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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Thought about where to post this and decided the Touring Forum was a good spot, because touring riders often must deal with whatever comes their way.

So today kind of sucked, in general, with concerning events and challenges all day at work. Finally got out of the office around 6:30 in the fading light, and it was cool and nice, and the ride home promised to be relaxing and rejuvenating. Got on the bike, pulled out of the parking lot, and wham! Hit with a deluge of rain. Heavy, intense, thick rain with big drops and the roads struggling to drain. Fun stuff.

It had already been raining earlier in the day. (Of course, because I washed the motorcycle yesterday. Wash bike = make rain. Law of nature.) So, I figured the roads were clean and I could see okay and I was already totally soaked to the bottom of my socks. Might as well just ride home. It's only seven miles of near pitch black in a downpour. No biggy. Right?

After a few miles, the bike started running rich, slowing down, and wanting to quit. Twice the RPMs dropped, then came back. At about mile 6 it actually died. I pulled to the side of the road, put on the hazard lights, and restarted. It churned a little longer on the starter than is normal, then fired up. The remaining mile to the house was uneventful. Fortunately, my lovely wife not only had a nice dinner all prepared, but she had left the garage door open so that I would not have to sit in the deluge and fumble with the door opener. /love

This is a 2018 Heritage 114 with the exposed, oiled cotton air filter. There is a water sock on the filter to protect the engine. I imagine that the water was so thick during the downpour that there just wasn't enough air getting through to sustain combustion. I activated the engine in the garage and it fired right up, sounding perfectly normal. Blipping the throttle revealed the usual snappy response. I let it run for a minute to warm up, combust any remaining moisture in the bike, and help dry the bike.

The bike is almost new, with only a little more than 7k miles. It is stock all around. It has ridden through rain before without incident, though maybe not quite the near submersion that this ride entailed. This was like swimming. What little of the air wasn't displaced by raindrops was laden with mist.

Is this stalling thing something that indicates a problem, or just a sign that riding in really, really heavy rain is a dumb idea? Is the rain sock more for parking in rain and less for riding? This is something to which I didn't give much thought until tonight. The dealer said, "oh, yeah, here is a rain sock to keep water out." I said, "okay," put it on, and just left it there for the last six months. Would it be better to remove the rain sock prior to riding and trust the cotton filter to block enough water to avoid engine damage?

This is the first bike I have had with exposed air filter elements. What is the best practice? (Aside from pulling over under cover. I know that. But being so close to home... I just went for it.)
 

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Number 1, riding in it is really really dumb. I know this because I just did it for 12 hours. Water over my ankles on the floorboards a couple places. I have a open air filter as well with rain sock but totally forgot to put it on before riding in that stuff. Also dumb. At least I think so.

But maybe, just maybe having the sock on like you might have been a problem. Maybe the sock collected so much moisture on the surface that it was choking the engine. Where my run without the sock allowed the moisture to get sucked in and kept running fine. That's just pure guess because mine never once had trouble.

Also not sure I would have risked it at night but I did start in dark however it was just very light rain then. At night I could see where you might have got down below 30mph. That's as slow as I got but was pushing it. Rain beating the hell out of my eyes while I tried to get a slight view clearing my glasses.

That would give me about 50 feet and wipe again. I assume yours was similar. So yes, very very dumb to ride in that stuff. But that's the only thing I can think of for the differences. Well, plus mine is slightly hidden behind lowers but with the amount and intensity coming down with the low speed I don't see how even that could make a difference. But maybe it did.
 

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It's almost certainly the water in the air filter like you figured.

I used to ride a Vstar, never had a problem in the rain, 1 day I rode my wife's (identical bike) except she had a forward facing air filter ( hypercharger). That bike behaved just like your Harley did in a thunderstorm downpour, I was down to 30 mph at one point, it just wasn't getting enough air to go any faster. This was not fun on the interstate at midnight in a storm ...

Once the rain slowed down and the filter dried out some it was fine.

The bikes I ride now have internal air intakes, the water never has a chance to get into the air filter, I've ridden in rain so heavy that I couldn't see but the bikes don't care in the slightest.

Maybe you can rig some kind of shield or change the intake to one that will keep out the water, or maybe a different kind of sock?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Wow, Hogcowboy! Water to the floorboards! That sounds intense!

I did slow down and minimize lean. There were a few areas where water sprayed out sideways, but there was never really any question regarding traction. At times I wondered if the FF lid was fogging, but lifting the visor showed that it was the world fogging up.

I am thinking it was the wet sock blocking air. With just the cotton filter, I bet any moisture going in there would have been cooked off harmlessly. Should have taken the sock off in order to ride.

This was definitely bordkerline for me. Perfect conditions in the parking lot, but soon after it was stuff that would have me pulling off at the next exit in a car, were I caught on a highway. As it was, the fastest road was a 45, and i just slowed down and relaxed. Passed a cop. He must of thought I was crazy.

I guess this is called, “experience.”

Jacket air dried overnight no problem. Gloves still soggy in the morning.

Still enjoyed the ride, though. :D
 

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I would also suspect a misfiring plug if the rain can get to it. Some type of shield may be the answer for carbs and plugs, that may be exposed to the rain. And it sounds like you need some better rain gear.

UK
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Shouldn't be plugs, unless the 2018 HDs are severely operationally flawed. As for rain gear, I did have a rainsuit... at home!
 

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Shouldn't be plugs, unless the 2018 HDs are severely operationally flawed. As for rain gear, I did have a rainsuit... at home!
Agreed. I am not sure where the plugs hide on a Harley. The carb does stick out in wonderland tho.
My riding jacket is waterproof, but I also carry a rain jacket for the longer rides. This time of year I nearly always have the rain pants on. I also carry glove and boot covers.

UK
 

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I have often wondered about those 'OPEN' air filters, some even facing forward, like a big mouth wanting to take a drink:surprise:

Don't hate me when I say this but I think even the idea on a streetbike is very stupid! Almost as bad as all of those 30's through 60's British bikes with open carbs, with velocity stacks and no air filters at all:surprise:

Those so called rain socks were invented not to keep rain out of the carbs on Desert racing machines but to keep major fine dust from clogging up the oil soaked air filters, like the K&N's and open pore soaked filter socks:smile_big:

Small amounts of water won't hurt an engine and actually cleans the combustion chamber and valves but a large amount could lead to 'Hydro lock,' not allowing the piston to reach 'top dead center,' and bending connecting rods, piston crowns and potentially ruining crank/ rod journal's:crying:

Sam:nerd:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Today I had the opportunity to try again, in slightly less intense rain but still quite a lot. This time the motorcycle ran fine. It did have that "rich" feeling a little bit at times, but it never faltered or shut off. I left the sock in place. This morning I also spoke to an expert with hundreds of thousands of miles experience and over 80k on his current Ultra, and he said Do Not Remove Sock.

It all went fine.

Today I ordered waterproof gloves from Cycle Gear.

Tomorrow I am wearing the rain suit.
 

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Do Not Remove Sock
Heck I completely forgot to put mine on and I was in rain Noah would have wondered about. Not a single problem. Except I do need a rain jacket that keeps biblical rains out:D My pants did fine except for that one high water crossing where it went over my ankles. No rain gear would have stopped that. But then they figure no one is that stupid either.:surprise::surprise::wink2:
 
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