Flying A Flag On Your Harley-Davidson Voids The Warranty?

ziendavidBackground. David Zien is a well known former member of the Wisconsin State Senate famous for riding more than one million miles on a 1991 Harley-Davidson now on display at the Sturgis Hall Of Fame from which he is a member since 2000. He always ride his bikes flying the American and others. In 2011 he was critically injured in a highway crash in Florida in which he lost a leg, and now continues to ride, this time on a Harley-Davidson trike equipped with a custom hand operated shifter. Zien continues to fly flags when he rides.

On a recent riding trip to Dallas, Texas his trike had a clutch and transmission failure and Zien claims that he was told by a Harley dealer that his warranty claim was denied because he flies too many flags on his motorcycle. The largest is an American flag ‘3 x 5”.

“The issue isn’t that the flags are heavy, but that they provide terrific drag on the engine and the transmission, especially when the bike is at highway speeds,” said Harley spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim. Zien adds that he was told that his flag mounts are not Harley-Davidson products, and being non compliant, impact Zien’s ability to make a warranty claim.

“We recognize that it’s a very cool thing to (mount flags) on your bike, and we want our customers to be able to personalize their bikes in that way. But because of what was done to (this) motorcycle, and how it impacts the motorcycle’s performance, we just didn’t cover the warranty claim,” said Maripat Blankenheim. The million mile motorcycle man is ready for a fight to defend the right of all to fly a flag on a motorcycle without voiding the warranty.

38 Responses to “Flying A Flag On Your Harley-Davidson Voids The Warranty?”

  1. 1 Lyle Landstrom May 23rd, 2014 at 8:03 am

    So no sidecar, trailer, or anything else either?

  2. 2 Homer May 23rd, 2014 at 8:21 am

    David will now on be riding a Yamaha. 👍. They welcome the American flag 24-7 and the bike won’t fail. 😁

    Seriously, what a joke…… Fix his motor !

  3. 3 Nitschke May 23rd, 2014 at 9:16 am

    That bike looks a little older than a 2011.

  4. 4 TJ Martin May 23rd, 2014 at 9:33 am

    So you’re not allowed to fly the flag of the country that it comes from while riding your Harley ?

    Now I really have heard everything when it comes to pathetic warranty service and even worse customer relations .

  5. 5 Brandon May 23rd, 2014 at 9:33 am

    This bike is not the trike he was riding. Guess it’s the only available picture Cyril has.

  6. 6 CHOPMONSTER66 May 23rd, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Well , just like big business to get out of paying for what they should !!! go get a INDIAN MOTOR CYCLE .. IT IS STILL AMERICAN..

  7. 7 Rodent May 23rd, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Remove flag before going for warrantee service

  8. 8 rogerthat May 23rd, 2014 at 10:05 am

    the dealer can cover whatever they choose under warranty….the dealer reported the flags on the warranty claim, which would result in rejection….in a normal situation, the bike is fixed and the customer heads down the road, the warranty dept at the factory ask for certain parts to be shipped to the factory to verify product failure (which all takes place after the repair)….I don’t think anyone at hd could know from a part inspection that a trike was pulling flags…….the dealer got the claim rejected

  9. 9 mkv May 23rd, 2014 at 11:44 am

    This guy in that lead photo is a disgrace. Any self respecting SMART American knows not to run colors in such horrid conditions. That flag needs to retire and put away properly.

  10. 10 BobS May 23rd, 2014 at 11:47 am

    If somebody put a million miles on a bike I manufactured and that bike was in a museum at motorcycle Mecca…I think I’d tell him as a token of my appreciation here is a free clutch. But dragging 7 big flags is too much drag. If this clutch goes out…it’s not covered.

  11. 11 Kroeter May 23rd, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Former senator, million miles, bad accident, now this. Headlines seem to follow Mr. Zien.

  12. 12 Sensible Sam May 23rd, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    The dealer could have used COOP dollars to cover the repair. That would not set a precedent and that’s why HDMC provides COOP dollars to dealers so they can make the decision on the spot to do what they feel is the right thing for their customer. The dealer could even split the cost. At least something to help this guy who was a Senator that did good things for WI motorcyclists

  13. 13 One More Robot May 23rd, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t understand the compulsion to fit any flag to a motorcycle / car etc. The desire to constantly remind oneself and others of the country they reside seams servile. Therefore he who waves seven flags or larger flags is more patriotic than the incipient who flys six flags. No warranty for you with your half US, half Asian relic, hop off to the museum and confine yourself to history. Peace & love.

