Fixing The Harley Wobble: Why Non-Harley After Market Kits Are Your Only Choice
UPDATED: August 5, 2019
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident law decisions. Finding trusted and reliable legal advice should be easy. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
If you own a Harley Davidson motorcycle and have experienced what has become known as the Harley wobble – a condition that causes the bike to sway and may increase your risk of injury – you may only be able to correct the problem using a non-Harley after market kit.
Harley Doesn’t Think There’s A Problem
While Harley Davidson doesn’t think there’s a problem with its bikes, many say that the most telling and obvious argument against Harley is that these after market kits exist. According to Kevin Liebeck, a California attorney whose practice represents plaintiffs in personal injury, medical malpractice and products liability actions, the company is aware of them, and in fact, has conducted internal tests of them. He told us, “These kits were specifically designed to fix the Harley wobble issue. They are designed to constrain the engine laterally so that you do not get this input – and they work. In fact, Cycle World tested one and their comment on it was kind of two-fold. One, this thing works really well, and two, why didn't Harley do this?”
All you need are the right set of conditions
The problem isn’t something that necessarily occurs when somebody is being sporty or aggressive with the motorcycle, according to Liebeck. In fact, he says that this can sneak up and get you if the right (or possibly wrong) set of conditions exists when the rider is really completely blameless. He explained the idea behind Harley’s patented motor:
It is a very large displacement 2-cylinder motor that's arranged in what's called a V configuration. They’re called V-twins and one of the things about these motors is that they vibrate because of the cylinder timing. The cylinders fire 180 degrees from one another, so it creates a rather large amplitude vibration which can be very taxing on a rider – especially when riding long distances.
What Harley has done is try to isolate this vibration from the frame of the motorcycle. They’ve done that through rubber mounts wherein the engine of the motorcycle, the main mounting points – which are rubber with metal inserts that the motor bolts into and then it bolts into the frame. However, there’s no metal-to-metal connection between the engine and the frame of the motorcycle, really.
Pursuant to their patent, they're supposed to use three links that rigidly constrain the motorcycle. One of the links constrains the motor in a vertical dimension, i.e., up and down; one of the links constrains the motor in a fore and aft dimension, i.e., from moving forwards or backwards in its mounts. The problem is that they've apparently left out a link to constrain it in a lateral dimension.
While the engine itself may not cause motion in a lateral vector, the swing arm is going to do that because when you load the swing arm side-to-side, it's going to exert force in a lateral direction on this motor. It's not constrained effectively to resist that and so the whole thing moves on its mounts and it doesn't need to move a whole lot before you have an effective steering input to the rear of the motorcycle – especially at high speeds.
If you’ve been injured on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, contact an motorcycle accident attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.