Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Recall Issued for Brake Problems

  • Written by: Staff Writers

More than 250,000 Harley-Davidson touring bikes and trikes have been recalled because of problems with the rear brakes and brake lights, which could contribute to an accident

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle recall (pdf) will affect touring, CVO touring and trike vehicles from model years 2009-2012.

Excessive heat can cause brake fluid leaks that may decrease the effectiveness of the rear brake or cause problems with the rear brake light. Either problem has the potential to cause serious injury for riders as a result of losing control of the motorcycle or being rear-ended by another vehicle.

Harley-Davidson investigators first became aware of a potential problem in June 2010, when a Trike lost brake functionality, according to documents the company filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A month later, the company learned of a possible motorcycle accident related to the problem from a Louisiana dealership.

The company’s investigation led it to determine that the rear brake switch is too close to the exhaust system, causing the switch to overheat. The exhaust system was new to the 2009 FL touring family motorcycles.

The motorcycle recall affects 250,757 Harley-Davidson Touring, CVO Touring and Trike models from model years 2009-2012. The vehicles were built between June 6, 2008 and September 16, 2011. The makes, models and model years are listed below:

  • H-D/FLHP/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHPE/2009-2011
  • H-D/FLHR/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHRC/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHT/2009-2010
  • H-D/FLHTC/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHTCU/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHTCUSE4/2009
  • H-D/FLHTCUSE5/2010
  • H-D/FLHTCUSE6/2011
  • H-D/FLHTCUSE7/2012
  • H-D/FLHTCUTG/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHTK/2010-2012
  • H-D/FLHTP/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHX/2009-2012
  • H-D/FLHXSE/2010
  • H-D/FLHXSE2/2011
  • H-D/FLHXSE3/2012
  • H-D/FLHXXX/2011
  • H-D/FLTR/2009
  • H-D/FLTRSE3/2009
  • H-D/FLTRU/2010-2012
  • H-D/FLTRUSE/2011
  • H-D/FLTRX/2010-2012
  • H-D/FLTRXSE/2012

Harley-Davidson will begin notifying affected registered owners and dealers on or about October 31. Dealers will install a rear brake light switch kit for affected owners free of charge. Owners with questions can call the company at (414) 343-4056.

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  1. William Reply

    i have a recalled bike and need a loaner cause i have nothing else to get around on what do i do i work 25 miles from home and H/D is in between

  2. Jim Reply

    One very important factor Harley-Davidson failed to comment in this recall is that if this switch fails and the operator attempts to cancel the cruise control with the rear brake pedal the cruise does not disengage. I know this from personal experience on my 2009 HD Electra-glide UC.

  3. Jon Reply

    I purchased a new 2012 ElectraGlide Classic one month ago. With only 10 miles on the bike, 1st time I rode it, rear brake would not stop the bike. Something smelled hot. Took to the dealership, they say the rear brake caliper is bad. Ordered a new one, that was over 2 weeks ago. Bike is parked until repaired!!! So I have a new bike that is unsafe to ride. About to turn over to my attorney. I expect better service from Harley’s product and employees. Maybe I should have purchased a metric.

  4. jose Reply

    I have a 2009 road king classic. I had an accident on Jan 22,20011. Someone cut me off and my brakes werent stopping me, so i layed down the bike and let it go. The bike went one way and i went the other way. I sustained a traumatic brain injury plus broken bones. Spent 42 days in icu, 31 days in rehab hospital. Had to learn to walk, talk, eat and do basic everyday tasks. This was not the first time i felt the brakes malfunctioned. My bike has 10,591 miles on it. I bought it brand new.

