01 March 2011


I'm pissed off and have just about had it with Harley-Davidson STEALERships. Now I know there are some of you out there that already know the first part of this story, so please bear with me and I will get to the point of why I'm so angry now.

You see, back in 2002 Beth and I were stationed in La Maddalena, Italy. Ever since we had started dating in 1998, I told her all the time about the old Sporty I had and later had to sell...I wanted another one because up to that point I had never had the money to pull the trigger. Harley had announced its 100th Anniversary Edition line for 2003 and I got real excited about it. Well Beth, being the awesome woman she is, told me to go ahead and order one because we could afford it, so I ordered the 2003 Dyna-WideGlide.

I loved that bike and Beth loved it when we would go out and ride around Sardinia; in fact she loved it so much that in 2004 she took the MSF Basic Rider Course and we bought her a 2003 Honda Shadow. But I am getting ahead of myself here. You see, in 2004 we transferred back to the states and ended up in Virginia Beach. In June/July 2004, I had orders to report to USNS Spica, which was currently deployed. We decided to go down to New Orleans to see family and friends before I had to ship out.

I rode the Dyna down to New Orleans and, while I was there, I noticed the bike was coming up on its 7000 mile service. So, being the conscientious guy I am, I took it to New Orleans Harley for the service to be done. I received a call from them that afternoon telling me my front brakes needed to be done, so I said sure, do it. Then he says I should also have the rear brakes done as well...just in case, you see. I said no, I would get them done later because, honestly, I hardly use the rear brake on the bike anyway and I knew there was plenty of pad there.

The guy tells me I could be sorry if I didn't get it done but that he would abide my wishes. The next day I picked up the bike and Beth and I rode out to a friend of hers so we could ride together for the day. I started to notice a slight wobble in the bike when I would apply the brakes, but I didn't think much of it at first. A day or two later, I rode out to Jasper, Texas to see some old friends and while I was going down I-10, the bike started wobbling really bad. By the time I got to Lafayette I could barely do 60! Thankfully, Acadian Harley was right there, so I limped into the dealership and asked them to look at it.

The guy found that nearly all the spokes on the rear wheel were loose! I was lucky I didn't kill myself or worse, both of us! I told the guy about New Orleans HD and he looked me straight in the eye and said that was why he quit there and moved here. I can't prove it but I have no doubt that asshole in New Orleans sabotaged my bike to try to force me to come back because the bike was PERFECT on the way to New Orleans.

Okay, now, fast-forward to 2010 when my bike picked up a bolt in the rear tire, completely destroying it and the tube. I trailered her to Meridian, MS to Chunky-River HD for the rear tire to be replaced. Just before I got my bike back, the guy there asked me who does my maintenance. I told him I do and his response was he thought I should bring her there for maintenance because there's always things a home-mechanic will miss. Curiously and slightly amused, I asked him like what. Well, his response was he's seen guys come in with brake failure because they didn't do it right or the steering head bearings would be "all ate-up" (his words, not mine) and it would end up costing them more than if they just came to him the first time.

Thinking nothing of it, I told him thanks but no thanks; I know how to do the maintenance and that is exactly what I am going to do...and I mentioned that I am building a 1975 Ironhead in my garage. Grudgingly, he acquiesced, I paid him, and I got my bike and trailered her home.

Now, come up to today, March 1, 2011. My bike is on the lift in my garage and I am flushing out the front brake lines and practically rebuilding the calipers. Wanna know why? Well, the front brakes were starting to feel a little spongy; I had replaced the pads with new ones about 5 months ago ( I guess...my memory is crap) and the master cylinder was full so I thought the job was done and all was well. Then the front brakes started getting steadily worse and I started hearing a weird sound coming off the front end. Wanna know what I found?

My Electra-Glide is a 2004 model, so it takes DOT 5 Silicone brake fluid. You canNOT mix DOT 5 fluid with any other type or you WILL experience brake failure (not immediate failure, the adverse reaction of the two fluids causes eventual failure...months later). Guess what, boys and girls, my master cylinder is filled with DOT 4 fluid!!! The reason I know this is because DOT 5 fluid is purple in color and DOT 4 is kind of amber-clear. I did not realize this until I had a bottle of DOT 5 fluid in my hands. So now I am flushing the lines and praying to God I won't have to replace all the lines and master cylinder; from what I've read in the Service Manual, flushing them should fix the problem.

Today, I remembered the conversation I had with that guy in Meridian last year and memories of what happened in New Orleans came back as well and, even though I can't prove it, I am now very suspicious of Chunky-River HD; and I am ROYALLY PISSED!!!

There's a fairly decent independent shop near me and I think that is where I will go when I need something done I cannot do myself. Now I know there are those out there who love everything Harley and that's fine...for them. For me, though, the jury's out. My confidence in Harley Service Shops is badly shaken now and I am not sure if I can ever trust them again. What do you think?

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