America out, you feed the speculators on Wall-Street.

Why does one get the impression that most of these complaints against Harley Davidson motorcycles are coming from the wannabe with all that disposable income. You bought an image people !

As well as that old saying that says if you can afford to buy it then you should be able to afford to fix. Harley Davidson sells an image not motorcycles. They no longer cater to the blue collar person. And haven’t since Ronny-Ray-gun bailed them out in the 1980’s.

Next time it would be cheaper for most of you and less frustrating to just buy one of their tee-shirts and just pretend your an outlaw.

Amen, Harry.

Ditto, ive had 06 & 09 Ultra Classic, 06 had no power to pass but plenty of torque on take offs….got new 09 & plenty power to pass, but 2 up u better not stop on hill, no torque on take off.in shop for compensator at 9k,had too pay $100 to get upgraded one or he said stock would just go out again & other prob. …i like the look & sound of harley but love to ride my Goldwing i traded 09UC in on…i had always wanted a harley, never again

Hey Harry, what are you riding or driving ? Foreign, I bet ! I bet you also voted for OBAMA ! If we could go back 50 years ago today, I think, it would be great. JFK would still be alive, the GEMINI (the right stuff) Astronauts, that was exciting. I’d still have 6 schoolmates, killed in Vietnam, for what ? 58,000 + GI’S gone, now Americans can tour there, I don’t get it. That was a time you could be sitting in the back seat of the family car, & pick out all the different cars, not today. You can look out your picture or kitchen window, into the neighbors driveways, I bet you see a lot of foreign cars. Do you think, the people that made your car, buy products or services, where you work, I doubt it, we are all to blame. We don’t have any real Heros anymore, unless you think SNOOP DOG is someone to look up to. GOD HELP US !

Amen BostonJim im a union man ill keep buying Harleys as long as they keep building them here I will never own a foreign car or bike im not ignorant i do relize alot of the parts are foreign made cant help that but my bike was union made in the U.S.A by americans that is the problems we have here to many people bashing what we make……….BE AMERICAN BUY AMERICAN…….

Dave and Jim your are the reason your country is f—k’d your cars are junk,assembled with parts made all over the world. offshore cars are killing you,(nothing you can do about it either) and USA & CANADA are loseing jobs every day to your neighbours to the south every day. Your country can’t seem to keep it’s nose out of other country’s problem’s. let them sort out their own mess. When it’s all over then it’s all yours anyway, no problem.One of your union’s put me out of work after 20 year’s of service, a**holes. In unions since I got out of school. I’m 60 now.If you have grand kids, god help them in about 15-20 years from now.The yellow wave will want all their money back .DOES YOUR COUNTRY HAVE THE CASH. NO…. I ride HD american iron(ASSEMBLED WITH PARTS FROM ALLOVER THE WORLD) and drive Chrysler cars and Ford trucks. ONLY. PAY ATTENTION BROTHER’S.

HAHAHAHA so true Harry I am old school I can remember looking through Easyriders every month in the bikes for sale section. I can remember you used to be able to get a complete Basket Case with frame engine gearbox basically enough stuff to build you a nice bike if you were a good mechanic for 1500 to 2000 bucks this was before the Yuppies and the Japs started buying them up and Jacking up the prices. I would never spend 15000 dollars on any motorcycle for 15G I would expect a bike to keep the garage clean and answer the phones run errands and go to the grocery market to pick up food and drink for 15000 I would expect it to have a band and provide entertainment plus be GOLD PLATED AS WELL.HAHAHAHAHAHA……….My absolute limit for a bike is 5G and thats with a new motor and Gearbox.

how old are you ??? Reagan DID not bail out Harley He imposed anti dumping legislation. perhaps u shuld stick to facebook where stupid people comment

wasn’t it a 40 percent import tariff? i don’t think he meant bail out in the hand them money sense, more the save their a*s sense.

[…] gratifying to know that you helped others out. In the past few months, I’ve written a couple of articles detailing issues that are possible with the cam chain tensioners in our beloved Twin Cam engines. […]

Sorry about all the problems with the late model harleys but it’s good to hear brothers helping out others sense so many dealer financed shops won’t. I’ve been on the same 47′ knucklehead going on 44 years & harley wasn’t exactly customer orented in those days either. Once I stroked it I was own my own and the jockey box was the final straw with them. It’s still rigid (3rd) frame and I’ve crossed this country on it more times than some truckers! Thanks to the help of so many independents. Thought of upgrading to a pan or shovel but not till the knuck.dies for real. “ride her like it’s your last time & take care of her when she’s home”

I have an ’04 Ultra that had the cam chain tensioners grenade in Canada in ’11 at about 55K miles. I had the outer one replaced in Rochester NY (I rode it all the way there with it making a hell of lot of racket)and then replaced the tensioner plate and oil pump after I got home. Fortunately nothing more serious happened as when I took the engine apart the inner tensioner was totally destroyed. I used the HD kit that had the hydraulic tensioners. I have since put on a 95″ BB stage 2 kit and haven’t had any problems. I have run Syn 3 ever since it came out and have been pleased with the oil. I also have a ’01 Dyna that I haven’t torn into yet (it has about 30K miles on it). I will probably put gears in it when I tear into it and will probably put the stage 2 kit on it as well. Since it is carbureted I will just have to change the jetting.

ive been led understand that the crankshaft in a twin cam walks around a bit like an olds 455….hence, gears are not a great option, unless maybe they can be set up “loose”, i dunno. It’s a chain for a reason, same as the old v8’s…ever notice the old ohc yamahas from the 70’s never had this problem yet they had tensioners on their cam chains?

Luck had for me when I took my bike in for some custom work on apes and such. My hearing isn’t all it should be as I’m 63 yrs old. I have an flhtci and Sinister cycles of Las Vegas, NV. was able to catch my cams rattling. My wife heard them before me. Harley warrenty wouldn’t pay for the upgraded cam kit as I had the new bike warrenty. I wasn’t about to put the same in so I upgraded. Best thing I ever invested in and my bike runs strong.



I have a 2009 FLHTCU-ULTRA CLASSIC ELECTRA GLIDE. and after reading all your coments on the cam chain followers and the hydrolic tentioners and the gear drive systems, not to mention all the blogs from your loyal readers. and on the issues of run out. The only tweaking I’ve done to the bike is the harley race tuner, arlin ness big sucker breather and Rush true dules and the big louie Rush 4″ slip-ons. I have 15,000 miles on it now, with no issues so far. what would be the best way to go at this point??? Please advise. Thank you.

I have a 2013 Fatboy Lo, and after reading all this, I was just wondering if I should be concerned with this issue?

I bought my RK in Dec. 98 So it was from some of the first ones. I started hearing about the cam problems the second year. I had mine checked at 45K only slight wear was noted, but for good measure we changed the shoes. The replacement shoes were a tan color instead of the original white. They were changed again at 65K and they had more wear than the originals. At 95K I did the big bore and cam change again along with new shoes and cam chain. This time my mechanic/harley dealer owner polished the outer edges of the cam chain. His theory was that rough machining edges of the cam chain plates was causing the erratic shoe wear. At 110K I went to the 123K the whole ball of wax and did the stroker, different cams and gear drive. Had no problems until a deer tried to change places with me. I had always rode fast but never hard compared to most RUBS that are out there riding nowadays. Seems to be luck of the draw
Ride Ride Ride and keep the rubber side down

I have an ’03 FLSTC w/ 65,000 miles. I was planning on putting the new cam chain tensioner kit on when it came out last year but hadn’t got around to it yet when I heard a funny noise coming from the right side of the motor. unfortunately I was 300 miles from home on a holiday weekend. When the Harley shop opened 2 days later I trailered my bike in and started it up and the mechanic said he had never heard a sound like that before. I took it home and my harley mechanic knew exactly what it was. The cam chain tensioner. they were surprised it had lasted for 65,000 miles. I now have 75,000 miles on with no problems.

I replaced my tensioners for the second time a couple of months ago. The first time was at 25,000 miles and a shop did it. I didn’t get to see the amount of wear, but the mechanic said they were ready to be replaced. I did the second set at 75,000 miles, mostly because I was nervous about having them fail. A buddy of mine did the service and I watched. The pads still had a good amount of life in them, although you could see some scoring on the surface. I’ve been running synthetic oil since I bought the bike with 5,000 miles on it. For the past 40,000 I’ve been using Lucas 20-50 full synthetic exclusively. My buddy says that using synthetic oil greatly increases the life of the tensioners and that after the first set has been replaced, the future sets don’t wear as quickly due to the metal surfaces on the chain being smoothed out with wear. We put in adjustable pushrods to make the job a lot easier as well. I’m sticking with the tensioners for the foreseeable future (mostly due to cost).

Some of the less tech savvy guys may want to see if their local dealer offers a low cost cam chain tensioner inspection like this one. $25. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yO3qKSi3wI


It happen to me, lost a motor because of these cam shoes. Big dent in my pocket. And still not resolved. Bad Design for sure and bad for business. Harley should look at the possibilities of making some changes or other options..

Why they don’t just upgrade the design ie” the cause moving item across stationary item under tension” by replacing the plastic pad with a roller bearing gear on the tensionier ??? is beyond me the weak point then would be the spring, when it breaks or tension wares out. same could be done on hydraulic tensioniers I’m sure thus removing the spring failure. just my opinion! until then enjoy the Ride….

