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Even Harley Hit with Recall

Bad timing for motorcycle riders.

by on Jul.10, 2014

The 2014 Harley-Davidson CVO Touring bike.

It seems like anything on four wheels has been subject to recall in recent months. Now, you can make that two. The latest manufacturer to issue a safety-related callback is Harley-Davidson.

The Wisconsin-based motorcycle manufacturer is warning that a brake defect on some of its latest models can cause the front wheels to lock up without warning. A total of 66,421 of its 2014 Touring and CVO Touring bikes are covered by the recall.

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The defect involves motorcycles equipped with anti-lock brakes that were produced between July 1, 2013 and May 7 of this year. Harley has records of five crashes, with two injuries, linked to the problem.

The problem involves a front brake line that can become pinched between the bikes’ fuel tank and frame, causing a build-up of pressure that suddenly can result in a lock-up.

(Honda adds another 1 million vehicles to airbag recall. Click Here for the latest.)

The timing of the recall perhaps couldn’t have been worse, coming at the height of the summer riding season.

“While there’s plenty of press on car, truck or SUV recalls, little is mentioned about recalls on motorcycles,” notes Motorcyclistonline magazine.

In fact, there have been a number of bike recalls in recent years, including a service action announced by BMW last January covering 51,000 motorcycles produced between 2005 and 2011 due to a fuel leak problem.

Because of the relatively modest number of motorcycles sold in the U.S. each year, at least compared to automobiles, many bike recalls are small are fly under the radar, such as the one Suzuki announced earlier this month covering just 103 of its V-Strom 650 model due to a chain problem.

Automakers have been rapidly ramping up recalls this year; by June 30, over 40 million vehicles had been targeted, beating the 34.1 million record set back in 2004. And close to 2 million more have been targeted since the beginning of this month. While General Motors has been responsible for roughly half the total, virtually every manufacturer has had at least one service action in 2014.

(Automakers obliterate previous recall record – in just six months. Click Here for the story.)

Industry analysts suggest the increase is due to several factors. Widespread sharing of components, such as airbag modules, can result in large numbers of recalls – by a number of different makers – if a defect is discovered. Meanwhile, the increased attention by the media has triggered not only a crackdown by regulators but also an apparent shift in industry attitude. Where some problems in the past might have been ignored or downplayed, perhaps handled on a one-by-one basis when a consumer complained, manufacturers have become quicker to simply order an across-the-board recall.

Whether that trend is now going to impact the motorcycle industry, as well, remains to be seen.

(GM recall blitz may finally be winding down. Click Here for the latest on this story.)

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7 Responses to “Even Harley Hit with Recall”

  1. Jorge says:

    That’s an odd one for the front brake to lock up due to a pinched brake line. The fix should be simple and quick I would expect.

    • bikerforlife says:

      Seems pretty elementary to route a rubber brake line away from the gas tank, that should really just be coming off the right handle bar, straight down the fork and to the front calipers. If there is an ABS system it might go to a manifold first, but that should be handled with rigid line that isn’t really pinch-able.
      Not sure what they were thinking, but I ask myself that about a lot of HD design choices.

  2. Buck says:

    “Even” Harley…?

    It’s the third or fourth recall for them this model year!

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      LOL…point taken, Buck. But our goal was to show how broad the recall blitz has become this year.

      Paul E.

  3. Any brake lockup on a motorcycle is really bad news, but a front lockup is probably better than a rear. I don’t quite understand the mechanics of it, but I think a rear lockup can result in a high-side crash if the lock releases itself. The a front skid lays the bike down. I know this from reading but have never quite understood why. but I’m a little dense with that stuff.

    • bikerforlife says:

      Actually the rear locking up is a safer emergency to have. If the rear locks up, it most likely will not unlock before the bike is stopped. Even if it did, the high side issue is really only a possibility, not a certainty by any means. The front lock up is absolutely guaranteed to cause a crash, unless you were already stopped anyway. SOURCE: personal experience from 40 years of racing, riding and wrenching.

  4. Roger says:

    Any time a wheel “locks up” (read: looses traction) it is like trying to ride on ice. Chances are really, really high that you will go down.