What's High Mileage for a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle?

May 22, 2024


close up of Harley speedometer and odometer What's High Mileage for a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle?

One thing is clear here: not all bikes handle mileage the same way. What might be considered high mileage for one motorcycle is probably not high mileage for another. In fact, in a decent number of cases, mileage doesn’t even make that big of a difference in your motorcycle's value. That’s why we did an analysis to determine what high mileage for a Harley-Davidson really is. 

What’s Considered High Mileage for a Harley?

The general consensus is that 20,000-30,000 miles is high mileage for a standard motorcycle. However, for larger bikes like Harley-Davidson, it’s not uncommon for them to get over 100,000 miles and beyond, especially if they’re well-maintained. There have been several recorded instances of HD owners riding their bikes past 300k or even 400k miles (now that’s impressive- we’re jealous). 

Keep in mind that high mileage for a cruiser, as an example, is lower than high mileage for a touring motorcycle. Let’s touch on that in just a second. 

Good Maintenance is Key

The key to keeping your motorcycle in good condition and not succumbing to the typical “high mileage” deadline is keeping it maintained. It’s more than just frequent oil changes too- be mindful of all aspects of maintenance. Here are a few common reasons HD bikes start having issues:

  • Clutch and Gearbox Problems: Clutch slipping and gear-shifting issues are common among Harley-Davidson models. Clutch slipping might occur due to worn clutch plates or misadjusted shifter linkage. Gear-shifting problems, like difficulty shifting or getting stuck in one gear, can stem from worn gears, broken shifter springs, or misaligned shift linkage. Low-quality transmission fluid can also cause these issues​.
  • Electrical Issues: Harley-Davidson bikes are known for electrical problems, ranging from charging system failures to wiring and connector issues. Faulty ignition switches, electronic control module (ECM) failures, and corroded wiring can lead to starting difficulties or intermittent engine operation.
  • Engine Overheating: This issue can be caused by various factors, including inadequate oil pumps or incorrect fuel delivery. Attempting upgrades without proper modification can lead to engine overheating, especially when the oil pump cannot handle the increased load.
  • Fuel Problems: Fuel injection issues, such as clogged or malfunctioning fuel injectors, can cause rough running, misfiring, and reduced performance. A failing fuel pump or throttle position sensor (TPS) can also lead to similar issues.
  • Oil Leaks: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known to have more gaskets and seals than other bikes, leading to a higher potential for oil leaks. These can be caused by faulty O-rings, rocker box gaskets, or issues with the primary cover gasket​.
  • Steering and Brake Problems: Steering issues, like inconsistent handling or wobbling at higher speeds, often relate to front suspension problems or steering head bearings. Brake problems can be due to worn brake components, leading to locking up or failing brakes​.

Regular maintenance and prompt repair of identified problems can help ensure your Harley-Davidson runs smoothly and safely​ (Motorbike Insider)​. If you're experiencing any of these issues, consulting a qualified mechanic specializing in Harley-Davidson motorcycles is recommended.

Year or Mileage? 

Now, while the difference between right-off-the-lot and 75,000 miles is clear on paper, it turns 

out that many Harley-Davidson dealerships care more about the age of the Harley. In other words, the Extended Service Plan for HD covers unlimited mileage in the first 7 years, which they can offer customers. After 7 years, regardless of mileage, the ESP for HD is no longer applicable. Purchasing the ESP is often a value-add and can make customers feel more confident about their used bike purchase. 


  • Age and Wear: As a bike ages, even with lower mileage, its components and systems can deteriorate due to factors like exposure to the elements, lack of use, or time-related wear and tear. Harley-Davidson recognizes that age can be as significant as mileage in predicting potential repairs and maintenance costs.
  • Predictability and Warranty Risks: The Extended Service Plan is designed to cover a bike during its "newer" phase, when the risks are lower and easier to predict. As the bike gets older, parts might need replacement due to age-related factors, increasing the risk for the ESP provider. This leads to higher warranty costs for the dealership, which might not be sustainable for an unlimited mileage plan.
  • Value to Customers: By focusing on the age of the Harley rather than mileage, dealerships can offer the ESP as a value-add, giving customers confidence when purchasing a used bike. This helps enhance customer satisfaction and sales, especially for newer used bikes, while managing warranty risks for the dealership.

High Mileage for Harley-Davidson Sport vs. Touring

High mileage for a Harley-Davidson cruiser can differ from a touring bike because they serve different purposes. Cruisers and sport bikes are typically built for shorter rides and often feature more custom features, making them generally more durable. Touring bikes, on the other hand, are designed for long-distance rides, focusing on comfort, cargo capacity, and ergonomics​.

Regarding high mileage, smaller Harley sports bikes, such as the Sportster, are considered high mileage when they reach around 20,000 to 25,000 miles. However, larger touring bikes might be considered high mileage when they exceed 50,000 miles. Despite these differences, Harley-Davidson motorcycles are built to last, with many achieving over 80,000 miles when properly maintained.

Whether a Harley sport bike, cruiser, or touring bike has high mileage depends on the model, the riding conditions, and how well it has been maintained. Regular servicing, proper care, and keeping a detailed service history can significantly impact the lifespan and reliability of these bikes.

close up of modern harley davidson motorcycles parked in front of a dealer What's High Mileage for a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle?

Make Money Off Your Harley-Davidson Motorcycle or Rent One Yourself!

Riders Share is a platform that allows Harley-Davidson owners to rent out their motorcycles to others, providing an opportunity to make money from their bikes. This service is ideal for Harley owners who want to earn extra income when their motorcycle isn't in use and for those who want to rent a Harley-Davidson for a trip or a weekend ride without owning one.

Here’s what you need to know about Riders Share:

  • For Owners: By listing your Harley-Davidson on Riders Share, you can earn extra income while your bike isn't in use. The platform allows you to set your rates, choose when to rent your bike, and specify the rental conditions. Riders Share provides insurance and roadside assistance, giving you peace of mind while your motorcycle is rented out. The platform also has a verification process to ensure that only qualified riders can rent your bike, adding an extra layer of security.
  • For Renters: If you don't own a Harley-Davidson or are traveling and want to ride a specific model, Riders Share offers a wide range of Harley bikes to rent. This flexibility allows you to choose the model and rental period that suits your needs, whether for a weekend getaway or a longer road trip. The platform also offers roadside assistance and comprehensive insurance coverage for renters.
  • Safety and Security: Riders Share ensures safety for owners and renters through its insurance policies and verification process. Owners are covered for liability, and renters are also insured during the rental period. The platform requires renters to have a valid motorcycle endorsement and verify their riding history before approving rentals.

With Riders Share, you can earn extra income from your Harley-Davidson and rent a bike when needed without the long-term commitment of ownership. It's a great platform for bike owners and motorcycle enthusiasts looking for flexibility and new riding experiences.

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