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Most Reliable, Easy To Work On Harley

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Old 10-01-2010, 02:01 PM
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Default Most Reliable, Easy To Work On Harley

It all started last Sunday at the finish to the Motorcycle Cannonball Run. I'm standing there with my wife watching the pre-1915 bikes (and Pan and Shovel support bikes) roll in from their X-country adventure. We had to drive up to Santa Monica in our car because the 06 Dyna is in the shop with electrical problems. I diagnosed the trouble codes as far as I could but you can only get so far (without Digital Technician) unless you want to just start replacing expensive parts until the problem is solved.
My question is: Taking in consideration everthing we (you experts) know about past HD engine design, and problems with particular years, what is the most reliable, easy to work on HD with a carburetor and simple ignition. IOW, if you were to look for an older bike (even if you had to rebuild the motor) which year and model bike would you look for? Or, do I go with an aftermarket motor?
I think I'm done with EFI and ECM.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:09 PM
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The Evo's are a great engine and fairly simple to work on. As far as the more classic models I think the 45" WL/WLA's would probably get my vote for simple and dependable along with ease of maintenance.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:13 PM
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Shovels and Evos
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IronAss View Post
I think the 45" WL/WLA's would probably get my vote for simple and dependable along with ease of maintenance.

However they may be lacking in performance for current driving habits.


BTW:
Do you have the service manual(s) for your bike? They typically have instructions for testing various sensors and components.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:18 PM
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Anything with a carb.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:47 PM
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any motor with a dyna-s ignition,and s&s carb.. it doesnt get easier simpler or more reliable.. i vote for a shovel, evo is just as good.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by piasspj View Post
BTWo you have the service manual(s) for your bike? They typically have instructions for testing various sensors and components.


Yes, I have the Service manual, Parts manual and Electrical Diagnostics manual. The problem is (as far as I can tell) the Electrical Diagnostics manual is really meant for a technician (as in a dealership tech) who has all the diagnostic equipment (breakout boxes, Digital Technician, etc.). You can only get so far in the diagnostics without this high-end gear. I even hacked my own breakout box to test the system relay, but it turned out not to be the problem.
I suppose one option would be to buy a full set of spare relays, crank position sensor, ECM, TSM, etc. and then just swap them out until you find the problem. Yikes!
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:52 PM
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In '89 I bought a new FXRS-SP (80" EVO). Looking back, that seemed the ideal motor, though I had a lot of performance mods done. Still, it was simple and reliable. I would have bought another one, if it was still being made. And I was reluctant to go w/ EFI, for fear of some black box quitting out in the wilderness areas in which I ride. I suppose I could bring along spare black boxes, but have had no problems, so far, and the 6-speed is vastly better.

You were vague about what electrical problems you were having. Some of these can be self-inflicted, through careless washing, ham-handed DIY maintenance, after-market mods, ... Not saying yours are. Other than that, it seems that EFI, w/all its' added complexity, is actually more trouble-free than carbs. Starting is WAY better, now. Fuel economy is terrific! And changes in elevation of 10,000 feet affect it not at all.

It seems axiomatic that the older a bike, the more trouble it gives. Some guys don't mind repairing as they go. I'll keep my '09, as long as it remains largely trouble-free.
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