Skip to comments.Biker says Harley-Davidson rejected warranty claim for riding with flags
Posted on 05/29/2014 1:29:39 AM PDT by kingattax
As a former politician, Dave Zien has built a reputation for defending motorcyclists' rights as well as cruising the country with patriotic flags hanging off the back of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle for millions of miles.
So it came as something of a shock when Harley rejected a warranty repair Zien sought for a broken clutch on a new Harley trike citing his flags as the real cause. Zien, who bought the bike new in March, has voiced his displeasure throughout the biker community, telling Fox News that Harley-Davidson informed him he was "blocked" because of his flag displays, and can "never get any warranty work" for seven years.
Harley-Davidson responded to the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee, stating that Zien's warranty is still valid, but that it denied this claim due to the the "terrific drag (the flags create) on the engine and transmission." The company also says that the flag mounts used were not Harley products, which played a part in the claim's denial, despite Zien arguing that a registered Harley dealer installed the mounts.
Zien, aged 64, served as a U.S. marine in Vietnam in the late '60s, prior to joining the Wisconsin State Senate between 1993 and 2006. His stint in the senate brought him some local recognition, but it was his full-size flags including a 3-foot-by-5-foot American flag waving proudly from behind his Harley that ensured an avid following of bikers.
(Excerpt) Read more at autos.yahoo.com ...
Stupid. The bad publicity will cost Harley a lot more than fixing the guys clutch.
Anyhow, I heard about this on Facebook earlier.
Seems to me that if the drag were bad enough, it would tip the cycle back on its rear wheels. I’d like to see some engineering figures. Where else was a flag mount supposed to GO?
On Facebook there were a lot of folks swearing they’d go for some other brand, including the still-American Polaris which makes both Victory and the recently resurrected Indian.
First, if he really put “millions” of miles on that trike, then it’s almost certainly not a Harley factory trike. I’m pretty sure Harley only recently started offering trike conversions from the factory. The strain of turning all the extra metal to drive the rear axle, and push all that extra weight from the wheels and frame of the trike conversion, would have to be at least as much as those flags would cause. If they have no problem with the load caused by a trike conversion, or a sidecar or similar, then there should be zero issue with a couple of flags.
Second, Harleys are so agricultural, I have a hard time believing that something so trivial could cause a clutch to fail unless there was legitimately something wrong with the clutch in the first place.
This is almost to BMW-dealership levels of “f$%&-you” customer-blaming.
I’d want to see the engineering calculations. Some rectangles of cloth following the wind are probably not going to have as much impact as the rider’s and bike’s own broadside.
Then it would be logical to deny claims if you ride on a road with 1% positive slope. It would create even larger drag, thanks to gravity and the mass of the vehicle.
Actually, an uphill road would be worse than flags. Flags are within the slipstream, they aren't always exposed to the full speed of the vehicle.
Regardless of any of that, what a burned out clutch has to do with drag? Was it slipping when fully engaged? That would be ... unwelcome.
Witness the worst PR move of the week - Ping.
Correcting myself. I see that this is indeed a new factory trike. I misallocated his “millions of miles” to this one bike, instead of his past activities.
That makes it worse. There’s no way a new trike would somehow burn a clutch just because of those flags, especially given the added weight of the trike frame. And I’d be really interested to hear how “Harley” flag mounts would have made the situation better, particularly since both would result in the same final configuration.
I think the “official” mounts are tilted back more.
There is going to be “some” drag.
Here’s an engineering paper. The squarer the flag, the more drag it has.
Actually, I’m guessing the clutch cage broke. Bikes generally have wet clutches, so it’s incredibly hard to actually burn the clutch plate. Putting too much strain on the driveline could conceivably cause the cage to fail, but there’s no way the drag of just two flags would do it, especially since (as others have pointed out already), just the strain of pushing the bike up a hill would easily exceed that.
Definitely gonna bite HD in the backside about this, its all over the biker community.
Our local American Legion and VFW riuder groups have several guys with both trikes and bikes sporting similar flag displays as the ones pictured. I’ve never heard any of them voice any problems with their rides because of it.
After all, they’re following in the wind - it’s not like they’re sails or something.
The body of the bike and the biker will be shielding the flags from most of the wind they would otherwise get.
That’s Punky and a boo chit excuse.
The flags created undo and excess drag?
What would they say if bis girl was a heffer? But, he loves her, taking wherever their interests lie?
ThatZ Kuh Ray Zee.
They must honor their warranty.
I haven't looked at the PDF, but the abstract says that they were using laminar flow in a wind tunnel for all their testing. This is not what you will find behind the back of the vehicle with a rider on it. This problem would be fun to model one day in a CFD package - if the solution ever converges :-)
These trikes and other Harley models can pull small trailers but a couple flags are too much?
Not to mention, have you seen some of the women these guys put on the back of their bikes? Talk about a strain on The drive train.
Harley pulled a similar stunt with me on a minor repair I needed on my 2009 Heritage. Needless to say, I don’t own a Harley anymore. BMW hasn’t been much better. I’m liking the new Indian models. Especially since I learned of EBR’s involvement in their rebirth.
Not saying the HD dealer is right, but the matter reminds me of Glock owners running hot hand-loads through their Tupperware and breaking something.
Then they are outraged when they find that Glock meant it when it said their warranty was voided by shooting hand-loads.
You build something and guarantee it as is.
A trike festooned with flags and other add-ons—it’s also something like a guy taking a chainsaw boxed, in pieces, to a saw dealer and asking for advice and some parts.
So he takes it home and assembles it, but it doesn’t work and returns unhappy and wants the dealer to fix it.
