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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, so here we go;

2007 Road King, 96" motor, pretty much stock (I believe), aftermarket batwing fairing, with 33,450 miles on the clock. Bike seems to run OK, I do get some decel popping occasionally though and I have had people tell me that they can smell fuel sometimes when riding behind me. I have looked for fuel leaks, but haven't found any. AFAIK, there is no map or tune on the bike. The guy that owned it before me said he had a set of cams in it but changed them back because of poor fuel milage so I don't really know what is in there because I haven't pulled it apart to verify. The bike is not throwing any codes (well, I did get a low battery light/code the other day, but that was just one day and I'm not sure why).

Since I have owned the bike, I noticed right off that it didn't get anywhere near what I would consider good milage (I was getting around 27 - 28 MPG), but I kind of attributed that to the 96" motor, that I usually run at 80 - 85 MPH on the highway and 50 - 60 on the back streets with an occasional quick off the line. Besides, it was a new to me bike and I was just excited about riding it so I guess I didn't care too much at the time.

I have changed plugs just to be sure they weren't part of the problem (color seemed OK at the time) and put a new K&N air filter on.

I just put new to me true duals on the bike because the pipes that were on there were not the right ones for the bike, and earlier last month I put new tires on (pressure just checked at 36 psi front and 40 rear). While changing the front tire I took the brake calipers apart and cleaned them up. Backing the bike out of the garage and not started, I noticed a grinding sound coming from the front end and thought it might be the brakes rubbing the rotors a little and that they would settle back into place.

Over the last 2 or 3 fill ups, I have been getting around 24 - 25 MPG 😲 And that is with the windshield off and 1 up. I got better than that with my Dodge Ram 5.9 4x4, certainly a motorcycle should do better than that. I went back to the front wheel and still hear that grinding sound so I pulled both calipers back off trying to ID the offending culprit but the sound is still there when both are off the rotors, and the wheel does not spin freely at all, it takes quit a bit of pressure to rotate it. I don't feel any binding, but I don't have a calibrated hand when it comes to that just because I don't have the experience.

My question(s) are a few fold; Would bad wheel bearings cause such a poor fuel economy? (I am sure it is adding to the problem at the very least) How freely should that front wheel spin? What else could be adding to the poor milage? Would a mechanic be able to read more from the ECM?

I don't want to just start throwing parts at the problem as I am still not back to work on a regular basis, but I also don't like having to put so much fuel into it either...PLEASE HELP!
 

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Since I have owned the bike, I noticed right off that it didn't get anywhere near what I would consider good milage (I was getting around 27 - 28 MPG), but I kind of attributed that to the 96" motor, that I usually run at 80 - 85 MPH on the highway and 50 - 60 on the back streets with an occasional quick off the line. Besides, it was a new to me bike and I was just excited about riding it so I guess I didn't care too much at the time.
That is WAY too low. I got 40.8 MPG over the course of 1000 miles to Tulsa, Eureka Springs, riding the twisties etc and back to KC, with a carbureted hot rodded 103".

I would suspect your tune. Especially on the low - mid range.

For bearings to be causing that drastic of a reduction of fuel mileage, they would be seizing up.
 
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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Could the stock ECM have messed up when the cam was changed and changed back? Maybe a re-flash? Is that something a dealer has to do or can any indy do it?

I am saving for a tuner, but in the meantime...
 

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1997 Softail Custom (FXSTC)
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As to the front wheel, it should probably spin freely and not take any force. At least that's how it is with the old tapered Timkens, I can't imagine sealed bearings being different. When I get the endplay set right on mine, I can spin the wheel with a flick of my pinky finger.

But, like you, it might contribute to the low mileage, but can't be the only factor, I don't see it being so low just because oof that.

I dunno what those bikes should get, but my hot-rodded Evo does 42-44 around town and at some points I got 48 mpg on the highway with my last trip. Before all the work I did, it got 38/42 mpg city/highway with just air, pipes and an Andrews 27 cam. So yeah, sounds super low mpg to me too.

Nothing else going on with it right, like no weird vibration, starts fine, etc? I'd probably fix the wheel bearing regardless, if it makes noise and doesn't spin without force, something is wrong in there and I'd be worried about them eventually seizing or something.

Did you pull the pushrod covers and see if maybe when they changed the cam, maybe they put adjustable rods in? Maybe they're not adjusted right (could be extended too far maybe, though I would imagine you'd notice a loss of power or the valves not closing all the way). Or maybe the timing is off if he didn't put it back together right? I know on mine, 1° retarded tanks the average mpg by about 4.

I'm just shooting in the dark here, EFI is outside my experience and knowledge.
 
