2014 Harley Davidson Hydraulic Clutch Malfunction Safety Recall #1: Law Abiding Biker |NHTSA RECALL CAMPAIGN NUMBER: 13V-515

BLOG-This hydraulic clutch malfunction happened to my 2014 Harley Davidson Street Glide Special over a month ago and before this recall came out.  The Harley Davidson mechanics at my local dealer and I had no idea it would be a Law Abiding Biker Motorcycle Podcast 2014 Harley Davidson Hydraulic Clutchrecall issue.  We thought it was just an isolated problem to my motorcycle. This recall came out on October 16, 2013.

I quickly realized that the Law Abiding Biker Motorcycle Podcast and Media should jump on this and get some of the truths out about the 2014 Harley Davidson Hydraulic Clutch Malfunction Safety Recall.  I actually ride a Harley that experienced this problem, so I figured I am more qualified to write about it.

The day I drove my new Harley Street Glide Special home, the hydraulic clutch malfunctioned and would not disengage.  What that means is, when you pull the clutch lever in the Harley keeps moving forward.  So I limped it back several times to the Harley dealer (you can shift w/o a clutch if you know how).  Several times the Harley Davidson mechanics (great guys) bled the hydraulic clutch system, as we believed there may be an air bubble.

Anyways, that did not work, so they robbed a master hydraulic clutch cylinder off another 2014 floor model and put it on my motorcycle.  My motorcycle was so new that they did not have any new parts in stock yet.

My 2014 Harley Street Glide Special’s hydraulic clutch system has been working like a dream ever since.  It appears it is just some hydraulic master cylinders that are faulty, as in my case.  I love my 2014 Harley Street Glide Special and if you want to see my full review and video CLICK HERE.  

I stopped by my local Harley Davidson dealer today, where I know everyone, and conversed with them about the recall.  I spoke with their service advisor and the mechanics.  They obviously remembered the problem they initially had with my Street Glide Special.  Of course, they are supposed to advise persons not to ride the bike until this recall is done.  NOT A CHANCE FOR ME-LOL and they know that, but did their required duty.

They know me well and my ridding abilities.  It is not a huge deal if you don’t freak out when or if it ever even happens to you.  It could happen on any bike if you have a clutch malfunction.  This particular clutch issue on select 2014 Harley models will likely not happen to many people and your hydraulic clutch will likely give you signs of problems before is completely happens.

Some news sources and blogs are blowing this recall out of proportion of course and scaring some riders.  Harley has to take it very seriously of course, because of law suits and attorneys.  And it should be taken seriously, because it can be a serious or fatal problem to some riders, depending on riding experience.

These things happen in a non perfect world and Harley is all over it and taking care of it as expected.  Chill out for now……..  If you are really worried, then Harley will come pick up your affected 2014 model, take it to the shop, fix the recall, and deliver it back to you.

The guys at my local Harley dealer said the new recall parts are supposed to be in on October 21, 2013 with instructions on what the mechanics need to do exactly to complete the recall.  They should get to fixing the effected 2014 Harley models as soon as possible after that date.

If your clutch will not disengage don’t freak out. Here are some basic tips, but my advice is that of Harley-Davidson, which is not to ride your effected model until the recall work is done. These are just a few tips for any motorcycle where the clutch fails to disengage.
  1. Turn engine switch to OFF immediately and use your brakes to stop.  Turn on hazard lights.
  2. Or apply your brakes hard until your engine dies and then you will be stopped.  Turn on hazard lights.
  3. Whatever you do, don’t freak out and swerve into oncoming lanes or in front of other cars.
  4. Your hydraulic clutch will likely give you signs before it stops disengaging completely, like rough shifting (loud clanking when shifting and jerking), so pay attention and get off the road ASAP if you notice anything unusual.

Below is the official Harley Davidson press release: (taken directly from their website)

MILWAUKEE (October 16, 2013) – Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) is acting quickly to address  potential safety issues by voluntarily recalling certain 2014 Touring motorcycles equipped with a hydraulic clutch system that may pose a safety issue for riders and/or passengers. The recalls include a Do Not Ride notice to owners and a Do Not Deliver notice to Harley-Davidson dealers until the motorcycle is fixed.

“The safety of our customers is our highest priority,” said Tony Wilcox, Harley-Davidson General Manager of Motorcycle New Product Delivery. “We have identified potential safety issues and are moving quickly to notify our customers and dealers. The inspection and repair of these motorcycles is extremely important, so it’s critical that our customers with affected vehicles contact their dealers immediately. We apologize for this circumstance. The company is committed to correcting this issue and providing customers with the quality experience and service they expect.

