On August 29, 2023, Harley-Davidson Motor Company filed a safety recall report with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding certain 2018 through 2023 Harley-Davidson Softail motorcycles. On affected bikes, the fastener used on a particular style of rear shock adjuster may potentially fracture. If it breaks, the shock absorber may then make contact with the rear tire. This could increase the risk of tire damage, and potentially lead to a crash.
According to Harley’s records, approximately 65,224 bikes may potentially be involved in this recall. That represents about one percent of the population. It’s worth noting that not all Softails produced between 2018 and 2023 are involved in this recall. Some use the affected rear shock adjuster, and some do not. Those that do not are not impacted by this recall.
Here’s a list of the model years, models, and the number of bikes affected:
|Model Year||Softail Model||Number of Bikes Affected|
Affected bikes were produced between June 28, 2017 and August 7, 2023. No VIN number ranges are specified in the official safety recall notice.
One warning sign that riders and passengers should look out for is any noise that seems to come from under the seat. If a rider removes their seat and discovers that a shock adjuster appears to be loose, that could be another sign of a faulty fastener. If the shock adjuster has already made contact with the rear tire, riders may notice unusual handling and/or atypical tire wear on the rear tire.
According to Harley’s chronology of events, the company received the first service request regarding a rear shock adjuster on a Softail that had come into contact with the rear tire in June 2023. In that case, the tire eventually lost air pressure. This report caused Harley-Davidson's Technical Subcomittee to initiate an investigation into the matter.
As of August 2, 2023, the company recorded a combined total of 33 warranty claims, field reports, and service reports that alleged rear shock absorber contact with the rear tire. Of these, four also alleged air loss from the tire. One of those four also involved a property damage claim. To date, no injuries as a result of this issue have been reported.
Under the terms of this recall, authorized Harley-Davidson dealerships will replace the faulty hardware on affected rear shock adjusters with a new fastener. The recall service will be performed free of charge to the customer. If owners of affected bikes previously had service performed prior to the announcement of the recall, they may be eligible for reimbursement according to the plan that Harley has on file with NHTSA. Owners will need to provide supporting evidence for such claims.
All Harley-Davidson Softails that have been produced and/or shipped after August 7, 2023, contain the new, revised hardware to secure the rear shock adjuster, and are not affected by this recall.
Harley-Davidson is notifying its dealership network about this recall from August 29, 2023, through September 1, 2023. The company also plans to notify owners of affected bikes about this recall between the dates of September 8, 2023, and September 15, 2023.
Harley-Davidson's recall number for this issue is 0181. Owners may contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464. Additionally, owners may contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or go to www.nhtsa.gov. NHTSA’s number for this recall is 23V-591.
Please note that Harley-Davidson also issued a separate but related recall for accessory rear shock adjuster kits that may have been sold separately, and which owners may have installed as aftermarket items on their bikes. Details about that recall are located here.