  14. 14 James just another Crazy Kiwi May 23rd, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Would the amount of drag be more than if the trike was loaded with two very large heavy people.
    Basic Physics has the formulas for such things.
    Guess the old FXRT could handle the drag and not the trike.
    By reputation Mr Zien is a well liked and respected guy.Also. This will no doubt make headlines not just here.I thought his FXRT was on display at the HD museum for a while ? Maybe not

    HD could of gotten him to pay for the fix but given him a free upgrade to a beefier clutch or some other compromise if they don’t want to pass it as a warranty.

    I would make a brilliant public Relation’s guy for a MotorCycle company and I’m not very smart.

    Makes one wonder at times. Both HD and Indian can be complete Dolts .Insert the corporate chip, learn to kiss arse to climb the ladder and forget about constructive thought processes.
    Corporatism and communism seem…well almost similar

  15. 15 BIG DOUG May 23rd, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Its because the six speed trans are crap,I’ve seen more issues with the six speed trans and clutch than the old 5 speed setup,shit I have a friend who has had two ring gears come of his fatbob clutch as they are just pressed on not like the old five speed baskets which where riveted and the top gear bearing in the six speed is a split bearing and wear out in no time stupid stupid fark I hate bean counters.

  16. 16 nicker May 23rd, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    “Flag Drag”….. Really……???

    Get real.


  17. 17 Rob May 24th, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Great publicity for the MoCo……………this will sell a few more Victory and Indian cycles……….

  18. 18 Tim May 24th, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Sorry the MoCo f…ked up on this one. Every company has the ability to “bend the rules ” from time to time. Dave is a legend and mkv you need to know the man before you ever make a comment like that. I have grown up with Senator Zein always doing something for the motorcyclist in Wisconsin. The man has made more people understand what motorcycles are and why we ride and love what we do for many years. Senator Zein will always have my respect and I believe he has earned what he has. I was very fortunate to meet the Senator a few years back and even though ae is starting to creep up on him he still is as honest, humble, and out going as ever. If you never had a chance to sit down and talk to him you are shorting yourself. My point is this man did more to help the MoCo then most the “GOd’s on Juneau Ave” could ever dream of doing. and this is the respect and how they treat a legend. Shame on you (note to HD Execs: you may want to Goggle that) God Blessed you Dave Zein and thank you for all you have done so I can ride free.

  19. 19 Mr Dick May 24th, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Just another company trying to screw the consumer out of warranty. If he hauled a 400 lb. old lady on the back, they would fix it, no problem. Between HD and the dealer something should be done for him.

  20. 20 richard May 24th, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Obvious question…what year and how many miles on the bike???

  21. 21 Bob D. May 24th, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Dumb, dumb, dumb; a classic example of penny wise and pound foolish. Cover the current repair, but explain that it will not be able to cover under similar circumstances in the future. This decision would have left the former Senator with continued confidence in a company he helped popularize–and the understanding that it would be a good idea to switch to flag decals or miniatures. :-). The way HD chose to handle it will cost it much more in ill will, embarrassment, and lost sales than it would have cost just to make the repairs.

  22. 22 Bubba May 24th, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Just another company excuse to screw the consumer out of warranty.

    Heck, HD sells Screaming Eagle parts right at the dealership, yet those parts can void warranty.

    So HD makes money selling Screaming Eagle parts and saves money on warranty claims because Screaming Eagle parts can void warranty.

    How sweet for HD!

    I guess we have to remove flags, Klock windshields, T-bags, and any other non-HD product from the bike before going in for service because they all produce some degree of drag and HD will use it as an excuse to duck out of warranty obligation.

    Beware! Next thing ya know we will have to step on a scale at the service desk to ensure we didn’t exceed the payload capacity and strain on the drive train.


  23. 23 nicker May 24th, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    “… Next thing ya know we will have to step on a scale ….”