  5. Renee Reply

    My father had a 2009 Ultra Classic. He was involved in an accident on April 30, 2010. The witness said he was riding fine and the back of the bike just started to swing and the bike came out from underneath him. He was in ICU from April 30, 2010 till August 23 2010, then transfered to a rehab center and on Novemeber 4 2010, I signed the paperwork and disconnected his vent. He passed 5 hrs later. There was no cause for the accident found. Nothing on the road, my father did not jerk or make any kind of turn, stated by the witness. My father never could tell us what happened. He was a quadrapeligic on a vent because his diagrapham was even paralyzed. The recall was not issued until Nov 2011. Over a year after the problem was found. And over a year and a half since my fathers accident. Of course no attorney wants the case because the motorcycle is gone. It can not be checked, but there was brake fluid, oil, ect all over the bike. It flipped end for end. How can they know of a problem but not issue a recall for a year and a half. The problem was first reported in June 2010. Had I known of it then I could have still gotten ahold of the bike. Now I am screwed and no one will know this recall could have taken my fathers life.

  6. Karl Reply

    I purchased 2012 Ultra Classic unlimited with 6 miles on it has 170 miles on it now.The rear brake is almost non existent. Called the dealer they came and got the bike. I talk to them yesterday and told me they looked at it and didn’t see anything wrong was going to get another mechanic to look at it. Told don’t look at it take it out and try to stop the bike with the rear brake,then tell me nothing is wrong!!! The bike has anti lock brakes on it you can stand on the rear brake and it won’t even go into an abs event as per the owners manual in the abs section. Love the bike but I think Harley Davidson isn’t on top of this issue.

  7. jim Reply

    i bouhgt a 2012 ultra classic. with ony 3400 miles on it i lost the rear brake with no warning. took the bike to a harlely dealer the said they could find nothing wrong . just low on brake fluid. i guess harley does not bother to see if the bike has fluid in them before shipping them to the dealer.

  8. Pat Reply

    After reading the previous comments only two are recall related. The owner looking for a loaner has a valid concern. The owner using the rear brake to cancel the cruise isn’t really thinking straight. The rest have nothing to do with a brake light switch issue. My only concern is getting the switch replaced. I called the dealer last December when the switches were on B/O and never received a call when they came in.

    Has anyone had an issue with the cruise control disengaging while riding and can’t be reengaged until a few minutes later. Could this be the reverse of the normal occurance. It has happened twice out of the last three rides. It was during the day so I couldn’t see if the brake light was on.

  9. Dennis Reply

    I recently test rode a pair of Harley touring bikes. Road Glide Ultra and Ultral Classic Limited. Both had ABS and the rear brake on both was nearly non-existent. The dealer said that the rear brake with ABS has to be broken in before it works correctly. I find this a little disturbing and I expect both front and rear brakes to work correctly on a brand new bike.

  10. TERRY Reply


  11. Hamilton Reply

    I have a 2012 Harley Trike They have replaced the brake lite switch,my problems are I have had to replace the pads and the rotors..I went to Four different dealers( Ft. Walton Beach,Cristal River,Sunrise,South Miami) all four said the brakes needed adjusted ,the emergency brake would last about pulling it 5 tmes and then it wont hold each dealer says thet the e-brake comes loose. Does’nt sound right,any thoughts or solutions out there?

  12. mike Reply

    i recently financed a 2012 dyna street bob at Timpanogos harley in lindon utah… when the deal was done they had me believing that i was paying on it for 5 years. After i got my billing statement, it said it was a 7 year loan. Wich turned my 15,000 dollar bike into a 28,000 dollar bike!!! I went in to talk to them about it… and then they pulled out a paper (wich I NEVER initialed), and it explained that my finance charge was 19.75% interest!!!! 82 grueling payments at 339.00 a month!!! WELL, I had NEVER seen this paper. LET ALONE “INITIAL” THE DAMN THING! IF I had seen this paper, I would have not financed the bike. The dealer says that I seen the paper the night I financed it. NO… I didn’t. I would have walked out , had I seen that! You know?, It’s strange that this MYSTERY PAPER suddenly appeared without my initials. What sucks, is that this paper was shuffled into MY copies as well. I didnt look at MY copies because i thought I had just seen all the papers. I can’t believe the underhandedness of this dealer!!!! They’re telling me now, ” why dont you own up to what the deal was?” BULL#%!@!!!!!! THAT… wasn’t the deal TIMPANOGOS harley davidson! I will never do buisiness with harley davidson again. AND… I will recomend anyone AGAINST doing buisiness with harley davidson. They basically stole 13,000 dollars from me and my family.” SCREW YOU ” HARLEY DAVIDSON. If anyone has experienced anything similar… I would love to hear it. Where is the CONSUMERS PROTECTION?

