Harley Compensator Upgrade/Replacement 2024

Several signs and symptoms give a clear indication of when to perform a Harley compensator upgrade/replacement.

Do you experience any disturbing or frustrating sounds whenever you start your bike’s engine?

While other factors may be responsible for the awful sounds you hear every time you hit the starter.

In most cases, this issue is attributed or connected with a faulty or damaged compensator. Hence, the need to get your bike’s compensator inspected.

After you must have carefully analyzed and inspected your compensator, you will need to upgrade or replace it with a new one if you detect any sign of wear.

As you read further, we will discuss the steps you need to take when it comes to troubleshooting and replacing a faulty compensator with a new unit.

What is Harley Compensator?

Harley compensator is an important component of your motorcycle. Its role is to eliminate or smooth out torsional shake or vibration that is generated by the crankshaft, ensuring it is not transmitted or transferred through the drivetrain.

When the compensator becomes faulty, the torsional vibration that is released or generated by the crankshaft becomes unrefined.

As a result, the vibration travels through the drivetrain, resulting in rider discomfort. In addition, it causes the component to wear out prematurely.

How does Harley compensator work?

The Harley compensator absorbs or stores some amount of energy and eventually discharges them after a power stroke.

When the Harley compensator is in good working condition, it eliminates starting difficulties or issues. This ensures your bike starts promptly from time to time.

Harley Compensator Upgrade

Whenever the Harley compensator becomes faulty, wears out, or fails. At this point, you will need to conduct an upgrade or replacement.

There are several symptoms or signs of a damaged compensator.  You need to get yourself familiar with these signs so that you can easily detect them whenever they come up.

Why does it need an upgrade?

Let’s look at some of the reasons why you may need to upgrade or replace your Harley compensator.

  • It is unsafe to ride a bike with a faulty compensator
  • A worn-out compensator makes disturbing sounds whenever you start the bike
  • A damaged compensator may kick back whenever you attempt to start the engine
  • When your compensator is faulty, you will experience excessive vibration. Once this vibration is transferred to the drivetrains, it may result in massive wear and tear to vital bike components.

How do you know the compensator needs an upgrade?

To successfully troubleshoot or check your Harley compensator for issues or faults. There are signs and symptoms you need to observe.

  • If you fill the bike’s fuel tank while the engine is still hot, you will experience terrible sounds when you eventually start the engine
  • You may experience difficulty when you try to shift into the first gear or neutral gear

Now that you know the most common signs and symptoms of a damaged compensator, you will need to inspect this component to detect the level or extent of repair that is needed to fix the issue.

Harley Davidson compensator replacement cost

Interestingly, the process involved in the upgrade/replacement of a worn-out compensator is straightforward.

The challenging part of the replacement process is when it is time to pay for the new unit and/or the service cost.

DIY Replacement Cost

Are you planning to replace your faulty Harley compensator independently? In that case, a new unit of this component costs about $400.

When you have the necessary tools and adequate skills, you will be able to successfully complete this task in your home.

Professional Replacement Cost

If you do not have adequate knowledge of what it entails to complete a replacement on your own. In that case, you need to consult a technician.

On average, a technician may charge between $400 and $500 as labor costs.


The replacement and upgrade process takes about two (2) hours to complete (1 hour to remove the faulty compensator, and another 1 hour or more to replace it with a new one).

When you have the right tools and adequate skills, the whole process can be completed in a shorter time.


  • A new compensator
  • A MAPP gas torch
  • 1 1/2 inches socket
  • T-70 Torx
  • 1 3/26 inches socket
  • Breaker bar
  • 19-66mm sized plier
  • Torque wrench
  • Primary drive locking tool
  • Red Loctite (262 or 7649)

Step by Step Guide of Harley Davidson Compensator Replacement

  • Choose a location with adequate space: Ensure you choose an area or location with enough space that can accommodate your bike. Your location choice must allow unrestricted movement. It must also guarantee safe storage of removed parts and components to prevent loss.
  • Leave the engine to cool off: Don’t conduct a replacement immediately you turn off the engine, or bring the bike to a halt. Give the bike a few minutes to cool off before you start working on it.
  • Detach the heel shifter and left footboard: Before you can replace or upgrade your compensator, you will have to disassemble it from the bike. The first step is to take off the motorcycle’s left footboard and heel shifter. While trying to remove these parts, do it carefully.
  • Drain the primary drive oil and take out the primary cover: The oil in the primary drive must be drained. While removing the primary cover, ensure you take your time. You have to be careful with it, and don’t rush.

Usually, the inner primary and drive assembly will let out residual oil. You can prevent this oil from spilling over the ground or garage’s surface using a baking tray.

  • Check for wears: Immediately the oil drain plug and primary cover are removed, the compensator becomes visible. At this stage, the wear marks on the sprocket become visible and easily noticeable.
  • Take out the clutch hub snap ring: To successfully remove this part, you need a plier (19-66mm). If you find it hard or challenging to remove the clutch hub snap ring using a plier. In that case, you can pull the clutch plate apart.

