Are Harleys Reliable? Evolution Of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Customers have always wondered how reliable a motorcycle is before buying it. Harley-Davidson has built a name and a market around the world, with the exception of a few countries. People who have never owned a Harley motorcycle have spread a lot of false information about them. Here is what you need to know about the dependability of Harley motorcycles.

Many people think that Harley Davidson motorcycles aren’t dependable. Anyone who owns a Harley will tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Harley Davidson Motor Company is having trouble increasing its sales because so many of the bikes they made in the last 25 years are still on the road.

History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

If you look at the history of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, you might think that these two-wheeled monsters are not reliable. But that doesn’t make sense. So let’s shed some light on Harley-Davidsons from before the 1980s.

In the early days of motorcycles, it was up to the owners to keep their bikes in good shape. To have a bike and ride it was to take care of it. There were not as many mechanics around as there are now. Bikers had to have the right tools and know how to fix their bikes’ engines and change their tires.

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In the 1960s, they probably spent more time fixing their bikes than riding them. This was when people wanted more from their bikes, like faster speeds, unique designs, more storage, etc. People even bought old bikes that they planned to fix up with new parts.

Harley-Davidson didn’t do anything wrong to get this bad reputation. In the 1980s, after many different owners, Vaughn Beals, Willie G. Davidson, and a group of investors saw that their brand was almost gone. And they did things that cost a million dollars to fix the problem.

They redesigned the new Harley-Davidson to have a modern look with mounted rubber, transmissions with five speeds, and more. They also made a detailed service plan to make sure that history wouldn’t happen again.

Now, the bikes are so reliable that they aren’t selling well for the opposite reason. When taken care of, these bikes can last for more than 25 years. There are Harley-Davidsons on the road with original knucklehead engines that date back to the 1940s.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Harley?

A Harley-Davidson motorcycle can easily go a distance of 100,000 miles without showing any signs of wear and tear. But it depends on the model of Harley you’re riding, how you ride and how well you take care of it, etc. 100k miles is, therefore, not a standard but an estimate based on the experiences of many riders.

Harley-Davidson Reliability

The owners of the brand don’t want rumors that the bikes aren’t reliable to hurt sales, so each bike is made with great care. Some mechanics have worked on many different makes, models, and years of motorcycles, which can help your bike last longer.

If you decide to do the maintenance yourself, make sure you have the factory Harley-Davidson service manual for your model and year. As for general dependability and longevity, here is a guide to how long different parts last and how to keep them in good shape.


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Expect the numbers to be different, but a Harley-Davidson engine should last more than 100,000 miles. This is, of course, if you follow the recommended service schedule and change your fluids on a regular basis.

It also helps to drive carefully and store your car indoors or under a cover to keep corrosive chemicals from getting into it.


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Mileage is different for the front and back tires. On average, a rear tire will last between 9,000 and 10,000 miles, while a front tire can last between 15,000 and 20,000 miles.

This could change depending on how the land is. Also, you should change your bike’s tires if you haven’t used them in more than five years, no matter how many miles they have.


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A Harley-Davidson battery should last for about two years. To make this last longer, keep the battery tight and stop corrosion from building up. Adding more time to your rides also helps.

Other Parts

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You should never forget about the smaller parts of your motorcycle. Every 100,000 miles, you should replace or have service done on the drive belts, wheel bearings, primary chain, coils, and voltage regulators.

About every 15,000 miles, you should change the spark plugs and brake pads. About 30,000 miles is how long shocks can last. There are between 30,000 and 70,000 miles on the rotors. Between 20,000 and 60,000 miles, a clutch will still work.

A motorcycle’s stator can last about 150,000 miles if there are no electrical problems. The mileage doesn’t affect motor mounts. Every five to ten years, check in with them.

Which Harley-Davidson motorcycle is the most reliable?

Most Harley-Davidsons made today are pretty reliable, but we’re talking about the ones that are the most reliable. So, here is a list of Harley-Davidson motorcycles that you can trust.

  • Harley-Davidson VRSCDX Night Rod Special – 2007
  • Harley-Davidson FLHT Electra Glide – 2009
  • Harley-Davidson XL1200N Sportster Nightster – 2007
  • Harley-Davidson CV0 Softail Convertible – 2012
  • Harley-Davidson FXSTB Night Train – 2009
  • Harley-Davidson VRSCE2 V-Rod – 2006
  • Harley-Davidson CVO Fat Bob – 2009 to 2010
  • XL1200N Sportster Nightster – 2007
  • FLHT Electra Glide Standard – 2009
  • Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King – 2012
  • Harley-Davidson Fat Boy – 2020
  • Harley-Davidson LiveWire (Electric) – 2019


Harley-Davidson wouldn’t still be around if they were known as a brand that wasn’t reliable. They have been around for more than 100 years. “Are Harley-Davidsons reliable?” is no longer a question that needs to be asked.

Harley-Davidson has done the work to tell bike owners how to keep their bikes running longer. The body of these bikes is strong and made to last. The rest is up to you.

Buying a Harley motorcycle is safe and reliable. But maintenance must be done at the right time for reliability to stay high.

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