Harley Davidson Maintenance: Tips, Schedule, Plan & Costs

Harley Davidson Maintenance: Tips, Schedule, Plan & Costs

Harley Davidson Maintenance: Tips, Schedule, Plan & Costs

Black Harley Davidson Bike

You’ve got a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Now what? You love riding in the open air with high performance acceleration, power and the sound of the engine. That sound. The sound only a Harley makes.

A little wind therapy goes a long way. So does following a Harley Davidson maintenance schedule. From engine oil to brake fluid, adhering to regular maintenance intervals will keep your bike in top condition. Of course, a little love here and there never hurt.

You’ve probably read Harley Davidson maintenance tips, gotten advice from your buddies and checked out commentary from online groups. Most bikers, greenies, wannabes and sometimes even our parents want to give their advice about what to do with the Harley Davidson. If they are mentioning maintenance, they are exactly right.

Take the time to review the owner’s manual and keep it in a place that you can access easily.

When your loved ones say, “Be Safe,” listen to them. Take action and commit to a Harley Davidson maintenance plan. Proper maintenance is a safety must.

Harley Davidson Maintenance Tips

Now that we have agreed to commit to a Harley Davidson maintenance plan, let’s look at some general maintenance tips. Since your owner’s manual will have a Harley Davidson service timeline, we will avoid giving concrete mileage checkpoints. Driving habits, biker style and your Harley model will cause varying maintenance intervals.

Don’t let Harley maintenance cost deter you. The price you pay for maintenance for your Harley will more than pay for itself by avoiding costly repairs in the future. Making sure your Harley has proper care and maintenance, will save you money on breakdowns and Harley Davidson service due to unexpected repairs.

Motorcycle maintenance is part of the Harley life. Take care of your bike and it will take care of you.

Watch the Wheels

Checking your tires regularly will keep you from real trouble. How often depends on how you ride your bike. If your Harley is your daily transportation, the weather is stable and the ride is routine, check the tires once a week. If you are on a long trip and are jumping from highway to backroads to dirt areas, check your tires every day, maybe even twice a day.

Proper air pressure is crucial and easy to adjust. Check your owner’s manual for recommended pressure amounts and invest in a quality gauge for accurate measurement. Since the suggested psi in the manual reflects cold tire pressure, it is best to check tire pressure an hour or longer after your last ride.

Without the right amount of air pressure, your braking ability will be thrown off and your bike will not handle as it should. Additionally, over-inflated tires will not have the right grip putting you at risk.

Keep an eye on your tire tread too. Worn out tires will not perform right on the road and will perform even worse in poor weather conditions. Take note of any scratches, marks, punctures and even tire rot. The more you know about your bike, the quicker you can solve small problems.  Adhering to a Harley Davidson maintenance schedule will help identify the little things before they lead to bigger issues.

Engine Oil: Keep Your Harley Hydrated

Changing your engine oil on schedule is the biggest favor you can do for your bike.

Engine oil wears many hats. In order to do all its jobs efficiently, it must be changed on time and kept at the correct levels. Oil changing timeframes will depend on the age of your bike, miles ridden and the type of oil used. Your Harley mechanic will make sure your oil is checked at each maintenance interval but in the meantime, check your owner’s manual for your specific engine oil requirements.

  • Seasonal Changes: Your bike will use more oil in the summertime and less in the wintertime.
  • Fuel and Engine Efficiency: Old oil and inadequate oil will cause your bike to use more gas and can shorten the life of your engine. Keeping track of your engine oil will always be cheaper than an engine rebuild.
  • Overheating: If you depend on your bike in the heat of the Midwestern Summer or take long rides in the torturing temperatures, talk to your Harley mechanic about A Fan Assisted Oil Cooler. It will help with overheating oil, which in turn can cause a breakdown.

Clean the Air Filter

Have you and your Harley been on the backroads kicking up a lot of dust? Do you frequently ride through construction? If so, change that air filter!

Regularly replacing the air filter will protect your Harley engine from dirt and damaging particles.

How often it is necessary, depends on the environment in which you ride. If you live in a dusty area or interface with congested air, it may be best to clean your air filter once a week. If not, check the owner’s manual for a recommended timeline.

