Sponsored by Hannum's Harley-Davidson of Sellersville

Motorcycle enthusiast claims Harley voided warranty over American flag

By Rick Barrett of the Journal Sentinel

Dave Zien gives a thumbs up as he rolls down a road in New Berlin on his Harley-Davidson in August. Zien's former bike is now in the Harley-Davidson motorcycle hall of fame after he rode it for one million miles. Zien's current ride has a custom hand operated shifter since he lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident in Florida.

Dave Zien gives a thumbs up as he rolls down a road in New Berlin on his Harley-Davidson in August. Zien’s former bike is now in the Harley-Davidson motorcycle hall of fame after he rode it for one million miles. Zien’s current ride has a custom hand operated shifter since he lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident in Florida.
Photo By: Kristyna Wentz-Graff

A former state lawmaker from Chippewa Falls who has logged more miles on a Harley-Davidson than probably anyone on the planet says Harley has voided the warranty on his bike because there are too many flags flown on it, including a 3×5-foot American flag.

Dave Zien, who rode more than a million miles on his 1991 Harley that’s now parked in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in South Dakota, says Harley-Davidson refused to honor the warranty on his new motorcycle after the clutch and transmission failed on a recent trip to Dallas.

“All they said was, because I fly flags on the bike, there’s no warranty on the powertrain,” Zien said Thursday.

Since the 1970s, Zien has flown multiple flags on his bike. Currently, he has seven flags on it, including a National Rifle Association banner that says “Stand and Fight.”

“Ain’t nobody gonna stop our flags, not even Harley-Davidson corporate,” Zien said.

Harley-Davidson says the warranty on Zien’s bike is still in effect, but that his warranty claim was denied because the motorcycle was not designed to handle the wind resistance from so many flags at highway speeds.

“The issue isn’t that the flags are heavy, but they provide terrific drag on the engine and the transmission, especially when the bike is at highway speeds,” said Harley spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim.

Also, the flag mounts on Zien’s bike are not Harley-Davidson products, according to the company.

“When you alter a motorcycle with non-compliant products, that does impact your ability to make a warranty claim,” Blankenheim said.

“We recognize that it’s a very cool thing to (mount flags) on your bike, and we want our customers to be able to personalize their bikes in that way. But because of what was done to (this) motorcycle, and how it impacts the motorcycle’s performance, we just didn’t cover the warranty claim,” she added.

Zien’s complaint, though, was quickly gaining attention among other motorcyclists.

“I think every Harley Owners Group road captain, every Patriot Guard Rider, every American Legion rider, and any patriotic American Harley-Davidson rider should be enraged at such a suggestion that flying a flag would void a warranty,” said Tony Sanfelipo, cofounder of the motorcycle organization ABATE of Wisconsin.

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