The Seasoned Wrench


Is The Twin Cam 96 A Good Motor? Yes and No (Here’s Why)

Chase Manhattan Avatar

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When it comes to Harleys in particular, the heart of your machine, the motor, can make or break the ride. So, “Is the twin cam 96 a good motor?” is a question that every Harley rider has asked at some point. Loaded with both horsepower and heritage, this famed motor has carved its niche in motorcycle folklore. But, is it all bells and whistles? The answer, we’ve found, is a mix of yes and no.

In the captivating world of motorcycle mechanics, the Twin Cam 96 has been lauded for its reliability, yet also chided for certain problems. This paradox often leaves enthusiasts in a perplexed state, seeking clear and jargon-free guidance amid the clattering noise of diverse opinions. So saddle up as we ride into the essence of this beast, the Twin Cam 96, separating the facts from the fluff, and offering practical advice and anecdotes on everything from power profiles to potential pitfalls. It’s time to transform your confusion into clarity and determine if this legendary motor is really the heart your motorcycle journey needs.

Read later:
Best Tuner for Harley 96: Power, Torque, and More
Best Spark Plugs for Harley Davidson Twin Cam: Full Guide
Finding Best Oil for Harley Davidson Twin Cam Engines (Guide)

When Was The Twin Cam 96 Released?

Here's an example of the Twin Cam 96 motor from Harley Davidson. This is used to show the designed when compared to earlier Twin Cam models.

The twin cam 96 was launched by Harley-Davidson in the year 2007. With this new introduction, Harley-Davidson aimed to provide its riders with a more powerful and reliable engine, moving from the Twin Cam 88 engine that had been in use since 1999.

What’s The Consensus on Twin Cam 96 Reliability?

The consensus on the twin cam 96’s reliability is somewhat mixed. Many Harley riders swear by its durability and longevity, reporting that they’ve ridden tens of thousands of miles without any significant issues. However, some others have reported experiencing problems before reaching 10,000 miles.

Read later:
– Harley 96 Oil Capacity (The Full Explanation)
– Harley 96 Primary Oil Capacity (The Full Explanation)

What Are Some Common Twin Cam 96 Problems?

Commonly found in Twin Cam 96 engines, are three main problems:

  • Cam chain tensioner failure
  • Bearing failure
  • Oil sumping

Now, let’s break them down.

Cam Chain Tensioner Failure

Cam chain tensioner failure is another problem reported by some Harley riders. This can lead to a range of issues, including engine noise, poor performance, and even engine failure if the problem isn’t addressed promptly.

Here's an example of a worn cam chain tensioner
This is what it looks like as they cam chain tensioner (made of plastic, of course) begins to wear away and break.

Bearing Failure

One of the most frequently reported problems with the twin cam 96 engine is bearing failure. This can lead to a range of issues, including excessive engine noise and even complete engine failure if not addressed promptly.

Oil Sumping / Oil Pump Failure

Another common issue reported by some Harley riders is oil sumping, also known as wet sumping. This happens when oil that should be in the oil tank ends up in the crankcase. Additionally, some riders have reported oil pump failure, which can lead to severe engine damage if not caught early.

With these issues in mind, I suggest watching this video titled “The Harley 96 Isn’t As Bad As You Think”

How Does The Twin Cam 96 Compare to The Evo Motor?

This is the 96ci Twin Cam motor lined up next to an Evolution motor. This is used to illustrate the differences between the two, and introduce the topic of comparison.
What do you think your preference would be?

Compared to the Evolution (Evo) Motor, the twin cam 96 offers more power and torque due to its larger displacement. It also has a more sophisticated cam chain tensioner design, which can lead to improved reliability. However, some riders prefer the simplicity and durability of the Evo Motor.

Read more: Twin Cam 88 vs 96: Dual Cam Shootout (What’s Better?)

Twin Cam 96 Specifications

The twin cam 96 engine has a displacement of 96 cubic inches (1584cc). It has a bore of 3.75 inches and a stroke of 4.38 inches. The compression ratio is 9.2:1. It features overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters and two valves per cylinder. It also features Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI).