Agreed. Probably a cost issue. Gears would be better though, because as the chain stretches there will be slight timing changes between the two cam’s. Probably nothing that would affect normal driving but none the less….

hi… it’s me, g- man again.. justa respectful note to those who think they may have a superior edge with another brand of bike… i have worked on & ridden lots of different brands most of my life now & have not come across the perfect bike yet. sooo, get real, expand your horizons & think a little. one of my best ridn’ buddies does have a honda VTX.. guess what ? it’s died on him 3 times now, electrical problems , still under warranty towed to shop once after quitting in his driveway ( lucky) once out on the road, one more time at home with a fuel prob of some sort. he’s not very happy, says if one more thing goes wrong he’s buying a harley… true story – so there you have a true life example. his first bike was a harley he had to share with his brother & he’s thinkin’ his last bike will be a harley as well… i’ll have to ask him where his bro is… ha! ha! ha! later gang.

was thinking about “upgrading” from my 98 fxdwg to 2006 or newer ultra, might just keep the old evo.

keep the 98 evo i have the same bike and will not trade up. if i want a bagger i will get an EVO bagger

keep the evo. or get a real nice rebuilt well shovel…I’m a reasonably talented mechanic, rode yamahas for twenty years (from age seven on, dirt and street) and am quite brand loyal, when they impress me originally, and then bought a 70 FLH. Good, real good motor, and when stuff does come up, so easy to deal with after years of dealing with fine and complicated japanese design. I call it my tractor, partially cause of weight, partially cause i get most of the bearings or bushings i need off the shelf at the local john deere dealer.

Harleys……….Love to look at them…..best paint and chrome quality on the market……Sucessfully cater to a lot of weekend bad ass wanna bees and novice riders desparate to look cool. Lets be honest guys if Harley made airplanes would you fly in one? 95% of all Harleys bulit are still on the road. The rest made it home.

Good points. If Harley made airplanes they would be the best looking and well made planes on the market, but they might be too heavy to get off the ground.

go jump on your kawasaki. hope you break down. most bikes on rural roads or long trips are harleys. bet they wont stop when they see you on that jap piece of sh*t. most wont. harley riders are good to one another

Matt you must of forgot that your Harley has overseas parts on it and some from just over the boarder. And if anyone riding a Milwaukee /Oriental iron is too good to help someone because they choose to be different, they are not very good people.

That’s so true about not being able to get off the ground.The motto at HD Design is why use 1/8 inch steel plate when we have all this 3/4 inch steel plate we need to get rid of? Lightness is a word spoken in an ALIEN LANGUAGE at HD Desgn.

FUD I agree with you 100%. In my experience most Harley riders are not very cool people at all. How can you be down to Earth when you followed what 90% of the other guys are doing and paid 4 times what a Harley is worth just to be able to wear a Harley advertisement sign and be able to say that yes I ride a Harley. HAHAHAH LOLOLOL that is really sad.

have owned several Harleys years back loved the bikes just not the dependability have had 2 Kawasaki Vulcans cause with kids could not afford a Harley. at 1/2 price to a Harley got 70G miles on each never a single issue just traded for new rides I am going to try a Harley again this fall. but Vulcans are not sh-t
there just not a Harley. mine never let me down.

and you probably ride a suzuki right ? cause people who talk Sh** about harleys have never owned or even ridden one. so stfu unless you can back what you say

I have an 06 road King. At about 20000 miles I was antsy about the cam chain tensioner problem. I switched to the gear drive andrews cams and got more power in the process. I rode the engine hard and at 95000 miles I did the top end and converted to a 95 inch kit. It has 113,000 miles on it now and never a worry about Harleys bogus cam chain tensioner design. Also as the chains stretch over time it effects your timing and your power declines. Gear drive never changes your timing as there is no chain to stretch with wear. Also got a 2008 Ultra now with about 23000 mile now and will be changing to gear drive soon.

i just installed MOTORKOTE in this ’05 dyna. this will add time before damage occurs. i got it at walmart. in the auto additive section. you can check the website out, http://www.MOTORKOTE.com made inUSA this stuff works ! engine runs smoother & quite .

I do not feel oil or rideing styles are a major contributer to the early style shoes wearing out. I have seen many one or the other shoe wore severe and the other with minamal wear. I feel the back of the chain leaves something to be desired. I have been polishing the back of the chains with a buffing wheel. It makes a huge difference. Many shops will have an old chain or two around in the metal scrap pile, take a look at the back of the chain under a good magnifying glass and you will see how rough they are. buff one up so you know what wheel to use and make sure to CLEAN thorghly. I feel this will give you many trouble free miles. Remember this is still a mechanical wear point just as pistons, cylinders,valve guides ect. Thank-you and have a safe ride




I own an 07 fxst. Could this be a problem for me?

I had a related failure on my 1999 FDX Dyna Super. At 11,000 miles the cam outer cam bearing let go and put metal into the cam chest.

It turns out that the original TC88’s in 1999 had ball bearing on both front and rear cams (outer bearings)

I talked to the service manager at my local dealer and he “Didn’t know anything about it”. I asked about TSB’s (Technical Service Bulletins) on the problem, and He looked at me like I was from another planet. Plain and Simple, The dealer service department(s) are under the influence of the factory. They are basically warranty shops and depend on the factory warranty payments to keep their doors open. What a load of fertilizer!!!

I discovered that Harley fixed the bearing problem on 2000 Model Years by replacing the weaker ball bearing with a large roller bearing on the rear cam. The Service kit from Harley comes with the roller bearing.

The failure took out the old pump when it sucked up a large chunk of the bearing sheet metal ball retainer. While I was in the cam chest, I replaced both tensioners……. They showed some wear which made me nervous, but they were not worn out. Now it sounds like I did the right thing.

I will be taking my 2000 Ultra Classic apart and upgrading to the Hydraulic 2006 setup this winter. At 46,000 miles, It may be on borrowed time.

If you are interested in joining our motor bike club
you must have a full face helmet,riding gloves,leather jacket (can be vinyl,but must look nice) fringes on
brake and clutch levers>unless you ride an automatic scooter that’s fine. we always ride single file and passing each other is prohibited and grounds for being
excused from the motor bike club! Some of the activities we have are birthday parties(no Alcohol)marshmallow roasts, sit around the fire and sing etc.

LOL!!!! Thatd be the day someone tells me! How to ride!

Get A Rice Burner! “Less Headache”

GO Rice Burner Motor Bike Club!

Note: if you’d like to join our club you must have a 70cc or greater and no more than a 450cc. Oh, did I say a foreign make, Anywho We will “beep” when we see you losers broke down on the expressways…

I had exactly this problem with my 05 Wide Glide. The stock tensioner surfaces were ceramic and disentigrated at 32K and destroyed my oil pump. Fortunately, it happened in the parking lot of a Harley Dealer and I had Extended Care (100K) which paid the bill. Unfortunatley, when I had a thorough maintenance tuneup at my (former) HD dealer at 27K absolutely nothing was done or said about the potential problem. It is apparent now that the tensioer surfaceswerenot even checked. Caveat Empore. Paul

Sounds like you all need to switch to Victory


forgot the 2007 Heritage I wrote of in earlier post had 2600 miles on it when I bought it yes thats 26hundred,,,I changed to syn.oil a week after I got it home,,still noisy ,could it be the the same problem ?

Very old news Folks. Thanks anyway

This is an issue that an aftermarket parts manufacturer could profit from…

Instead of the rather expensive gear driven set-up, which is limited to engines with minimal crank throw-out, why not make tensioners that use small sprockets that ride on the cam chain, instead of the plastic shoes used on the stock tensioners? Of course, the steel “arms” that the original H-D plastic shoes are attached to would also have to be different, to accommodate the sprockets, but like I said, a parts manufacturer should be able to crank out something like this with little difficulty.

Yep, that’s my idea, but it’s not patented, so why don’t one of you parts manufacturers go ahead and come out with a new product? My only fee for the idea is one set of the new sprocket-type tensioners for my ’02 FXSTS(i).

Access to a machine shop and a few hours and there you go a MUCH MUCH better solution and have the sprockets run on needle or ball bearings it really shouldn’t make a difference as they dont carry a LOT of tension. A++++ for a EXCELLENT IDEA.

I have a 2000 FLHRCI with 248,000+ miles on the original engine…fact. I had the tensioner problem at around 35,000 miles. Showed up as oil being pulled into the breather at sustained high speed. Oil pumped out the breather all over the exhaust. Looked like the Red Barron shot down! Stopped, cleaned up, checked oil and proceeded down the road. After the second time, opened the timing case and both tensioners pads were near metal! Since then have inspected regularly and replaced three times and am ready to pull again. I considered gear to gear and elected to maintain the stock (upgraded) tensioner system and have had no problems to date. And I drive the bike like I stole it………….. So, with that said I believe the stock system is satisfactory and only requires responsible maintenance. I spent many years past modifying my bikes. I finally settled down at 62 and understand and appreciate the engineering that has gone into these machines. God Bless Harley Davidson……………….

I have a 95 sporty is this something I should look in to…Ty Dave

Ty Dave
Not to worry.
You have gear drive now.
Different animal.

sounds like the old saying you know why they make metric bikes to keep idiots off of Harley’s I am a Harley -Davidson dealer a lot of these post are plum stupid I have at the most have had 2 major failures due to customer just not paying attention to his bike alot of failures are due to UN proper use of manufacture oil not doing services when need excessive riding habits 2000 when twin cam came out not 99 sportsers have no place in this discussion 50,000 is the recommended time to replace them yes they are made of neoprene plastic there gonna wear if you hear a premature noise coming from vale train then most likely its giving you a tail tail warning that the are going out but you keep riding an not have it looked at the its your fault you just trash your engine ……….

Then if that is truly what you believe, you need to go buy a new car or truck and tear into the engine routinely to be sure it is not going to disintegrate., Oh and according to some other posts if it does fail it is YOUR fault for not doing oil changes twice as often as stated in the manual and opening the motor every 25k just to be sure something does not need replacing.

