Harley-Davidson Recalls 238,300 Motorcycles for Potential Clutch Failure

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Harley-Davidson is recalling 238,300 motorcycles worldwide (including 177,636 units in the U.S. alone) because of an issue that can prevent the clutch from disengaging. The recall affects all touring and trike models for 2017 and 2018 plus some 2017 Softails. Here’s the full list:

  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Road King
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Road King Special
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Police Road King
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited Low
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited Shrine
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Police Electra Glide
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson Tri Glide Ultra
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Limited
  • 2017-2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
  • 2018 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide
  • 2018 Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary Ultra Limited
  • 2018 Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary Street Glide
  • 2018 Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary Street Glide Special
  • 2018 Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary Tri Glide Ultra
  • 2018 Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary CVO Limited
  • 2018 Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary CVO Road Glide
  • 2017 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim S
  • 2017 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy S
  • 2017 Harley-Davidson CVO Pro Street Breakout

According to the recall documentation, the hydraulic clutch system’s secondary clutch actuator may leak. Over time, the clutch master cylinder reservoir may lose enough fluid that it may not generate enough lift to disengage the clutch. This may result in a loss of control when starting in gear, shifting into gear or coming to a stop.

The problem was first reported on Jan. 15 after a model in Korea crashed, allegedly because the clutch did not disengage. By Jan. 24, Harley-Davidson identified 92 warranty claims that appeared to be related. On that day, the secondary clutch actuator from the Korean bike was sent to the supplier, Brembo, for analysis. On Feb. 13, Harley-Davidson and Brembo opened a joint investigation on parts returned on warranty.

By Oct. 10, Harley-Davidson had received 338 warranty claims and five total crashes that appeared to be related to the clutch issues. the following day, Harley-Davidson initiated a recall campaign.

Harley-Davidson dealers will install a new secondary actuator piston assembly on the recalled motorcycles. The new assembly has a lip seal made from a different material than the original component. The surface finish of the piston assembly was also changed. According to filings submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the recall is expected to cost Harley-Davidson $35 million.

Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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6 of 12 comments
  • Marc Marc on Nov 01, 2018

    I own a Harley Tri Glide and wonder how long it will take for HD to contact me. I say this because I also own a 2017 Ducati Supersport S that I read online had multiple recalls. I never received a single letter from Ducati. When I went to the shop to have a 1 year tune up I was informed that they had to do 3 repairs due to various recalls.
    It’s almost impossible these these days to own a bike that won’t be recalled

    • See 1 previous
    • Sayyed Bashir Sayyed Bashir on Nov 02, 2018

      It is better to have a recall than to be riding around with a critical safety defect.

  • Spiff Spiff on Nov 01, 2018

    Does Brembo pay the bill?

    • See 1 previous
    • Denchung Denchung on Nov 04, 2018

      Brembo likely will have some costs associated with this as well, but we don't know how much that is. $35 million is how much it will cost for Harley alone, all which will count towards the fourth quarter.