Dave Zien was on his way to Texas when the clutch crapped out on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. It only had 15,000 miles on it and was still under warranty. Unfortunately, the warranty claim was denied because Zien has American flags mounted on his bike.
“All they said was, because I fly flags on the bike, there’s no warranty on the powertrain,” said Zien about his denied claim.
The company has stated that their bikes were not designed to carry flags and that they can cause severe wind resistance that damages the powertrain.
“The issue isn’t that the flags are heavy, but they provide terrific drag on the engine and the transmission, especially when the bike is at highway speeds,” said Harley spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim.
But that’s not the only issue. The flag mounts on Zien’s bike aren’t Harley-approved products:
“When you alter a motorcycle with non-compliant products, that does impact your ability to make a warranty claim,” Blankenheim said.
“We recognize that it’s a very cool thing to (mount flags) on your bike, and we want our customers to be able to personalize their bikes in that way. We have products designed specifically for that, and they won’t negatively impact the motorcycle. But because of what’s been done to (this) motorcycle, and how it impacts the motorcycle’s performance, we just didn’t cover the warranty claim,” she added.
I’m going to call BS on a couple of things here. First, is a flag more wind resistant than a 250 pound biker with a ZZ Top beard and his double-d old lady? Also, if flags created such a drag coefficient that they could grenade a transmission, sailing ships wouldn’t fly them, which of course they do.
The second problem is the idea that using non-Harley flag mounts somehow has any effect on the motorcycle’s drivetrain. If you glued Skittles on the fender, would that blow the engine?
Zien is calling BS too. He has flown flags on his bikes since the 1970’s and never had one damage the engine or transmission. As proof, he put over a million miles on 1991 Harley that’s now parked in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in South Dakota.
Zien is a pretty good guy and isn’t letting this minor setback stop his love for Harley or America.
“I am Harley-Davidson, heart and soul. But they ain’t going to take away my flags,” he said.
This is one of those decisions that make corporations look like heartless nimrods. Seriously, what would new clutch cost the company? A couple hundred bucks? Weigh that against the negative PR of having everyone think Harley Davidson hates America.
“I think every Harley Owners Group road captain, every Patriot Guard Rider, every American Legion rider, and any patriotic American Harley-Davidson rider should be enraged at such a suggestion that flying a flag would void a warranty,” said Tony Sanfelipo, cofounder of the motorcycle organization ABATE of Wisconsin.
For an American company that sells products to patriotic freedom-loving individuals, voiding this guy’s warranty over him flying the flag was a stupid move.