Dear Sir:
I am 80 years old and have had harleys off and on since 1951. Although I am no mechanic, but I have tinkered with them for years. I completely agree with your assessment of the current chain tensioner problem. I think that the problem is completely overblown and is a product of agressive riding habits and inattention to oil changes, etc. and tinkering with performance so called upgrades. It is said that jack rabbit starts does not harm the tensioners, but it does. Dirt bikes with tensioner pads wear out quickly if jack rabbit starts are a habit.
As a licensed professional engineer, I feell that you comments are completely valid.

keep the evo. or get a real nice rebuilt well shovel…I’m a reasonably talented mechanic, rode yamahas for twenty years (from age seven on, dirt and street) and am quite brand loyal, when they impress me originally, and then bought a 70 FLH. Good, real good motor, and when stuff does come up, so easy to deal with after years of dealing with fine and complicated japanese design. I call it my tractor, partially cause of weight, partially cause i get most of the bearings or bushings i need off the shelf at the local john deere dealer.

oops…wrong column. was in reply to a different post/ but you know 1975 yammies have plastic shoe cam chain tensioners that are still good in 2013 with 50,000 K? I have a few….

Twin Cams came out in 99 on most Harleys, the rest of the big twins were converted to the lemon in 2000. So you say I’ll know when to replace my tentioner when i start hearing excessive noise coming from my motor? I dont use the manufactures oil, basicly because i want by bike to last. What im hearing from you is more dealer BS.

BS. nobodies running improper oil, the tensioners are junk and it’s a know problem. The local HD dealer has admitted it to me, as he knows he’ll never sell me a new bike, in love with the 70 FLH. He’s a good guy, actually keeps shovel parts in stock, pretty rare and the only reason I know him.

I just bought my first Harley late this year (August) I love the Scoot ,but it does have a noise in the front of the engine, after test riding I told the salesman about the noise ,he started the bike and gunned it ,told me that was a normal sound but did sell me the extended warrenty. Oh ,it is a 2007 Heritage sofetail..I have had a couple of other riders listen and say it is normal sound,,,I have been riding for 40 years and this is the first time I have been concerned about long distance riding ,,should I be ? Any others owning the same bike have this noise and is it normal?

I ride a 1991 H.D. full blowm custom chopper, Evo, No problems, 80 ci gets me down the road, who needs a twin cam anyhow, I would never buy one, at worst, put a 124 evo in my currant bike, too many people think newer is better, like twin cams, the only people maken money is H.D. dealers.


I have an 07′ FLHX with over a 120,000 miles and have used Amsoil since the second oil change! Never a problem in the cam side, have replaced the inner primary support bearing for the trans mainshaft twice and a clutch hub due to the Asian manufacturer of the H-D part? Yes we know they do this… I am curious for when I do pull it down to see where she stands on wear, now that I’ve it out! Amazes me, as I have over 750,000 miles under me with 5 Harley’s starting with my 65′ Pan 2 Shovels a Evo and now my TC! Yes they have come a long way, better and staying close to the same in many ways! It was harder in the early years for sure, but have always worked on my own except for the machine work as my machinest has come along way all the years we have been together!

I have read almost all of the blog, which happens to very long. So I think I need to add my two cents. I love this articale and am glad that someone is bring the issue to the top. I have had many arguments with my dealer and the mechanics about this issue. So here is my experience and advise. I have two ’02 Dynas and they both have the problem. I fixed one and as soon as I can I will fix the other. My fix is to go with the gear drive cams. Not only will you save your engine but you will get a noticable increase in performance and response to the throttle.

I had 30,000 miles on my bike and discovered the problem when I went to punch out the engine. After b–ching at the deal. I immediately went to gear drive because of the good thing I heard about them. I have now put over 45,000 miles on the gears with not even a hint of a problem. I didn’t have to change the oil I use (good old fossil 20W50) or change to hydraulic tensioners or polish the chain. It took me 3 hrs to do the work and the hardest part was to measure the runout. By the way it’s not .005 for the earlier models it’s worst more like .002. My runout was .0015 so I was good to go. My advise is to convert as soon as possible before the runout gets to large. You will not regret your decision. I have recommended this fix to a number of my friends with newer bike and not one has had a problem since. I have many of them thanking me for recommending the fix. I can tell you more about this issue but I think I’ve said enough.

Shame on Harley for letting something like this go into production they should have stayed with the EVO, simple and undistructable. Many of my Bro’s have turned away from Harley for this very problem. They keep telling me “you won’t find this problem with a Jap bike”. You would think Harley would get a hint.

I sold my Harley Heritage a few years back when Honda came out with the VTX 1800. When I saw it and rode it I was sold. It was made right here in the good old USA Marysville Ohio to be exact. I got tired of Harley being stuck in the past with TRACTOR TECHNOLOGY and not moving forward. Now that they are going to be building a water cooled motor I might try them again. As far as my VTX it has 60000 trouble free miles on it. I do my own work and Honda has always prided themselves on simplicity the maintenance is a joy to do and I have so far never had any parts break down.It is stock over 100 Horsepower and over 100 LBS/FT Torque so whats not to like?

water cooled heads is gonna be nothing but a staple fix to a major problem, EPA laws are mandating such a lean burn combustion chamber temperatures are getting ridiculous. ever notice the difference in heat coming off the heads of matching compression shovels, evos and tc’s? Pushrod air cooled v twin is a good, reliable design, but the EPA regs are killing it like the two stroke. Thats also why the twin cam exists, an attempt to make the valve train quieter for regulations. And doing it poorly.

honda simplicity my ass. How can you combine that with a dislike of harley simplicity?

thats harleys latest attempt to drag themselves into new age to keep from losing more unhappy cust. like me…from 88ci in 06—-then 96ci & finally 103ci..but the prob is still the quality of the parts used to maximize profits and come up with something new every few yrs. to keep u hoping the American dream is finally gonna live up to exp…..i’m all for American but my money goes to quality not more hype….ive had 3 harleys but now (Honda) that name on any product = quality imo Lynn

Yamahas in the sport bike range from 2005 to 2010 apparently had very bad “soft” cams like early eighties chevy 305’s, lobes would go round. Remind your japanese buddies of that next time they get on their high horse, all manufacturers have problems, just the japanese make WAY more products so everyone doesn’t have the same problem. Bad electrical in early 2000 honda cbrs, virago starters, vmaxs breaking starter clutch set screws every year, etcetera

And here I thought that Harley was such a fine piece of equipment. Why would they allow this to go on, with the cost of these bikes?

I have a 08 roadking, does this aply to me?

Had 04 road king put s&s gear drive cams in @10k had 53k when I traded it no issues . I plan to put gear drives in my 2012 road glide this is not a new problem s&s has been selling gear drives for years. Harley knows about this its just one more way to there dealers busy.

Victory – the modern American motorcycle.

can u say kowasakeeee

I have had all the harleys over the years from knuckle head to the 09 96cu and 6 speed and you can’t beat the good old evo 97000 miles and runs great on my 94 electroglide.You never see a Harley in the junkyard I will still be riding mine and drinking beer out of a recycled can made out of your long gone foreign crap.

I ride a 1991 custom chopper, Evo, would not have it any other way, runs good, I am with you bro


They also sell every Harley they made. What gives?

Harley should do the decent thing and have a recall and offer to fix the problem. But again this is Harley and their only concern is profits, not so much customer satisfaction. I have a 2000 Fatboy, thanks for the scare.

This is why I changed to S&S 5110 gear drives when I bought my 04 Low Rider. Never a problem.

I have a 2004 Dyna Wide Glide. My mechanic told me about this and checked it out when I had 55k on the bike. There was nothing left. It was changed. Oil pan dropped and completely cleaned out. I had him do some inspections before I went on my next long trip. This was a couple of years ago. He new about the problem and took care of it for me. It was upgraded to one from drag. He said that I wouldn’t have this problem again

Just bought a used 04 Electra Glide. Asked dealer about these before purchase and they replace them on all bikes they take in on trade before selling.

Tells me they know they have a problem also.

if you could figure out a way to install a screen to
keep your oil pump from scavenging the shreds of
plastic, and maybe a magnet to catch any metal
flake, you would probably save alot of $$ over that
way cool gearset. H-D should be doing this! It also
helps to look at your oil pressure guage every now
and then.

unfortunately unless you own one of the higher end bikes you don’t have an oil pressure “guage” and by the time that idiot light starts to glow it’s probablly too late. That said, it might not be a bad idea to suggest to those without a guage to maybe consider a kit, cheap enough and maybe good insurance..

I have an 03 Heritage Softail. At 80,000 miles, I had to have a reman done as the cam journal broke. I was told by the head mechanic at my dealer that he had never seen this happen. Metal parts went throughout the engine but while riding, I heard what sounded like rain hitting metal (even over the pipes) and pulled over. We trailered the bike to the dealer for repair. Since I had purchased the extended warrantee, the HD service rep. said the repair amounted to $2400 and would be covered but they would only repair what broke. I explained that metal went throughout the engine and other parts were at risk because of this. They insisted that they would only fix what was broken and I would have to bring it back if something else broke or failed. I told them I wanted a reman done at that point so I worked out a deal for them to apply the $2400 repair estimate as a credit to the cost of the reman. Now, I have 150,000 miles on the bike and again worry this might happen again. The tensioners are checked regularly but the journal is a bit difficult to check. Hopefully this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Just a quick note to say thanks for the info. I am laid up in the hospital after back surgery and now can not wait until I am able to break out the tools and open up my 05 Wide Glide with 29k..
Thanks again!

We just replaced our Sport with a 1995 FLSTC Heritage. Do we need to worry about any of these issues? Thanks in advance.

No, you have been blessed with the EVO aka the Evolution engine, IMHO the best engine ever to roll out of Milwaukee.. Take good care of it and it will take care of you. Enjoy your new toy.

hi guys, & gals , been reading up on all the comments & suggestions here… some good stuff. there is no substitute for regular maintenance either by owner if capable or dealer shop. this issue with plastic material chain tensioner shoes is not actually a new one. the old brit bikes had a primary chain tensioning device that was black plastic material of some kind over a spring steel holding tension on the slack side… now this system had the same problems you are describing for the tc engines. however replacing & maintainig the primary was much easier & not catastrophic to the engine. the movers & shakers at h-d decided to go cheap here in my opinion. they really need to rethink what they are doing here & design a proper gear set to “FIX THE PROBLEM” gear whine should not be a problem at all with a helical gear set . myself i own a 91 flhtc that i just love… as for the tc, i would not want plastic mud going around inside my crankcase, that plastic that wears off could be just as bad or worse than metal finally going around inside the engine if it closes off an oil passage or clogs & jams the oil pump. h-d & the dealerships need to be real with their customers & treat them kindly not only with this issue but anything else that may come up. we all know how hard it can be to fix a spoiled reputation… much harder than fixing a cam drive… nuff said G- MAN

I Just bought an 06 FXDI superglide with 17873 miles on it from my local dealer. A friend of mine said there was an upgrade for the cam tentioner. After reading this information I should concerned about this, not only for the cam tentioner but also the IPB ( inner primary bearing) The dealer dont really tell you squat about anything. (past service history)

The engine in my 03 road king is being rebuilt right now for the exact issue written about here. Very frustrating that such a simple inspection an fix would have saved me almost $4000.

I was a service manager at a large Canadian Harley dealership. We fixed a lot of American bikes on their way to Alaska with cam case problems on twin cam 88s. Our own customers were told to due everything by 40000kms or be ware. This includes cams,bearings and oil pump. Sometimes the plate is also no good. I have seen STOCK rear cam bearings go right away and take out everything. Cam cases have also cost Harley a lot of money. We did a lot of cam cases and engines on warranty. If you buy a Harley buy extended warranty always!!! Why do the dealers hate this issue? Service departments make little money from Harley on warranties. We rebuilt wore out engines on extended warranty yes wore out. Syn3 is shit. Amsoil adds at least a third longer life to your motor. Engine mods also always reduce life and reliability. I have 27 bikes yes 27. 3 are Harleys. Why buy a Harley? If you ride lots or tour there is a dealer with parts and service a few hours away at any time. Brake down on holidays on another brand and see how long you wait to get parts or service. Ride a nonHarley into Canada from the US and see how well your warranty works??

I purchased my very first Harley last November. I have owned every type of Japanese bike made and a NSU back in the 60’s. The 2000 Twin Cam Electra Glide was in very nice shape. With 39600 miles on it. I purchased it for 8400.00. I was reading American Iron Magazine when I came across the article about the cam chain followers. At that time, the bike was in storage at the local HD dealer. I contacted them and asked them to check the followers. They found them nearly gone. Inside and outside. I also discovered that replacing them is about 850.00 with parts. I opted for the Hydraulic Cam Chain kit that HD has on the dealers shelf. The kit installed was about 1500.00, I have worked on bikes for years and I would of done the job myself, but the tools to do the job were 500.00. I figured to let them and get the warranty while I was at it. So, picking up the bike this spring, I took it home, the cam chain tensioners failed on the way to the house, about four miles down the road. I returned to the dealer to have it corrected and had no problem until yesterday, eight months later. The tensioners failed again. Which causes a lot of gear and chain noise on the right side of the bike. HD is looking into the problem again. Meanwhile I am again without a bike to ride. This is just a small problem though. I have put thousands of miles on Japanese bikes over the years, no mechanical issues of any kind. What do I think of the Glide now. I still will not give up on that bike. There is something about the ride, the noise and the experience of a Harley. I have been waiting 48 years for this bike. This is a part of owning a Harley. Yes I miss my 150 mph GSXR 750, the Vulcan 2000 cc, the CL/CB 450 and 900. The Intruder, GS 750 and many more. Would I trade this Harley for them back. Not even if you offered me all of them back. The Geezer Glide is very special to me. I guess the one thing I missed owning the Ricers, no need for preventive maintenance, no character, no “fun”. This repair is necessary to keep your TC’s together, But a simple hydraulic tensioner kit is all you need for 40 to 50,000 miles. It also includes a new oil pump,cam bearings and the cam plate to convert your 2000 to 2006 into a 2007 and newer hydraulic tensioner bike. I recommend it, even if it hurts now, it is better than picking up a new crate motor for 6500.00 plus labor. The manual said to check the tensioners every 20,000 miles. Another book I read said check at 40,000. Do not do that. If I had waited until 40,000 or more. I would be installing a crate motor right now. Check these followers as soon as possible if you are near the 38,000 mark. Ride the best, push it if you must, take a trailer or a truck. If your on another make, no one gives a …. .

Ok.. so apparently My ’08 Crossbones is clear and should have the Hyd Tensioner.

Now whats this about the Trans..?
Just feathering the clutch ie parking lot riding.. Im getting a regular clunk from the trans.. being a long time sporty rider, is this “normal” or is this also a tensior issue? Dealer said its normal…

My 08 tranny makes a fairly pronounced “clunk’ throughout all upshifts. Figured it’s a quirk of the 6 speed since it’s my first, anybody gao a “helpful” comment

I replaced the cam bearings and tensioners on my 01 road king classic at 38,000 miles. The inner tensioner was 3/4 worn through. Good thing it was winter and a good time to tear it down.

My 2000 Electraglide had worn out tensioners (over 50%) with grooves and pitting indicating the imminient failure of the tensioners at 20K miles in 10 years. Did a 95 top end and a set of Head Quarters 34G gear drive cams in 2010.
Awesome performance through the full rpm range. 87HP and 101 Ft Lbs of torque with stock heads and it did not blow up on the Dyno! 42K today and still running strong. 70 -100 mph with just a twist of the throttle and plenty of torque. 20K (hard and fast) miles in 2 yrs compared to 20K in 10 yrs will tell you how much fun this bike is now.
We know the tensioners wear and the plastic has to go somewhere. Is it worth your motor or your life to have the “catastrophic failure” described by other HD riders in their warnings?
It was well worth the $1200 in parts( including special tools for the cam bearing replacement) I spent for the total upgrade,and not too difficult to do myself, especially when I saw how worn those tensioners were at that mileage.

Wow, This explains a lot. At 15k I took my 06 FLHT to the dealer for “valve train noise” and a faint knocking. They tore it apart & put it back together after they found it to be “in spec.”. Hmmm. At less than 20k it went back, same, same, ditto. It was still under their biggest & best extended waranty. The Service Mgr. & mechanic both agreed it was “noisy”, as did the HD District Service Rep. They all said “Drive it, if it comes apart, we’ll worry about it then.” No Kidding, DIRECT QUOTES !!! At 25k I was afraid to drive it on my 25mi. commute to work, it was REALLY rattling/knocking! I went round & round with aforementioned Rep., & he eventually told me they were NOT gonna fix it till it grenaded. If I persisted, he said he would cancel my extended warranty because I had Screamin’ Eagle pipes & a Stage ! air cleaner cover (stock air filter). Now for the Paul Harvey…..the r e s t of the story. This bike was a replacement for my FIRST brand new ElectraGlide that had one of the JUNK EARLY 6 SPEEDS that they, by their own admission could not make right. These were my 26th and 27th Harleys I have owned since 1987. I started as a Harley freak in 1976 at the age of 11. I now ride BMW’s. My R1200RT is a WAY better machine than any of the Harley’s I have had over the years. At 25k it has only had tires, & oil changes, and is just now getting broken in, not ready for the scrap heap like my last NEW ElectraGlide. I did say LAST didn;t I ? L A S T in more ways than one. Harle Davidson Motor Co. is very crappy in the way they support and stand behind their product.

Don’t know if previously mentioned, but the reason chain drive is installed from HD is due to engine noise rules imposed by EPA. Laws these days say they must burn cleaner and less noisy. A sign of the times.

Gear drive is the reliable alternative but it is noisier.

A term that also comes to mind is ” Planned obsolescense” The product is engineered to self destruct so eventually you will have to buy a new one. Makes sense from a marketing standpoint if you want to sell more units.

I hope all reading this info get their troubles fixed in time. I’m still trying to make my evo last another 20 years. Good luck!! ~W

i have a 2000road king flhrci will i have this problem i just bought it 3 months ago runs good the person i got it from brother in law he bought a new one he is a trucker he road it mostly hiway miles has 29000 miles if so how much will it cost to convert to gear drive i will do a oil change and cut open filter to check it is it a big job for a mech. or costly

at 35,000 miles mine went about about 65mph…my bike has been sitting for 2 months. right where the tow truck left it. need to fix it asap.

really? Some of you wanna tout your jap bikes? I’ve ridden several different brands over the years and out of all those, it was jap bikes trying to copy a Harley. Each one of them had their issues too! Both my Hondas had problems. the first one had one of the crappiest electrical systems you could buy. The other liked to eat cams (v4). The Yamaha I had, liked to eat trannies and the Suzuki I had also had a crap electrical system. One thing they all had in common was all those companies were trying to copy Harley! And they made some of the most uncomfortable bikes I’ve ever owned. I say that to say this; each bike had issues! I was told for years how the only difference was the name, and that might be true with the newer HDs. All I know is mine cost me the same as what a jap bike costs. And I’ve yet to have problems. It’s the most comfortable ride I’ve had thus far! And there is a difference!

yammie second gear disease it quite famous.

Ok I have a 06 Night Train. What parts are recommenced to replace if I am not going with the gear drive set up? Bike has 15k on it now. Running HD synthetic oil since new. Are there upgrade parts to buy from HD?

My 2005 Ultra sounds like the engine is coming apart when I crank it at times. It loads up on fuel, I have FI. I open the throttle and it will blow the raw gas out, backfire out the pipes and air filter. I had have this problem for 5 years and Harley cannot figure out what is causing it. Only does it at times. Last time it was in the shop they put a SE race tuner on it for some reason but didn’t help it.

not sure but i had a similar problem the fuel lines in the tank were cracked . sometimes it cranked liked the engine was going to blow ! locked up back fired i figured out the fuller the gas tank was the less the problem you should check this out

Good information. Thanks Scott and everyone else except Rusty…I own and ride a 2010 H-D FXDC and did not know all this about the cam chain tensioners. I also own and ride a 2006 Yamaha Road Star and a 2011 R1200RT BMW. Enjoy all three and their differences. I know now which bike I will sell if I need to get rid of one. I think I really miss my ole early ’78 FLH. four speed, chain and carb.

I would like to hear more about the rear-off-center issue. I think I might have this problem. I feel a slight wobble in a deep right turn on my ’06 FLHPI. Is there an easy check? A good fix?

I had a 2002 FLHT with the first set of stock tensioners replaced at 32,000 miles. The second set failed 7,000 miles later. Luckily on both situations I caught them before they totally failed. But after my second set failed I installed the S+S Gear drive with the 570 cam set. The 570 was recommended for a stock engine, 88ci. The bike had a slight lope and ran better than it ever did after the upgrade. I traded the bike off with 72,000 miles on a new 2010 FLHTC. I figured H-D learned from it’s mistake and moved on with the new hydraulic set up. Guess I was wrong. I sold off my wifes ’09 Sportster for a Honda VTX1300. So far no issues with anything other than she rides it more. I think that maybe the key if you want to ride without issues?

Had mine replaced at about 30,000 miles on my 2000 Wide Glide. Caught it before it got down to the metal. My dealer recommended replacing the tensioners every 25,000 miles. Cost about $900 to replace. To convert to hydraulic was a few more hundred & I considered gear drive but there are pros & cons with every option. I bought mine used with about 28,000 miles & ill never know how it was treated in the past, but I use synthetic oil & I kind of beat on it. I plan on having them replaced again around 50,000 miles. The dealer never hid any info from me. Just a regular part of maintaining the engine. Ride safe & have fun!

Anyone know if my 09 Ultra Classic is affected by this. Just made 30k on it. So far ,so good , no problems.

I have an ’03 ultra, at 40000 miles I replaced the cam tensioners with a tensioner shoe rebuild kit from cyco gaskets. These shoes just replace the shoe material only, reusing the tensioner body and spring. The shoe kit costs $7.00 a piece. The was the most economical way to make repairs to the tensioner wear problem for a do-it yourselfer. My biggest expense was the adjustable pushrods n tubes which prevented a lot of upper end disassembly.

Had 12000 miles on my 06 wideglide when it went down 600 miles from home on the way to DC for Rolling Thunder.Had to rent a Victory Jackpot to finish the ride.I now have 33000 on it and its time to check it out again.Its not fun to feel stranded away from home because of a design defect.One positive though,I did buy a Jackpot because I fell in love with that bike that weekend.40000 so far problem free.

I’ve read the article on the CVO twin cam issue with wear. Well here is a story for ya. I purchased a new 2005 HD fat boy 103 in 05. This year I left Hartford Ct. for Sturgis, well I did not get far. Getting on Rt. 90 in Pittsfield Mass. the bike developed a vicious vibration. I was riding with my nephew who was on his 05 road king. My fat boy has 30 k and has been my baby. I bought it to replace my 1953 Pan head, what a mistake.
After several hours at the local Harley dealer and only after the mechanic contacted the Harley rep did he discover that the oil pump exploded.
Seams Harley pins one flywheel on and the other is pressed on. Seems the pressed on flywheel came loose causing the vibration. Harley has had this issue with others and once this happens the out of balance flywheel destroys the oil pump,likewise the twin cam chain tensioner was worn badly.
I understand from a local Harley mechanic here in Ga. that Harley has had this issue with that motor but has kept it quiet. Shame on them!
You would think that spending near 30 k on a bike would not have an issue like this, especially when the bike only has 30k on it.
So for those of you contemplating a new purchase BEWARE

Just add this to the many reasons I bought a VICTORY. After years of HD bs, I jumped ship and couldn’t be happier. Love the POWER and ease of maintenance. Do yourself a favor, check out the other American made motorcycle. The name says it all – VICTORY!


Yeah, you are most certainly brainwashed if you think you are riding an American bike. Victory bikes are assembled in Iowa, but all the parts come off the boat. I’ve delivered loads of parts there and been on the docks. I’ve seen the containers that are trucked all the way to Spirit Lake. -and by the way, that all powerful Victory engine? Designed by Kohler industrial engines. There’s not a single SAE fastener on the whole bike. So you might want to think twice before you go puffing up your chest and pounding on it. You are riding a bike made by a snowmobile maker.

harley used to make golf carts and snowobiles

I have a 2006 Softail Std. FXSTI, should I be worried about the item(s) that this article is talking about? By the way, I am glad that I took the time to read it, very good information in here!

You know what I love almost all motorcycles but I just love this issue. All you Harley guys that look down your noses at fellow riders because we chose to buy something that we didn’t have to work on and then call us names. My bike was built here in the USA and I sold my Harley so I could purchase my current bike. It is a Honda VTX 1800 and it has no issues I just clocked 150,000 miles with nothing more than valve adjustment every 15000 miles it still smokes every Harley who wants to try it and it has never left me stranded EVER. And besides that it was built in Marysville Ohio using American workers so next time you dickheads on your Harleys that want to look down you noses at us people that can’t afford to ride 30,000 dollar paper weights think about the great engineering on you twin cam bikes. Ride Safe.

I’ll have to agree with Eric. I wanted a new Harley this past Spring so bad, but just couldn’t afford it. Now that I hear about the twin cam chain tensioner wear issue, I’m glad I got a used VTX 1800. I love this bike and I dont have to tear it apart every 15,000 miles. Keep your knees in the breeze, your chin in the wind, and the rubber down whatever you ride! Happy Highways!

Truely impressive, you complain about being called names and three sentences later you mass an entire group of people under the label “dickheads”. I do not know you nor have I ever looked down my nose at you or called you a name. I am really sorry that you cannot afford a Harley, oh wait you SOLD your Harley to buy your Honda, curious. If your only purpose for existence is to try to belittle other people whom you apparently feel inferior too, I’m sure you can find someone somewhere who really cares. There are several significant facts about HD that have been true since day one. Harley Davidsons require maintainance either by the owner (recommended) or by the Dealer if you are not mechanically inclined, in which case I personally recemmend you look for another brand of motorcycle. Harleys are more expensive than many other bikes but for the most part a Honda comparable to my Ultra Classic (is there such a thing?) will have a new list price similar to mine. Harleys have resale value, there is a point where they bottom out and either hold or begin to increase in price again, unlike the majority of disposable bikes made by those other guys. A Harley sells new 90% of the parts are made in America, 90% of a Honda arrives on a boat. NHRA national record (speed and elapsed time) not to mention another National championship belongs to Eddie Krawick, his weapon of choice is a Harley V-Rod. You claim to have “smoked” all commers, apparently you’ve not come upon a capable ” dickhead” on a well tuned V-Rod. Is there a Honda top fuel racing league? How many people do you know who still own their first Honda after over 45 years of faithful service? If my new twin cam requires requires that I inspect and possibly replace the cam tensioners from time to time, then so be it, it is all part of ownership in a major part of Americas History. Is the Corporation overly greedy? Yeah, but that is a part of being beholden to stock holders and participation in the free enterprise system. Will they fall on their ass again? maybe, maybe not. But if they do, thousands of loyal owners will help prop them up just like last time (witness the dude still riding hisAMF). Now that you have wasted all these “dickheads” time with your little tantrum do you mind if the “dickheads” get back to the discussion at hand as there are probably a lot of first time HD owners with real concerns about their investments. My first Harley was a 1949 Pan Head purchased used in 1966 it was still waiting for me after 39 months served as a young Marine in Vietnam and is sitting in my garage with my 1995 Bad Boy, my 2008 Ultra Classic and the old Ironhead Sportster in a Paughco frame that I recently purchased in several boxes. I am currently putting the engine together on my dining room table and my wife likes to watch me work on it, thinks it is a work of art and a pleasure to watch someone mold steel together to make a working machine. It’s pride of ownership and ability that drives most HD owners. Good luck with your Honda, I admire that you bothered to rebuild yours most people just throw them away and buy another one ooops there goes that “dickhead” thing, and good luck with that ugly little attitude of yours. Isn’t the annonymity of the internet a wonderful thing? Where else could you call millions of people (Harley Owners that is) “dickheads” in absolute fearless confidence? You should run right out to one of those “biker bars” run inside and tell them they are all “dickheads’ and after the laughter dies down and everyone else returns to their drinks and conversation the two or three honest to goodness “dickhesad” (there are always a couple in every crowd) wil probably drag you outside and beat the hell out you until some other “percieved dickhead” makes them stop. Now, can we get back to the business at hand or are the haters and the whiners just starting to circle above… Relax we ain’t dead yet. Have a real nice day and enjoy the ride, I know I will.

I know a nice little bar called “Angels” feel free to bring your disposable non Harley there and visit the “dickheads” patronizing the bar. Make sure to call all the Harley riders “dickheads” too. Nice knowing you…
Oh by the way, I was just wondering, why is it that all of these disposable motorcycle companies have to mimic the Harley V Twin engine?

not so disposable, my other bikes are 70’s and eighties yammaha 3 and four banger inlines, they had their own quirks, especially the older three banger, but they last pretty.

well said i also have a 82 shovel fxr,90 evo ultra and a 04 ultra.love all three.

Don’t be bitter because you can’t afford a Harley. I respect all riders and whatever they choose to ride, but jeez, you sound so angry! And btw, it’s not just guys who ride, but women like me.

If you ride more than 15K per year you don’t want to get buttstuck by the Dealer every 15K and have them “find other imaginary things wrong.” And keep your Bike for 10 days to two weeks. I’ll take a chance on a Harley, you can still get parts after 10 to 50 years. If not from Harley then from an aftermarket source. Higher resale too. 10+ year old Jap bikes are hard to find parts for, they may cost more than their scrap metal weight but they really aren’t worth much more than that. 🙂

I had the plastic chain tensioner on my 2000 FLHTC fail two years ago. The motorcycle had 70,000 miles. I had little warning in terms of noise. When I did hear the noise it was too late. I was about 10 miles from home and the oil pump failed.
Buffalo Harley blamed my riding style on the failure. Said it was from downshifting.
The factory just switched to S&S for the rebuilds and $4,000 later I was riding again.
Take heed.

And they said AMF was crap, still riding mine after 32 years.

Rock on guy, I had a Super Glide and a Low Rider never had a problem, most issues were electrical, mine ran great, nothing wrong with the old shovel… Ride it like you stole it and when it wears out rebuild and do it again, bowling balls need love too:)

Recently I was thinking about getting a newer Harley, and just ride the ’71 Superglide on special occasions. After reading all of this, and the blogs about the Evo engine problems, I think I will just keep riding what I have, loose tolerances and all.

This article is junk since the author clearly doesn’t understand the difference between design and maintenance. Note: If you don’t change the tires periodically, they will eventually go flat. This situation could destroy you and the bike. A design issue? No. If you don’t pay your respects to maintenance of your bike, you are playing with fire. Best of luck!

Doc, I understand well the difference between design and mainanance. Show me if you will what the factory recomended inspection interval is? I went over every service manual I could, and spoke with different service managers in the HD dealer network with no results. How can it be a maintanace issue with no diections on when to check or service?

I have a 04 flht with about 45,000 mi on it. I heard about this problem when I had 42,500 mi on the bike. So I had mine checked out. Shoes looked fine.A little more wear on the rear one,but still not bad. I use conventional Harley oil. Mechanic said if it was his, he would put it back together and ride.But as I already had quite a bit of money in the tear down, I told him to go ahead and replace them. Moral is, if you can do it yourself go ahead and check them. If their good put it back together. If you have the dealer check,go ahead and have them replaced weather they are bad or not.

Put an Andrews 21 cam and gear drive in. Ended up with a noisy motor. At 30,000 miles cam tentioners were not that bad. One had a significant amount of wear other almost none. WE do mostly two up touring riding

I am planning on buying a 09 FLHX that has the SE big bore kit and all the associated add ons sure hope this won’t be an issue with it. Reminds me of the problems guys were having with the Yamaha V Star drivelines and no support from Yamaha.

I had about 80k on my 2001 dyna and ran one quart of gear oil and 2 qts of 20-50, any brand. At 80k both tensioners were only half gone, replaced and added jims adjustable pushrods, which broke at 140k, no fault of tensioner shoes, I now hate “Jims” adj pushrods.
I polished the chains with rouge and a buffer for an hour or two, they both look like chrome, and may never need to look again for another 80k or so.
The point of all this is, depending on your chain and how it is “stamped” when manufactured, will depend on how quickly it cuts into the tensioners. The thickness of the oil I believe helps too. I am not an advocate of synthetic, unless you are at redline all day long, and are afraid of seizing the motor because of abuse. I feel any ol oil is good oil if you just change it regularly, and my tenisoners and stock cams have proven this, at 150k. I ride it as hard as I anyone can, often near and above 100mph, but do have a cooler, and a filter magnet. Ride safe, change that oil at 2k. Rick in Anaheim.

whats rusty going to do when indian goes out of business again? more than likely rusty will buy a real bike hd. good luck rusty

Ride it till it explodes then re-build it !

trade it for a honda oops they have problems also

I will confirm that this information is correct. I had a 2005 Road King Classic and when I rolled 37,025 miles the engine came apart, locked up and left me stranded. I had the extended warranty and after the dealer disassembled the engine I was told only that there was a cam issue which resulted in a lubrication issue which resulted in damaged cams and a cracked engine case. This engine was well maintained with 4k mile service intervals using SE Syn oil. The engine was replaced but I then had electrical issues and some strange noises. I eventually traded and got a 2010 Ultra Classic. I have 23k on that engine so at the next service I’ll have the tech check for any issues. Thanks for the education..

Yer no older than you feel Mikey. Go get that HONDA Trike!

To Stevenkng, Amen to that. I am an old f**t that is no longer interested in standing in front of bars. My fifth HD is a 2012 Trike. I noticed poorer quality right off. The 92 FXR handled the best of all and never had a problem. Not one. (EVO)
Now all the little things with the trike HD says I just have to put up with!!!! I wish I had gotten a Honda Goldwing Trike. Better for us OLD F**ts

well boys ill tell you now,i ride a 2008 roadstar and at45000+miles i havnt had eney real problems unlike these overpriced harleys. i think ill keep my american built jap bike for now. by the way i still out run the hound dogs.

My 07 HD Softail is running just fine with 54000+. And I’m a girl, not a boy. This is a Harley forum. Beat it.

Y’all just buy a good ol HONDA and all yer problems will go away and you can enjoy riding.

A failure at 15k to 30k on the ’99 to ’06 engines is flat out unacceptable. Since H-D refuses to warranty this by hiding behind their express warranty, it is still an implied warranty violation. As such, a class action suit is warranted (pardon the pun). This would also have the effect of stopping dealerships from playing stupid about the whole issue. Glad I still ride an EVO.

Agreed. Personally I think that the dealers consider the majority of later model HD owners ‘high rollers’ and should be able and willing to pay extra to repair a wasted motor at 20-50K miles. They lay every trick in the used car-salesman book to wiggle out of liability for their product’s shortcomings. They guilt owners into covering their cheapness.

When has Harley EVER been cheap? My step-dad had pan heads, knuckle heads, and had a new Shovel before he died and he bitched LOUD and LONG about the price of parts and repair. A new Harley was always more expensive than a comparable Japanese bike.

HD always stood for “Hundred Dollar” as well as Harley Davidson…..

i have 132,000 miles on my 2005 elecra glide standard i changed cam chain tensioers at 102,000 always used amsoil rode 1400 miles to sturgis 2012 and bike is still runnig good

I have 2008 ultra classic with 32000 miles on it. Have installed gear drive cams myself and have put 10000 of those mile on sence then. I haven’t had any problems at all. When I pulled the chain and shoe the shoe was completly wore out at 22000 miles. I had no metal damage to the motor. Yes these shoe wear and could cause big problems!

ignore the errors if you can, I’m using the on screen keyboard and wearing my old glasses not a favorable combination.

Ghost Rider, not to worry, the 92 is powered by the tried and true EVO and is not suseptible to the many nasty little surprises brought about by progress. I have a 95 Bad Boy and other than a head,intake and pipe swap and upgrade to an SE57 cam my old Springer has never been touched other than regular oil changes, brake pads and tires and any one who thinks their hot rod twin cam makes any more power than my old EVO might find themselves mighty surprised stop light to stop light. I am speaking from experience since I also own an 08 Ultra Classic which I am extremely fond of as well. The ride is superior to most previous itterations though it does seem to run a bit hotterunder stop and go conditions. To address this cam tensioner issue, to be honest this is the first I’ve heard of it and thanks for bringing it to my attention. I have less than 20,000 on mine and have not noticed any out of the ordinary noises or performance issues but will start running more detailed check ups from now on. As for the guy with the Indian fettish, which copy do you own the Nort Carolina, Springfield, British, Vegas or where are they being built now and who is trying to ride the brand now? No offense but Indian died a long time ago for a reason. As for all you other Harley bashers, not all HD owners spend all their time sitting in front of bars anymore than all you Rice riders spend all your time doing wheelies and soppies or speeding down the freeway swerving through traffic giving “bikers” a bad name. Thhere is a discussion going on here about a very serious issue to some of us and all this extraneous crap is really not necessary.

I replaced the tensioner on 02 Roadking at 30k. Really worn. I am on my 5th Harley. I loved my 92 FXR. Man do I wish I still had it. I am very disapointed with Harleys attitude also. I kind of wish I had gotten a Honda!!

I had S&S 510G cams installed in my 2000 Heritage Springer in ’06 with over 50K miles on the motor. One tensioner pad was worn 50% and the other was cracked and crumbling!’
This year, I had the same cams installed in my ’07 Heritage with 75K miles on the motor. Both tensioner pads showed minor wear however, I suspect that the hydraulic units were the source of abnormal noise that was eliminated with the change over to the gear
cams. Also installed a Power Commander and had it dyno-tuned. Awesome performance! I use SE3 full synthetic oil with a K&P Engineering oil filter.

Don’t waste another dime on the Harley synthetic oil. Your best bet would be to go with something like Lucas, Amsoil, Red Line, Royal Purple, Mobil VTwin, Motul or even Castrol. All very very good full synthetics

Wow, just bought my first Harley, 2013 Road Glide, do I need to be concerned about this wear issue?

You would know if you actually read the article. It covers ’99 to ’06 TC88 motors. (hand slapping forehead)

I had a 1999 road king. Had the cam chain tensioners checked at 50k miles. Nominal wear. Harley is know for changing vendors from year to year. Must have been a good batch in my bike.

after reading your thread i wanted to ask those knowledgable people about piston slap noise on 103 and larger twin cam motors ive experienced it in a new 2012 harley ultra limited
I brought bike to dealer and complained about loud noise in front head over 2000 rpms and up i was told by harley dealer noise is comon i said ididnt here noise till bike had 2000 miles on it they told me harley had pistons coated to suppress noise till break in there recomendation was to remove lowers and remove baffles and i wouldnt here the metal on metal sound anymore i have this in writing from dealer i sold bike after i started reading stories about complete engine failures on net by hundreds of loyal harley guys and gals harley should remember that our brand loyalty depends on the quality of merchandise and treatment we recieve ive owned 5 harleys very sad about out come and harleys new way of doing things they lost a loyal rider and avid supporter

Just had my 02 Ultra do this! Cost me over $6300.00 , I also upgraded cam and power commander in that price.. So about 5300.00 for refurb , through Harley’s program, upgrade to a 95 cuc motor also.. Thats’ instalation included .. No real warning either..Just clackety , clackety..Crap!!
Cam cover came off and peices fell off in mechs hand..A shoe , the metal click..several other little parts..Has been up graded with reman to the newer hydralic tensioners ..will see..they called today, and putting back in bike ..

You’ll love the extra cubic inches and the tune! I didn’t like that my bike needed so much investment at only 25K but the rebuild really woke that engine up! Enjoy.

I have 81K on my 03 Softail, still going.

Good read. I will offer this bit of advice, I too had heard of the cam tensioners going bad and at that time it was “suggested” that they be replaced at 25k. Since I was coming close to the mileage I pulled everything apart only to find nothing wrong with anything and I even had my wrench asking me “why are we doing this again?”.

Now I will replace with the gear drive cams next time I go in there but my tensioners were fine. With that said I have always run synthetic oil and replace 1 quart with Lucas Oil Stabilizer. This combo works fantastic!

Here again I fully agree the cam tensioners are a problem but if the motor is maintained there is a way to keep these running for miles but I agree replace these with the gear drives as soon as you can. If anything get a little more lift and duration to get a little more power out of the motor.

Completely agree with this article, but one very important thing was left out. The inner cam bearing in all twin cams are junk. The first time you go in to check your tensioners, spend a few extra dollars and replace them with the torrington bearing. I even know of some people that are doing this soon after they bring thier new bike home. My 06 CVO Ultra had 36,000 on it and the inner cam bearing took out the enitre engine. Tensioners still looked good. Glad I bought that extended warranty! This affects all twin cam engines.

Had the inner cam bearings take a dump on my 06 tour classic. Scattered metal through the engine. Had to buy a 95 inch kit with the 203 cams, head job and replaced the cam tensioner with the hydralic kit. 3300.00 later, it’s all good again. Only 25,000 on the motor when it started acting up. Gotta tell ya, the difference between stock and now is BIG. I actually love my bike after the build. Had been thinking about trading it for the new 103. Not anymore.

As an aside, the cam chain tensioners were “wearing normally”, in that they would have gone another 25,000 or so before they needed changed. So not every Harley has the tensioners blow up. (just other parts that add up to 3300.00)

Wouls a 2012 Road King have this problem??

Can someone here knowledgably list the bike models/years affected?

Are not these tensioners installed ONLY on Twin Cams which are in turn installed on Softail and Fatboys and NOT on rubber mounted engines as found on RoadKings / Glides / Sportsters?

The counter balancer i thought werent present on rubber mounted frames?

If you would sort this out, a lot less “am i affected” questions would pop up.

This affects all Twin Cam engines (all models except Sportster) 1999 through 2013. There was a a chain tensioner change between 2006 and 2007 that lessens the impact on 2007 and later engines, but this only delays the wear out point, it still should be periodically checked.

I have a 2007 Ultra with almost 144,000 miles on it. I have not had any cam tensioner issues as previously experienced on my twin cam 88 in my 2002 Fatboy. I changed those as a preventive measure at ~ 78,000. The issue I am having with my 96 cubic inch is the transmission. I had to have it rebearing’ed at 90,000 and again at 132,000. I am blaming this on the tensioner on the primary chain not releasing pressure and this causing the main gear to fail and thus wrecking the whole transmission. Has anyone had this issue on a 96 cu. inch 6 speed?

Baker drive line has a fix for this. it is called a bully manual chain tensioner. I had one installed on my 08 se3 ultra. when we had it apart noticed the inner primary had gouges in from the ring gear. this was caused buy the auto tensioner ratching up to tight, which in turn puts undo pressure on tranny bearins.

Most likely cause is using sixth gear below 65mph. That causes oil film failure in main output bearing, failure is aided by side thrust from helical gears. Add to that the tension of the rear belt on the bearings and is is easy to understand. Have seen several failures, all riders used sixth gear at too low speed to enhance sound and/or mpg.

Curious about this. I have 06 Softail deluxe. I can’t imagine riding in 5th gear up to 65. It would be awfully hard on the engine just judging by the sound.

I mean 07

Mack, I agree,… but can’t understand why some guys lug the motor? My ’06 FLSTC is a 5 speed. I have changed the final output belt pulley from 32 to 34. I can’t even get into top gear until somewhere north of 65mph. Don’t lug it guys! Wind it up….THEN shift

I have a 2003 FLHT and was driven very easy with 35K miles. Had the tensioners inspected. The front showed minimal face wear, the back one looked like a small chip had broken off the corner. It was really difficult to see with a mirror and could have been overlooked, but my mechanic decided it was best to disassemble and get a closer look, That was good decision, as once it was all apart, even the front tensioner had a crack across the face and was ready to go. So just don’t trust a mirror when trying to examine the face. Oil was changed regularly and there was never any indication of a problem by looking at the oil, not sure if I had cut the filter apart whether that would have revealed anything, since the piece might have been pulverized. I didn’t see any particles in the oil passage ways or cam plate. Ended up installing a gear drive kit and couldn’t be happier. My lifters needed replacement too, so I also went with adjustable push rods. That was $1500 parts and labor.

My ride is a 2002 bagger. The mechanic that does all of my serious maintenance, has a jar full of worn out chain tensioners on the counter. He finally convinced me that my bike should be checked. (51,000 mi.) One of them was worn completely down to the metal and the other was within a few thousandths. I feel I was lucky that I did not shell out the engine. He installed Andrews 26HG gear drive cams and at 60,000 mi. it is still running strong. I also switched to a K&P Micronic oil filter which gives the ability to disassemble and reallly inspect any residue. So far I have seen none. Also the oil pressure increased. I use Amsoil as I believe it is one of the top oils avaiable. To each his own, but I believe this is a serious design flaw in the twin-cam.

I have a 2004 FLHTCI at 80.000 some thing? started.
oil pressure started going bad. I took it in and they said it was the Gage ? then the noise came. I had a seven year warrantee I told them to take it apart. They said if there is nothing bad you will have to pay for it. When they took it apart they said the crank was bent? BULL SHIT Try to blame me.
but thank god I had all my paper work. They wanted to rebuild? I said no. They put a new create motor on and gave me a one year warrantee. after all of this witch took over three months it only cost me $50 Buck.

I have a 2004 Road Glide that also had a bent crank problem that HD of Vegas discovered when I complained about the vibration and racket it was making. They rebuilt the engine with many new parts when it had 65k on it and still runs good with 86k now. I also had to have the Screaming (Taiwan) Eagle 6 speed tranny rebuilt 3 times which was ALL covered under my 7 year warranty. The dealer in Rochester NY had to threaten the insurer to get them to pay but pay they did over $7000 in repairs. Now I have a twin cam that the oil pressure folds when it gets hot with no warranty and only 35k. Any suggestions? It is a 2011 RGU and I just love the bike except for the goofy rear ABS and the over size rear tire which makes for severe handling problems on uneven surfaces. Ride safe my friends!

Had a 03 anv. Road glide cam chain ten. Failed, I was lucky, only $1600 to fix, good Harley shop, did upgrades . Mec told me the main trouble was the rough chains,they eat up the tens. Had to have new oil pump, lifters and all, bike ran great up till then always used amsolevery 3-5k not a hard rider, had 36000k on the bike,really pissed me off. Then dumb broad ran over me at a stop sign 2000 miles later. Have a new trike now, great ride but diff. Tends to run hot, some say common. To 103s.

Folks, we all know that everything wears out. That said, It is on going changes in manufacturing processes that are creating as many problems as they are curing. Faster manufacturing ( CNC machining , robotic assembly) and other cheaper cost cutting methods do remove craftsmaship like quality and produce other, newer problems. That is why automobiles can cost a hunderd G’s or more for a good handbuilt one. Hand built engines made by true craftsmen seem to last forever by even they still wear out in time. Mother Harley is in the same boat as all manufactures, make them fast and cheap as possible while meeting EPA specs and having more power than the other guy. Today’s engines are far supreme to yesterdays but they are not perfect. Nobody is perfect. Now, with all of that said, there is only one real solution. Have a very knowledgeable craftsman hand build you a Pan Head engine but don’t expect it to preform with a Twin Cam on horse power or fuel economy.

No it will probably run better with improved gas mileage.
Ride it till your sore.

There is another related issue that needs to be addressed. The cam gear them selves are failing. Having installed a brand new motor for 5K at the dealer I learned this the hard way! What I was shown was a gear that cracked and wobbled on the shaft speeding up this process. My dealer in Rice Lake, WI had two 06 ultra classics in at the same time with this same issue. I don’t know the mileage on the other bike, but mine had 23,300. Had I remember to pull my trailer hitch off before taking the bike in, my extended warranty would have covered the new motor. Just one more thing to piss me off with HD!

Thanx for the headace!

I have a 1992 Ultra classic (FLHTCU) 1340. Does this problem affect my machine, Answer please.

No. You are the proud owner of an Evo motor, not a Twin Cam..

No. You are the proud owner of and Evo motor, not a Twin Cam..

This should not be an issue with your motor. It is a single cam.

Dave, wouldn’t it be alot simpler if people would actually READ the article? Wake up people! this covers ’99 to ’06 TWIN CAMS. I still can’t believe the MoCo is side stepping the throttle by wire engineering problems. Call me crazy: I don’t want my bike to have Toyota Camry style problems -hanging it wide open or shutting it down at 70mph. Scary! I’ll stick with my old push/pull cables thank you very much.