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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Kyle, the bike starts fine. It does run a little rough when first started (hesitation) but goes away within a minute of riding. Seems to pull and run fine any other time. Although, occasionally after fill up it will do the same thing.

I am going to order/find local a new set of bearings for the front wheel. I don't like any kind of "grinding" sound. It never equals anything good. The bike has an aftermarket 21" laced wheel on it so I wonder if the bearings will be the same as stock or if I have to figure out what kind/size they are. :unsure:
 
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weird member
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Kyle, the bike starts fine. It does run a little rough when first started (hesitation) but goes away within a minute of riding. Seems to pull and run fine any other time. Although, occasionally after fill up it will do the same thing.

I am going to order/find local a new set of bearings for the front wheel. I don't like any kind of "grinding" sound. It never equals anything good. The bike has an aftermarket 21" laced wheel on it so I wonder if the bearings will be the same as stock or if I have to figure out what kind/size they are. :unsure:
You know what wheel it is? If it's an Ultima/Mid-West, just go ahead and replace the bearings in it, and if they're the tapered style, might want to grab a different center spacer. Mine, I guess they lathed the center spacer to set the endplay, but didn't give nearly enough room to add spacers, and the endplay was at .005" (spec is .002 - .006").
 
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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
No idea who makes the wheel, there are no markings on it but 21 x 3but I just pulled it off to see if there were any markings, p/n's ect on the bearings themselves and no joy. The bearings appear to be the sealed style. I measured the axle and it is 1" (.99 by a cheap pair of calipers and may be different once I break out the good set).

Not sure on end play. Need to check that.

Wheel:

Auto part Wheel Clutch Clutch part Tire


Bearing:

Wheel Auto part Rim Automotive wheel system Tire
 

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weird member
1997 Softail Custom (FXSTC)
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I'd check on J&P and DK to see if another wheel looks like that one, there's a good chance previous owner bought it from one of the two, or maybe Revzilla if they sell wheels. Hell, even Amazon, or a google search by wheel size + number of spokes, which looks like fat spokes.

I looked on J&P but they don't have an option to filter wheels by spoke style (or even mag vs spoke) or width, so I abandoned that effort instead of digging through over 100 results for 21" front wheels (literally the only two filtering options other than finish, for which only 7 were listed as black but there were more than 7 predominantly bblack ones listed on the search without the color filter).

Seems stupid to me they don't have more filtering options than that.
 
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Hit it she goes boom
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Just thinking out loud but is it possible he did something with the cams thats causing such poor mileage. I'm sure if the push rods were out you'd hear that, but what if the valves aren't closing in time, hence the fuel smell. My 103 has gotten as high as 52 and as low as 35, she's usually around 40-45.
 
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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just thinking out loud but is it possible he did something with the cams thats causing such poor mileage. I'm sure if the push rods were out you'd hear that, but what if the valves aren't closing in time, hence the fuel smell. My 103 has gotten as high as 52 and as low as 35, she's usually around 40-45.
That is a possibility, but how would I go about checking something like that? Or is that something I would have to have a mechanic check?

I am mostly competent with tools and have a fair amount of mechanical abilty. Sometimes I just need a little guidance.

Hell, If I could get anywhere near 35 right now I would be ecstatic.

BTW: I appreciate all the responses so far.
 

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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Anyone else got any ideas about the fuel milage? My poor bank account is begging!
 

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Hit it she goes boom
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That is a possibility, but how would I go about checking something like that? Or is that something I would have to have a mechanic check?

I am mostly competent with tools and have a fair amount of mechanical abilty. Sometimes I just need a little guidance.

Hell, If I could get anywhere near 35 right now I would be ecstatic.

BTW: I appreciate all the responses so far.
I'm not a wrench either, but have done cams with help. I'm just going back to your remark about a fuel smell, if its unburned, its not helping the scoot move. Sooo thinking out loud, if you can determine the valves are closed at TDC I think that would answer part of the question... hey, what about compressed air in the cyl.. leak down. Put her at TDC run some air, and if it hisses out the exhaust or the intake.. could be valve timing.. just some thoughts.
 
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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Show off. 😜
 

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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Air filter clean? Maybe MAP sensor dirty.


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New(er) air filter, but it wouldn't hurt to clean it, so I 'll do that and I didn't think about MAP, so I'll clean that too.
 

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Just adding I typically get 42-44 mpg on my Ultra. Two up most of the time.
 

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Try'n to behave
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Schmidty, I may have been stretching the truth on the Ram milage. Yours sounds more realistic. I loved the power of that truck, but hated how thirsty she was...and the trim (2000).
 
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