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Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Lock Braking System’

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 3.41.17 PMI’ve never been ask this question, but I was curious how you know if you’re under Federal investigation?

In Harley-Davidson’s case it might have been a knock on the door of the Milwaukee HQ.

As it turns out, the U.S. government is investigating complaints from Harley-Davidson owners who say their motorcycle brakes failed without warning.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states the investigation covers 430,000 motorcycles with model years from 2008 through 2011 and the investigation stems from motorcycles with an anti-lock braking system.

A common motorcycle maintenance task is to replace the hydraulic fluid in the brake system.  Check your service manual, but for many Harley-Davidson models it’s recommended to change the D.O.T. 4 fluid and flush the brake system every two years.

Did you know brake fluid can collect condensation over time from the outside air?  Brake fluid collects water in a similar fashion as your McDonald’s soda cup has water droplets on the outside. Hydraulic fluid will over time absorb water which causes the fluid to boil when the brakes are applied and will reduce effectiveness of the system.  A spongy brake feel might be a combination of contaminated brake fluid or air in the system. Either way, changing the brake fluid is often recommended.

41300152_obBut, I’ve digressed.  Motorcyclists have reported that the brakes on the hand lever and foot pedal did not work, causing one driver to crash into a garage door.

Government regulators said they’ve received 43 complaints, three reports of crashes and two reports of injuries.  The NHTSA said it is possible that some riders who experienced brake failure did not change the motorcycle’s brake fluid every two years as recommended by Harley-Davidson Inc.  The old fluid may corrode valves in the anti-lock braking system, but even if riders did not change the fluid, the sudden brake failure “is a concern.”This is not a motorcycle product safety recall as of yet.

Harley-Davidson stated it was aware of the Federal investigation and that it was cooperating with regulators.

Photos courtesy of H-D.

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FLS SoftailQuality control issues in 2014 seem to bedevil Harley-Davidson.

The latest examples are the recalls of 4,688 model year 2014-2015 FLS Softail motorcycles manufactured March 25, 2013, to October 2, 2014 for a lamp-outage detection issues and 1,560 of its 2015 Tri-Glide Ultra Classic FLHTCUTG motorcycles due to rear-brake master cylinder issues.

The Softail motorcycles may have been manufactured without lamp-outage detection for the front turn signals and a rider may not be aware that a front turn signal is not working. And without working front turn signals, there is an increased risk of a crash.  Harley-Davidson is notifying owners, and dealers will correct the body control module software, free of charge. The recall began in December 2014.  The Harley-Davidson’s number for this recall is 0618 or NHTSA campaign number: 14V725000.

Tri-GlideOn the 3-wheel, certain Tri-Glide Ultra Classic motorcycles manufactured from July 14, 2014, through Oct. 15, 2015, could have rear master cylinder assembled with an incorrect piston.  Harley says this piston may not provide the proper support and may allow a tear in the primary cup. If the primary cup develops a tear it will decrease the brake performance and might increase the risk of a vehicle crash.  Harley-Davidson will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear master cylinder, free of charge. The recall began December 16, 2014. The Harley-Davidson’s number for this recall is 0162.  Owners may contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464 or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov.

While Harley-Davidsons recalls this year pale in comparison to the massive 300,000 bike recall issued back in 2011, but that was simply a rear brake light problem.

Most of the 2014 Harley-Davidson recalls seem to be centered around rushed product development and/or shoddy workmanship.  That same workmanship issue which has dogged the automakers.  And speaking of, these are the same automakers which just 4-years ago Mr. Keith E. Wandell (Harley-Davidson CEO and President) stated; “Look in a mirror – Harley was already so far down that same (GM) path it wasn’t even funny.”   Basically warning Harley-Davidson employees that it was turning into a GM… and the credibility issue that becomes being associated!

Prior to the above recalls we’ve seen the motor company recall more than 105,000 model 2014 Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles because of a problem with the anti-lock braking system that caused the front wheels to lock up without warning. In August, it recalled over 4,500 bikes for a faulty ignition switch.  It’s also recalling about 1,400 of its 500 and 750 Street bikes from the 2015 model year for a possible fuel tank leak.  I’ve captured the 2014 recalls HERE.

Is Harley-Davidson re-testing the customers reputation of shoddy workmanship (and raising the ghost of Harley’s past)?  It would do well to get a tighter grip on these issues and instill the pride of craftsmanship that should be the motorcycle maker’s hallmark.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

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2014 Ultra Limited

2014 Ultra Limited

At the Harley-Davidson dealership meeting in Denver this morning, the company introduced eight new motorcycles for 2014. 

Proclaimed the largest new model launch in the company’s 110-year history, the eight new motorcycles feature improved power and braking performance, enhanced rider ergonomics, and styling updates.  The eight new models are the Road King®, Street Glide®, Street Glide® Special, Electra Glide® Ultra Classic®, Ultra Limited, Tri Glide® Ultra, CVO Ultra Limited and CVO Road King®.

2014 StreetGlide

2014 StreetGlide

All these motorcycles fall under a new product development moniker (“Project RUSHMORE“), announced about four years ago, with the intent to bring new bikes and features to the marketplace faster.  The key areas of RUSHMORE are:

Control:  The motorcycles will pass faster, stop quicker and allow riders to see farther at night.  Some models feature the new Twin-Cooled™ High Output Twin Cam 103™ while others get the new High Output Twin Cam 103™ powertrain – both with fuel injection.  Reflex™ Linked Brakes with ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) is new for all models and the new Daymaker™ LED is also standard on some models while others get new Dual Halogen lighting.  The Linked braking, means braking with the front and rear wheels is synchronized and the system will automatically calculate the amount of braking that’s necessary under the existing conditions.

Infotainment: The Boom! Box infotainment systems feature voice recognition and touchscreen for music, GPS navigation and phone in motorcycling, with audio, Bluetooth® connectivity, text-to-speech technology, plus support for intercom and CB communications in a single module.  H-D integrated the vehicle information in a single electronic touch screen.  There are five-way joy sticks on the left and right motorcycle hand controls for most of the system’s functions.

Feel: Aerodynamics and ergonomics are improved – with a new Batwing fairing with splitstream venting, which reduces head buffeting and with wider and deeper seats and new back and arm rests.  The motorcycle hand controls have been redesigned, and the number of dash gauges have been reduced from six to four — with temperature and oil pressure readouts moved to the electronic screen and the gauges made larger for better visibility.

Style: The function of several components are improved such as the larger Tour-Pak® and saddlebags with convenient One-Touch latches, sleeker fenders, lighter cast aluminum wheels and intuitive hand control switches.

Other changes in the 2014 lineup include anti-lock brakes on all five Sportster models, a new CVO Softail Deluxe that comes with a detachable windshield with GPS navigation, Daymaker LED lighting and detachable saddlebags.  Also, the Twin Cam 103 engine is now standard equipment on the Street Bob and Super Glide Custom models.

On the surface the changes look positive and bring H-D more in alignment with the competition.  It’s peculiar that the motor company goes to great lengths to hype part of the “new” development process that now includes formal focus groups and events like motorcycle shows and music festivals, and simply chatting with customers!

Huh?  Is H-D marketing implying they didn’t have product focus groups prior?

I’m looking forward to getting a look at the bikes at the 110th Anniversary in Milwaukee.  I wonder how much difference the additional head cooling makes on the engine?  The new Boom! Box infotainment radio with improved connectivity and text-to-speech technology is a welcome update because the old radio was dated and in serious need of an update.

Photos courtesy of H-D.

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