Do Harleys Typically Rust? (Solved & Explained)

Nobody likes rust on their bike. Not only will rust ruin your bike’s look, but it can also reduce its performance.

It may even discourage buyers and lower your bike’s value significantly.

Do Harleys rust more?

Harley motorcycles are prone to rust, just like other motorcycles. Several things can cause rusting on your Harley motorcycle, like moisture from rain, snow, and humidity. 

Another primary culprit is salt. Salt is a highly corrosive chemical that causes rusting on metals it comes in contact with.

The salt particles are present in the sea air and on roads that have been salted in the winter.

If you live near the coast or in an area with salted roads, your bike’s odds of rusting are high.

Do Harleys Rust More Than Other Motorcycle Brands?

Rusting is common to all motorcycles, not just Harleys. The same things that cause your Harley to rust will make any other bike do the same because metal rusts repeatedly.

Harley owners seem to have more rusting cases because most parts on Harleys are made of steel/aluminum. Metal corrodes, especially if exposed to the elements [sun, snow/rain] or salt [sea air, road salt, etc.]. Motorcycle brands that use more plastic than steel are less prone to rust.

Plastic is inferior to steel in quality, but plastic parts often get damaged faster than steel parts. Harley rarely uses plastic, sticking with steel instead. You are more likely to see rust ahead of someone who uses a non-Harley bike with plastic parts.

However, motorcycle rust can sometimes result from a poor quality finish. If the chrome or steel used is substandard, your Harley will likely rust. There are reports of Harley owners noticing rust on their bikes after a few months of ownership. In such instances, poor production is responsible for motorcycle rusting.

Nevertheless, cases like these are not widespread among Harley owners. Harley-Davidson motorcycles boast top-quality chrome and steel finish aimed at preventing rust.

If you notice parts of your Harley rusting, then two things are involved. It’s either your storage and maintenance of the bike is poor, or the rusting is a product of the environment.

You should also be reading our article which talks about Do Harleys Typically Overheat?

Which Part Of A Harley Will Rust Over Time?

If you own a motorcycle, rust is always an enemy.

Fighting it will require having enough information to create an effective plan to eliminate it. Such information includes knowing what components are most vulnerable to rust.

Once you know the parts prone to rusting, you can make them rust-proof and prevent corrosion from ever happening.

According to Harley owners, these parts are the most likely to rust over time:

  • Fender
  • Exhausts
  • Gas Tanks
  • Suspension Shocks
  • Handlebars
  • Fork Tubes
  • Wheel Spokes
  • Bike undersides

What Causes A Harley To Rust?

Rust is an inevitability facing most motorcycle owners.

To fight rust effectively, you must know the things that can cause corrosion.

Here they are:

1. Improper Storage

If you park your bike with no cover or protection, it will rust.

Exposing your Harley to the elements [rain or snow] can make it a rust bucket. Rain/snow contains moisture, and moisture corrodes metals.

Also, storing your Harley in a garage without adequately examining its suitability won’t help matters. A garage with high humidity levels is terrible for storing your Harley.

Higher humidity means more moisture, which speeds up corrosion on your bike.

2. Poor Maintenance

If you don’t do routine maintenance, such as washing your bike regularly, rust signs may appear.

When you ride, bits of dirt and grime stick to parts of your motorcycle, especially the undersides. If you don’t wash off the dirt particles, they will harden and trap moisture beneath them.

In time, the moisture will corrode the metals it touches.

3. Environmental Factors

Your environment could be responsible for the rust on your Harley.

Say you live in a coastal town; your Harley will be at risk of rust because of salt exposure. Sea air contains traces of salt, which is highly corrosive.

With time, the salt will eat at your Harley’s metal, causing it to rust.

Salt on the roads can find its way onto your bike and rust the metal parts.

How Do You Prevent Rust On A Harley?

Rust may seem like an inevitability on occasions, especially if you live near the sea or in an area where roads are salted.

In most cases, you can do little about it. It may be difficult to change where you live, and you can’t stop transport authorities from salting roads in winter.

