How To Tune A Harley-Davidson And Keep It In Prime Condition For Years

Published

White Star Rides is your trusted Harley-Davidson companion, offering expert guidance and information to enhance your riding experience.

How To Tune A Harley Davidson

Do you own a Harley-Davidson bike and are looking for ways to tune your precious bike? If so, then you’ve landed on the right page.

Tuning a Harley-Davidson motorcycle involves making small changes in your bike to optimize power and fuel economy. This is usually done by altering the air-fuel ratio on the carburetors, changing fluids, adjusting valve clearance, and performing regular maintenance tasks. Through these simple tasks, you’ll be able to improve your bike’s performance and keep it in prime condition for a long time.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about tuning a Harley-Davidson bike, what does a tune-up include, how to tune a Harley-Davidson bike yourself, how much does a tune-up cost, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you’re looking for.

Tuning a Harley-Davidson bike

There are many reasons why a Harley-Davidson motorcycle owner might want to improve their bike. It might not be performing as you want it to. Maybe it isn’t functioning as smoothly as you would want it to. The solution to most of your performance-related issues is a tune-up.

Tuning up a Harley-Davidson bike means making small changes to optimize power and fuel economy. It’s done by altering the air-fuel ratio of the carburetors, changing fluids, adjusting valve clearance, and other regular maintenance items. 

If you’ve had your Harley-Davidson bike for a while, you’ll likely see it declining in fuel economy and performance over time. You might even notice that your bike isn’t as fast as other bikers who have the same model as you. You may start experiencing hiccups as you’re trying to accelerate and realize that it isn’t as smooth as it used to be.

Person Leaning On Harley Davidson Bike

What does a tune-up include?

The simple remedy to such scenarios is a simple Harley-Davidson bike tune-up. By adjusting a few things, you’ll be able to significantly improve the performance of your Harley-Davidson bike. Moreover, you will be able to get it back running as it used to when you first bought it.

Tune-ups are a comparatively higher-level maintenance task for your motorcycle than you’d normally perform. It involves more than just changing the oil and putting air in the tires. A bike tune-up covers a lot of the things that are rarely performed. Doing these things will help you optimize the way that your motorcycle runs.

There are many things that fall under the realm of a tune-up. What steps you are considering as part of a tune-up can differ from individual to individual. The very basis of a tune-up is to ensure that every component of your bike is functioning as it should. A tune-up usually includes things like –

  • Replacing air filters
  • Checking/changing the brake fluid
  • Lubricating and tightening your chain 
  • Replacing the brake pads
  • Tuning the carburetors
  • Adjusting the valves
  • Tire balance 
  • Coolant flush 
See also  How to Change Brake Pads on a Harley-Davidson Softail: A Step-by-Step Guide

Depending on how long you’re scheduling your tune-up, these things can be done at different points. However, they are all important to your Harley-Davidson bike’s overall performance.

A highly critical aspect of Harley-Davidson bike ownership is the maintenance of the chain. It requires regular tightening and lubrication to function properly. Your chain will be going through heavy use and as a result, it’ll wear out faster than the rest of your bike.

Taking proper care of the chain will maximize your bike’s life while also saving you money in the process. Moreover, rust can start to form on the chain. When performing a tune-up, you can clean the rust off to help the chain last as long as possible.

Another step of a Harley-Davidson tune-up would be to tune your bike’s carburetor. Doing so will maximize your performance with respect to power and fuel economy. It’ll also alter the current air-fuel ratio, which greatly affects the way your bike runs. It can often be the trickiest part of an engine tune-up.

How to tune a Harley-Davidson bike yourself?

Many Harley-Davidson bikers wonder if it is possible to perform a tune-up on their Harley-Davidson bikes themselves. The answer to that is yes! All of these things can be done easily and quickly with limited tools and little hands-on experience. Moreover, most of the tune-up tasks can be learned easily by watching videos on YouTube or reading how-to guides. If you’re unsure about the different tasks of tuning a Harley-Davidson bike, here is how to carry out those tasks.

