Motorcycle Forums » Harley Davidson

Switchback owners with vibration issues

  • May 29, 2012 4:21 AM PDT
    Harley Davidson released a Service Bulletin addressing concerns of this issue. Now, these as I have looked it over, are ways to address the vibration and possibly take some vibration issues away or make it less noticable but in now way cures the condition per se. More a laundry list of ideas that could help in dealing with the vibration. Good luck!  ;
    • 1855 posts
    May 29, 2012 5:16 AM PDT
    personally, we shouldn't have to address it. Harley should refund my money.

  • May 29, 2012 7:26 AM PDT
    Now you know better than that... let's say you make all them adjustments and it addresses the issue? Hell take it to a dealership with this printed out Service Bulletin and I'll bet they'll go down the check list. Personally I don't see anything wrong with mine at all... it's a typical Twin Cam Dyna as far as I'm concerned.
  • June 24, 2012 2:22 AM PDT
    i though the switchback wasant a rubber mount engine.i might be wrong.i like the look of the SB.
  • February 5, 2013 12:00 AM PST
    I've got a 2012 switchback and it vibrates in every gear,I'm waiting to hear from H.D. on what they are going to do.I hope they will solve the problem soon.I've got 800 miles on it now without every thing vibrating or shaking off ..Any feedback whould be appreciated . Holm-z
    • 1855 posts
    February 5, 2013 2:18 AM PST
    holmz wrote...
    I've got a 2012 switchback and it vibrates in every gear,I'm waiting to hear from H.D. on what they are going to do.I hope they will solve the problem soon.I've got 800 miles on it now without every thing vibrating or shaking off ..Any feedback whould be appreciated . Holm-z

    Here's the real deal.  Regardless of what motorcycle you own, if there is a (factory) problem that hasn't been duly noted by the factory, you have to keep taking the bike back to the dealer time and time again and complain before (if) anything gets taken care of. With that in mind you spend more time up on the lift in the shop than "in the wind".

    I don't know the ratio of lovers to losers when it comes to the Switchback.  I can only tell (once again), with the issues I had and those of others I personally know, I wouldn't buy one.  But then again, others have no problem with the Switchback.  A lot of the positive comes from guys who extensively customized their motorcycles right out of the gate. They make the kind of changes that greatly alter what comes out of the factory (looks and performance). With that in mind they might not experience some of the drawbacks of what the factory put on the street.

    I've never (yeah never) bought a motorcycle with a picture in my mind of what the bike "could" look like.  Practicality and looks were my reasons to purchase a "new" bike.  Sure, I've done some custom work to older, beat up bikes to use as bar hoppers.  But the only custom work I've done to a motorcycle I use for extended travel would be different pipes, different seat, and maybe handlebars.

    My bottom line?  I shouldn't have to FIX a new motorcycle.  Period

  • February 5, 2013 3:00 AM PST
    I took my bike in for service and my loaner was a "new" Switchback. I almost took it back because I thought something was going to fall off or break it was that bad with vibration and rattles. If you put something in the saddlebags it would compact to the back of the bags because of the terrible vibration. When we stopped at a light or stop sign I was constantly asking my husband to listen and look for the rattles. I just wanted to pull over and take tools to tighten everything up. Didn't make for a confident ride. When I returned it to the dealership I suggested they put the bike in service to find the problem. They told me that was "normal" for the Switchback straight off the showroom floor. So apparently HD is aware of the issue. That's too bad as I really thought I would like that bike when it was showcased. I wouldn't in any way shape or form own a Switchback at this point. Reguardless of what bike I am issued when taking my bike in for service, I am always happy to get my Low Rider back.
  • February 5, 2013 3:35 AM PST
    Perhaps I'm one of the "lucky" ones out there, but I'm still not seeing any unusual vibration on mine with over 2000 miles on it. Compared to my FXR and 2001 1200 Sporty, the Switchback vibrates far less than any Harley I've owned to date. I'm not saying it's vibration-free. It is after all a Harley-Davidson, 45 degree, 103 cubic inch V-twin which to my knowledge, is not counterbalanced. However it is rubber mounted, which kills a lot of engine vibes. I read the SB on motor mount clearance and like all SB's, your dealer will fix it for free. I also perform my regular ritual, which I've done on all Harleys, that is to regularly check and tighten fasteners. I found a loose muffler clamp last week and noticed the rattle sound right away. Not trying to dismiss riders who may have a legitimate problem with their bike, but I'm unconvinced that there is an engineering "issue" with the Switchback, especially considering that the frame, trans, motor and electronics are practically identical to the entire Dyna line, which has been successful for years. For those looking for a smoother Harley, just buy an FL, preferably one with the B engine.
  • February 25, 2013 3:13 AM PST
    I took my SWITCHBACK to the dealer's to stop the vibrations,they had my bike for 2 weeks and could not find anything wrong with it. New motor mounts did nothing,so now I am installing a vance& hines slip-on and hope this will help with a stage 1 breather and a tuner.I hope this opens it up and stops the vibrations.H.D. said this is how the bike is and there's nothing they can do.I have to accept the way it is.So now it's up to me to stop the SHAKES.. Holm-z
  • March 19, 2013 2:02 AM PDT
    Now that i've had my switchback back for a couple of weeks after new motor mounts and some adjustments,my bike is a lot better.I put a new Vance & Hines slip-on muffler,a stage 1 breather and a screaming eagle tuner.The bike is a lot faster and a lot smother,vibrations are very little.if any.The Switchback is now what I hoped it was going to be,not just good looking but a screamer too...Cost $660.00 labor and material's. I am a happy man now....Holm-z
  • March 26, 2013 11:48 AM PDT
    Hi first I am looking for the lady,who brought the issue to my attention,Starbucks in Sayville LI NY,I began to feel the vibration shortly after you mentioned it.I brought my bike back to the dealer who is doing everything he can to the point of replacing the exhaust,took care of the frount motor mount,I can not ask for better service,the bike will have some vibration but from what I hear its normal for Dynas.
  • April 8, 2013 7:10 AM PDT
    the vibration with the switchback in the 2700-3200rpm range is NOT Dyna normal regardless
    of what the so called experts you find on many of the Harley forums state..