Still, there are things you can do to prevent rust on your Harley:

1. Proper Maintenance

The first is proper maintenance. If you take care of your bike, it will take care of you.

Your Harley has many steel parts than the average bike and, therefore, requires more attention. You either maintain your bike correctly or watch rust destroy it.

Salt particles from sea air or rock salt solutions applied on roads will bind to your motorcycle parts and nibble away at the metal. Regular cleaning is a simple maintenance activity that helps protect your bike against rusting.

A rigorous wash or scrubbing is an effective way to remove the salt particles from your bike.

Physical cleaning will also remove dirt that can trap rust-causing moisture in them.

2. Proper Storage

Proper storage of your Harley will also prevent it from rusting.

Instead of leaving your bike exposed, park it in a controlled-temperature garage. We say “controlled-temperature” gauge because high humidity in your garage can also cause motorcycle rust.

Garaging your Harley will protect it from the elements and reduce its chances of rusting. If you can’t afford a garage, a simple shed will do.

The aim is to protect your bike from rust-causing elements such as rain, snow, and sea air.

3. Anti-Rust Products

Using anti-rust sprays is another effective way of keeping rust at bay.

Anti-rust products have water-dispersion properties that prevent moisture, dirt, and grime from sticking to your motorcycle.

They also displace whatever moisture is present on your bike and remove the dirt from the bike’s parts.

WD-40, SDoc100 Corrosion Protectant, ACF-50, and XCP Rust Blocker are popular anti-rust products you may want to invest in.

How Do You Remove Rust On A Harley?

The first sign of rust on your Harley isn’t the end of the world.

With patience and the right rust removal products, you can easily remove rust from your bike and prevent it from spreading.

Here is a simple three-part step to removing rust on your Harley:

  1. Start by washing the rusted parts with motorcycle cleaning gel and water to remove surface dirt and grime.
    • Dry the washed areas with a soft and clean cloth.
  2. Use an abrasive material, such as steel wool, to scrape off the affected areas’ rust.
    • Afterward, switch to a less abrasive material once most of the rust has come off. Scotch-Brite pads or sandpaper are useful options in this case.
    • You should avoid scrubbing vigorously to avoid scratching the chrome or, worse, the body paint. If some rusted parts are hard to reach, use a polishing cloth to clean them.
  3. Apply some chrome polish to the bike to eliminate the remaining surface rust and light scratches.
    • Afterward, coat the chrome-covered parts in wax. This will protect it against the elements and prevent it from rusting.

Is Rust Covered Under Warranty?

Harley-Davidson does not cover rust and corrosion under the regular 24-month warranty plan.

The Extended Warranty Plan covers rust and corrosion. However, you must purchase the Appearance Protection package as part of the Extended Warranty before the EPL covers motorcycle rust.

Some dealers may cover rust under the regular warranty plan as a measure of goodwill. Others may not. Dealerships don’t cover rust because it’s hard to know how it got there.

If no proof of the manufacturer’s liability exists, a dealership will cover something that may well be your fault.

Should I Avoid Driving My Harley In The Rain?

As we explained earlier, exposing your bike to excess moisture will speed up rusting.

Driving your Harley in the rain is a sure way to get a rusted bike. If you love your bike and do not want to see it become a rust bucket, avoid driving it in the rain if you can.

If you must ride your bike in the rain, it is essential to wash all the road grime and dirt off it and dry it properly to rid the motorcycle of all moisture. You can also apply anti-rust products on your bike before riding in the rain.

These products will prevent water and moisture from sticking to your motorcycle.

Is Rust On A Harley Considered Vintage/Patina?

Selling your motorcycle can be a hard task because buyers have different tastes.

What one buyer likes, another may not. Some buyers want rust on Harleys, especially the classic ones. For them, it evokes a feeling of nostalgia – they call it “patina.”

Others dislike rust on a Harley, classic or not.

Understand what your buyer wants before trying to sell him a bike with rust on it.

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