”The recalls affect 25,185 Touring motorcycles, models FLHTCU, FLHTK, FLHTP, FLHX, FLHXS, FLHTKSE and FLHRSE, and 3,861 Softail® CVOs and Trikes, models FLHTCUTG, FXSBSE and FLSTNSE, built between May 3, 2013, and Oct. 14, 2013.Some of these motorcycles may exhibit a condition in which the hydraulic clutch system may lose the ability to generate enough lift to disengage the clutch.  If the clutch does not disengage as intended, the rider may have difficulty slowing or stopping the motorcycle, which could result in an accident. Harley-Davidson has initiated these recalls to correct the affected motorcycles.The company is taking the additional measure of issuing a Do Not Ride notice to riders given the potential safety issues. The company wants owners of affected motorcycles to contact an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer immediately to arrange for an inspection. The dealer will pick up, inspect and make the necessary repairs at no cost to the owner. The repairs have been identified and should take less than one hour.

Although the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is closed as a result of the partial government shutdown, Harley-Davidson is proceeding with these voluntary recalls consistent with NHTSA’s process.

About Harley-Davidson Motor Company

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at www.harley-davidson.com.

Don’t forget to check out all the episodes of the Law Abiding Biker Motorcycle Podcast along with our many videos and blogs.  Join the Law Abiding Biker Community Today!!  Thanks for all our loyal listeners and followers support.  We are always humbled by the support and feedback we get.

Update 10/24/13:

I rode my 214 Harley Davidson Street Glide Special to my local dealer and spoke with the service manager in-depth.  I also looked at the exact parts that they are installing.  In the Harley Davidson recall kit that they have sent all dealers is a plunger and a gasket.  It takes about one hour and they install a new plunger into the master clutch cylinder.  They also remove your clutch inspection plate to inspect and make sure you have the correct pressure plate.  The gasket for the kit is for putting the clutch inspection (derby cover) cover back on after the inspection.  Good to go!

  • mike dearth

    any news on liquid cool limiteds

    • Ryan Urlacher

      Thanks for the contact! I know the new liquid cooled Harley Models are selling like hotcakes. They did a nice job hiding the radiators up in the lowers. As long as Harley keeps secreting the radiators, I think liquid cooled will be a good idea.

  • Bob Derryberry

    I stumbled onto your You Tube vids awhile back and have been impressed with your efforts and information. I just retired last month from Broadcasting, traded in my 2011 Road King and bought (Oct 5) a new Mysterious Red SunGlo FLHXS as a retirement present to myself. Keep up the good work ! !

    p.s. idea for video: there is a new software upgrade for the Boom box 6.5. It’s tricky to download properly and load. There are some do’s and don’t’s as you probably are aware. Contact me if you want but it will make a good video for your followers.

    Bob D/Nashville

    • Ryan Urlacher

      Thanks Bob for the feedback! I too love the Red SunGlo color on the FLHXS. It was a tough choice between that and the Amber Whiskey I got. Anyways, great idea on the idea for a video. I will definitely get to it, but per my recent blog I wrote http://www.lawabidingbiker.com/nomacsupportboombox there is no MAC support whatsoever from Harley at this time to even download the Boom Box software update. Believe me, I have been on the phone with Harley and immediately wrote the blog. Additionally, Naviextras, who is responsible for updated maps and different maps for download onto BoomBox, does not support MAC at this time either. I was not happy, as all I run are MAC’s and iDevices. Naviextras says they are working on MAC support and Harley is sealing their lips about it at this time. Anyways, I need to borrow someones PC to do the video, which I plan on doing. Thanks for your support. I HOPE YOUR HAVING A WONDERFUL RETIREMENT AND ENJOYING LIFE!!

  • Mitch Rowland

    I just found your site ,what I have seen has been great
    I have a 2014 street glide special on order I will be getting in touch fir a bit of advise I am sure
    any thoughts on the hidden antenna and rear crash bars for this bike
    I am not very computer savy so do I get up dates from Harley or do I need to go to you
    Thx Mitch

  • http://LibertyMarineSC.com Clyde (Umphie) Umphlet

    I too have a 2014 street gluide special and my Boom system is having problem that the dealer has been no help in. I loose my Ipod connection at random times and get a CRACKEL over the system when it is on FM Can’t hear the GPS systen either.
    Now on the clutch note ; I stopped at a light behind a car and the light turned and we started to roll and STOPPED again and I swear I thought I was far enough back but I bumped my pride and a $655.00 front fender. Now I wander if the clutch did not disengauge.

