Harley Davidson 103 Compensator Problems: Causes And Solutions

Harley Davidson 103 compensator runs into issues that include a loud clunking sound during startup, problems shifting gear, too much vibration, and others. Luckily, all these issues are easily solvable.

The compensator on your Harley Davidson 103 acts as a shock absorber. When it malfunctions it can be quite dangerous to ride your Harley 103. So, before you decide to ride your bike it is extremely important to solve these issues. 

Troubleshooting and Fix for Harley Davidson 103 compensator problems

Harley Davidson 103 compensators are quite reliable but in the long run due to improper maintenance or aging they can start to show some serious problems.

1- Loud Clunking Sound During Startup

One of the main problems of 103 compensators is loud clanking sound during startup. 

When you ride your Harley, you will be easily able to notice this unusual sound specifically coming from the compensator. 

The main reason for these unusual noises is worn out or damaged parts inside the compensator. To fix this issue, you will need to open it and check for any damaged parts.

Examine the clutch basket, compensator sprocket, primary chain, and other parts of the primary drive system for signs of wear or looseness. 

If the parts are loose, tighten them and lubricate them well, a simple lubrication is sometimes enough to solve this issue. However if the parts look way too worn out, replacement is the only solution. 

The replacement cost will vary depending on factors like which parts have been damaged and your location.

2- Gear Shifting Problems

 Gear Shifting Problems
Gear Shifting Problems

Another very common Harley Davidson 103 compensator problem is gear shifting issues. When the compensator malfunctions you will have trouble shifting gears to 1 or 2.

This can be quite annoying especially when you are in the middle of the road with no service center or mechanics near to help you. Gear shifting problems usually happen due to clutch adjustment.

So, you will need to check the clutch and make readjustments according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Read Also: Harley Davidson 5 Speed Transmission Problems: Tips & Fixes!

3- Problems while starting

If you are having starting issues with your Harley Davidson 103, then the compensator can be at fault. 

But before blaming the compensator make sure that the battery and alternator are in perfect condition.

Thus if the battery and other parts are working fine on your Harley Davidson, you will need to check the compensator and may need ro replace it.

The cost of replacing the compensator for Harley can be anywhere between $250-$500.

4- More Vibration

It is common for you to feel vibration when riding any bike not just Harley Davidson but when the compensator goes bad this vibration gets worse. 

The sprocket hub begins to rattle and rotate back and forth as it becomes weaker. As a result, the vibration and noise increase, making riding uncomfortable. 

You can try tightening the sprocket and lubricating it properly, but even if it doesn’t work, you will need to replace the sprocket. The replacement cost can be anywhere between $50-$250 for the whole set.

Read Also: Solving Harley Freewheeler Problems: An Ultimate Guide!

Tips To Prevent Harley 103 Compensator Problems 

When the Harley 103 compensator starts to malfunction you can have a hard time riding your bike. 

So, preventing problems in the first place can help you have a smoother riding experience and longevity of the compensator.

  • Always do regular maintenance of your bike according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Regularly check the oil level and lubricate as per the recommended intervals.
  • Avoid driving your bike roughly as it can provide extra stress on the compensator.
  • Never overload your bike, always follow the recommended weight limit by the manufacturer.
  • Do not ignore unusual noise or vibration on your bike and consult a professional.

Read Also: Solving Harley Milwaukee 8 Problems: An Ultimate Guide!

Is It Safe To Drive A Harley 103 With Compensator Problems?

It is absolutely unsafe to drive a Harley 103 with compensator problems. A faulty compensator can cause serious issues with the engine and lead to excessive vibration. 

A bad compensator can also lead to improper power delivery to the drivetrain. 

As a result you won’t be able to have proper control of your bike which can cause serious accidents. 

Moreover, compensator issues may affect how smoothly the clutch engages and shifts gears. 

So, if you have trouble changing gears, you may find it more difficult to handle the motorcycle. This can result in risky accidents on the road.

Read Also: 4 Major Harley Davidson 103 Engine Problems & Solutions


Fixing Harley Davidson 103 compensator problems can be quite tough as it consists of many different working components. Our FAQs sections below will help you understand the topic more.

Can I Fix The Harley Davidson 103 Compensator On My Own?

Fixing the Harley Davidson 103 compensator can be quite complicated and you need professional tools for the work. So, the better option is to visit a service center or consult a professional mechanic for the fixing. 

How Long Does A Harley Davidson Compensator Last?

A Harley Davidson 103 compensator is built to last anywhere between 10,000-15,000 miles. However, this also heavily depends on factors like your riding style, conditions, maintenance and more. Proper maintenance can increase the lifespan of the compensator.

How Often Should I Service My Harley Davidson?

Harley Davidson needs regular maintenance on required intervals to perform smoothly. According to Harley you should service your new bike at 1000 miles and after that you should service it after every 5000 miles.

Final Words

A perfectly working compensator can make or break your Harley Davidson riding experience. So, when it starts to malfunction you will need to fix it asap. 

You can make the journey more comfortable by understanding all the typical problems, possible solutions, and troubleshooting methods. 

However, fixing a malfunctioning compensator can be quite complicated so you must be very careful if you are doing it yourself.

Read Also: Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster Common Problems

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