  13. Gene Reply

    new 2013 Harley trike runs so hot that I cannot use it until I get it repaired. I only have put 75 miles on the Trike & it\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’s going to cost $2000 dollars (full list-no discount from Harley) to modify it so that it can be driven without causing burns to my leg..

    I would like to join a class action lawsuit. Harley keeps selling these trike knowing that the customer will be unable to drive them without spending a considerable additional amount of money to modify the trike.

  14. Steve Reply

    I just purchased a used Harley 2011 SG Trike. How do I know if this recall has been performed on my trike? Thanks you in advance,

    Steve T.

  15. steven Reply

    my vibrating brakes started after i had tires cchanged by a non professional. Front and rear do it applied together or separatley. Not sure if it is something out of adjustment or the belt not tightened up correctly or what ….can anyone help please send me an email

  16. Denver Reply

    I have a 2008 flhtcu. Just happened to be checking the fuses because the cruise and lighter would not work earlier in the morning. Discovered the rear brake light pressure switch was spraying brake fluid all over the engine. Replaced and bled the brakes. Disappointed in HD’s quality. I’ve had issues with wiring (tps sensor) which I asked a dealer mech. about. Wanted me to pay $75 an hour for them to troubleshoot. Through online forums I discovered they had a wiring harness issue. I disconnected all connections I could find and put die electric grease on all fittings, and then zip tied everything rogether. My next bike wont be a harley and it will have a throttle cable. Old school =less trouble. Disappointed all the recalls only go back to 09.

  17. LEEANNE Reply

    I JUST BOUGHT A 2013 FB, last week on my ride into work the front tire started to shake, thought maybe just low on air, put air in tire,,, got so much worse and the front breaks weren’t working like there wasn’t enough pressure … it got so bad that i ended up having Harley come get the bike as i was unable to control the bike. HAS ANYONE HEARD ABOUT THE 2013 MODELS??? ANY ISSUES

  18. Robert Reply

    2013 roadglide with abs at 8000 miles rear brakes won’t stop bike ,pedal feels good pads are not worn out.taaking to dealer tommorow still under warrannty .

  19. Eric Reply

    I have a 2011 Ultra Classic Trike with 5266 kms on it . I’m disabled and ride when I can . I finally went out yesterday with my lady . Travelling at hiway speed and all of a sudden the traffic was stopping dead . I immediately started grabbing gears and preparing to brake when I discovered the rears were non existant . I have received nothing in the mail or squat . For 42,000 dollars they better fix this bsstsrd along with the reverse motor that is f@#%ed and the paint is totally spider webbed on the fenders . Very poor for the money , never again . Trust me .

  20. Becky Reply

    long story short.. 2010 triglide ran hot from new (burnt legs) horn cover so hot it turned purple.. had engine ripped down.. connecting rods almost welded to crank. Sued harley !! They would never admit to an overheating problem.. won the case.. money received not even close to covering total cost of repairs.. lots of new parts.( $5, 000.) That’s 5 grand later….107 stage 2 HP kit. New S&S crank welded and balanced bike runs better than ever fuel mileage way up.40+ Runs cool. It the trike is what it should have been when I purchased it thanks for reading my tail of Whooo. Later..

  21. Barnaclebill Reply

    I have to wonder why HD doesn’t make attempts to notify owners of these issues instead of us finding out the hard way, I guess it’s not cost effected for them to do so. I found out my brake switch was bad when I was backing the bike out of the garage, not running, yet holding the front brake on because of the steep incline. Smoke started pouring out of the switch assembly and my wire was melting. Scared the hell out of me.

