Electra Glide Years to Avoid (A Comprehensive Overview)

Last Updated on November 13, 2023 by Pittalks

The Harley Davidson Electra Glide stands as a paragon in the world of touring motorcycles, boasting a legacy of power, comfort, and timeless style. However, like any storied icon, not all of its chapters are without blemish. For those considering a pre-owned model, awareness is key. This guide serves as your beacon, illuminating the Electra Glide years that might be best left on the showroom floor. So what’re you waiting for? Let’s get to it.

Understanding the Electra Glide Series

Here's a blue and white Electra Glide with a Milwaukee Eight power plant.

The Electra Glide series, in production since 1965, offers a variety of models, each with its unique allure.

Electra Glide Ultra Classic


  • Standard Audio System: Providing clear sound for an enjoyable ride.
  • Comfortable Seating: Designed for long-distance travel.

Target Audience

  • Long-distance riders seeking comfort and reliability.

Electra Glide Ultra Limited


  • Upgraded Audio: For an enhanced auditory experience.
  • Advanced Suspension: Ensuring a smooth ride on various terrains.

Target Audience

  • Riders looking for a premium touring experience.

CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations)


  • Custom Paint Jobs: Offering a unique and personalized look.
  • Top-Tier Features: Including advanced technology and performance enhancements.

Target Audience

  • Enthusiasts desiring exclusivity and high-end performance.

Common Issues with Electra Glide Motorcycles

Electra Glides, while generally reliable, have had their share of issues. Common problems include:

  • Electrical System Malfunctions: Leading to issues like battery drain or faulty lighting.
  • Cam Chain Tensioner Failures: Which can result in significant engine damage if not addressed.
  • Faulty Voltage Regulators: Potentially causing overcharging or battery failure.
  • Braking Concerns: Including issues with brake pads or the braking system itself.

Read more: Common Harley Electra Glide Problems (Overview)

Here's an example of the twin cam engine's premature cam chain tensioner failure.
Here’s the (yellow) cam chain tensioner that’s prone to failure in Electra Glides with a twin cam engine.

Electra Glide Years to Avoid

Based on user feedback and recall data, the following years have raised red flags:

2009 Electra Glide


  • Persistent Mechanical Problems: Leading to reliability concerns and potential breakdowns.


  • Consider other model years with a more stable performance record.

2010 Electra Glide


  • Heat Management Problems: Causing discomfort during rides.
  • Engine and Transmission Reliability Concerns: Potentially leading to costly repairs.


  • Look for models with improved cooling systems and engine reliability.

2014 Electra Glide


  • Clutch Master Cylinder Defect: A serious issue that led to a significant recall.


  • Ensure any recall issues have been addressed before considering purchase.

2017 Electra Glide


  • Discomfort During Rides: Potentially due to ergonomic issues.
  • Performance Issues: Affecting the overall riding experience.


  • Seek out models known for their comfort and reliable performance.

Comparative Analysis: Problematic Years vs. Reliable Years

YearIssuesImprovements in Subsequent Models
2009Mechanical problemsEnhanced reliability and performance stability
2010Heat management, engine/transmission issuesImproved cooling systems, engine enhancements
2014Clutch master cylinder defectRedesigned clutch system, enhanced safety features
2017Comfort, performance issuesImproved ergonomics, engine performance enhancements

Pre-Purchase Inspection: What to Look For

Conducting a thorough inspection is crucial. Key steps include:

  1. Check VIN for Recall History: Ensure the bike wasn’t part of a major recall and that any issues have been resolved.
  2. Inspect for Wear and Damage: Look for signs of neglect or accidents, which could lead to future problems.
  3. Listen to the Engine: Unusual noises can indicate underlying issues.
  4. Test Ride: Assess performance and comfort firsthand to ensure the bike meets your expectations.

Related: What Year Harleys to Avoid (A Comprehensive Guide)

Repair and Maintenance: Managing Known Issues

While some issues can be fixed with minor repairs or software updates, others might require more extensive work. It’s essential to factor in potential repair costs when considering a purchase.

Buying Guide: Making an Informed Decision

When purchasing a used Electra Glide, keep the following in mind:

  • Research: Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the model year.
  • Inspect: Conduct a thorough examination of the bike.
  • Test Ride: Ensure the bike meets your performance and comfort expectations.
  • Check Service History: A well-maintained bike is likely to be more reliable.
  • Get a Professional Inspection: Have a qualified mechanic assess the bike.

FAQs: Everything You Need to Know

Are Electra Glides reliable?

Generally speaking, Harley Davidson Electra Glides have a reputation for reliability, especially when properly maintained. These motorcycles are built to last, and many riders have reported putting a significant number of miles on their Electra Glides without major issues. However, like any vehicle, they are not immune to problems. The reliability can vary based on the specific model year, how the motorcycle has been maintained, and how it has been ridden. It’s crucial to check the maintenance history and potentially get a mechanic’s opinion to ensure you are getting a reliable bike.

How often does an Electra Glide need an oil change?

The frequency of oil changes for a Harley Davidson Electra Glide can vary based on several factors including the type of oil used, the riding conditions, and how the motorcycle is ridden. However, as a general guideline, it is recommended to change the oil every 2500 to 7000 miles. Using synthetic oil might allow you to go towards the higher end of that range, while conventional oil might require more frequent changes. Regular oil changes are crucial for maintaining the engine’s health and ensuring the longevity of the motorcycle.

What is the average lifespan of an Electra Glide?

The lifespan of a Harley Davidson Electra Glide can vary widely based on factors such as maintenance, usage, and riding conditions. However, with proper care and regular maintenance, these motorcycles are known to last for well over 200,000 miles. Some riders have even reported reaching the 300,000-mile mark. It’s worth noting that reaching such high mileage might require replacing or overhauling some of the motorcycle’s components, but with the right care, an Electra Glide can provide a reliable and enjoyable riding experience for many years.


The Harley Davidson Electra Glide is an iconic motorcycle, but awareness of potential issues is key when considering a used model. By conducting thorough research and inspections, you can navigate towards a model that will provide countless miles of enjoyable riding.

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