Harley Davidson Touring: How to Get to 100,000 Miles

With a few simple steps, you can extend the life of your Harley Davidson Touring model well beyond 100,000 miles. All you have to do is read the article below and apply it to your maintenance practices!

By Daniel Robey - December 29, 2015

This article applies to Harley Davidson Touring models.

So you finally forked over the money and bought yourself a shiny new Harley Davidson Touring model. It might be brand new, or it may be already "broken-in." Either way, you want to get the most miles out of your new best friend, and I am here to give you a hand with that. With a little love and preventative maintenance, your bike will easily last for 100,000 miles or more! All you have to do is follow the steps below!

Road King at Joshua Tree
Figure 1. Road King at Joshua Tree.

Keep in mind that this is a general overview of the things that will extend the life of your Harley Davidson Touring motorcycle. Each of these jobs vary in time and equipment required, which will not be covered here. But fear not! I am working on detailed guides for each of these jobs and they will be found in the appropriate section of the Harley Davidson Touring "How-To" guides found right here on HDForums.com.

Step 1 – Follow recommended break-in procedures

This is a very important step in extending the longevity of your motorcycle. During the break-in process, your piston rings are seated and any burs or excess metal in your engine will be removed. Your bearings and cylinder walls are also being broken-in. This is all very important in the grand scheme of your motorcycle's engine operation, so you will do well to follow the manufacturer's recommended break-in procedure to the letter. This includes things like varying your speeds and avoiding highways for the first 500 miles. You will also do well to avoid 6th gear if your motorcycle is so equipped, and do not let the motor lug (being in too high of a gear for the speed you are moving; i.e., being in 5th gear while moving 12 mph), but you also want to avoid revving the motor above 4,000 rpm.

speedo tach combo
Figure 2. Speedo tach combo.

If you purchased a bike that has already been broken-in, do not worry! The next step is where you begin.


The break-in period of your motorcycle plays an integral role in making sure that your engine does not burn/consume engine oil. If you fail to properly break-in the motor, you open yourself up to a possible myriad of engine problems.

Step 2 – Change fluids regularly and often

The service manual for your Harley Davidson Touring model suggests changing your engine oil every 5,000 miles and your transmission/primary fluid every 10,000 miles. They also suggest using the Harley Davidson brand 20W-50 oil for all three. While this will no doubt suffice, this is the absolute minimum that you should do. I generally change my engine oil and filter every 3,000 miles and my transmission/primary fluid every 6,000 miles. My professional experience as a mechanic has taught me that oil and filters cost a lot less than engine/transmission rebuilds, so I tend to be more liberal with my maintenance. It also stands to reason that if you ride your Harley Davidson hard, you should change your oil more often than the factory-recommended 5,000 mile intervals. Since oil begins to lose its viscosity when it heats and cools rapidly, the hotter your bike gets or taking many shorter rides can also affect the operational life of your oil.

Harley Davidson Touring dipstick
Figure 3. The dipstick.

I also do not use the Harley Davidson brand engine oil, nor do I use the same engine oil in the transmission and primary case. I use Amsoil 20W-50 for the engine, Redline ShockProof Heavy Duty in the transmission, and Redline MTL in the primary. These fluids exceed the factory requirements in every metric possible, as do many other manufacturers. Amsoil, Redline, Mobil1, and Royal Purple are some of the most highly-regarded lubrication companies in the world, there are other products and brands you can use as well, but too many to list. At the bottom (in the Related Sites) I will provide a link to one of the most informative websites on engine oil and you can make your own decisions as to what you run in your Harley Davidson Touring model. The factory recommended Harley Davidson brand 20W-50 engine oil will suffice in all three, but better options are available.

Pro Tip

Make sure to change your engine oil filter every time you change your engine oil for maximum protection, and to extend the life of your Harley Davidson Touring model as much as possible.

Step 3 – Check regularly for recalls on Touring

Often times, issues arise after a model has went into production and Harley Davidson issues a recall to correct the problem. This happens with every motorcycle or automotive manufacturer, but do not worry. Since owners of Harley Davidson motorcycles ride countless millions of miles every year, they tend to find issues that Harley Davidson misses. When this happens, Harley Davidson will assess the issue and decide if they should put a recall in place. If they decide to put out a recall on your motorcycle, just schedule an appointment with your local Harley Davidson Service Department, and they will fix the issue for you. An overwhelming majority of recalls are fixed with zero cost to the owner. At the bottom of this article, I will provide a link where you can enter your Harley Davidson's VIN number and see if there are any recalls for your bike.

Harley Davidson VIN tag
Figure 4. Typical Harley Davidson VIN tag.

There may never be any recalls for your Harley Davidson Touring model, but that isn't a bad thing. That simply means that your model doesn't have any issues that need to be addressed.

Step 4 – Follow recommended maintenance

Often times, people don't fix things until it is too late. Don't be that guy! Harley Davidson suggests replacing parts and performing tasks at certain intervals for a reason—it prevents parts from failing and putting you in danger. Don't try and save money by waiting until a part fails you, as it will always cost you more in the long run. For example, your Harley Davidson Touring model is equipped with a primary chain tensioner that should be inspected and replaced by 25,000 miles. Often times, owners will neglect this specific task. When these tensioners are neglected, they fail. This results in the primary chains losing tension and flailing around at high speeds, damaging everything in the area. This means that neglecting a job that can be done by your average owner for less than $50 ends up costing thousands of dollars! The moral of the story here is get a copy of your maintenance schedule for your Harley Davidson Touring model and follow it to the letter.

Primary chain and tensioner
Figure 5. Primary chain and tensioner.

Pro Tip

A complete maintenance schedule for your Harley Davidson can be had free of cost from your local Harley Davidson dealership.

Step 5 – Buy a service manual and use it

A service manual costs about $75, which can be had for any Harley Davidson model, and you should use it to perform every task you do. This is without a doubt the best money you can spend on your Harley Davidson Touring model! I have been working on cars, trucks, airplanes, and motorcycles my entire life, and I use my service manual for every job I do. It has everything you need to know to perform any given task on your Harley Davidson motorcycle. If you follow the service manual to the letter, there is no task that you can't accomplish. It really is that good.

Harley factory service manual
Figure 6. Harley factory service manual.

Pro Tip

Follow the torque values listed in your service manual. I could not count the number of issues that come from improper torque values. If you don't have a torque wrench, GET ONE!

If you follow these simple steps, you will easily reach 100,000 miles or more on your Harley Davidson Touring motorcycle!

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