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Thread: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

  1. #1
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    Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    Hi new member here.
    Short background:

    Always loved cruiser motorbikes. I've been riding now for 7 years. Started and passed my tests on a GZ125, then got a Virago 535 and finally my current Suzuki C800 intruder.
    But we all know these bikes are Jap copy cats of HD's, just cheaper.

    I'm really liking the look of the Fatboy and looking to buy used, so I have a few questions if you dont mind:

    1. Which model year should I be looking at? IIRC the bad cam chain tensioners were upgraded from 08 onwards on the FB to dual hydraulic ones with a roller chain.
    2. Which model year does the bike have ABS and preferably an immobiliser to reduce risk of theft?
    3. Which engine should I go for?
    4. How are these bikes (stock) for long distance riding. I typically enjoy fairly long rides, say 150-200 miles a stretch, camp somewhere and ride around the country. On my current bike I have a windshield and saddlebags with a rack which gives me plenty of storage space for tents and things like that. So as long as the bike can do all this I'd be happy. Which leads me onto:
    5. How easy are aftermarket or genuine HD SPARE parts and accessories to get in this country? It seems a lot of stuff you really have to dig around for to find a supplier.
    6. Any other potential problems to look out for on this bike? I strictly want to keep it stock except a stage 1, no changing cams or anything like that for me. In fact the less maintenance the better. Im fairly competent at mechanics however, changed a bike clutch before, do regular oil changes, brake pads, all that stuff. But removing cam bearings and stuff like that I dont like the sound of.

    Thats about it for now im sure there will be other questions. I did go to a HD dealership today and saw the M8 fatboy but its out of budget, and these horror stories of the new engine put me off too much anyway. Also I prefer the sound of the TC.

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    Hi Kurt, a limited reply and others may not agree but, here goes. The upgraded cam tensioner models were from 2006. I have no idea about abs as i am not interested in it. Engine size is one of choice. There is nothing wrong with 1450, you will find it has more than enough torque after what you hVe been riding. Harleys are very good at long distance. I frequently ride 300+ in a day no problem. Recommend browsing jersey hd for parts availability. No shortage there.

    A couple of other things to note are gears went to 6 speed in 06, from 5. In my opinion harleys have gradualy got worse as years go on in terms of quality, both inside and outside the engine as they cut corners to maintain competitive edge. That said, i am sure lots of people with later models have few problems and many years of happy riding.

    i myself am looking at a fatboy but will be going pre 06. I have had three pre 06 harleys with said cam chain tensioner problem, and never had a problem!

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    Hi Kurt

    Welcome aboard
    I know very little about Twin cams as I'm an evo owner however if you look in the twin cam section of the forum I asked the same questions about the engine as you. The post is called "talk to me about Twin cams"

    Now if you want to fit bags and a screen I've read that a Heritage may be a better bet rather than a fat boy. This is because the bags are bigger and the screen easier to fit. But I will clarify I've only heard this on the grape vine.

    As far as stock goes there really is no such thing as a stock Harley. Most will have a stage 1 by now which frees up the breathing to make them work properly.

    Now as you have had a Japanese bike for a bit you will have a bit of a shock when you ride a Harley for the first time. They are a bit crude and strange after the way that the Japs do things. Also they do take a bit of owner involvement too. Most Japanese bikes can be left a while and you plan just jump on, press the button and of you go. Harleys not so, but they are immensely rewarding to own and they are the only bike that people stare at from cars at traffic lights.

    My suggestion is approach with an open mind and ride a few different models

    As a start though you have come to the right place for advice
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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    Ayup Kurt, there are dozens & dozens of independent parts suppliers in the UK for parts from all over the world. If they can't get it, you don't need it. Tell us which area you live in & we'll know a supplier. Meanwhile search Custom Chrome, Zodiac & V-Twin to name but a few. Fat Boy's tend to have an exhaust on the high side, which will limit saddlebag use. You can also get a quickly detachable screen & QD rack. Ebay will probably be your friend here. If you like long distance riding, I'd consider a Road King or a Heritage Softail. That said, you can go anywhere on anything if you apply yourself. If you have to have genuine HD parts, then Jersey HD will supply no VAT stuff. And lastly, be prepared for the bike of your choice to take over your life ;-) HTH.