  22. Daniel Reply

    2008 Harley flhtcu I lost rear brakes when the brake light switch melted burning the wiring harness up lost all fluid from the rear master cylinder / replaced the switch bleed the brakes now the foot peddle is hard as a rock when you push hard on it the abs senses an event every time momentarily locking up the rear wheel. I’m having a real hard time getting answers about the problem iv even been told to get use to it the way it is. This is a very dangerous problem and this bike has had countless problems thru out the years I am the first owner and so bummed out over it Im told that it isn’t giving up any codes so they can’t find the problem. So now iv got the most expensive yard ordiment iv ever seen. The quality of Harley has gone into the shiter. And HARLEY Davidson will not own up to this defect or lemon

  23. Fred Reply

    I experienced no rear brake yesterday, I was travelling a mountain area with curves and steep grades. I have been over this area with my current 2008 Ultra Classic as well as my previous 1996 Ultra and never had this issue in the past. Trust me, you need rear brakes coming into Jerome Arizona. Not sure where to go or what to do.

  24. orville Reply

    I have a 2009 Harley trike with only 5,200 miles on it the rear brakes are completely worn out rotors and pads both, will Harley do anything about this.

  25. Pat Reply

    I have a 2011 ultra classic that has started giving me a problem . My rear brakes will be gone or stick . I talked to a mechanic that has said he has seen this before and says he thinks it is the actuator sticking . I need to know if this is another part of the problem with the switch talked about here or if it is something else ?

  26. Craig Reply

    I have a 2013 Street Glide with ABS brakes . The rear brakes are not existent. The dealer told me that’s the way they are. I traded my 01 Roadking in .I wish I hadn’t. Harley is going bake to the AMF era especially were safety is concerned.

  27. Brenda Reply

    I am a lady rider and I have a 2011 FHLTK. While I was in the Black Hills last month for the Sturgis Rally, my bike all of a sudden lost power and quit. I got it to start up with no problem, however, I could not go when I released the clutch. It just locked up. Even putting the bike into neutral it wouldn’t move. I had to have it towed to Black Hills Harley where they replaced the severely warped rotor on the front right and they replaced the blown bearings in the ABS and wheel. I rode it back home alright.

    Then the other night I was out and I hit a critter in the road and had to apply my brakes. They seemed to be ok until I took it out Monday night and it locked up on me again in the middle of the road. The right rotor was too hot to touch and the caliper seemed to be scraping the rotor as there were metal filings when I looked. I managed to ride it back home and it is now running really rough. I have around 31000 miles on it and this is the first time that I have had any troubles with it. Not sure what to do with it but if it is a recall, then they should fix it.

  28. John Reply

    09 flhtc rear brakes all of a sudden hard to push pedal . Found out June 5 2015 when a deer ran in front of me I tried to apply brakes but no response so I hit deer at 55mph serious damage to bike an major medical to me . I have reported it insurance did as well no word back yet . Bike has been rebuilt 9k $ an problem still there can’t ride from injuries for a few more weeks but would like some kind of response

  29. michelle Reply

    I was riding on a harley and had a accitdent can i sue harley davidson for the bike not stopping correct?

  30. Lawrence Reply

    I have a 08 ultaclassic 38k miles, this summer after 3 hours of Hiway driving, pulling over to get gas, off the throttle, onto back brake, no back brake ,pedal all the way down , quickly down shifting and on front brake . Stopped just before going into the ditch on the other side of the approach, after getting gas tried rear brake worked ok, but now I’m applying front brake first, which after 45 years of riding feels wrong.

  31. Dave Reply

    Have a 2012 Tri-Glide, Bike runs hotter than shit, rear brakes are almost non-existent, very dangerous in panic stop. Back to stealership they looked at me like I was nuts, Nothing Wrong. I think porter did work. I bought this bike for my wife because she was having trouble with 2-wheeler. If I am not mistaken they have really beefed up the brakes, rotors,calipers and pads, on the 2014 Tri-Glide. Lying stealership won’t admit any problems. Should be class action on trike rear brakes, (2008-2013) On top of that I am trying to tow a matching Legend Trailer, trailer works fine on 2000 Heritage softail. Also heard on other forum that people were also having rear brake problems after the warranty brake switch replacement. Turns out Harley is too fucking cheap to pay labor to bleed brakes after switch change. Nice A, I think about .5 hour., so it’s not done. ALL THIS FOR A MEASLY $35,000 NEVER AGAIN !!!!!

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