This maintenance task is listed on all service intervals and will be part of your ongoing Harley Davidson maintenance plan. A dirty or clogged air filter will affect both engine performance and fuel economy.

Maroon Harley Davidson Motorcycle at the Mike's 71 Cycle Shop

Adjust the Clutch

If you have recently purchased your Harley, you are probably going through the growing pains of getting to know your bike. This includes acclimating to the clutch. If you have been riding for a while, you know the clutch can make or break a great ride. Either way, the clutch can or should be adjusted before it becomes worn or problematic.  

The clutch connects your engine to the transmission and is responsible for gear changing. It is used a lot and over time, the clutch cable will loosen from the clutch lever’s grip. It’s a gradual process and the primary reason clutch adjustment should be part of your Harley Davidson service.  For optimal performance, keep the clutch cables properly lubricated and make sure your clutch has enough free play.

If your Harley has a wet clutch, the type of lubricating oil will make a difference. Talk to a qualified Harley mechanic about oil chemistry and the types of oil that have the correct frictional properties. This one-step can save you the heartache of being stranded on the side of the road.

Bless the Brakes

Your motorcycle brakes can change the outcome of a split second reaction. When you need to slow down or stop, you need to slow down or stop. Without delay. Without hesitation. Keeping your brakes on a proper Harely Davidson maintenance schedule is, therefore, very important.

With a Harley you need precise stopping power. Brake fluid, brake pads, rotors, and lights, leaks and discs are all part of the safety system. Experts say to check the brake pads every 6,000 miles. If you ride on a lot hills or find yourself in a lot of stop-and-go traffic, be sure to check them more often.  

Befriend the Battery

Your motorcycle battery should last about 2 years. However, proper battery maintenance is necessary to make it go the full 48 months. You may request to have your battery inspected during your Harley Davidson service and prescribed maintenance intervals, but it must also be checked every single year. Talk to your Harley mechanic about how to care for your battery.

In the meantime, here are some helpful hints:

  • Keep an eye out for any leakage from the battery.
  • If you are not going to ride for a while, keep your battery fully charged.
  • The electrolyte cells on regular motorcycle batteries can be topped with distilled water.

Winter is hard on bikes and especially batteries. Neglecting your battery during the colder months will likely cause it a premature death. Allowing your battery to freeze can crack the case. If this happens, acid may spill on the bike. On the other hand, overcharging it can cause damage too. Talk to your Harley mechanic about proper maintenance for battery.

Love thy Engine

The Harley engine is like no other. The distinctive V-twin engine is undeniable. To love it is to keep it tuned up on schedule. Engine is a broad term but it had to be on the maintenance list, because, it is a Harley after all.

Follow Harley Davidson maintenance tips and talk to your Harley mechanic about a Dyno Tune. A properly tuned engine, will keep the rumble on the road.

Blue Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Keep it Clean

We know sometimes you just gotta ride. Even when the bike is dirty.

When you are ready to get down to business and scrub it up, we have a few tips:

There are a lot of fancy products out there marketed for biking cleaning. I’m sure they work but may be overkill on the pocketbook. Online forums are great for sharing information. Check out a few and you may hear about alternatives that cost much less.

Whatever you use, make sure you have different cleaning rags and sponges for different areas. Microfiber cloths work well as does an old fashioned toothbrush for hard to reach areas.

Keep towels, chamois, sponges and wiping rags off the ground. Unintended debris may scratch your bike.

Cleaning your bike does more than keep it looking nice. It allows you to find broken parts. Pay attention to detail and take care of what you find.

Avoid washing your bike in direct sunlight. Water spots and streaks are harder to remove when warm.

Once done, take a slow ride down the street to pump your brakes and rid them of excess water. Next, go a bit faster to remove water hiding in grooves and hidden places.

Recommended Maintenance Miles

Your owner’s manual will provide maintenance guidelines. Make sure you follow the:

  • Harley Davidson 1000 mile service checklist
  • Harley Davidson 15000 mile service checklist
  • Harley Davidson 20000 mile service checklist


Harley Davidson maintenance intervals are also recommended for 5000 and 10,000 miles.

Costs of Harley Maintenance

Harley maintenance costs are minimal compared to going caput on the highway or chasing down a part. A lot of components don’t make it to their usable life span because the bike does not follow a Harley Davidson maintenance schedule.