    Not to worry.
    Government ll’ be taking care of that for you, in no time………
    (just ask-em)


  24. 24 Scott in Wisconsin May 24th, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    And the Tea Party goes crazy. Better go buy some more ammo!! The guy is flying a giant piece of fabric behind the bike and yes, that creates drag and impacts the motor. If he’s flying on the highway with it, he’s a retard. If he was riding on a parade doing 15, it wouldn’t be an issue. F him and his flag.

  25. 25 James just another Crazy Kiwi May 24th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I believe he is a friend of Rogues, It would be nice to hear from him about this.

  26. 26 Rogue May 24th, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I would like to know exactly what parts were changed.
    Hopefully Dave kept the old parts so they could be inspected by someone other than the dealer.
    I would also like to read a detailed explanation from the person speaking for Harley how the flags made the parts go bad in their opinion.
    There is a lot more to this and I expect Harley is not going to like the bad press.

  27. 27 Pinhead May 24th, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Maybe the “custom hand shift” also has a part in this, most likely it makes for a better story when you leave that part out. As for the multiple large flags on it, please attach flags of that size to your bike and get on the freeway and then say they do not make a impact on performance and drive ability. A clutch is a wearable item if you abuse or do not operate it properly it will fail prematurely just like brakes and tires.

  28. 28 roadkingajb May 24th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    I was surprised when I read this. Since when does H-D offer a warrantee on their products?

  29. 29 GO May 24th, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Theres more going on here than we`re hearing about…I also would’ve liked to seen the parts that came out… The dealer & HD could’ve done better than this though…He might be shopping the Victory or Indian dealer as we speak….

  30. 30 rick Lossner May 25th, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Buy an Indian. Problem solved

  31. 31 Ironhorse May 25th, 2014 at 9:55 am

    That is a Dealership problem and it seems to be rampant in TX. You would think after the lack of sales over the past 3 years or so they would be happy to get David to bring his bike in….if it was my dealership I would be more then happy to fix it at N/C and get him to sign a few things around the dealership…and for the time it took to fix his bike I would have ask him if he could help out on the sales floor to just talk to people that in its self would have been worth it…….

  32. 32 skinny denny May 25th, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I would think on a trike with the extra wheel and the added weight and stress that clutches and transmissions would tend to wear faster than on a two wheeler. Physics.

  33. 33 Rogue May 26th, 2014 at 6:12 am

    I would like everyone to know that Harley Davidson Did Change The Clutch on the 2014 Trikes while keeping the older style on the two wheelers. This indicates to me that they were having a problem with clutches in the Trikes in years prior to that, which would include the motorcycle Dave Zien was riding.

  34. 34 David King May 26th, 2014 at 10:09 am

    the way most of us do some form of customizing, an out usually exist for the MoCo if they want to deny a warranty claim. I’ve heard some dubious rumors but nothing like this. Hoping Rogue will keep us informed and get to the bottom of this. We need to know.

  35. 35 takehikes May 26th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Trike clutch issue due to flag? Nah, issue already not to mention wieght of the damn trike…..then again any flag over a small one on the back becomes obnoxious to me. Dont flame me for that, I’m as much a patriot as any of you but who relaly needs to wear it not on your sleeve but on a billboard?

  36. 36 Jeffersonian May 29th, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I have heard HD is looking for any mods that would let it void a warranty. This Zien claim is pretty weak, but any performance mods will void it. A bro has his ’13 RGX in the shop for a shelled out transmission at 19K miles. The service writer told him right up front that it wouldn’t be covered if they found any mods. They didn’t but told him (eventually) after teardown that the part that had failed had been changed mid year 2012 to a part that was inferior even to the original inferior part. They can replace it and will cover it, but told him it will fail again out of the warranty period.

    I still have 6 months left on the warranty at 30K miles and it’s still together but If my ’13 RGX goes tango uniform I’ll go Baker/ Jim’s performance.


  37. 37 skinny denny May 29th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Planned obsolescence. I see the sales of Victory and Indian going up this year.

  38. 38 TopCat May 30th, 2014 at 10:54 am

    After 27 years in the biz and running companies the last 15 in this biz I would have opened my wallet and sprung for this. Great marketing for the dealership and just plain the right thing to do. Welcome to MoCo Corporate or just a really dumb dealer. Send him to me I will still buy him a clutch and then hand him an Indian brochure.

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Cyril Huze