At the end of July, Harley-Davidson announced its own recall concerning roughly 27,000 motorcycles over a defective clutch. The clutch of these 2016 models has trouble disengaging, which may cause unexpected movement and could increase the rider’s crash risk.

Accidents or injuries have yet to be reported. However, reports indicate that this recall follows a similar issue Harley-Davidson claimed to have fixed last year.

The Basics

Toward the end of July, Harley-Davidson revealed it was recalling about 14 2016 models over a defective hydraulic clutch master cylinder. According to a statement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the clutch master cylinder’s ability to generate enough lift to disengage the clutch appears to be reduced, especially if the bike has been parked for a while. Then, when the rider goes to take off, he or she may find a noticeable amount of “free play” when first squeezing the clutch lever.

When the bike is operating and in gear, this scenario puts the rider at a much higher accident risk. Particularly, if the clutch can’t fully be disengaged, the motorcycle may suddenly and erratically move, which could potentially lead to a collision.

What could be causing this to occur? Analyses of these bikes indicate a chemical reaction inside the sealed clutch system generates gas bubbles, which greatly reduces clutch lift.

The NHTSA shows this defect has yet to lead to any accidents or injuries. However, the issue appears related to a similar recall concerning 2014 and 2015 models.

Here, a defective clutch affected about 45,000 other motorcycles. The part’s malfunctioning resulted in 27 crashes and four reports of minor injuries. Regarding the current recall, the NHTSA told the press that it may stem from this prior concern, saying Harley-Davidson “may not have effectively eliminated or mitigated the condition.”

Bikes Affected

When Harley-Davidson announced the recall on July 25th, it revealed that 14 different U.S.-based models contain this defect:

  • Electric Glide Ultra Classic (FLHTCU)
  • Electra Glide Ultra Classic Low (FLHTCUL)
  • Ultra Limited Low (FLHTKL)
  • Ultra Limited (FLHTK)
  • CVO Street Glide (FLHXSE)
  • Street Glide (FLHX)
  • Street Glide Special (FLHXS)
  • Road Glide Special (FLTRXS)
  • Road Glide (FLTRX)
  • Police Electra Glide (FLHTP)
  • Road Glide Ultra (FLTRU)
  • Fat Boy S (FLSTFBS)
  • Softail Slim S (FLSS)
  • CVO Softail Pro Street Breakout (FXSE) motorcycles

What Can You Do?

First, check to see if you own one of the 2016 models listed above. Harley-Davidson further plans to reach out to all owners to directly notify them of the recall. The company has offered to conduct an inspection and make all repairs free of charge.

If you own one of these models, go to any Harley-Davidson dealership to have your bike inspected for gas in the fluid. If it’s found, the dealer will flush the clutch system, then rebuild the clutch master cylinder.

Bikers can contact Harley-Davidson at 1-800-258-2464, referencing recall number 0169, for more information. Or, you can also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or go to

Defective parts have been known to be responsible for collisions and Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers take on such cases concerning motorcycles and other motor vehicles. If you believe you have such a claim, bring it to our lawyers’ attention by contacting us today.