Harley's "Super Tuner" buyback and what it means to you

Harley's "Super Tuner" buyback and what it means to you

Posted by Ben Baker on Nov 1st 2016

In case you missed it, Harley-Davidson just shucked out $15 million to settle a motorcycle emissions claim by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The consent order covers two different "super tuners." Among other things, it says Harley has to try to buy back the unsold units and destroy them. The EPA claims Harley was selling "illegal tuning devices that increase air pollution from their motorcycles."

Here's a more detailed look at this order and what it means to bikers.

A news release from the EPA says Harley sold "About 340,000 devices, known as tuners, that allow users to change how a motorcycle’s engine functions. These changes can cause the motorcycles to emit higher amounts of certain air pollutants than they would in the original configuration that Harley-Davidson certified with EPA… Harley-Davidson also manufactured and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles that EPA alleges did not undergo proper EPA certification to ensure they meet federal clean air standards."

The Wall Street Journal reached out to Harley for a comment and got this: "“We disagree with the EPA’s position,” a spokeswoman for Harley said. “But we’re going to move forward and settle” the complaint.

In signing the consent decree, Harley Davidson is not admitting it did anything wrong. In fact, Harley continues to say there is nothing wrong with the Screamin' Eagle when it used properly.


Harley says the Screamin' Eagle Super Tuner and the "Screamin’ Eagle electronic fuel injection Race Tuners" were aftermarket parts meant only for closed-course racers, not street-legal bikes. Such racing cars, which are never used open public roads, are not subject to the same EPA emissions regulations. When mounted and tuned, the device is supposed to increase the motorcycle's speed.

The problem is the tuners could be mounted to street-legal bikes.

The EPA did not say if the federal agency had found any street-legal bikes with the aftermarket tuner mounted. The agency would only say it discovered the tuners and the emissions problem during a "routine inspection."


The tuners are more specifically described as “Screamin’ Eagle Pro Super Tuners." The agreement signed mid-August, required Harley to try to buy back all the tuners, at least from dealerships, and destroy them.

As of this article, the buyback appears to be falling short. A quick check on Google shows plenty of them for sale on auction sites like eBay. Prices ranged from $120 to $300.

How-to websites and YouTube still have videos showing people how to set up and tune the Super Tuner.


The settlement was $15 million in total. Of that, $12 was for the penalty and another $3 million "to mitigate air pollution through a project to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning stoves in local communities," the EPA said.

Harley also has to get California Air Resources Board (CARB) certification on any future tuners it sells. "The CARB certification will demonstrate that the CARB-certified tuners do not cause Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles to exceed the EPA-certified emissions limits," the federal agency said.


If you have one of these Super Tuners on your bike, now what?

The EPA order only applies to Harley. It does not apply to individual motorcycle owners. If you live in a place (California, some big cities) that have emissions control regulations, you may have to take it off to meet the regulations. If you don't have to worry about the Smog Police, then you make the call.

The EPA order does not apply to other companies that make these devices either. However, the agency says anyone who is making a tuner that does the same thing is breaking the law.

“Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden.