Article 001: Product Review: Buehler Better Lever

For those of you familiar with Harley Big Twin Motorcycles you know they are great machines, but need some TLC every now and then.  Today I’m going to do a product review of the Buehler Better Lever sold by Conrad Buehler.  http://betterlever.com/

Background

The Better Lever is a replacement shift lever for your Harley-Davidson transmission when you stock lever gets stripped out.  If your heal toe shifter wiggles a lot, your shift lever is probably loose.  Take an allen wrench and tighten this as soon as possible and check it at least every oil change.

Ordering/Shipping

The better lever is $159 plus $4.95 S&H.  Not exactly cheap, but it beats removing your transmission to replace the shifter rod that has damaged splines.  My better lever was shipped quickly and Conrad even emailed me to let me know the status and seemed genuinely interested in my progress.

Installation

The Better Lever installation instructions are available on You Tube, and Conrad even included a DVD with the lever I received.  I cannot vouch for his cutting process to remove the old lever as I pulled my inner primary since I wasn’t 100% sure what my problem was.  If you can afford the time and depending on where you are in your maintenance schedule, it may not be a bad idea to consider replacing the stator, primary tensioner shoe, and transmission shift rod seal.  These all tend to be failure items.  This adds some cost to the project, but will pay dividends when you don’t break down on vacation!

The inner primary removal is pretty straight forward as long as you have the correct tools, a service manual, and a helper.  In this case my wife who was 7 months pregnant helped me by reading the service manual while I wrenched.  All so I could go to a rally in Iowa with my buddies. (yes, she’s a good wife)

Installation Area

Side bar:  If you’re lucky enough to have a buddy that works on their own bike, take my advice and
ask them for help.  They are also great resources for tools and help you avoid stupid mistakes.  Some years back I was advised to change my stator do to a strong burning smell in the primary case.  My buddies were kind enough to walk me through the process once and now I can handle it on my own.

Back to the Better Lever. I did have some installation problems with the hardware included in the kit.  The bolts provided are 304
stainless steel and the lever itself is stainless.  For those of you familiar with materials you know that stainless steel threads are very susceptible to galling or cold welding.  Don’t make the mistake I did and run these together with no lubrication (use loctite as directed).  I wanted to do a test fit, but as soon as the bolts loaded up, they galled and I had to fight to get it apart.

Galled Threads

The fasteners are also 1/4’”-28 UNF.  Fine threads are very difficult to find on a Friday night in a small town.  Certainly a Fastenal or McMaster-Carr will have them, but not till Monday.  I ended up finding replacement hardware at Menard’s (local big box home improvement store).  I used black oxide coated fasteners.  I know the Better Lever uses stainless for corrosion, but this is a pretty hidden area so I’m not too worried.

Conclusion

Overall I think the Better Lever is a great product and a better design than the stock HD lever.  I will say my first lever lasted 63,000 miles, but I did tighten it many times to baby it along.  Hopefully the Better Lever lasts me another 65,000 miles without having to worry about it.

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