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    Quote Originally Posted by mr. pitts View Post
    Ayup Kurt, there are dozens & dozens of independent parts suppliers in the UK for parts from all over the world. If they can't get it, you don't need it. Tell us which area you live in & we'll know a supplier. Meanwhile search Custom Chrome, Zodiac & V-Twin to name but a few. Fat Boy's tend to have an exhaust on the high side, which will limit saddlebag use. You can also get a quickly detachable screen & QD rack. Ebay will probably be your friend here. If you like long distance riding, I'd consider a Road King or a Heritage Softail. That said, you can go anywhere on anything if you apply yourself. If you have to have genuine HD parts, then Jersey HD will supply no VAT stuff. And lastly, be prepared for the bike of your choice to take over your life ;-) HTH.
    Thanks for all the replies, useful info.
    South leicestershire.
    Really not a fan of the looks of the Heritage or Road King, I get while people like them but to me nothing comes close to the badass looks of the FB.
    I'm not concerned with genuine HD parts either. If aftermarket companies sell service parts, spares and accessories at a good enough quality they would be fine for me.
    I'd want some decent saddlebags if the bike doesn't have them already from previous owner but doing some googling it seems hard to find a good supplier in the UK but I suppose I've not yet learned where to buy things like that. I usually use Ebay for all that kind of stuff.
    Germany seems to make a few options like these:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Set-of-ha...AAAOSwNGRaw0L6

    The exhaust on my current bike is quite high but got around it by buying very wide bags rather than deep and long.
    They sit about 1 inch above the exhaust and never had any issues with burning

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    I wouldnt ignore the Dyna range either. Have owned Softails since 1998, Heritage and Fatboy - they have 'the look' but not the handling. New M8 Softail range with monoshock are much improved apparently.

    Changed last year to a 2015 Streetbob and wished I'd done it sooner - lighter, quicker, nimble and probable closer to your C800 weight and handling wise. If in your price range, go for 6 speeder and a 103 engine like mine - I'm loving it.
    Coasters Assistant Rep

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    They're not exactly on your doorstep, but I've used Cycle Haven at Lincoln for many years. For any engine work, you need Alex at Fast Lane, he's in Lincoln I believe. Both good people. Good hunting.

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    The basics of the engine differences are ...

    1999-2002 ... Strongest crankshaft assembly in TC history. 88 inch engines in all models. The TC Softails came in 2000 and have a balanced engine which is solidly mounted to the frame while the Dynas and Tourers have unbalanced engines which are rubber mounted to the frame. All have 5 speed transmissions. All have spring type cam chain tensioners. The 99-01 Touring range had the option of Magnetti Marelli EFI systems which can be troublesome, many convert to carb. From 2001 onwards they have the Delphi EFI system which is much better. The Softails were available with carb or Delphi EFI for the 2001 year I think then Dynas also got the option in 2004.

    2002-2006 The more supportive Timken bearings are eliminated and now all models have two roller main bearings. Everything else is the same except that the 2006 Dyna range were the guinea pigs for the hydraulic cam chain tensioner system and the six speed transmission. Still at 88 inches but with a different output shaft on the crank and a different primary drive side.

    2007 - 2017 ... This was the year that the whole TC range got the redesigned 96 inch engine, six speed box and hydraulic cam chain tensioner system. This new engine produced about 5 ft/lbs of torque and zero HP gain over the earlier 88 incher. Also the year that carbed engines were discontinued. There have been a few displacement options over the years - 96, 103 and the CVO models all had 110 inch engines. The 07 and 08 maybe 09 bikes had higher gearing for some reason. Not sure on the years exactly.

