Round ‘Em Up: What Year Harleys To Avoid? (Full Overview)

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Motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide have long admired the thrill and exhilaration that comes with owning a Harley-Davidson. This iconic American brand, known for its rich heritage and diverse range of models, is a dream come true for many riders. However, not all Harleys are created equal, and certain model years are notorious for having issues. In this guide, we will delve into the specifics of what year Harleys to avoid, ensuring your Harley-Davidson experience is not just exciting but also hassle-free.

The Harley-Davidson Legacy

A quick glimpse into the Harley-Davidson legacy reveals a brand that has consistently delivered unique models, each carrying its distinct allure. However, some models have not lived up to the high standards that the brand is famous for, leading to certain years being earmarked as the ones to steer clear of when purchasing a Harley.

A Deep Dive into What Harley Years to Avoid

To help you make an informed decision and ensure a trouble-free Harley experience, we will explore specific model years you should avoid due to common issues.

Electra Glide Years to Avoid

As a prospective Harley owner, it’s crucial to know which Electra Glide models to avoid. Here are some production years that received poor user ratings and reliability concerns:

  • The 2010 Electra Glide Ultra Classic
  • The 2009 Electra Glide Standard
  • The 2007-2008 Electra Glide Classic
  • The 1999-2001 Electra Glide Classic

These models had issues with the transmission, engine, electrical problems, and oil leaks.

Road Glide Years to Avoid

If you’re considering purchasing a Road Glide, there are some model years to avoid due to common issues. The years to avoid include:

  • 1998
  • 2000-2001
  • 2009-2013

These models had issues with handling, stability, fuel delivery system, frame, and swingarm, leading to instability at high speeds.

Road King Years to Avoid

If you’re thinking about owning a Road King, there are some years you should avoid due to engine and technical issues. The years to avoid are:

  • 2004 to 2009
  • 1999

These years are considered the worst for the Road King due to engine failure issues, cam chain tensioners problems, cam bearing failures, and major engine problems.

Street Glide Years to Avoid

The Street Glide, a popular touring motorcycle model from Harley-Davidson, has some years you may want to avoid. The years to avoid are:

  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018

These models had problems with clunking noises in the transmission, engine problems, electrical issues, overheating issues, sudden battery drain, and malfunctioning infotainment systems.

Harley Twin Cam Years to Avoid

During my research, I found out that Harley Davidson’s Twin Cam engines have had some mechanical problems over the years. The Harley Twin Cam years to avoid are:

  • 1999-2002 models
  • 2003-2006 models

These models had issues due to the camshaft chain tensioner failure, high crank runout, and changes made to cut production costs.

Read next: Harley Sportster Years to Avoid

Harley’s Manufacturing – The Root of the Problem?

At times, Harley-Davidson’s manufacturing processes have contributed to problems in their bikes. For example, production inefficiencies and assembly errors plagued the company during its period of ownership by AMF (1969-1981). In more recent times, however, issues with quality control still occur occasionally, such as the Twin Cam motor problems due to poor machining on cam chain tensioners resulting in premature wear and potential engine failure.

The Silver Lining: Improved Manufacturing Over Time

Over the years, Harley-Davidson has made strides in improving their manufacturing process, focusing on production efficiency, cost-effective management, motorcycle design, and production optimization. Manufacturing upgrades have led to more durable bike components, ensuring longevity for riders who invest in these machines.

Key Takeaways on General Problems

While Harley-Davidson motorcycles have had common problems such as the “Death Wobble,” heat management issues, and premature component wear, the brand has made strides in improving their production standards over time. Specific model years to avoid include certain years of the Electra Glide, Road Glide, Road King, Street Glide, and any Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a Twin Cam engine from model years between late ’90s up till mid-to-late ’00s.


Are there certain years of Harley motorcycles that should be avoided?

Yes, certain years of Harley motorcycles have been known to experience common issues or defects which could cause inconvenience or even pose a safety hazard.

What are some examples of Harley motorcycle models and years to avoid?

Some common examples include certain years of the Electra Glide, Road Glide, Road King, Street Glide, and any Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a Twin Cam engine.

What can I do if I already own a Harley from one of the “avoid” model years?

If you already own a Harley from one of these model years, it is recommended that you perform regular maintenance and inspections on your bike to identify any potential issues early on and address them promptly before they worsen over time.

Should I only buy newer model-year Harleys?

Not necessarily – although newer models will typically come with better technology and safety features, older models can still provide an enjoyable riding experience for those who prefer classic styling or simply don’t have the budget for a brand new bike.

In conclusion, while Harley-Davidson is a revered brand with an impressive legacy, certain years and models may present issues. It’s crucial to do your research and know which models to avoid to ensure a hassle-free and thrilling riding experience.


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