    it is excessive BUT there is a very cheap cure at less than $5 to fix it and the bike will be
    smooth as butter and what i consider DYNA NORMAL after the modification is done..
    you can find a "how to" with the parts and #s needed on this website />
    the TSB that is out there once performed by the dealership stopped my eyeballs from vibrating
    so bad my vision blurred BUT it was still there, after doing the mod listed on the site above my bike was so smooth i was doing 80mph and didn't know it..
    • 1855 posts
    April 8, 2013 2:13 PM PDT
    So, I'm not joining another Harley site. why don't you just tell us what the mod is?
  • April 8, 2013 4:46 PM PDT
    It's a Harley......They ALL vibrate.
  • May 24, 2013 9:22 PM PDT

    So here is my experience dealing with a dealership regarding a new switchback


    First trip back

    I told them I’m experiencing a lot of vibration at certain rpms but mostly on the highway when I’m setting at 80mph in sixth gear


    Service manager’s response: Is this your first Dyna. My response: Yes but I have been riding for 30 years with the last six on an Ultra so I know what a rubber mounted bike is supposed to feel like.


    They take it for two days and tell me that the belt was a little on the tight side, technician loosens the belt, takes it for test drive and reports the vibration is gone.


    I barely get down the road before I notice the vibration is obviously there, I continue onto the highway and still at 80 and 3000 rpms the vibration is numbing. I bring it back the following day.


    Second trip back

    My Description:

    Feel vibration in driveline at 2900-3000rpm every gear or when motorcycle is cruising in sixth gear above 75mph


    Dealer Resolution:

    Tech called corporate tech services. Performed service bulletin M-1324. Test rode motorcycle 10 miles. Second tech test rode motorcycle, normal operation at this time.


    My comments on their resolution:

    Not only is the vibration still there it actually seems to be worst. Printed out M-1324, which mostly described modifications to the motor mounts and proper torque settings of the exhaust.  


    Third trip back

    My Description:

    Vibration very noticeable in every gear at 2900 to 3000RPM. Unbearable cruising on highway doing 80 in six gear and 3000RPM.


    Sales manager slapped a plate on another new Switchback for me to test drive so I could make sure it was not just how Switchbacks are. The results of test drive showed no vibration in any gear. Cruising on highway at 80 in six gear on test bike had no noticeable vibration proving there is issue with the bike I bought. Sales manager goes back to service department with me and tells them to take the bike I took for a test drive so they can compare feel what a Switchback feels like that does not have any vibration. From their resolution below I don’t think they took the other one for a comparison ride.


    Dealer Resolution:

    Tech read customers letter of description to corporate tech services.

    Corporate tech services states that is normal operation for a FLD103.

    Six gear is for cruising at higher speeds. For acceleration, downshift to increase RPMS, then accelerate.

    Tech services also stated that a comparison between two motorcycles of the same year and model cannot be done. Each motor has different parts, as does the entire motorcycle, using the seat as an example.


    My Comments on their resolution:

    Dealer had the bike for three full days, when I picked it up there was only an additional 2 tenths of a mile on the odometer which means all they did was make a call to HD Tech Services and moved it in and out of the shop in the morning and night to get it out of their way.

    Since I did not experience any noticeable vibration on the test drive of another FLD, they are saying that severe vibration is normal for some FLD’s

    The owner’s manual states you should shift into 6th gear at 55 MPH but Corp Tech Services states that six gear is for cruising at higher than the 80 that I said I was at. I typically shift into six gear when I’m in fifth gear an 3000rmp’s approximately doing 70MPH

    The last thing they are trying to convince me of seems to be that the vibration I’m experiencing is because I swapped out their crap stock seat for a Corbin. When in fact the Corbin seat was the only good thing about the ride.       


