BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/4/22 12:12 p.m.

I'm still looking for a touring-capable bike and other than another, most likely older, BMW GS I keep coming back to Electra Glides/Ultra Glides. The ones that seem to offer amongst the best bang-for-buck with reasonable miles on them are either late Evo engined ones or early TC88 ones. Evo engined Harleys I'm familiar with as I owned a couple in the past.

Acording to Teh Interwebz (tm), the early TC88s are so bad that they will explode immediately, burn your house down and cause your dog to drive off into the sunset in your pickup truck. Obviously given my vehicular history and the tendency of vehicles in my ownership that don't have rotary engines to produce problems of the "hmm, I've never seen that go wrong", that's a bit of a concern to me.

I'm aware that I would either have to retrofit the hydraulic cam chain tensioners or a gear drive for the cams if a bike I bought didn't have those modifications already.

Of course the other option to avoid this is to look at the Yamaha cruiser line up, but the bikes I'd be looking at are either even heavier than a Harley or lack a few features I think I want.

FSP_ZX2 SuperDork
12/4/22 12:57 p.m.

The OE cam chain tensioners are good to about 30K miles (that's when you think about doing them).  Treat them as a maintenance item and the rest of the motor is pretty bulletproof.  A gear drive with cams and an oil pump upgrade would be the one-time fix.   The Delphi FI is much much much better than the early MM systems--touring bikes got Delphi in 2002.  All FI Softails are Delphi, and Dynas got the Delphi system in 04.  So--if you get a 99-01 Touring bike, I would look for a carb--it's an easy upgrade (Mikuni or S&S) if you feel the need...all Ultra's have FI, so Standards and Classics would be the target.  It's pretty easy to bring a Classic up to Ultra Classic standards (lowers, rear speakers and a few other bits are the differences).


2006 and older Touring bikes will be 5 speeds; 2007 will be a 6-speed and a 96".  2008 gets a bigger tank (6 gal, up from 5), throttle by wire and Brembo brakes (ABS optional)

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/4/22 1:21 p.m.

Thanks - the two bikes I was really interested in are both '99s, one has about 25k on it, the other one 45k. So I guess one really should've had the cam chain tensioners replaced by now.

From the research so far it looks like the Harley OEM upgrade to hydraulic tensioners does come with an upgrade oil pump as well so that sounds like it might be a worthwhile upgrade either way.

How are TCs holding up to higher miles? I've seen a couple in my price range that had between 50k-70k on them, anything to be concerned about if it has been maintained?

FSP_ZX2 SuperDork
12/4/22 2:17 p.m.

In reply to BoxheadTim :

I work at a large dealer in Milwaukee.  We see bikes with near or at 6-figure odometers with regularity.  They can ok run even if neglected, but it can take a fair bit to "make them right" when that happens.  If maintained (look for records) "by the book", they are as I said pretty bulletproof. Having higher miles with good records would be more valuable to me than lower miles without.

It's not a major deal to overhaul any HD big twin--they are pretty simple engines in the world of internal combustion.  And the aftermarket is bigger than anything you can imagine...

67LS1 Reader
12/9/22 12:05 a.m.

I had a TC96 in my 2007 Street Glide. 40k miles without a hiccup. The only thing I ever modded on the engine was exhaust and air cleaner. I performed all services myself on schedule. It was never back to the dealer after the day I bought it. 

I sold it in 2016 and I still see it around. 

The California CHP was selling their used HD's for more than they paid for them 2 years and 75-100k later. (They were buying bikes at less then half of retail) Then BMW beat HD on price one round and the CHP wasn't  happy. They were not allowed to take future resale value into account on the bid request for new motorcycles.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/11/22 1:36 p.m.

Thanks - that's all super helpful.

That said, if you had a choice between an early TC or a very late (97/98) Evo Electra Glide with similar miles (less than 30k)? I've come across two of the latter and they speak to me more condition and spec wise than then TCs, although they're obviously both older and slower.

Ah well, older and slower kinda sounds like me anyway.

foxtrapper UltimaDork
12/18/22 7:27 p.m.

They're fine.  My 04 Road King has a TC88 with 60+k miles on it.  It runs superbly and reliably.  I wouldn't hesitate to take it cross country right now.

I did replace the tensioner shoes at 50k.  They didn't need it,  but what the heck.  If I were to do it again, I'd probably switch to a gear drive.

I did find some faint brinelling on one of the camshafts at the engine side bearing, so I replaced that cam, and the bearings.  This bearing replacement is a standard upgrade as long as you're in there.

The drive belt is original, and in excellent shape.  That in spite of many miles on dirt roads and other inappropriate terrain.

I did replace the spoke wheels and their tubes with cast wheels and tubeless tires so I can use a standard plug.  There is no prying these tires off with spoons on the side of the road.  

I found and fixed the maligned wobble with some shim stock.  The swing arm bearing bushings were the problem.  They fit sloppily on the swing arm shaft, including brand new (only 0.001" difference to mine at 45k or so).  I could have machined new ones, but did it with ss shim stock and some red locktite.  It's worked fine, even on the race track.

I rather like the 88 with the stock camshaft.  It runs cool, even under brutal conditions.  Power curve is very linear and even.  Gas mileage is pretty good, especially for the bikes size and weight.  It's kinda like straddling a locomotive.  

I did install a reverse gear, because trying to push 800 pounds of motorcycle backwards is tough. Especially if there's any grade or you're in soft stuff.  


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