I often wonder how many bloggers and YouTube channels out there who produce content about Harley Davidson motorcycles are trying to make mountains out of mole hills and the reality is that most technical issues with modern day bikes from the American manufacturer are isolated or not as severe as being portrayed.
Whenever I research a new topic, I inevitably come across somebody who makes big claims about a performance upgrade or technical frailty with little supporting evidence. Of course there are known issues with any new product, but some would have you believe that these issues are still prominent even after the company has addressed them with a fix or there has been an aftermarket solution for them as well.
Others would delve deep into the annuls of the machine and its development to determine there is some kind of issue that if not addressed anytime soon will lead to catastrophic failure of the engine or lead to a dangerous situation on your ride.
However, mostly with the initiators of these claims, there is also an associated product that they are trying to sell too. Big claims will be made about what their product can do and how they can call upon evidence which is mostly from unrelated scenarios. They hoodwink people into blindly agreeing with them until any such questioning of the evidence is met with defensive posturing from them and their supporters too.
There are of course performance upgrades that anyone can make and these range from marginal to significant improvements too. However what most riders will not tell you is that these performance upgrades are usually felt in 10% of riding profiles whereas most people usually ride in the 90 percentile.
There is no doubt that with any machine there will always be products that can improve or enhance the stock set up but how much of a difference is only noticeable on a Dyno readout or found in tall stories told around the camp fire.
The question any Harley-Davidson rider should ask themselves is what is the irrefutable proof that a particular performance upgrade will improve their riding experience and what will happen beyond all doubt if a so called remedy is not performed especially when the motorcycle is usually ridden conservatively in the 90 percentile.
Much of the H-D M8 ailments are usually associated with performance upgrades that leave the bike out of balance. Such as a stage 3 or 4 kit without addressing the clutch or compensator, brakes or suspension, or the bike being ridden in the 10 percentile with components not designed for that workload either…or sometimes purely down to poor maintenance too.
Whenever somebody tells you you really must do something with your bike or else it will likely blow up, then your immediate answer should be Why? Followed by questioning yourself whether it applies to your bike and the way you ride.
Let’s say you’ve only got a stock bike or a stage 1 upgrade on it, well known issues that affect stage 3 and 4 bikes will not be relevant. engine oil sumping or transmission oil transfer may only apply to certain models of motorcycle whilst others will try to convince you it applies to yours too…when it doesn’t.
The point here is to always reinforce the point of doing your own research regardless of where you are getting your information from…and it’s always wise to get a second and third opinion too. You may feel you still want to do the modification but you may also realise that you don’t need to do it either.