    • http://lawabidingbiker.com Jon Juberien

      That is what happened to me. I was stopped in traffic and I started to move with the clutch pulled in. I verified I had the clutch pulled in but it still kept going. I was just reaching to shut it off and the traffic started to move. Good thing too or I would have gotten hit from behind by someone in a big hurry. It is in the shop right now. They said the clutch actuator went bad. I wonder if it was more than that. I also have issues with my boom box. No sound for GPS and it changes channels automatically.

      • http://www.lawabidingbiker.com Ryan Urlacher

        Yah, crappy feeling. I got the actuator replaced quite a while ago and that fixed the problem entirely. There is currently a virus in the Boom Box. They are working on an update to get rid of it. Thanks for commenting.

  • ryan

    Wow I just bought the 14 street glide special. Brand new bike not even 75 miles on it and the upper push rod seal went now it’s back in the shop cause the motor is knocking. They said it’s a bad lifter so they had to rebuild the upper motor now this recall what’s gonna go wrong with this bike next.

    • http://www.lawabidingbiker.com Ryan Urlacher

      Seriously?? Wow, that sucks bro! Mine runs like a raped ape. What is the recall on?

  • John

    My 2014 Harley Davidson Electra Glide FLHTCU had the recall preformed back in October-november and everything was fine until I got to about 4000 mi that is when the clutch failed for the first time. They fixed it with a clutch master cylinder rebuil kit. That lasted less than 1000 mi and it’s now broken again. I’m waithing for them to come get it on Tuesday

    • http://www.lawabidingbiker.com Ryan Urlacher

      Wow John, that is super bad luck bro. I have not had anyone report problems like that. Usually the recall takes care of it. Wish you the best of luck.

    • http://www.lawabidingbiker.com Ryan Urlacher

      Wow John, that is a streak of bad luck. I have not had any other reports of this many problems. Usually after the recall is done it is good to go. Best of luck to you and thanks for commenting.

  • Charles Goolsby

    My two week old 2014 FLHTK had a clutch failure at 850 miles. There were no recall notices at the dealer ,and I had no indication of a problem before complete failure! I have owned 4 other HD motorcycles and had very minor safety problems with any of them. THIS IS SERIOUS!!! I really like the bike however it may be a while
    before I can feel comfortable with its performance.

    • http://www.lawabidingbiker.com Ryan Urlacher

      Thanks for commenting Charles! Yah, not a cool feeling when the clutch fails for sure. Ride safe and thanks for being part of the Law Abiding Biker Community!

  • WayneS

    The hydraulic clutch will not disengage when two things occur as follows. (1) The clutch and lever assembly is rotated on the handlebar with the fluid reservoir closer to the rider than normal, and (2) you are accelerating uphill while making a left hand turn and you happen to pull the clutch in order to select a higher gear. What happens is that the clutch fluid sloshes toward the rider and no longer covers the little hole supplying fluid to the clutch piston. Air gets sucked into the piston and this allows the clutch to re-engage even though you are pulling on the clutch lever. If you stop accelerating, transition to a level road and pump the clutch lever several times the trapped air will be released and the clutch will regain the ability to disengage. You should now ride gently to a shop and rotate the clutch lever assembly so that the fluid reservoir is pushed toward the front wheel to ensure the little hole always has clutch fluid covering it.

    By the way, it is not easy to stop a 110 cu in engine in 1st gear when the clutch won’t disengage, and is a bad experience if there is other traffic on the road when it suddenly happens. There is generally some minor indication this problem exists before you experience complete clutch failure.

    – As far as I know this problem can happen to all Harley hydraulic clutches.

    • http://www.lawabidingbiker.com Ryan Urlacher

      Thanks for being involved with the Law Abiding Biker Community Wayne and for the great input. I will say that some of us had a much more substantial problem with the clutch issue. In fact I was the first one to find out about it for my local Harley dealer. I know the mechanics well. We were able to get the clutch to not disengage while riding normal. Not turning or up a hill. This recall might vary from bike to bike. I do know that as soon as they did the recall and replaced the plunger I have not had a problem since. Ride safe!!

  • Keith Nusinov

    My brand new 2015 Ultra Limited went out for some easy miles yesterday. 98 miles on the odometer and the exact clutch issue (or lack of working clutch) reared its ugly face. I traded in my 10 month old Road King when I saw the look on my wife’s face looking at that comfortable rear seat. Was I suprised when that happened! Dealer is supposed to pick up my bike Thursday and I’m glad I found this discussion on line. I would have thought that after all the problems with earlier model years the 2015 would not have the same issue!

    • http://www.lawabidingbiker.com/ Ryan Urlacher

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Keith. Glad we found you and you found us brother. They should fix it all up, so you can get riding again!!