Harley Davidson Compensator Problems and Solutions

Do you hear that clank when you start up your Harley? Feel the vibrations and struggle to shift gears? We’ve got the lowdown on Harley compensator problems and the solutions you need.

The Harley compensator, a shock absorber for the starter mechanism, smooths out rough pulses in the engine for a smoother ride.

In this article, we’ll cover common symptoms, options for upgrading, troubleshooting tips, and the benefits of a new compensator.

Get ready to rev up your Harley and leave those problems in the dust.

Key Takeaways

  • A bad compensator can cause loud clanking sounds, increased vibration, and difficulty shifting into neutral or first.
  • Harley compensator problems are common and can result in unpleasant clunking sounds, rough startup, and excessive vibration.
  • Solutions to Harley Davidson compensator problems include installing a Bakers compensator, replacing the stock tensioner, and upgrading to a new compensator assembly unit.
  • Upgrading a bad compensator can improve starting ease, power delivery, throttle response, and overall bike performance.

Common Symptoms of Harley Compensator Problems

We have identified several common symptoms of Harley compensator problems. These include a loud clank sound when starting, increased vibration, failure to start when hot, sounds like marbles or rocks in the primary, and difficulty shifting into neutral or first.

These signs and symptoms of a bad compensator can be indicative of underlying issues that need to be addressed. Possible causes for these problems can range from worn or damaged components, such as the compensator sprocket or chain adjuster, to improper tension or alignment of the chain.

To troubleshoot these issues, it is recommended to inspect and tighten any loose nuts or bolts, check for any visible damage or wear on the compensator assembly, and ensure proper chain tension and alignment.

If these troubleshooting techniques do not resolve the problems, it may be necessary to consider replacing the compensator with a new assembly unit or upgrading to aftermarket options for a more reliable and improved performance.

Harley Davidson Compensator Problems

Upgrading the Compensator: Bakers or Stock

When upgrading the compensator, it’s important to consider whether to choose the Bakers compensator or stick with the stock option. The Bakers compensator offers several advantages over the stock option, making it a popular choice among riders seeking improved performance.

Related Article -   Troubleshooting Harley Davidson Shifting Problems: Common Causes Revealed

Here is a comparison between the two options:

  • Performance Evaluation: The Bakers compensator has been praised for its ability to reduce noise and vibration, resulting in a smoother ride. It provides better power delivery and eliminates the clunking sound often associated with the stock compensator.
  • Enhanced Durability: The Bakers compensator is known for its durability and longevity. It is designed to withstand the demands of high-performance riding, ensuring a reliable and consistent performance.
  • Ease of Installation: Upgrading to the Bakers compensator is a straightforward process that can be completed by most experienced riders. It comes with detailed instructions and requires minimal modifications to the existing setup.

Overall, the Bakers compensator offers superior performance and durability compared to the stock option, making it a worthy investment for riders seeking an enhanced riding experience.

Replacing the Tensioner: Attitude Adjuster or Stock

Replacing the tensioner with the Attitude Adjuster offers improved performance and ease of installation compared to the stock option.

The benefits of using the Attitude Adjuster tensioner are numerous. Firstly, it provides enhanced durability, ensuring a longer lifespan for your bike’s engine.

Secondly, it offers better control over chain tension, reducing the chances of chain slippage or breakage.

Additionally, the Attitude Adjuster tensioner allows for easy adjustment, allowing riders to fine-tune their bike’s performance to their liking.

On the other hand, the stock tensioner often faces common issues such as premature wear, inadequate tension control, and difficulty in adjustment.

Considerations for Upgrading the Compensator Assembly

Installing a new compensator assembly unit can greatly improve the performance and smoothness of our ride. Ignoring Harley Davidson compensator problems can have serious consequences, such as increased vibration, difficulty shifting gears, and potential damage to the drivetrain. Troubleshooting common compensator issues is crucial for maintaining the freedom and enjoyment of our Harley Davidson.

Here are three important considerations when upgrading the compensator assembly:

  • Choose a reliable aftermarket compensator that addresses the specific issues you’re experiencing.
  • Consult with a professional to ensure proper installation and compatibility with your bike model.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain the compensator to catch any potential problems early on.

By addressing compensator problems and upgrading to a new assembly unit, we can enjoy a smoother ride, improved power delivery, and eliminate clunking sounds in the primary.

Don’t let compensator issues hold you back from the freedom of the open road.

Related Article -   Harley Davidson Evolution Engine Problems: What you need to know

Checking and Tightening the Compensator Nut

To ensure the proper functioning of our ride, let’s check and tighten the compensator nut. The compensator nut plays a crucial role in maintaining the stability and smoothness of the engine.

When the nut becomes loose, it can lead to various issues such as excessive vibration, clattering sounds, and difficulty shifting gears.

Loose compensator nuts are commonly caused by factors like improper installation, wear and tear, or inadequate maintenance.