Since the clutch hub main shaft comes with a 30mm hex head, a primary drive locking tool is required to complete this operation successfully.

  • Detach the compensator: You need to unscrew or detach the compensator from your Harley as a single unit using a T-70 Torx bit.

For easy removal, the compensator bolts should be heated with a MAPP gas torch. When you heat the bolt, the Loctite patch that was applied to the threads of the compensator bolt from the factory is softened and weakened.

  • Clean the sprocket shaft threads: There are various approaches or techniques that you can adopt. You can make use of a 9/16-12 tap, or brake cleaner and compressed air. You need to be very careful if you are making use of the former technique (the tap). Take your time. Ensure you are not damaging the shaft threads while cleaning or taking off the residual Loctite.
  • Replace the compensator: Immediately after the old/damaged unit has been removed, the next step is to replace it with the new compensator. The compensator kit comes with all the necessary hardware. Ensure you couple all of these drive components accordingly before the final installation on the bike.
  • Apply Red Loctite 262: Add a few drops of this solution (Red Loctite) on the clutch hub snap ring. Once the application is complete, reinstall/reattach it back to its position on the bike. Ensure it is rightly placed and everything is accurate.
  • Install a new gasket: Once the snap ring and release plate are positioned or placed in their various compartments, then you need to pull the chain tensioner together. Afterward, install a new gasket and secure it properly.
  • Assemble the primary housing: The next stage is to pull the primary housing back together. Also, ensure you fill/apply clean and clear lubricant into the primary chain case. The lubricant must be sufficient enough (it must get to the clutch’s bottom).
  • Conduct final inspection: Now that you have successfully completed the replacement exercise, do not forget to inspect each and every part. The final inspection ensures you do not miss any step of the replacement process. It also guarantees that everything is in place, and the task is executed accurately.

FAQ’s of Harley Davidson Compensator Upgrade

When does the compensator become bad?

The compensator becomes bad or faulty when the spring pack becomes weak, and a chain of concentric rings glides against the compensator hub.

The spring pack is located behind the compensator sprocket hub.

When the compensator becomes inefficient, worn out, or damaged, the overall performance of your Harley drops.

How can I confirm if my compensator is bad?

Although there are various signs and symptoms of a damaged compensator to watch out for.

The only way to actually know or confirm that your compensator is bad is to remove the primary cover and inspect the compensator itself.

What happens when the Loctite is not heated before the removal of the compensator’s bolt?

If you fail to heat the Loctite, and instead try to take out the bolt normally. In that case, the Loctite falls apart or breaks into fragments.

The broken pieces are extremely rough or harsh, and they can damage the bolt and the shaft threads.

To avoid this issue, apply heat to the compensator bolt for about 3 minutes. Ensure the heat is applied evenly.

What are the various parts of the Harley Compensator?

The Harley compensator assembly consists of several vital parts or components.

These include a small spring washer (1), medium spring washers (2), large spring washers (2), sliding cam (1), sprocket retainer (1), thrust washer (1), retaining bolt (1), and the aforementioned Harley compensator.

How long does the Harley Compensator last?

The answer to this question is dependent on your bike’s model year. On average, you may not need to replace your compensator until about 40,000 miles.

If you have a solid compensator installed on your bike from the factory, and you conduct a regular maintenance routine.

In that case, you may cover as long as 100,000 miles before the compensator becomes due for a replacement.

Some of the factors that are responsible for early compensator breakdown include poor design and inadequate lubrication.

How often should I service my Harley Davidson?

According to the manufacturer, Harley owners should service their bikes every 5,000 miles. In some cases, you may need to consider oil change more frequently than the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Normally, how often you service your bike is mainly dependent on some crucial factors. These factors include the riding condition and riding style.

What are the top compensators for Harley Davidson?

There are several Harley compensators on the market. For best quality and performance, you need to invest in a design that is built with solid materials. A durable design lasts longer and improves the overall ride experience.

Some of the top compensators on the market are HardDrive 15-051 Complete Compensator Sprocket Assembly, HardDrive 15-061 Complete Compensator Sprocket Assembly, and Twin Power Compensating Sprocket and Cover Kit for Harley Davidson 1994-2006.

These designs can be purchases on Amazon. The link to each product is included in this guide.


We believe you now have a clear and better understanding of the signs to look out for when your Harley compensator becomes bad.

Immediately you experience or perceive any of these signs, inspect your compensator for wear and the level of damage that has occurred.

Afterward, conduct Harley compensator upgrade/replacement using the right tools. Make sure you follow the steps we have listed in this guide for an easy and successful task.

Usually, it is advised you go through/consult your bike’s service manual whenever you need to carry out a replacement, repair, or maintenance of vital bike components. So, this step should not be left out.

If the replacement/upgrade exercise seems like a big or challenging task for you. Do not hesitate to consult a technician to troubleshoot and fix the issue for you.

When a worn-out or faulty compensator is replaced, the overall ride quality is enhanced. Your motorcycle performs like it’s new, making every ride fun and exciting.