    I'm not clued up on all the model design, aesthetic or colour changes available but any TC engine will handle long rides if looked after properly. No problems finding spares in the UK, everything is available and there are plenty of aftermarket as well as online sources. There are a few things to look out for with TC engines. The obvious one being the 99-06 cam chain tensioner system. Even if the pads don't disintegrate they still generate plastic debris which circulates around the oil system and scores the oil pump. The 2007 onwards hydraulic system is much better and is simple to fit to an earlier engine. The flywheels are weak and can shift on the crankpin at any time. Most don't but many do. The stock 99-06 INA inner cam bearings can collapse without warning so they are best replaced with a superior full complement bearing. If I were you and you're capable I'd be doing as much maintenance yourself as possible which will avoid the bike ever going into a dealership. Even if you don't want any additional performance I'd strongly advise a dyno tune on any EFI engine as they run far too hot as they come due to the air/fuel ratio required to pass the emission regulations.
    Last edited by Fast Lane; 04-06-2018 at 06:17 PM.

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    I have a 2014 Lowrider for sale, pm me for details, or on Autotrader here https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif...01805196677353

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    Re: Metric owner seriously considering a Harley TC

    Quote Originally Posted by Fast Lane View Post
    The basics of the engine differences are ...

    1999-2002 ... Strongest crankshaft assembly in TC history. 88 inch engines in all models. The TC Softails came in 2000 and have a balanced engine which is solidly mounted to the frame while the Dynas and Tourers have unbalanced engines which are rubber mounted to the frame. All have 5 speed transmissions. All have spring type cam chain tensioners. The 99-01 Touring range had the option of Magnetti Marelli EFI systems which can be troublesome, many convert to carb. From 2001 onwards they have the Delphi EFI system which is much better. The Softails were available with carb or Delphi EFI for the 2001 year I think then Dynas also got the option in 2004.

    2002-2006 The more supportive Timken bearings are eliminated and now all models have two roller main bearings. Everything else is the same except that the 2006 Dyna range were the guinea pigs for the hydraulic cam chain tensioner system and the six speed transmission. Still at 88 inches but with a different output shaft on the crank and a different primary drive side.

    2007 - 2017 ... This was the year that the whole TC range got the redesigned 96 inch engine, six speed box and hydraulic cam chain tensioner system. This new engine produced about 5 ft/lbs of torque and zero HP gain over the earlier 88 incher. Also the year that carbed engines were discontinued. There have been a few displacement options over the years - 96, 103 and the CVO models all had 110 inch engines. The 07 and 08 maybe 09 bikes had higher gearing for some reason. Not sure on the years exactly.

    I'm not clued up on all the model design, aesthetic or colour changes available but any TC engine will handle long rides if looked after properly. No problems finding spares in the UK, everything is available and there are plenty of aftermarket as well as online sources. There are a few things to look out for with TC engines. The obvious one being the 99-06 cam chain tensioner system. Even if the pads don't disintegrate they still generate plastic debris which circulates around the oil system and scores the oil pump. The 2007 onwards hydraulic system is much better and is simple to fit to an earlier engine. The flywheels are weak and can shift on the crankpin at any time. Most don't but many do. The stock 99-06 INA inner cam bearings can collapse without warning so they are best replaced with a superior full complement bearing. If I were you and you're capable I'd be doing as much maintenance yourself as possible which will avoid the bike ever going into a dealership. Even if you don't want any additional performance I'd strongly advise a dyno tune on any EFI engine as they run far too hot as they come due to the air/fuel ratio required to pass the emission regulations.
    So basically every model since the Evo has a high probability, or at least a very concerning amount of reports of catastrophic incredibly expensive failures?
    Early tc - tensioner failure and short life span, new tensioner shoes every 5-20k miles
    2002-2006 - inferior bearings
    2007-2017 - Weak bearings, flywheel made of cheese, lots of reports of crank scissoring
    2018 M8 - Oil sumping problems

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