Fly by Wire Harley Problems

There's been a lot of skepticism and complaints about the new "fly-by-wire" throttle on the 2008 Harley-Davidson touring model...

There's been a lot of skepticism and complaints about the new "fly-by-wire" throttle on the 2008 Harley-Davidson touring models. Well last week, it may have claimed a victim.

Here's a post I found on HDForums today...
My Brother HAMMER was killed today in a bike accident -- He was the President and Chapter Holder for Boozerfighters Chapter 39 in Granburys, Texas. He is also the Owner of Jackhammer Tattoo. his wife Sindi is in serious condition.

Seems that the new electronic throttle on the 08 H.D.'s has a problem they accelerate on their own and you can't shut them down. he had just got his bike back from H.D. for this problem and they told him it was fixed. this time he was in a curve and couldn't pull out of it , ran off the road and threw Sindi off ,then the bike flipped over on him and broke his neck .
And it's corroborated on the Boozefighters Canada website (though it doesn't mention the fly-by-wire).

Of course, I can't yet confirm that the fly-by-wire throttle is what caused the accident, so far, it sounds like it was involved.

Fly-by-wire is not new to motorcycling, but it is new to Harley-Davidson. Thus far, it's been a source of doubt and skepticism among the motor company's loyal following, who look at old world technology as being tried and tested. For Harley, it was a way to shed the company's reputation of being archaic.

The company's official rationale for incorporating the fly-by-wire throttle is that the touring models come with Electronic Cruise Control, and that an electronic throttle actually integrates with it more seamlessly than cables. In other words, it makes things more simple.

But if making things work more seamlessly together is the reason for this, then that would suggest the previous cable-based system was problematic. I'm not aware of problems with the throttle-cable not working with the cruise control, if there were then perhaps readers can post comments.

Otherwise, I'm left wondering if this fly-by-wire throttle was implemented purely for the altruistic pursuit of technology, as opposed to giving motorcycle riders something that works.

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Post a Comment

  1. What happened to the "kill switch"? If you can't kill the throttle, kill the engine. It only takes a flick of your thump.

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  2. I want to know how they know that TBW caused this wreck. I have not been able to find any info on this accident, not saying that it didn't happen, but seeing a newspaper article would be nice.

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  3. Horrible news no matter what the reason for it was...

    And yo, "annonymous", while the kill switch may have helped, if you suddenly accelerate in the middle of a hard turn -- totally unexpectedly, as it sounds like this was -- you certainly aren't gonna have more than .5 seconds to think, before you go off-road. On a straight-way with a lot of room, sure, you've got time to realize that there is a problem -- one where taking your hand off the throttle isn't working.

    Poor guy probably didn't even have enough time to think "What the Hell!?!"

    Hope his wife pulls through...

    It's always a heartbreaker for me when a brother biker gets taken before his time -- especially when it isn't his fault in the least.

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  4. I totally agree with bikerdan. I ride dirtbikes and have had this happen. It's so sudden the usual end result is flying off into the trees.

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  5. I ride a 04 Roadglide and it has wired cruise control. I have 60,000 miles on it and use the cruise control all the time. I have never had any problems with it. If its not broke, don't fix it!!!

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  6. I had the same thing happen to me with my 08 road king. Was using cruise control, came in to a flat curve. I used the rear brake to slow down. Cruise did not disengage. I flew off the bike at 70 miles an hour,fortunately living to tell about it. No there was not enough time to hit the kill switch. By the time you realize what is happening it is to late. I am very lucky, I hope we can get more people aware of this before someone else gets hurt or killed.

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  7. Here is the link to local paper, but it will not tell the cause and most likely will never be known to the public.

    http://www.hcnews.com/obits/index.asp?id=13471

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  8. I have worked in the electronics field my entire adult life since graduating from tech school. And while it has made our life simpler, and perhaps mopre fun, it can also be dangerous. While noone yet knows the "fly-by-wire" throttle caused this accident I can assure you it is possible. And it is sad, like the EFI on new Harley's, you don't have an option for an old tried and true cable throttle, nor a carburetor. So I will not buy a new Harley until I have those options. As far as hitting the "kill" switch. Sometimes when things go wrong fast you don't have time to think, just react. And if you are already accellerating madly, killing the motor will not save you in a curve you are going to fast in. Leave my Harley's old school with cables and carbs....PLEASE!?!?!?!

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  9. my boyfriend and i had the misfortune to have wreacked becouse of this fly by wire my question is why not change it back or fix it so others aren't hurt or killed had i known about this problem or that others had been killed and hurt i would have never gotten on that bike i don't know if i will ever enjoy riding again i hope people get educated about this fly by wire and know the risk they are taking riding a bike with this kind of trottle how many people have to die before the problem gets fixed i think one death is to many

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  10. Had a similar problem wth my "07 Ultra Classic which still has the steel throtle cables. I was getting ready to move my bike when the engine suddenly raced wide open. I twisted the throtle back to idle; the RPM went down but then went wide open again. Five seconds later I was on the ground with multiple broken bones waching my bike twisting on it's side 25 feet away, still at full throttle. I had left the cruise control switch in the "on" position but hadn't touched the "set" button. Sitting still with my feet on the ground there is no reason for the cruise control to energize itself. The problem is in that electronic module not necesarily the TBY.

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  11. hello everyone i am having a problem with the fly by i installed new bars and everything is correctly installed but all of a sunned i start the bike it runs but as i attempt to give it gas i slowlt accelerates slowly and ive replaced it twice at the trottle still same thing im ready to go back to cables problem is its 3200 to do so

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  12. I have an early 2008 FLHTCU and have a somewhat opposite problem. I have to twist the throttle grip a little over 1/4 turn before the engine has enough RPMs to start off (about 2000 RPMS). I have a 95 FLHTCU which is equipped with a carb and a little over 1/4 turn of the throttle will produce about 3000 RPMs. When I switch between the two bikes I have a problem of giving the 95 too much gas for start off and the 08 not enough for start off. Before learning how much throttle the 08 needed I almost dropped it three times when starting off making a right turn. In the spring of 2009 I asked for a correction of what I see as a problem by my dealer and was told there was no adjustment for the that. I was told that they had three 08 bikes in their shop for repairs where the riders did drop their bikes because of the same problem.

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  13. I wanted to follow up on the 2008 fly by wire issue. Had a friend on a 2008 Ultra Classic and the cruise control would not shut down and he is a quadriplegic. The situation was verified by police and a similar problem with witness verification the week before. This panic situation ended up in the desert. The family is contemplating legal action and needs help with information about any similar circumstances. Please let me know of anything similar as it seems there is some problem not addressed by Harley.

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  14. Response to Jim:
    If you want more information about my accident call me @ (951) 277-1737.
    Dirtyred

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  15. Jim, I have not crashed due to my issues, however I am experiencing issues as well. My throttle response would go away and bike would idle but throttle, intermittent at first then it stopped completely. Sent to HD replaced ECM, 3 wks later idle issue similar to above description sent to HD, cant recreate kept for 3 wks gave back was not present any more? 3 more wks later throttle lost while on freeway again, called HD Dealer called corporate they said if it cant be recreated I am SOL. I want to take this 'Toyota' opportunity to pressure Harley to fix the issue before it kills me not after. 08 FLHX email me at iambobisme@hotmail.com with your phone number and we can talk if if you like.

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  16. I have a 08 FLHX and had a similar problem where the bike would accelerate on its own took the bike back to the dealer after only having it a few weeks and explained the issue. They informed me it was being caused by me shutting down the engine while the bike is still moving the computer calibrates that speed your traveling and considers that Idea. After clearing the computer by switch the power on and off 5 times the problem never returned in the past 28k.

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  17. I am experincing a cruise control problem on my 08 Ultra Classic. The cruise control will disengage but the green light stays on on instrument panel, now this is happening while driving on interstate at 70 mph on flat road. I have not been able to re-engage crusie even after turning power switch to off then back on. I can re-engage only after shutting engine down and starting over from a dead stop. Any help please.

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  18. Dealing with Electronics and sensors, sounds like all of these problems may be self induced by our habits of shut down and start up procedures. Perhaps a hard reset of the bikes electronics is in order...

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  19. My only problem with the fly by wire is the slow response time. When riding two up and stopped on a hill the response time is so bad it can cause a stall. You seem to have to wait for the engine to catch up.

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  20. I bought a new 08 Road King, and immediately noticed the lag in throttle response. I killed it twice in busy intersections taking it home from the dealer. The gas just wasn't there like with the cable throttle bikes Id always ridden. Had I known this problem existed, I'd have bought an 07, just to have the cable throttle. The factory came out with a TCB, but it was kept a secret from customers. A new download for the throttle garbage, but only to be done if the customer complained about the lack of throttle response. I did, and got the new download. It helped a lot, but didn't get rid of all the lag. Innitially, when I complained to the dealer's service dept. supervisor, he just said, you'll get used to it. I never have. I'm tired of having to hold two fingers on the front brake so the bike won't roll back while I'm waiting for the gas to be there. The fly by wire sucks, and im seriously thinking of going to an older bike since it costs a fortune to get cable throttle and electronics installed, and the factory does'nt seem to care about the safety issue involved. I'm surprised more riders aren't dead because of this problem. If harley davidson has a conscience, they'll go back to the cable, or pay for the conversion, HAH, that will be the day!

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  21. The standard adage that I hear all the time, and know from experience to be true, is never buy anything HD makes untill it's been out for a couple of years. They can't seem to engineer anything right the first time.

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  22. has anyone else had problems withe harley fly by wire electronics around eletromagnetic or radar sources

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  23. I ride a 09 FLHT...Since May 16, 2009 I have apprx 28,000 miles on the bike.....My bike has gone into Limp Mode several times.....From a cold start to passing an 18 wheeler.....I had another 18 wheeler tailing me when the bike backfired and went into limp mode.....The tailing truck was alert and backed off...The slower truck continued on.....I made it to the shoulder.....The bike reset and I made it home.....Bossier Harley sent a truck and hauled the bike in.....They checked it and everything was fine.....A few months passed and the problems kept getting worse.....Bossier Harley picked up the bike again last week.....They replaced contacts in the throttle.....Runs fine now.....I experienced the high rpm surge once thus far.....I wiped out in my own front yard.....nothing damaged but my left shin.....I stood it up and rode to work.....Something is wrong with the fly by wire.....

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  24. All of you need to also research the issues with the BANK ANGLE SENSORS... They are ongoing for more than 10 years.

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  25. Can any one just answer the question. Weather it can an has been done successfully to convert TBW to cables.

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