How is this the dealer’s fault?
Maybe the guy ought to have a Chinese flag instead of a US flaag.
Harley sells flag mounts, sells bikes converted to trikes, services bikes that have been third-party converted to trikes, and their rider base is widely known to contain a lot of really heavy men. All of these put significant strain on drivetrains. If they didn’t think their bikes’ drivetrains could handle the addition of two flags (another common addition due to the “Rolling Thunder” crowd), they wouldn’t sell kits to mount said flags, nor would they have anything to do with trike modifications or overweight riders.
how many iterations does this make now?
Im kinda fond of the 101 series myself - '28 to '31
“Stupid. The bad publicity will cost Harley a lot more than fixing the guys clutch.”
Harley should take a page from truck manufacturers play book and offer a towing package. I’ve noticed a need as these guys not only mount flags the pull trailers and themselves and passengers which by appearances can sometimes be a load.....
HD = most money for the least bike.
You are correct.
Previously they only offered after-market trike conversions from the dealership and the individual *dealership* covered the bike itself, under warranty, not Harley.
Now, they have “Harley trikes” which are still after-market kits but they have “branded” the kits with their name and they theoretically warranty.
[it was Lehman, the Canadian company but they’ve switched yet again]
For almost $40K, you don’t get near the trike that we build for half that cost.
You are paying for the name.
Lots of our riding buddies have huge flags on their two-wheelers and have never had any “flag drag issues” other than the bike wiggling around in high crosswinds.
This should be a total non-issue with a trike.
Not the first time I have heard of this kind of thing. The company considers this an “alteration”. They do the same thing with trailer hitches. If you attach a hitch and tow a trailer with your HD, the warranty is invalidated. The dealer itself has a lot to do with how things work out. Does the trike rider have a relationship with the dealer? Some HD owners do not bring their bike back for maintenance, ever. Others, like me, bring it back for extended warranty matters. I suspect there is more to this story. How difficult would it be to unbolt the flag mounts before bringing the trike in for service?
if the flags can take out a clutch what does that say about Harley??
The engine is to powerful for the rest of the drive train?
It does not compute.
and that is why I have a goldwing ;) Most bike (GL1100) least money (35 bucks at an auction)..
It has a trailer hitch on it, and 104,000 miles. Still works great.
This makes no sense at all.
I attended Rolling Thunder nine years running, and hundreds of bikes were adorned in this manner. Many times, Willie. G. Davidson was a guest speaker and one would think that if the flags were bad for the bikes, he would have said something!
Of course, that was years ago, before you-know-who came into office, and by his very satanic presence, has poisoned everything that is decent in America.
You-know-what flows downhill.
And seeps into everything.
They consider putting on decent pipes an alteration.
We give back the stock parts so people can swap back out the trike kit for warranty repairs, if they need them.
There’s a way around everything...:)
Your logic is correct!
Harley Davidson should know by now that owning an H-D is considered a patriotic act among its riders, eschewing brands like Honda, Yamaha, etc.. which aren't considered "real bikes" because they're rice burners.
Telling this guy they won't honor his warranty because he flew a flag behind it (and didn't use HD mounts, btw --- that's in the story) has got to be one of the WORST customer service examples I've seen in a long time.
HD makes flag mounts for their bikes. Really? Saying he didn't use THEIRS and flew the flag behind his bike is reason to deny his claim? WOW.
BTW: anyone who suggests that HD riders will switch to Polaris because "it's still American made" really doesn't have a clue what they're talking about. Have you actually ridden a "Victory" motorcycle? STEAMING PILE OF CRAP. (Rode it -- HATED it.) No HD rider in their right mind will switch to a Victory motorcycle.
SHhhhhh! (Everybody will want one!)
I got a GL1200 with 60,000 on the clock for just a little over $2,000. This is it’s third season. I put on a new set of Pirellis last year and soldered that pesky lead junction on the charging system.
Other than that, a lot of bike for a very small price.
Drag from a flag fragged the transmission?
Harleys must have a hard time going up hills.
The driver should have bought the optional Harley “flag waver” transmission.
something is not right here.
Harley does not build a trike.
adding a separate trike kit and putting extra weight on the clutch probably did him in.
Given the number of flags on bikes, this does not pass the smell test.
that is what this politician is counting on. a free clutch on his “do you know who I am” card.
converting to a trike with an aftermarket kit can ‘t be good for a clutch designed for one wheel and drive belt on a much much shorter axil.
the flag argument is 100% BS by this politician.
Seems like that would have been the logical fix in this case too.
HD has a history of making life difficult for it's dealers and other vendors.
Like when they insisted dealerships build exclusive, expensive HD stores instead of just selling them out of their regular bike shops?
The Company lost much more in pr than they saved in $ denying the service.
That’s quite a lot of drag there....vs two lightweight flags. HD will lose far more in bike sales than repairing a clutch...sad.
Or not letting dealerships print their names on the backs of HD T shirts.
It’s a Harley conversion.
“Bikes generally have wet clutches,...”
That’s true, but I think a Harley has a dry clutch. The transmission is separate from the engine, kind of like a car (a front wheel drive car, but with the engine crankshaft 90 degrees off from the wheel axles).
I think Harley is going to end up eating this.
A argument can be made the this trike, if it were towing a Harley approved camper trailer, and was fully loaded with two on the bike, would be suffering a lot more drag then two flippin flags...
Modern HD is about as good as they have gotten. Part of the charm was the roughness and cantankerousness, which now has to be simulated by the electronic controls.
But you’re paying a steep premium for style. Now that there is Victory and Indian, V-twin bikers have more choice.
Sportsters have wet clutches. I do not know about others.