Riding a bike that vibrates can be very uncomfortable, even for experienced riders.
Extreme vibration from the engine can cause numbness and other unpleasant physical sensations. Do Harleys vibrate always? Let’s find out in this article.
Do Harleys vibrate a lot?
Older Harley Davidson models vibrate because of their engine design. Pistons in Big Twin engines share a single crankpin causing the pistons to move in uneven intervals. The enormous weight is thrown around as these pistons move back-and-forth leading to vibrations.
In addition, the narrow 45-degree arrangement of the cylinders increases the tendency of Harley engines to vibrate.
How Much Do Harleys Vibrate On The Road?
Harleys have always been notorious for transferring shaking and vibration to riders.
Early Harleys shook so much that riders would complain of hand fatigue and other bodily pains. Newer models vibrate too, although not as severely as the older ones.
The vibration of Harleys is mostly because of the V-Twin motors that power them. By nature, V-Twins have higher vibrations than other engine types. However, Harley’s V-Twin’s vibration is even worse than other V-Twin engines.
V-Twin engines have double cylinders arranged in a V-shaped layout. In regular V-Twin engines, the angle of difference between both cylinders is 60 degrees to 90 degrees. On Big Twins, the angle of difference is much smaller at 45 degrees.
The smaller AoD allows for a more compact engine but increases the engine’s shaking forces. As a result, Harleys vibrate more than other motorcycle brands such as Ducati and Moto Guzzi, even though they use the same V-Twin engine.
According to owners, the vibration is worse when idling in traffic or moving at low speeds. Higher speeds/RPMs see fewer vibrations, although there may be exceptions. The excessive vibration on Harleys causes several problems for owners.
Excessive vibration can affect handling and prevents riders from seeing objects behind them as the motorcycle’s shaking blurs images in the mirror. Some owners report health problems such as hand fatigue, muscle spasms, severe headaches, and others.
Harley-Davidson has made several efforts to reduce vibration on its models. Some of these include the use of rubber mounts and engine counterbalancing on its motorcycles.
Also check out our article on “Why are Harleys always so loud”?
Should I Use Anti-Vibration Hand Grips?
Anti-vibration hand grips are part of newer products designed to reduce the effects of vibrations on bike riders.
The producers claim that AV hand grips are better than stock grips because they reduce motorcycle vibration through the handlebars to the rider.
Should you invest in a pair of anti-vibration handgrips? It depends on what works for you.
Some riders claim anti-vibration hand grips are ineffective, while others swear by them. You’ll need to try them out to see if they work for you or not.
There are different hand grips on the market nowadays. Some are good and worth the cost, while some are a waste of money. Therefore, we would advise that you do proper research before buying any anti-vibration gear.
How Do I Know If My Harley Vibrates Too Much?
Guaranteed, Harleys shake a lot.
The Harley community even calls them “Milwaukee Vibrators.”
If you complain about your Harley’s vibration, people will say, “It’s normal for a Harley to shake.” However, a vibration that affects your comfort severely isn’t normal.
How can you detect if your Harley’s vibration is excessive?
Below are some things you’ll notice when your Harley shakes more than it should:
- Your teeth chatter, and your body shakes while riding
- Your hands or feet feel numb after riding
- Objects in your bike’s mirror get blurry, especially at high RPMs
- Your bike shakes even at high speeds
Noticing any of these things is a strong sign your Harley’s vibration is excessive.
If you experience any of the above while riding, you need to have your bike examined by technicians.
Look-through our article which explains about Do Harleys Get Good Gas Mileage?
How Do You Fix Excessive Vibration On A Harley?
Here are some tips for solving excessive vibration problems on Harleys:
1. Inspect Tires and Wheels
Problems with your wheel assembly [tires and rims] may be responsible for your Harley’s pronounced shaking.
Tire imbalance could cause a bouncy ride. If this happens, the entire bike may vibrate, especially at high speeds, resulting in a jerky and uncomfortable ride.
Tire imbalance is usually a sign of low inflation pressure. Check the air pressure in your tires and ensure it is at an optimal level.
Worn-out tires may cause your Harley to vibrate during acceleration. Replace the worn tires with new ones and inflate them properly.
Also, balance your wheels as tire wear often causes wheel imbalance.
2. Replace Bad Motor Mounts
The motor mounts on your Harley help reduce vibration by dampening the engine’s shaking.