I have a 2000 FLHT and at 15000 I replaced the cams with gear driven system from Yuill Brothers. They designed and make several cams for the HD. I had Freedom Cycle in Reno install and Dyno my HD and it never ran so great as it does after the installation. I guess I dodged the bullit by having this done several years ago. Look them up, I believe they have the best system.

This is an issue that has been fairly common knowledge for many years. As has been stated above, gear drive is the way to go for those fortunate enough to have crank runout in the .000 to .003 range. Yes, gears can ‘tolerate’ more than that, but it’s not a wize choice. All that being said, I recently upgraded my 2007 96″ Twinkie at 30,000 miles. Cam tensioner shoe wear was ‘acceptable’ but crank runout was .006. I was not splitting the cases, so I went with an Andrews chain drive cam set. What I did install was the (fairly new) Zippers dual piston tensioners. These are J&P # 633-867. Read the write up and decide for yourself. The price was right, I paid 128 bucks with GC and other discounts. As far as wear, the jury is still out on that one, as I don’t have enough miles yet, but I will inspect frequently. Don’t bash up on Scott too much, he does know more than most of us.

I have a 99′ Heritage Softail Classic with 28K on it I bought 2nd hand. 1st HD I’ve owned.
Maintained well by previous owner. Is this a problem on this bike also?
If so, what is the BEST action to take without costing an arm and leg?

Yes, your motor is within the range of those that have cam tensioner wear issues. Have them inspected and as noted above, check them every 15K-20K miles. At some point you will need to upgrade to the hydraulic tensioner from H-D or Andrews or……

He’d have a hard time figuring out where the cam chain is since he has an Evolution engine.

Dave, Twin Cams came out in 1999 Touring & Dyna models. Softails came out in 2000 with the TC(B) motor. I hope this helps when you’re handing out advice on repairs.

NO you don’t have to worry about this issue. You have an Evo engine, not a Twin Cam. Evo’s has a single cam with a gear, not a goofy chain and tensioner.


Yeah gotta love the bullet proof EVO
ride it till your sore

Your ’99 Softail is NOT a Twin Cam motor it is an Evo motor so you don’t have the same problems as the TC’s. There are no cam chain tensioners in an Evo motor,it’s gear driven. The 1st year for Softail TC’s was 2000, so you’re in good shape.Enjoy that EVO !!!

Your best bet would be find the best price on a gear drive cam kit. (http://www.ebay.com/itm/ANDREWS-S-S-GEAR-DRIVE-CAM-KIT-INSTALL-SUPPORT-KIT-CAMS-TWIN-CAM-99-06-/400336717245?pt=Motorcycles_Parts_Accessories&hash=item5d35ed85bd&vxp=mtr) If you already have a good working relationship with a COMPETENT indy shop then they won’t have a problem helping you.
You may wish to install a more aggressive set of cams…. but I would not recommend it. This #26 Andrews cam with the S&S gears is about the best combination out there. I don’t know why the #26 grind is not the stock cam used anyway…. (a lot of people don’t know that Andrews makes the cams used in the factory) This is the exact same kit I used for my ’06 Heritage. -it runs beautiful. Whether your bike is carbureted or injected you must adjust the fuel accordingly, and to get the full benefit of the cam change I would highly recommend tuning the exhaust to the cams. You can do this without breaking the bank.

Is there any way that I can get on a mailing list that will continue to send me this kind of info??

What if you have a softail. Isn’t there a whole other issue with the shoes on the balancer chain system. To inspect those requires a complete engine disassembly as the cases have to be split? What is the failure rate on those tensioners?

On Feb 29, I bought my first ever Harley. 2012 Softail Heritage Classic. A month later, while driving at approx 50 mph, I noticed a wobble in my steering when I let off the gas. Thought maybe the road was bad. Ran a few errands, then jumped on I-75 for my 15 mile trip home. I reached 70, let off the throttle, and a massive wobble started. It was everything I could do to get the bike stopped. It almost threw me off. Had the dealer pick it up after I limped home. Turned out to be that the chrome wheel spokes were not tight because of a problem with the chroming process, which in turn destroyed the rear hub. Both wheels were changed to tubeless and the rear hub was replaced. 27 days in the shop for this fix. In late May, I noticed my turn signals stopped working and my headlight would vary in intesity. Went to switch to high beam one night, and the headlight bulb exploded. 5 more days in the shop. Faulty voltage regulator from the factory, which now has a recal on it I have had three regulators on my bike). Folks, I knew when I bought my first Harley that they were not known to be reliable creatures, but I never dreamed of having majors problems right off the bat. Believe these people who are warning of cam problems. Check your bike often. Second guess Harley techs! Ask questions!

Highly recommend trading that pos for a new BMW. MORE power, WAY better gas mileage, QUALITY construction, DEPENDABILITY, BETTER BRAKING system, handles better, rides just as good. See my other post on this forum.

Hey Greg I can relate. I bought a new 2005 FXDX. One day I am riding the freeway at 70mph in the rain. suddenly, the bikes steering starts wobbling wickedly. I lay off the throttle and it stops. I took it to a HD Dealer in Riverside (I bought it in Reno new) at under 500mi. The mechanics could not find or duplicate the problem. I rode it off and the problem continued. I determined that the bike would do this on a road that was sort of “wash board”. I took it back to the Riverside Dealer and they finally figured out the problem. They charged me $95. in labor and about $3.50 for the part. They said that if I had done the 500 mile service with them, they would of found the problem at that time. I checked the service manual of what is checked and there is no check for what was missing from the bike to cause the problem that may have killed an inexperienced rider. Never went back to that shop in Riverside again, never will. Right after that though I dropped about $2,500. at another HD dealer in Loma Linda, CA for performance upgrades. I guess I should mention what the problem was and how a $3.50 part almost killed me. The top front engine mount bolt was missing. This caused the steering to wobble wickedly, but only under certain conditions! Hope this helps to save a life or two. Inspect your bike often and look in all the nooks and crannies.

T- Man Performance has their own proprietary cam chain tensioner/plate upgrade that is ideal for high horsepower/upgraded TC motors.

i’ve gota 2005 harley fxd super glide with over 39k miles and became very concerned when i read about this recently. i change my own oil every 3k miles with synthetics. fortunately, when i had it checked, everthing was ok, in good condition still. i did find out that a friend lost an engine due to the cam shoe chain tensioners failure. definitely get it checked. i’ll try to go with the gear drive cams next if my crank run out is in tolerence.

my 6 cyl,valkyrie only gets better and better as i blow by the harleys

This is actually an issue involving potential loss of life and limb. We read about this all over the web, but apparently the NTSB either does not know about it or does not think it is serious. If this happens to me I will file a complaint to the NTSB; I’m sure that if the problem is indeed widespread by fact of numbers, NTSB will act and force a recall. But I suspect that only rarely does anybody actually file a complaint. And since by luck or whatever, there may not have been a lot of actual accidents the issue is not on the radar. So the NTSB probably considers it a nuisance, buyer beware, etc. Only if we quit buying motorcycles will Harley do much, or else this is really not that much of a problem that is being overblown on the web by a relatively small group of owners (sample bias). I guess I will find out, I have an FXD that had the original cam bearing problem only grudgingly acknowledged by and now also a FLHTK. In some ways, we are our worst enemies!

I had my ’02 Twin cam since it had just under 20k on it , put 30k more on it myself , and about 3 months after an accident heard some squeaks coming from the cam chest, I took it to my local indy shop who is very reputable and does nice work without breaking the bank. He determined that the cam chain tensioners were ok but needed changing, but the cams and lifters were scored very badly. While he was inside I had him find out if the gear drive could be installed. It was in fact well within specs . HD’s spec runout tolerance is/was .003…my actual was an amazingly low .001 ,so the gear drive was a no-brainer while he was changing the cam and lifter set. No more “periodic” or 15000 mile inspection checks .It runs strong , two-up… and btw, I use Royal Purple 20W50.

Indian Motorcycles are the Best bikes made in the U.S.A. Try it you’ll like it.

Ok Rusty, I think we get the point you love Indian’s.

Rusty J,
Enough of the spam already.

Enough already Rusty. This is not about Indians. Nice looking bikes for sure. Too bad they cannot stay in business.

2012 Ultra Limited- 8,000 miles on bike. I have not had any engine issues but the brakes are another story. Vibration/shake in rear brake espically riding double. Dealer did all the usual fixes. Harley rep came & rode it. Says its normal- all the touring models are doing it. They will not do any thing more for me. They say its because of thier new frame & mount system. My last Harley- very disappointed for 25,000-GGs. They refuse to stand behind thier product.

All new touring bikes are not doing it. I have a 2011 Road King Classic and I don’t have that problem. I have 35,000 miles on my bike and the only problem I have had was a warped front rotor which was replaced under warranty. Maybe you should try another shop.

This info has been very informative, and my condolinces go out to all with these twin-cam motors, one very important fact that has not been addressed is that, if you have installed gear driven cams,and put it on a Dyno, you will put extreme pressures on the crank that WILL DAMAGE IT, NO MATTER WHAT THE YEAR MODEL. I could on with all the whys and were-fors, but I will not bore you with all that. Just do the research yourself. Some things just aren’t rocket science. Even though tolorances may be within limits in normal operating conditions, all bets are off when placing an engine in such a state that a Dyno does!!

I have no desire to put my bike on a dyno. I dont see the need for a normal use rider to do it either. If youre into bragging rights and my ” ” is bigger than yours…go for it.

Desire to put your bike on a dyno or not, if you ever have a custom map done for an aftermarket fuel programer your bike will be put on a dyno.





check your low speed sensor and MAP sensor.

June 2012 issue of American Iron (page 26 “Letters”) stated a few customers had their bike die on acceleration. Most 2009 and newer.
Harley rep passed along info that the connector that plugs into the left-hand side of the throttle body, behind the air filter backing plate, was causing the terminal pins to create dust and therefore