Harley Gets A Little Love…. New Speedo, Digital Oil Gauge & Service

The Harley finally got a little love now that the BMW is all current on service and has had some cosmetic attention.

The basic stuff was a routine 5k mile service, i.e., fresh oil, new filter, clean air filter, clutch adjustment, brake system inspection, and so on.

The new speedo was long in coming. Amazingly, in their infinite wisdom and in keeping with their mastery of delivering new motorcycles with built-in shortcomings that nearly mandate aftermarket upgrades — many of which H-D readily offers — the Dyna model’s come with a speedometer but no tachometer.

So, what’s a Dyna buyer to do?  Well, buy an aftermarket speedometer from H-D that does have a tachometer, right?  Yeah, you ‘d have thought that would be an option, but up and until this past week it wasn’t… unless you went with a 3rd party aftermarket, all-digital model from Dakota: all digital isn’t my cup of tea.

Anyway, as the 2013 H-D models hit the street so did the 2013 accessory catalog, and therein was this little gem:

Combination Digital Speedometer/Analog Tachometer – 4″, PN 70900274

Maintain the clean view over the handlebar. This unique Combination Digital Speedometer/Analog Tachometer allows you to monitor engine speed, fuel level and gear position, without adding additional handlebar-mounted gauges. The digital speed reading can be easily toggled between MPH and km/h to simplify cross-border travel. The large, easy-to-read LCD odometer/tripmeter also displays fuel level, miles-to-empty, gear position, and time. The gauge features push-button adjustable backlighting with over 600 co00 color tone options, allowing the rider to adjust pointer, LCD and backlighting colors to match any paint scheme or viewing preference. The unit mounts in the stock dash opening and is a direct plug-in installation. Kit includes a data transfer cable to easily upload initial mileage at time of installation.

H-D actually teased those of us with 4″ speedometer openings in our consoles with this same speedometer in the 2012 catalog; however, that model wasn’t backward compatible with 2011 or earlier Wide Glide models… just the 2012 which had a different / new CANbus.  So, I was pretty enthusiastic to see H-D finally made it available for the older model bikes.  Now, to be fair, I’d have preferred to see a dual analog display for both speed and RPM. But, at least they got the right thing analog: the tach.  The digital speedometer I can deal with… it’s not like I actually spend much time looking at it anyway. You can pretty much tell how fast you’re going on a motorcycle without a speedometer.  But, I digress.

It took about 20 minutes, front to back, to calibrate the new unit with our Wide Glide’s ECU, remove the console, swap out the speedo’s and then reinstall the console.  Pretty straight forward. Programming is not too complex, just a lot of things to set. I opted to not use the digital gas gauge since I already have an analog gauge on the bike.  I’m also debating whether or not I’ll keep the gear position indicator displayed. Again, I kinda know what gear I’m in and it won’t help me figure out if I’m in the wrong gear at a dead stop. That’s because the gear indicator calculates engine speed + throttle body position to “estimate” what gear you’re in, and if you pull in the clutch and coast or come to a dead stop, the gear position goes blank so there’s some strange tie in to the clutch as well. Weird.

So, here’s the new look.  The view at left is how the display looks in daylight, with white lettering over black background on the LCD display in the lower 1/2 of the speedo and the analog tach up top.  The photo at right was taken in the garage and a photoelectric cell in the speedo senses when the light changes: when it’s dark you end up with a different color scheme.  I elected to go with H-D Orange for the LCD display window lettering and a Lime Green color for the analog tach and indicator needle.  You have your choice of 600 color variations for each of those three different elements.

 

Here’s a short video that I shot of the “auto scrolling” of just 6 of color options that shows up during the set-up routine. Like I said, there are actually 600 different variations on these colors that  you can scroll through during the set-up routine.

Having ridden around with it a little bit today I can say without hesitation that I like it.  I thought I’d miss the “old school” looking white face of the original speedo since it just looked “right” on the console. However, the darker face of this new speedo is easier on my eyes and really does look pretty nice.  At night, hands-down… the new speedo is great and I”m really happy with the colors I chose.

Cost wise, these suckers have an MSRP of $299; yikes!  However, I had about $70 in store “bonus points” sitting in an account that dropped my cost to $229, which was a lot more palatable.

Hits: – Looks: Aethetically, a pretty nice-looking layout with the chrome bezel, chrome accents across the top of the tach and the dark grey spun aluminum face.
– Ergonomics: The darker face also makes it easier on the eyes in bright daylight vs. the white face of the stock speedo.
– LCD displays: The digital speed display and odo readouts are both sized just right.
– Options: Having the ability to toggle the fuel & gear position on and off was the right move: off provides essential info, whereas on provides folks who want or need the additional data with a central place to find it.
– Installation and set-up: Pretty straight forward if you follow the instructions step-by-step. If you don’t read them, you’ll have lots of questions because much of what you learn is not intuitive.
– Colors: While I would have been happy as a clam with my choice of white, orange, or green, I know there will be a lot of folks who have a ball dialing in all kinds of wild colors / color combinations to suit their fancy. You have to see these things in the dark to gain a full appreciation for just how nuts the colors can be.Misses:

– Price: Not exactly sure why this speedo for the pre-2012 models carries a 13% higher MSRP at $299 vs. the nearly identical 2012 & up model released last year at $259? I’m guessing it’s the data transfer cable, a $40 item that you’ll use once and then discard? Ouch.
– Gear Postion Ind: I would have liked to see it a bit smaller in size to reduce “clutter” on the LCD display and, well… it just doesn’t need to be that big. Also a bit mystified that engaging the clutch causes the gear position number to vanish from the display.
– Digital/Analog in General: Would have much rather had a dual analog along the lines of the 5″ models with the speed in the outer ring and the tach in a smaller, 3/4 circle configuration.
– Cruise Control Indicator: Didn’t know of any bikes this speedo was made to fit that ever came with Cruise Control, so I’ll be darned if I know why it has a Cruise Control Active / On / Off indicator.

As for the H-D LCD Oil Level & Temperature reading “Dipstick”, this is actually my second one of these things.  The first one lasted about 9 months before some early excess heat damage finally took its toll on the LCD materials inside the thing.

Normally, I’d have not given this thing a second chance, but the Vance & Hines pipes on our Wide Glide make it nearly impossible to use the manual dipstick to check the oil when its hot and unless the engine’s hot, you really don’t get an accurate reading on oil level. Well, that and I do like to know how hot the oil is…. so, we’ll give this sucker just one more chance.  And, yes.. these suckers are also pretty pricey to boot.  I opted to buy this 2nd one from Surdyke H-D in Minnesota for some thing substantially less than MSRP given that it too may have a limited life.  I’m told there have been some changes, to include a low-battery indicator. So perhaps all of the “issues” have been resolved and the new one will go the distance.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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