    At this point I express my frustrations with the sales manager and that I’m even willing to pay more for a different model than the Dyna just to have a good running bike. He states that it is important to him that I’m a happy customer and will work with me and get me something else. So his initial definition of working with me to correct the issues is to offer me a 2013 Road King for an additional $6600 over what I paid for the Switchback with just over 2500 miles. After a lot of arguing my point that it’s not that I don’t like Switchback I just don’t like one that’s bad, and him saying that most dealers would tell me to go “Pound Sand” he wore me down and I agreed to an additional $3800 and $200 off the first service and they move over the alarm from the Switchback to the Road King @ $4000 out the door.


    I went home that night and spent two hours taking off all the extras that I put on but had to eat $700 that I spent on the Corbin seat because I left the original seat in Daytona when I got the Corbin.


    End result is although I feel they screwed me royally by not honoring a valid warranty issue, I now have a more expensive Road King that has ZERO vibration and yes some may say that all Harleys vibrate but that’s not what I consider the NORMAL operating feel of a Harley. What I consider vibration is what I was experiencing on the FLD.


    As they say “Hind Sight Is 20/20” if I could do it over I would have taken the bike to an independent motorcycle repair shop and pay for a mechanical evaluation and then demand that my dealer fly a Harley Rep into evaluate the issue. What good is a two-year warranty when all they have to do is keep telling you the bike is operating normally.


    I hope somehow this posting reaches Harley Cooperate and they reach out to me for the dealer info.


    PS: So here’s is something I forgot to mention the following day I go back to turn in the Switchback and pick up the Road King the “General Manger” there wants to take the Switchback for a ride and suggest that I take the Road King that I’m getting and follow along with him. I tell him there is no way I going to start the beak-in of a bike with 5 miles on it by doing 80+ on the highway. (are you kidding me) Yes some may say that’s how they break-in a bike but I have never and I was not about to.


    He gives me a used Road King to go with him and his comments of the test drive is that he does feel a LITTLE vibration but I just needed to power thru it and keep the bike in 4200rpm range. So here is the clincher I’m back there a few days later and one of the guys in the service department who was not involved with the Switchback earlier told me he took it for a test drive the day before and has never experience a bike with such bad vibration. At least there is someone there that’s honest.

  • May 25, 2013 3:38 PM PDT
    Ive Been Riding Harley s For over 13 years. I remember the good ole days when they all vibrated. I first rode a 1991 softail custom that was my brothers. I loved the way it felt with the vibration and pulse, No honda or Yamaha could touch that. then I purchased a 2001 softail heritage fi and to my disbaleif the good vibrations were gone, it was like riding a honda that looked like a halrley . so guees what i sold that bike and got me a 1998 softail custom with the 1340 evo and it felt like i was riding a harley again. it was pepped up with flowed heads and cams and a 10-1 ration 3rd gear and a 110 mph the rear view mirrirs would start to turn and 4th and 5th gear oh man. after that i bought a 2002 Electra glide standard and rode all over sturgis in 2002 what an awesome time . and it to had the good vibrations being rubber mounted. ive stuck with rubber mounted ever since because quiet simply to me a harley is suppose to vibrate.. all of this is just my opinion. but to take away all of a Harley vibration is wrong .. If you don't like vibration to each there own there are plenty of nice Honda"s out there you can go dress up like a pirate and ride your little weekend trips on .. and if this article upsets you good .. gave you something to think about.... peace ride in safety
  • May 25, 2013 3:40 PM PDT
  • July 5, 2013 3:23 AM PDT
     I'm new to Cyclefish but have owned my 2012 Switchback for a little over a year and have about 7,000 miles on it.

    Nearly every Switchback I've read about which has the stock exhaust system vibrates badly from about 2,700 RPM to 3,200 RPM. Mine did as well. This is specific to the Switchback and not the Dyna line in general. Why? The Switchback is the only bike in the line with this muffler and associated mounting/support bracket. The bracket is not used with aftermarket exhaust systems so if the exhaust is changed the vibration goes away.

    On the bottom side of the muffler near the middle there is a bolt that attaches the muffler to the center of the support bracket. Temporarily remove this bolt completely. Start the bike. Run the engine tp to 2,700-3,200 RPM and you will most likely notice the horrible vibration is gone. Replace the bolt with a clevis pin, a couple of fender washers, and a couple of rubber washers. (You often see this referred to as the "Clevis Pin Mod") This will keep it from falling off the bike if the rear bolt comes lose but it will let it float a little and remove the solid attachment that causes the resonance and vibration.

    Should Harley have addressed this issue? Yes, I think so. But spending the 5 minutes and $5 at the hardware store to turn the FLD into a great riding bike beats arguing with them forever.