Swing and a Miss… Chasing Gremlins on Blue

Well, the suspected weak link in the sound system wasn’t the $60 switch and wiring harness (PN 71642-08); next thing to check is apparently a hard to find $331 iPod interface module (PN 76000285) that is unique to the 2013 FLHRSE5. Kelly is on it and searching for the illusive part which, if found, should be a simple plug-and-play installation. On the bright side, this is far from a serious issue with the bike! The sound system still works (thank goodness for that) and there is another way to “stifle” the iPod using the mode selector switch, so no worries.

However, the best news in all of this is, I’m doing the happy dance when it comes to my customer experience at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta. Thus far everything has been handled professionally by folks who have great attitudes and understand the value of timely and effective communication. That’s huge!

The Gory Details:

trailertrashAs planned, I loaded Blue up on David’s trailer Wednesday evening and hauled her to work behind the Toyota Tundra. I would be taking her down to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) around noon, about a 30-minute drive from work. The plan was to get the bike to Bryan on what is both his and Kelly’s “late day” when they work until 8:00pm. This would give Bryan ample time to do the switch & wiring harness replacement before I came back to collect the bike Friday afternoon.

A Note on Trailers: While I have a natural aversion to putting any motorcycle in perfect running condition on a trailer, I will say that when a bike needs to go in for service that can’t be performed while you wait, being able to drop it off without “getting a ride” is the only way to go. I’m so very thankful my friend David has a trailer that I’ve been able to borrow.  

Before loading Blue I moved the front wheel chock back a bit. I decided to make the change after trailering the BMW a last week as it felt like the trailer was a bit tongue heavy. I’d towed with David’s trailer before, but it was always with both of our bikes or just mine in the mid-position. David had the single Condor wheel chock mounting block installed up against the front rail of the trailer and given how long that trailer is it just seemed to put your average full-size motorcycle’s center of gravity a bit too far ahead of the trailer axle.

Of course, the down side of my plan was I’d be driving the truck to work on both Thursday and Friday instead of riding in on the Wide Glide, and that kind of sucked. Riding to work every day is something I always look forward to. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t willingly used a motorcycle as their primary means of transportation, never mind people who don’t ride motorcycles, but it completely changes my outlook on a lot of things.

As 11:30am rolled around I finished up a meeting and headed out to drop off Blue. HDA was closer than I realized and that was nice. It was a bitter sweet drive in that I had to pass by the H-D dealer that’s a mere 5 minutes from my office both coming and going to HDA. But, hey… totally worth it!

After rolling into the HDA parking lot I began to unstrap Blue and noticed the lower bolt holding the left front brake caliper to the fork lower had backed about ½ way out of the caliper just since being loaded on the trailer; yikes?! If it had been lose before I loaded it I would have clearly seen it sticking out like that when I was attaching the tie downs.  I must assume that having the front wheel locked into the chock while the rest of the bike still had a certain degree of active suspension provided enough “to-and-fro” movement between the caliper and what was now a very fixed rotor to cause progression to unscrew what had to be a loose bolt in the first place. There was no evidence of Loctite and the bolt was so loose that I was able to thread it back in by hand: something else to have Bryan check during the visit. I also asked Kelly to have Bryan to do a head bearing inspection and adjustment during the warranty work, as he’d already have the headlight nacelle and triple crown covers off to do the sound system switch replacement.

Even though this was only my second visit to HDA it was like old home week when I walked-in to the shop: both Kelly and Ray immediately acknowledged me with a warm welcome and even HDA’s GM Jeff waived and asked me how I was doing on his way through the shop. It was definitely what Tony Hsieh of Zappos would call a WOW moment, the true validation that a company fully understands the value of a great customer experience. Kelly had me checked-in quickly and I was back in the office by 12:35pm. Not bad at all.

As I was getting ready to leave work around 6:00pm I sent off a note to Kelly via Email to see if the bike had been finished. If it had, I’d just head that way and pick it up on the way home vs. dragging the trailer back into work on Friday. Kelly called back to let me know that Blue was ready to go; however… she’d just gotten off the phone with Harley-Davidson Technical Support as the recommended fix – replacing the switch / harness – didn’t solve the sound system problem. Bryan thought it did before he had the bike buttoned-up and the system was working as it should. But, out on the test ride the condition returned.

Here’s the dealeo: The 2013 Road King CVO (FLHRSE5) is unique in that the sound system is driven by an interface to an iPod, not a full-blown stereo tuner. Harley only offered this iPod-driven system for the 2013 FLHRSE5 production run of what is probably less than 3,000 units. The interface is managed by a module that is slightly different from the ones used on all of the other touring bikes that have a true sound system with a head unit. These modules are about $330, so when there’s a control problem the first thing Harley recommends the dealer change out is the $60 control switch and harness. If that doesn’t work, then it’s the module that needs to be replaced. Frankly, I’m surprised that labor isn’t factored into the equation as it had to take 10x longer to replace the switch/wiring harness vs. the module. Regardless, Kelly will be on the phones Friday looking for a new or refurbished module. In the interim, there’s a work around.


The iPod interface module is attached to the lid of the left saddle bag, just under the iPod ‘pouch’. There are four fasteners and two wiring harness input/output plugs need to be touched to replace it: probably about a 15 minute job.

Since the bike was otherwise good to go with the head bearings adjusted and the brake caliper bolts re-torqued, I headed over to HDA to collect Blue on the way home. Kelly had me ready to go when I arrived and Jason had Blue washed, dried and sitting next to my trailer. He was also ready and willing help me load her if I wanted his help when I walked out after paying out on the head bearing service. Awesome!

I thanked Jason and told him I could handle loading the bike; it wasn’t all that hard since I had a Condor wheel chock: ride up and into the chock then strap her down. It only takes a pair of soft straps and ratcheting tie downs on the frame’s down tubes to secure the front end of the bike in the Condor and a third strap to secure the rear wheel/tire running across the width of the trailer: easy-peasy. Best of all, I was able to stuff the trailer and truck back in the garage and take the Wide Glide to work on Friday!

So, we should be good-to-go. Again, so long as the sound system still plays music (gotta have my tunes for long trips) and has both a volume control and mode switch that will make it seem like the iPod has been paused, we’ll be good to go for the foreseeable future. Getting the malfunctioning sound system “fixed” is just one of those things that needs to be done because it needs to be done.

20140909_193502Now, what about that BMW sitting over at another shop? I have no idea what they’re doing or when they plan to do anything.  I really hope whatever is going on with the BMW is minor… and that they eventually get around to looking at it and communicating with me!  Honestly, if your customers are “annoying you” with daily calls to check on status of repair work that’s a pretty good sign that your customer’s experience is not going well.  Grrrr.


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?
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous ramblings on Motorcycling, Motorcycle / Equipment. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Swing and a Miss… Chasing Gremlins on Blue

  1. Jerry LaBrake says:

    Thanks for the write up on 2013 CVO interface module. I have the same bike and after 3 years of riding I am having the same issues. Do you by chance have the part number that was intalled to fix the audio problems. I ordered one – but the mounts did not match and I am thinking it is an older part simular to the one installed on 2013 RK cvo. Please provide Kelly’s contact info as well. Thanks from Germany (Army DA Civilian) jerrylabrake@gmail.com

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