One of the simplest things that you can do would be to change the air filter of your Harley-Davidson bike. It will require as few tools as a single screwdriver. All you’ll have to do is locate the air filter, take it off, and then put the new one in. 

Harley Davidson Customized Engine

Next up will be the brakes. Brake pads can be changed with fairly limited tools as well. Once you’ve got the new brake pads that you require, it’ll just be a matter of taking off the wheels and removing the old brake pads. After that, you’ll have to install the new pads and then reinstall the wheel. This process will be different for every model of Harley-Davidson bike, which means you’ll need to do research online to see how to do it on your bike.

See also  How To Install A Harley-Davidson Sportster Battery: Step By Step Guide

Next will be changing the brake fluid, which can be a slightly harder task. When you’re completely draining the fluid, you’re introducing air into the brake lines. This air remains in the lines when you’re adding new fluid until you’ve bled the brakes. Bleeding a brake is straightforward and will simply require you to open/close a bleeder valve while pumping the brakes.

Lubricating and tightening the chain is straightforward as well, and it can be done using limited tools. There will be times when you have to clean rust off the chain. Make sure that you’ve cleaned the chain and that you’re re-lubricating it. It’ll help it last long for as long as possible.

The trickiest step when it comes to tuning your bike is tuning the carburetor. To achieve that, you’ll first have to warm up your bike by starting it and letting it run for 10 minutes. Once the motorcycle is warm, find the air-fuel adjustment screw. Each individual carburetor usually comes with one. Turning the screws will affect the air-fuel ratio of your carburetor. For combustion and optimal performance, you’ll want 14 molecules of air to each 1 molecule of fuel. Only computers can achieve it exactly, and most bikes don’t have oxygen sensors, so you’ll just need to try and get close.

Most carburetors come with an idle screw as well. Turn the idle screw until your engine starts to idle around 1200RPM or until it sounds like it is running smoothly. If it’s too low of an idle and your engine starts sounding like it’s spluttering. Meanwhile, too low of an idle and the engine will sound like it is constantly revving high.

How much does a Harley-Davidson bike tune-up cost?

Any biker looking to tune up their bike will wonder how much tuning-up costs when done alone vs. when done in a shop. This will largely depend on what you need to be performed during the tune-up. Most of the tune-up tasks can be done with a limited technical background and limited tools. As a result, you’ll be able to learn how to do all the things yourself for relatively cheap.

See also  5 Easy Steps to Installing Hard Saddlebags on a Softail Motorcycle

For most of the tune-up tasks, the only cost will be in purchasing the parts. Changing the air filter is simple, and it’ll only cost you the price of the air filter, which is between $10-$30 USD. If you’re changing the brakes, the only cost would be the brake pads themselves. These will cost you around $30 USD. Moreover, it’ll require a few other tools to get the job done, but the process is rather simple.

Tuning the carburetor can be easily done for free, especially if you’re doing it yourself. All you’re doing here is adjusting the screws until your bike is running like you’d want it to. Taking your motorcycle to a shop to have these things performed would end up costing you more, but it’ll still not be expensive.

When taking your Harley-Davidson bike to a shop, you’ll be paying the same price for parts. Moreover, you’ll also need to pay for the labor to do that. Depending on the shop, it can cost you around $80 to $120 an hour. Moreover, they also charge between 2-3 hours of labor, giving you an average cost of approx. $250 USD. This is the primary difference between doing this yourself and taking your bike to a shop. If you wish to save a couple of hundred dollars, all these things can be picked up easily and done with minimal tools.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about tuning a Harley-Davidson bike, what does a tune-up include, how to tune a Harley-Davidson bike yourself, how much does a tune-up cost, and more. Tuning a Harley-Davidson motorcycle involves making small changes in your bike to optimize power and fuel economy. This is usually done by altering the air-fuel ratio on the carburetors, changing fluids, adjusting valve clearance, and performing regular maintenance tasks. Through these simple tasks, you’ll be able to improve your bike’s performance and keep it in prime condition for a long time.

Photo of author
Author
White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.

Leave a Comment