Weak motor mounts won’t absorb engine vibration and will expose the engine directly to the frame. This means all the engine’s shaking forces will be transferred to you, making for uncomfortable riding.
Replacing the worn motor mounts with new ones should solve the problem. The average cost for motor mount replacement for Harley motorcycles is between $200 to $300.
3. Examine Chains and Sprockets
Faulty sprockets can cause excessive vibration on your Harley.
If a chain is moving over a bad sprocket it will affect chain rotation and tire movement. This will likely lead to the rear tires wobbling at higher speeds and your bike shaking violently. Worn-out chains will also cause increased vibrations, especially in the footrests.
Replace bad sprockets immediately after you discover them. Lubricate chains regularly and ensure there’s some slack present in the chain.
Inadequate slack increases chain tension and will cause vibrations on your Harley.
Do All Harleys Vibrate A Lot?
Modern Harleys don’t vibrate that much.
Yes, you may get some mild vibration while idling or at low RPMs [especially with rubber-mounted models].
This is only because the engine pistons are moving too slowly to cancel out each other’s vibrating forces. At cruising speed, the pistons dampen each other’s shaking better, and vibration decreases.
However, when compared to other models, Harleys vibrate a lot. The average Harley vibrates much more than the regular Honda or Kawasaki motorcycle. Except for the Softtail, most Harleys use rubber mounts to reduce vibrations.
Rubber mounts are good, but they are not exactly great at eliminating vibration. Therefore, many Harley owners still complain of excessive vibration on their bikes.
Harleys continue to vibrate excessively because they still use the same 45-degree Big Twin engine.
By nature, Big Twins have high vibration levels, and rubber mounting or even counterbalancing can do little to change that.
Except Harley-Davidson switches to a different engine, Harleys will continue to vibrate a lot.
Should Harleys Stop Vibrating At High Speeds?
With modern tech, the vibrations on Harleys have decreased significantly.
The only time you’d likely feel vibrations is when you’re idling or riding at low speeds.
As your Harley’s speed increases, you should notice a significant drop in vibrations. Most Harley riders say they feel fewer vibrations at higher speeds/RPMs.
However, there are exceptions. For example, owners report that Softtails tend to vibrate between the 70-80 mph range.
Softtails use balance shafts, not rubber mounts, to reduce the engine’s shaking forces. Perhaps the counterbalancing technology isn’t as effective at higher speeds as rubber-mounting which is why vibrations are still felt.
If your Harley’s wheels, suspension, or steering are faulty, you may notice shaking at higher RPMs.
Some causes of high-speed vibrations include:
- Misaligned wheels
- Defective motor mounts
- Loose wheel spokes or bearings
- Loose wheel bearings
- Low tire pressure
Are Harleys Engineered Specifically To Vibrate?
In the age of rubber engine mounts and counterbalancing, it is strange that even Harley-Davidson’s newest engines vibrate.
When other motorcycle companies are aiming to eliminate vibration from their bikes, Harley-Davidson continues to make motorcycles that shake considerably.
The truth is, Harley-Davidson deliberately engineers some measure of vibration into its engines. Harley owners want their bikes loud, raw, and powerful.
They consider the vibration and shaking a part of the authentic Harley experience. As such, H-D doesn’t give its engines total balance even if it can do so.
An example of a Harley engine designed to vibrate is the Milwaukee-Eight engine. Per reports, Harley-Davidson had initially created a totally balanced prototype of the engine and put it in some bikes, which it asked customers to test-ride.
The test riders were not happy with the 100% engine balance and criticized the engine for having no “feel.”
H-D’s engineers had to replace the engine with a new one that had only a 75% balance. The new engine had fewer vibrations but still had the signature rumble, which the Harley faithful wanted.
Do Harleys Vibrate More During Acceleration?
According to owners, most of the vibrations you’ll feel on your Harley come at idling or low speeds.
You may feel some vibration while accelerating, but this should decrease as you reach higher speeds.
Your Harley vibrating while accelerating, even at high RPMs, is a sign that it’s faulty. Bad wheel bearings, loose motor mount bolts, improper wheel alignment could be responsible for the problem.
Owners say there’s a “sweet spot” where they experience the least vibrations, although this varies among riders. Some say they feel less vibration at 70-80 mph, while some do the same at 80-90 mph.
Try to discover your Harley’s sweet spot so you can ride in comfort!