U.S. Government Investigating Complaints About Harley-Davidson Brakes

brake1The U.S. government is investigating complaints from Harley-Davidson riders who say their motorcycle brakes failed without warning. Riders reported that the brakes on the hand lever and foot pedal did not work, causing one driver to crash into a garage door. The NHTSA say it received 43 complaints, three reports of crashes and two reports of injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the investigation covers 430,000 motorcycles with model years between 2008 and 2011. The investigation covers motorcycles with an anti-lock braking system.

The NHTSA says 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. Representatives of Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning

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17 Responses to “U.S. Government Investigating Complaints About Harley-Davidson Brakes”


  1. 1 Dan Martinez Jul 8th, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Hmmm

  2. 2 18 Bravo Jul 8th, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Sounds like an operator head space and timing issue to me.

  3. 3 Nitschke Jul 8th, 2016 at 10:56 am

    What’s the source? Did NHSTSA put out a press release?

  4. 4 Tim Jul 8th, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Yes, apparently!

  5. 5 Woody's Jul 8th, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Every 2 years is either insane, mandated by their legal advisors, or admission they can’t design/provide a proper brake system.

  6. 6 Joe Jul 8th, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I can tell you from my own experience there is a problem! Pulling up to the traffic light I go to use my brakes and the pedal for the rear brakes is solid as a rock couldn’t move it. Stood up on the rear pedal while putting a death grip on the front lever trying not to eat the rear end of a semi! Get it to the shop, my mechanic tells me the bad news, expect not to have your bike for at least a month, the rear antilock computer is trash, it sat for 3 weeks while they played tag with the warranty company. Warranty only covers half the cost of a rental if you’re lucky. They have seen this problem several times. Don’t get me wrong I’ve ridden Harleys most of my life, but the quality had been on a steady decline.

  7. 7 Bill Jul 8th, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    My front brake “froze”, $766 later, abs module replaced, I was back on the road. I checked my owners manual and an HD 10,000 / 20,000 mile checklist, just says check level and condition. I have not seen to change every two years.

  8. 8 Roberto Jul 9th, 2016 at 1:08 am

    I was told about the 2 year fluid change years ago…..that includes abs equipped autos,too.

  9. 9 patrick Jul 9th, 2016 at 8:01 am

    don’t worry, BMW had plenty of problems when they came with ABS.
    But do you really need ABS ? ABS is made by 3rd parties, not by Harley anyway.
    Maybe you should start get used to ABS as it brakes differently. USA ? Isn’t that the country where plenty of car drivers just accelerate instead of braking and smash into restaurtants, stores etc ? Must be same type of drivers on their Harleys…. only in america….

  10. 10 cyclereckr Jul 9th, 2016 at 8:22 am

    I have always changed the brake fluid yearly in everything . Brake fluid absorbs water from the air, dot 5 is worse than dot 3, water will not mix with it and the water settles to the lowest part in the system.

  11. 11 Hazy Jul 9th, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Changing brake fluid has been an ongoing topic in the automotive world for years. Some manufacturers want it changed, some don’t. Cyclereckr has it right, brake fluids are hygroscopic and absorb water. It also can become contaminated with dirt, rubber particles, whatever. Heat can also be an issue. Manufactures have been changing formulas to try to find something better, DOT3, 4, 4.5, 5 and whatever is new, it all wears out and your mileage may vary. There are various testing methods, strips, electronic, but all have shortcomings. One of those maintenance items most people never think about. I change the fluid on my bikes in the spring just because. Changed the fluid in the Police bikes I used to service every 6 months or so – easy way to ensure no failures as far as the fluid and get a good overall look at the brake system. Also looked good on the workorder.

  12. 12 spaz Jul 9th, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I have found that if you change the headlight and turn signal fluids, the brake problem seems to go away…

  13. 13 richard BETCHKAL Jul 10th, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Not surprised!!!! Cost cutting will ALWAYS come back to bite You….

  14. 14 Glenn Jul 11th, 2016 at 8:08 am

    My buds stopped working at 20k it froze and did not go to manual brakes as the manual says it will.
    Had to replace module. And fluid was changed

  15. 15 Steal Your Face Jul 11th, 2016 at 9:40 am

    DOT 5 is the only brake fluid that does not absorb water. That is why the change brake fluid every 2 year thing came along when H-D changed to DOT 4 around 2005 and up depending on the model. DOT 5 also doesn’t eat paint. Win Win. No brake problems on the oldies.

  16. 16 boston jim Jul 11th, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Phuck the Brakes ! What about the POS motor ? Feds always have their heads, up their Butts !

  17. 17 Chuck Jul 11th, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    ABS made by third party? Built in Japan like the rest of the bike and assembled by foreign workers!

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