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Photos and text by Rogue

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Rogue, the author and a member of the Sturgis Hall of Fame. He is truly a master of all things motorcycle.
Rogue, the author and a member of the Sturgis Hall of Fame. He is truly a master of all things motorcycle.

I suspect some are going to question why I would remove a reasonably new H-D automatic primary chain adjuster on my 2009 FLHTC and install a Baker job that must be manually adjusted.

There is meaning to my madness. The automatic chain adjuster was designed to remove any primary chain slack, by noticing flex in the chain ratcheting up a notch. We know from past experience, that the chain tightens as it heats up from running. If the automatic adjuster ratchets up cold it may make the chain too tight under normal operating conditions.

A chain that’s too tight will put undo pressure on inner primary bearings, main shaft engine bearings (which were recently down-graded from Timken bearings to old-style roller bearings) and main shaft transmission bearings. We have received numerous reports of severely damaged ’06 and newer Harley-Davidson 6-speed transmissions. In each case the main bearing was worn out in less that 40,000 miles. On the other hand, manual adjusters have been used for over five decades without serious issues and require very little maintenance.

Don't forget to remove a battery cable or the main fuze.
Don't forget to remove a battery cable or the main fuze.

“The Attitude Chain Adjuster solves the issues associated with the stock auto tensioner,” said Trish from Baker DriveTrain.

Since the Bikernet tech department became aware of several sever transmission failures, we’ve been on the hunt for the cause and solutions. In my case, I had a compensating sprocket go bad with only 30,000 miles on it. Harley replaced it under warrantee. There had been reports of bolts coming loose and other problems, so I never considered the chain an issue. But on the road to Sturgis this year (2012) the inner primary bearing started making noise. I stopped at Klock Werks and Jennifer repaired it for me while I handled my photo shoot. The motorcycle had just 39,476 miles on the clock.

In addition, my motorcycle always had a slight whine when gearing down. The combination of all these issues caused further investigation, and the Baker Attitude Chain Adjuster became a serious option. According to some seasoned mechanics, three issues could cause transmission failures; the compensating sprocket, the tightening automatic chain adjuster, or a reduced quality 6-speed main bearing. I replaced my compensating sprocket, so the Baker chain adjuster was my only option to prevent additional wear to my transmission.

I drained the primary fluid while I removed the floorboards, seat, main fuse, and the battery ground cable (don’t forget to disconnect the battery).

After removing the outer primary cover I placed a primary drive locking tool between the sprocket teeth. I should mention: Do Not use one of the wedge type locking tools.

The proper sprocket locking tool.
The proper sprocket locking tool.

I then removed the engine sprocket nut, sprocket, the chain and the automatic adjuster.

While installing the Baker Adjuster I added some Blue Thread Lock to the bolts and torqued them to 220 Inch-lbs.

New Attitude Adjuster in place.
New Attitude Adjuster in place.

I then installed the compensating sprocket assembly. The factory re-commends you replace the engine sprocket bolt every time it is removed as it has a locking agent on the bolt. I opted to clean the bolt on a wire wheel and used Red Thread Lock.

I placed the locking tool in the opposite direction of when removing bolt and Torqued the bolt to 100 Foot-pounds. Loosen bolt one (1) Full Turn and Re-Torque to 140 foot-pounds.

I then adjusted the chain to 5/8-7/8-inch upward free play. I continued checking the free play at multiple points by rotating the engine and clutch. You can do this by a socket on the engine sprocket bolt and or by raising the tire, putting the motorcycle in gear and rotating the rear tire. In some cases you may want to remove the sparkplugs so engine turns easier. Having a slightly different measurement at different locations is common, from chain stretch, but the total adjustment should be in range. Tighten the 3/8 Nylock Nut to 21-29 foot-lbs. NOTE: Making this adjustment on a hot drivetrain requires an adjustment range of 3/8-5/8-inch.

“And never have to worry about the chain getting too tight,” said Trish. “The 28% finer teeth spacing, as compared to the 2001-06 ‘L-Bracket’ style, allows more accurate adjustments. We offer this chain adjuster for fitment with stock outer primary covers, as well as a package deal with the new BAKER Bully Primary Cover.”

I installed the outer primary cover and torqued the fasteners to 108-120 Inch-lbs. I re-assembled the rest of the motorcycle with the exception of the passenger floorboard, and then removed the derby cover and added 45 ounces of primary fluid. Baker and I recommend Spectro lubricants.

I have made a very handy tool for filling the primary by using a 60ml syringe and a section of clear tubing. The baby bottle was used for measuring ounces, but don’t tell her.

I installed the derby cover and torqued ¼-20 fasteners to 84-108 inch-pounds, replaced passenger foot peg and test rode the motorcycle. The gear whine was gone—amazing!

For more information on this and other fine products check out Bakers website by clicking on their banner below.


The Attitude Chain Adjuster Features
-Chain shoe machined from Nylon 66
-Backing Plate and Active Plate investment cast from 4130 steel
-28% finer teeth spacing (compared to 2001-06 chain adjusters) for more accurate adjustments -Chain adjustment method same as 2001-06 style stock ‘L’Bracket’ adjusters.
Fits 2006-Later Dyna Models
Fits 2007-Later Softail/ Touring Models
For more information and ordering – click on the Baker Banner or call 1-877-640-2004




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Reader Comments

Very tight article. Although being a technician myself on a day-to-day basis, sometimes asking the questions "why?" Only gets a cursory inspection. One of the reasons why I enjoy open shops where all the techs can chat about work/repairs.

Nice organization, timeline, and photos as well as the cute Baker model at the end. Keep up the good work.

Brian "buzzie" Robertson
Saint Louis , MO
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Editor Response As always, let us know if we miss anything, or if you have a sharp tech notion deserving of world wide attention.

I installed one on my '12 Road King ,6000 miles on the clock. I would suggest installing a new primary chain along with this mod. My chain had so many tight spots it took 20 minutes to adjust.

bklyn, NY
Monday, November 12, 2012
Editor Response Thanks for the tip. I passed it onto Rogue.
Great article and very descriptive (with pics). Nice to know the things NOT to do, as well as the 'to do's'...

Jackson, MI
Monday, November 12, 2012
Editor Response You made Rogue's day.

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