By regularly inspecting and tightening the compensator nut, we can prevent these problems and ensure a safe and enjoyable riding experience.

To help you better understand the importance of compensator nut maintenance, here is a table highlighting the common causes of a loose compensator nut:

Common Causes of Loose Compensator Nut
Improper Installation
Lack of Proper Torque
Wear and Tear
Inadequate Maintenance

Troubleshooting Clattering Sound: Sprocket or Chain Adjuster

Let’s troubleshoot the clattering sound by checking the condition of the sprocket or chain adjuster. Here are the steps to follow:

  • First, inspect the sprocket teeth for any signs of wear or damage. Look for any missing or broken teeth that may be causing the clattering sound.
  • Next, check the chain tension and make sure it is properly adjusted. A loose chain can cause the sprocket to rattle, so tighten it if necessary.
  • Finally, examine the chain adjuster for any signs of wear or looseness. Ensure that it is securely in place and functioning properly.

By adjusting the chain tension and inspecting the sprocket teeth, you can identify and resolve any issues that may be causing the clattering sound.

This will ensure a smoother and more enjoyable ride, giving you the freedom to enjoy your Harley without any distractions.

Benefits of Upgrading a Bad Compensator

Upgrading a bad compensator provides us with improved ease of starting, smoother power delivery, quieter throttle response, elimination of clunking in the primary, and enhanced overall performance of our bike.

By upgrading the compensator materials, we can ensure a more reliable and durable component that can withstand the demands of our riding style.

The impact of a compensator upgrade on performance is significant. With a smoother power delivery, we can experience a more responsive throttle and a more enjoyable riding experience.

The elimination of clunking in the primary enhances the overall smoothness of the bike, allowing us to shift gears seamlessly.

Additionally, the improved ease of starting ensures that we can get on the road quickly and effortlessly.

Related Article -   What Does A Power Commander Do For A Harley? How It Can Help With Performance

Overall, upgrading the compensator is a worthwhile investment that greatly improves the performance and enjoyment of our bike.

Benefits of Upgrading a Bad Compensator
Improved ease of starting
Smoother power delivery
Quieter throttle response
Elimination of clunking in the primary
Enhanced overall performance of the bike

Understanding the Cost of Compensator Upgrades

When considering the cost of compensator upgrades, we should take into account factors such as the specific components being purchased, the cost of labor, and the range of prices depending on the model and location.

  • Cost comparison: It is important to compare the prices of different compensator upgrades available in the market. Different brands and models may have varying costs, so conducting thorough research can help in finding the best option within the desired budget.
  • Professional installation options: While some riders may choose to install the compensator themselves, it is advisable to consider professional installation options. Hiring a skilled technician ensures proper installation, minimizing the risk of any potential issues or damages.
  • Accurate estimate: Consulting with a professional for an accurate estimate is crucial. They can assess the specific requirements of the bike and provide an estimate that includes the cost of the compensator, any additional components needed, and the labor charges.

Considering these factors will help in making an informed decision and ensure a smooth and cost-effective compensator upgrade.

Verdict on Harley Davidson Compensator Problems: Stock Vs. Aftermarket Solutions

Considering the reliability of stock Harley compensators and the availability of aftermarket solutions, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

When comparing stock and aftermarket compensators, there are several factors to consider. Stock compensators are designed by the manufacturer and are generally more affordable.

However, they are known to have issues, particularly for models between 2007 and 2012.

On the other hand, aftermarket compensators offer potential improvements in performance and durability. They are often made with higher-quality materials and innovative designs. Additionally, aftermarket options may provide better power delivery, smoother operation, and reduced noise.

However, it is crucial to research and select a reputable aftermarket brand to ensure compatibility and avoid any potential warranty issues.

Ultimately, the decision between stock and aftermarket compensators depends on individual preferences, budget, and desired level of performance.


In conclusion, Harley Davidson compensator problems can cause a range of issues. These include loud clanking sounds, increased vibrations, and difficulty shifting gears.

One solution is to upgrade to a reliable aftermarket option, such as a Bakers compensator. Another option is to replace the stock tensioner with an Attitude Adjuster. Both of these upgrades can significantly improve the performance and reliability of your Harley.

It is important to note that regular maintenance and inspections are crucial in preventing compensator problems. By staying on top of maintenance, you can catch any potential issues before they become major problems.

So, why settle for a stock compensator that is prone to issues when there are reliable solutions available? Investing in a high-quality compensator can greatly enhance your riding experience and provide peace of mind.

By Jacob - The Rider

Hi, my name is Jacob. I'm the founder of Backyard Rider Mag - a blog about motorcycles. I've studied engineering in college but decided to make blogging my career because it really aligned with what I wanted to do creatively - talk about bikes! I've been riding for 16 years now- everything from sportbikes to cruisers, dirtbikes or even dual sports. And after all these years on the road, there are still new bikes that excite me just as much as when I first started riding.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *