John’s Harley Softail chop
I am getting to old to push Harley chops around a workshop full of priceless E Type Jags, so this is, unfortunately, the last one I’m doing.
Owner John has had it a while, and changed the tank and bars. But he knew the electrics weren’t up to snuff. As with so many choppers, the original builders had lavished a lot less effort on the electrics than on the frame. Chuck in two or three owners making enthusiastic changes and things reach a point of no return.
It turned out that the wires for every single electrical item on the bike, from the vacuum advance to the LED headlight, had been modified. So it all needed checking and sorting out, and in many cases the parts needed mounting securely too. It’s unglamorous work, and it takes ages, but it’s absolutely vital. And in the end you’ve got a bike ready to receive a loom.
Fortunately this bit was pretty straightforward. A chopper is fairly simple electrically, so your main point of focus is fitting everything into tiny spaces. To this end I evicted the vast Harley flasher unit and replaced it with a matchstick-length Axel Joost Multi Flasher Plus from Digital Speedos. Because Harley indicator switches only make momentary contact, you need a gadget that converts this blip into an instruction to start flashing (and then, with a second prod, to stop flashing). The MFP can do that, as well as self cancel and hazards.
It also helps to use micro connectors (JST or SM types on this bike). These save space, and are happy taking the super-skinny wires from the aftermarket LED lights and dash. My main aim was to keep the battery area clear. Batteries are always a weak link on older Hogs and the like, because their gigantic cylinders need so much energy to turn over. If a battery lead has a poor connection, or the battery isn’t fully charged, you end up with melted terminals. John’s battery had endured a little overheating but, with careful surgery, managed to recover.
And in fact, the bike fired up instantly. These massive choppers are heavy, awkward and difficult to work on – but once you let the clutch out you just can’t help grinning.