Street Glide Years To Avoid: Trust Me, For The Best

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For decades, Harley Davidson’s Street Glide models have symbolized the pinnacle of motorcycle luxury, embodying a blend of power and elegance that many riders dream of. While most of these bikes offer a splendid riding experience, it’s important to note that not every model year is free from issues.

As potential buyers or enthusiasts, understanding the years with the most significant challenges can save you from unexpected headaches down the road. Our guide will navigate you through the Street Glide years to avoid, and why you might want to think twice about before making a purchase. So what’re you waiting for? Let’s get to it!

What Is The Most Defective Street Glide Model Year?

The Harley Davidson Street Glide models, while revered for their design and performance, have had their fair share of issues over the years. Among these, the 2017 and 2018 models have been identified as the most problematic. These years were particularly plagued by issues with the clutch, engine failure, and oil leaks.

What Are The Other Street Glide Years To Avoid? and Why?

While 2017 and 2018 were the standout years for problems, other model years also had their issues. Here’s a breakdown of those years and the reasons you might want to avoid them:

Here's a picture of a 2016 Street Glide, one of the more problematic models. It has a "no-sign" overlayed on top, to illustrate there are some Street Glide years to avoid.
  • 2009: This year’s model had issues with the saddlebags, brakes, and fuel gauge. Many riders reported poor fitting of saddlebags, water leakage due to defective seals, and faulty fuel gauge readings. These issues resulted in a frustrating riding experience and expensive repairs.
  • 2014: The 2014 Street Glide had its fair share of problems, including instances where the bike’s electrical system malfunctions, Clutch slippage, and front suspension issues. Riders reported intermittent power loss, Malfunctioning gauges, and a harsh ride due to front suspension issues.
  • 2016: This model year saw issues with clutch faults and Bluetooth connectivity. The clutch master cylinder had a reduced ability to disengage the gear, leading to Difficulties in shifting gears. Additionally, riders experienced problems pairing their devices with the bike’s Bluetooth system.
  • 2018: This year was notorious for brake and clutch issues. Riders reported poor caliper performance, frequent brake seizing, and clutch problems due to a faulty master cylinder.

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

Overview of All Common Street Glide Problems

While specific issues plagued certain model years, some problems have been more common across all Street Glide models. Here’s an overview of these issues:

  1. Stiff Clutch Lever: Many riders have reported a stiff clutch lever across various models, making it difficult to adjust and leading to a less smooth ride.
  2. Oil Sumping Issue: This issue, where The oil gets trapped in the crankcase and doesn’t return to the oil pan, has been reported in various models. It can lead to Sudden power loss and strain on the engine parts.
  3. Bad Battery: Street Glide models from 2006, 2008, and 2020 have been reported to have battery issues, with the battery dying after sitting for a few days or weeks.
  4. Clutch Failure: Particularly prevalent in 2017 and 2018 models, the clutch may fail to disengage, leading to difficulties in gear shifting.
  5. Defective Oil Cooler: The oil cooler in some models, particularly the 2013 Street Glide, was known to crack easily, causing coolant to leak from the engine.

Related: Street Glide Problems

Diving Deeper By Model Year:

This is an infographic detailing the Street Glide years to avoid, of which we'll be detailing in the section to follow.

In this section, I specifically cover the issues for each model year. These model years include:

  • 2014 and 2015 Street Glide Models
  • 2016 Street Glide Models
  • 2017 and 2018 Street Glide Models

Let’s keep moving!

2014 and 2015 Street Glides

The 2014 and 2015 models were marked by a host of issues, including faulty saddlebag mounts, rough idling and stalling, and head buffeting. These problems led to Harley Davidson recalling over 185,000 bikes in the U.S. alone. The saddlebag mounts were found to fail, causing the saddlebags to come loose and fall off, posing a significant hazard to riders.

2016 Street Glides

The 2016 model had its fair share of issues, with a recall issued for defective clutch master cylinders. The clutch would fail to disengage after the bike had been parked for extended periods. This issue was due to the hydraulic clutch system failing to generate adequate lift, leading to a loss of bike control.

2017 and 2018 Street Glides

The 2017 and 2018 models were notorious for their clutch and brake issues. The primary problem with the brakes was poor caliper performance and frequent seizing up, often thought to be stemming for premature failure with the brake lines. The clutch problems were due to a manufacturing defect with the master cylinder’s internal seal, leading to a build-up of air pressure within the system and preventing it from functioning correctly.

Diving deeper:
> Road King vs Street Glide
> Street Glide vs Road Glide
> Electra Glide vs Street Glide

Important Note About The Milwaukee-Eight Oil Pump Recall

Here's an example of the oil pump that goes bad on Milwaukee 8 recalled engines.
Here’s an example of the Milwaukee Eight oil pump that goes bad on the affected models.

The Milwaukee-Eight engine, introduced in 2017, was touted as a significant upgrade for the Street Glide models. However, it suffered from significant oil pump problems, the issue in particular – sumping. This problem, where oil gets trapped in the crankcase and doesn’t return to the oil pan, led to sudden power loss and strain on the engine parts. Harley Davidson issued a recall to address this issue, but it remains a concern for many riders – especially in the face of the strenuous lineage of the Twin Cam engine.

Related: Is The Harley 114 A Good Engine? Yes and No (Here’s Why)

Recap of Main Points

When considering a Street Glide, it’s essential to be aware of the potential problems with certain model years. The 2017 and 2018 models are the most problematic, with significant issues with the clutch and brakes. Other years to avoid include 2009, 2014, and 2016. Common problems across all Street Glide models include a stiff clutch lever, oil sumping, bad battery, clutch failure, and a defective oil cooler.

If you’re sitting here wondering if you should consider a Street Glide or not, and you’re still unsure, I recommend checking out this video:

While the Street Glide is a fantastic bike, understanding these potential issues will help you make an informed decision when purchasing. Always remember to do your due diligence and thoroughly check any used bike before buying. Happy riding!

Read next: Harley 107 vs 114: Milwaukee 8 Worth The Hype? Yes and No

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Street Glide model year is considered the most problematic?

The 2017 and 2018 Street Glide models have been flagged as the most troublesome, facing challenges with the clutch, engine failures, and oil leaks.

Are there common issues that cut across various Street Glide models?

Several problems are recurrent across different Street Glide models. These include a stiff clutch lever, the oil sumping issue, battery problems, clutch failures, and issues with the oil cooler.

Were there any recalls associated with the Street Glide models?

Yes, Harley Davidson has initiated recalls for specific model years. For instance, over 185,000 bikes from the 2014 and 2015 models were recalled in the U.S. due to issues like faulty saddlebag mounts. Additionally, the Milwaukee-Eight engine, introduced in 2017, had a significant oil sumping issue leading to a recall.

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