Performance Specifications (Horsepower, Torque, 0-60)

The twin cam 96 engine produces approximately 68 horsepower and 92.6 ft-lb of torque. The 0-60 mph time depends on the specific model of the motorcycle, but it typically falls in the range of 4.5 to 6 seconds.

What Performance Upgrades Are Available For The Twin Cam 96?

A variety of performance upgrades are available for the twin cam 96 engine. These include:

Stage Kits

harley stage kits infographic showing the difference between each stage up to stage four
Here’s a visual reference of the parts included in Harley’s kits for Stages 1-4.

Stage kits are available to increase the power and performance of your twin cam 96 engine. These kits typically include items such as high-flow air cleaners, performance camshafts, and performance exhaust systems.


Tuning your twin cam 96 engine can help to optimize its performance. This can be done using a variety of tools and software, including Harley-Davidson’s Screamin’ Eagle Pro Street Tuner.

Related: ThunderMax Tuner Reviews: A Complete, In-Depth Analysis

Exhaust Kits

Upgrading the exhaust system on your twin cam 96 engine can help to increase horsepower and torque. Several companies offer performance exhaust systems designed specifically for the twin cam 96 engine.

Air Cleaners

Upgrading the air cleaner on your twin cam 96 engine can help improve air flow and performance. Several companies offer high-performance air cleaners designed to fit the twin cam 96 engine.

Here’s a video detailing some of these Twin Cam upgrades, along with a lesser known option that’s worth considering.

What Models Had The Twin Cam 96?

The twin cam 96 engine was used in a variety of Harley-Davidson models, including the Softail, Dyna, and Touring models.

Learn more: Best Year Harley Twin Cam Engine: A Surprising Overview

How Does The Twin Cam 96 Compare to The 103?

The twin cam 103 engine is a larger displacement version of the twin cam 96. It offers more power and torque, making it a popular choice for riders looking for a bit more performance. However, the twin cam 96 is still a reliable and capable engine that many riders enjoy.

Harley 96 vs 103: What’s The Deal?
Harley 88 vs 96 vs 103: An In-Depth Engine Comparison

How Does The Twin Cam 96 Compare To Milwaukee 8 Engines?

The Milwaukee 8 engines are the successors to the twin cam engines. They offer even more power and torque than the twin cam 103, along with improved cooling and reduced vibration. However, the twin cam 96 remains a reliable and capable engine that continues to be enjoyed by many Harley riders.

Read more: Twin Cam vs Milwaukee 8: Harley Motor Shootout

All in all, the Twin Cam 96 is a good motor, but like any mechanical device, it’s not without its potential issues. Regular maintenance and timely repairs are key to ensuring a long and trouble-free life for this engine.

Read next: Harley Bad Compensator Symptoms Get Revealed

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Twin Cam 96 perform in terms of power and efficiency?

The Twin Cam 96 is known for its robust performance, delivering a significant increase in power and torque over the Twin Cam 88. Additionally, it offers enhanced fuel efficiency, making it a popular choice among Harley-Davidson enthusiasts.

Is the Twin Cam 96 a reliable motor?

Yes, the Twin Cam 96 has a reputation for reliability and longevity, especially when properly maintained. Regular servicing and using quality parts and fluids can contribute to the engine’s durability and performance.

Are there any common issues associated with the Twin Cam 96 engine?

Some riders have reported issues with the cam chain tensioner wearing out over time. Upgrading to a hydraulic cam chain tensioner or converting to gear drive can be a solution. As with any engine, regular inspection and maintenance are key to addressing issues promptly.

What kind of maintenance does the Twin Cam 96 engine require?

Regular maintenance for the Twin Cam 96 includes oil and filter changes, air filter replacement, and checking the tension of the primary chain and belts. Adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule and using high-quality lubricants and parts are crucial for optimal performance.

How does the Twin Cam 96 compare to other Harley-Davidson engines?

The Twin Cam 96 offers more power and torque than the Twin Cam 88 and is known for its smoother operation. However, it has been succeeded by the Milwaukee-Eight engine, which provides even greater performance and technology advancements.