Call Kurtis: Harley-Davidson Lawsuit

Four Sacramento-area riders are suing Harley-Davidson, saying their bikes get dangerously hot. One even says his pants caught fire while riding. Now a class action lawsuit has brought against the motorcycle maker.

Matt Weyuker is one of four men suing Harley-Davidson over the way their motorcycles were designed. They say Harley knows the bikes are dangerous, but continues to sell them.

“The first day I rode it, I was on it about 20 minutes. I was shocked at how hot the inside of my leg was getting,” says Matt.

It was so hot, Matt says, he’s burned his right leg and had his pants catch fire three times while riding.

“First I smelled it, then I could see the smoke, then I could feel it,” recalls Matt.

He says the problem is the rear cylinder, which can get extremely hot.

“It’s obviously a design flaw. I’ve had other Harleys and they didn’t do this,” says Matt.

“It’s pretty dangerous,” says Bill Kershaw, who filed a class action lawsuit against Harley-Davidson on behalf of Matt and three other riders, all from our area.

All allege in the lawsuit their engines “… appeared to run excessively hot…” and that they’ve “… suffered physical injuries, including burns…” The complaint also alleges “… since approximately 1999, Harley-Davidson has been aware that the engines run at unreasonably high temperatures.” And the company has “… failed to design cooling systems to cope with the increased heat…”

“We think that the real reason for this is because Harley doesn’t want to change the configuration and the look of its bike,” says Bill.

Matt says Harley has suggested a couple fixes, but he doesn’t feel he should have to pay for extra work on his fairly new bike.

“If they can tell me put an oil cooler on it, or a different air intake or a different tune, then that means those are the things they could be doing before they release them from the factory,” says Matt.

We contacted Harley-Davidson and asked why these bikes are getting dangerously hot. After leaving two messages they never returned our calls.

Matt now wears leather chaps to protect himself, but says those are barely holding up to the heat. He showed us where he says the leather is melting.

After shelling out thousands of dollars on his prized Harley Matt just wants a bike that’s safe.

“Make it work. Harley has always been on the cutting edge of technology, they can figure it out and make it work,” he says.

The motorcycles involved in the lawsuit have Twin Cam 88 and Twin Cam 96 engines. Only people who have bought those types of bikes in California since October of 2006 are eligible for the class. Bill Kershaw says that could be tens of thousands of riders. If the court certifies the class, all owners with the affected Harleys would be notified.

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