Harley Denies Bike Warranty for U.S. Flag Waving Motorcyclist

Harley Denies Bike Warranty for U.S. Flag Waving Motorcyclist

A Wisconsin motorcycle enthusiast has reported that Harley Davison canceled the warranty on his motorcycle because he has too many flags, including a full sized, 3X5 foot U.S. flag, attached to his bike.

Chippewa Falls resident Dave Zien, 64, says that the motorcycle maker has refused to honor the drivetrain warranty after the clutch failed on his 2014 bike because he affixed too many large flags to the back of the machine.

Along with the full-sized U.S. flag and the Wisconsin state flag, the biker flies six other large flags on the back of his new bike, including a National Rifle Association banner that says “Stand and Fight.”

Harley-Davidson representatives, though, say the flags violate the warranty.

“All they said was, because I fly flags on the bike, there’s no warranty on the powertrain,” Zien told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 15.

“I am all Harley-Davidson, heart and soul. But they ain’t going to take away my flags,” Zien insisted.

Zien is well known in Wisconsin and among Harley enthusiasts generally for having ridden a million miles on his 1991 Harley. Since the year 2000 that bike has been in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in South Dakota.

But he is not just known for his connection to biking. Zien was elected to the State Assembly in 1988 and by 1993 had been elected as a Wisconsin State Senator. Before that, he was a Marine who served during the Vietnam War.

Despite his measure of fame, the motorcycle maker notes that since Zien only has 15,000 miles on his Harley three-wheeler it is still generally under warranty, but because of all the flags Zien has voided any coverage on the powertrain and transmission.

Harley spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim told the media that all the flags on Zien’s trike creates a “terrific drag on the engine and the transmission,” especially at highway speeds, and the bike is just not built to withstand this constant extra drag.

Blankenheim also says that the inclusion of the non-Harley approved, after market hardware that holds the flags to the bike also impacts the warranty.

Blankenheim concluded:

We recognize that it’s a very cool thing to (mount flags) on your bike, and we want our customers to be able to personalize their bikes in that way. We also understand, especially with Memorial Day coming, there are lots of riders who want to show not only their pride in America but other things as well. We have products designed specifically for that, and they won’t negatively impact the motorcycle. But because of what’s been done to (this) motorcycle, and how it impacts the motorcycle’s performance, we just didn’t cover the warranty claim.

However, some cyclists are not impressed by these mere terms of service. Tony Sanfelipo, cofounder of the motorcycle organization ABATE of Wisconsin, says that Harley should make an exception for flying flags on the bikes.

“I think every Harley Owners Group road captain, every Patriot Guard Rider, every American Legion rider, and any patriotic American Harley-Davidson rider should be enraged at such a suggestion that flying a flag would void a warranty,” Sanfelipo said.

Others feel that Harley should make an exception because of Zien’s accomplishments.

“I can only hope that Harley has considered very carefully who (Dave Zien) is and the ill will that this one warranty claim denial could generate among the Harley faithful,” said Jeff Haig, executive director of the Kettle Moraine Harley Owners Group chapter. “At the same time, I can empathize with the Catch 22 Harley may feel it’s in because if the company extends a courtesy to Dave because of who he is, and what he’s accomplished, it would make it hard to deny the next warranty claim that comes along.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com