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I don't remember where I heard it, but someone once said to me that the shift linkage is the first thing you should swap on a new bike. I forget what that joint is called on the stock linkage (Heim I thinks) but if you compare how it works compared to the aftermarket ones it's pretty obvious it is not as sturdy.

I have no choice except to use the heel shifter due to foot drop in my left foot. I can see how using the heel shifter can put more pressure on the linkage than the toe shifter does, which could explain why people have had issues. I will say I have never had linkage issues with my aftermarket linkages and have been using a heel shifter since 2007 when I bought my first ride with one.
Its not about the linkage, its about the shaft that comes out of the transmission, tucked behind the primary.
 

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I personally think the problem (if there actually is a problem) is attributable to hard use of the shift lever(s). But you can have and use a heel shifter without being hard on it.

What can I really prove?...Nothing. I've never not used a heel shifter and have personally had zero problems with multiple bikes. But I don't ride hard, shift hard, jam or poke things. When I'm using the heel shifter, the ball of my foot is on the footboard. I'm simply elevating my heel and sliding my foot back enough to cover the shift knob....rock my foot to change a gear...etc. I would never set things up to where I had the full weight of my leg above my heel and come down on the shifter. Logic just tells me to shift normally and not be rough on things...so I'm not. Stomping a shifter is abusive...not a fault of the lever to me.
 

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So, this got me thinking. Maybe the next question is to ask: "For those who use heel shifters and not had a problem, is there something they've done that may have made a difference?"

The slop in the shifter is evident. Always bothered me and I replaced that OEM shift spacer with the SoftBrakes Spring Loaded spacer. This "fix" would also account for the lack of issues with the VN900C. While it has a heel shifter, it is not a separate piece and is fixed to the whole shifter assembly. So there is minimal potential for slop there.

Also ask: Why is the aftermarket market still selling them if "everyone" knows they cause premature failure? There must be still a market. Unless the possible supposition is that there are a lot of ignorant people buying heel shifters. Dunno.

Ya gotta feel good about your decision so however you want to paint the picture is jim-dandy with me. :)

Good luck in your research
Like physicians sell treatment, parts vendors sell parts.
Hang out at a barbershop and you'll eventually get a haircut.
Commerce.
 

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14 years with a heel shifter and never had any problems. Heel shifters aren’t the problem. Lack of maintenance and heavy footed stomping on the lever, which in reality requires very little pressure to manipulate, is the cause. I’ve heard disparaging remarks about the poor maligned heel shift lever for years. I’ve always chalked up those opinions to those who’ve yet to evolve and master the art of walking and chewing gum at the same time….
 

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I use a heel shifter, but use the Yafee Stealth one. I've never had an issue. But I do check the torque on the bolts when servicing the bike.
 
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When you look at the design, all the shift lever (either one) does is rotate the splined shaft...and that's the end of it. As long as the pinch bolts are tight on a shift lever and the shifter arm (which keeps the splines closely locked and unable to move) there's almost no way for excessive wear to happen. If the pinch bolts aren't tight and movement happens where splines engage, then wear will start happening.

All that said, it's not hard to envision loosening of the pinch bolt plus extra wear caused by heavy-footed shifting....heel or toe for that matter. To me it's just a matter of keeping the pinch bolts tight with some blue threadlocker and avoid rough treatment of either shift lever. It definitely doesn't hurt to check things a couple times per season and be sure no excess play exists.
 

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Age old problem related to heel shifters. Easier to heavy on the shifting by heel. I've had several bike that have done that. But, seems the newer models are using stronger metal to prevent the stripping from occurring so soon.
 

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I don't know if it causes the problems you describe, but I can tell you that I removed my heel shifter simply because I coudn't get used to using it. I crawled on my first bike at the age of 16, and I'm 63 now. I bought a '97 ElectraGlide Ultra in Feb. of this year. First Harley I've ever owned, though I've wanted an electraglide from the first time I ever saw one. My problem was my size 12 feet. If I centered my foot on the floorboard, my toe was on the toe lever, my heel on the heel lever. I had to turn my foot at least 45° to not be on one or the other. Can't tell you how many times I accidentally shifted into neutral because of this. Nearly got me run over once, and almost caused the bike to run out from under me on another occasion. After that, the heel shifter had to go. Too many years of doing it the other way, I could not retrain myself. And I am about to replace the floorboards with pegs too. I am still struggling with getting my sasquatch sized feet off the floorboards and on the ground at a stop sign. I've dropped my new/old bike twice because of this, and I'm going to fix that problem. Yes the boards are cool and look great, but just can't get used to them or the heel shifter.
 

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Another thing I've always done is lower the kick lever as far down as it can go without bottoming out on the board and interfairing with the shift, and still letting shift engage . This my have taken some force off the stomp , but don't know. I did this for comfort only but may have hit two birds with one shot . :)
 

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This is my first bike with boards and a heel/toe. First year i took it off, thinking I wouldn't use or like it. Put it on one day and I couldn't see riding without one. I like to ride in sneakers and bikes destroy them without a heel shifter. Plus it's just so much more comfortable and convenient. I agree 100% about the blue loctite and not stomping on it. I have had to tighten mine a few times. It's always a good idea to hit the problem bolts periodically. Shit loosens up all the time on three. The shift linkage comes to mind as well.

'He who is brave is free.'
 

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I had a 2010 with a heel shifter, had about 25000, never a problem.
My 2020, now
Wheel Tire Fuel tank Land vehicle Vehicle

did not come with one. I missed it so I actually purchased a Harley heel shifter for a short time before changing it to a Bad Dad, same shaft, different levers, 16000 miles in and no problems.
Always remove, clean and lube (shifter) shaft 😳😂 at service and check torque when I tinker.
I probably put at least 1/2 the force on the heel as I would on toe, basically just the weight of my boot.
 

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Some people saying that the heel shifter isn't the problem, but that stomping down on it IS the problem. Seems like there are 2 simple solutions then, 1.) Stop stomping on the heel shifter. 2.) Remove the part that you are stomping on so that you can't stomp on it. There.... problem solved! 🤷‍♀️ :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

The splines on the shifter shaft are very small and the metal that the trans shift lever, and the heel/toe levers, is made out of is very cheap. Just like any other issues that HD has had, sometimes it works fine and sometimes it doesn't. Any extra force, like what happens when you use a heel shifter, can cause pre-mature wear on those splines. Even if tightened to proper spec. There is an aftermarket trans shift lever that eliminates the issue whether you use a heel shifter or not. No, I don't remember the name of it.

Edit: The whole shift linkage design is not optimal to begin with, but it has kinda worked for many years. If you want to blame that as the cause and not the heel shifter, I will agree with that. If you want to blame the heel shifter because the design is too weak to handle it, I will agree with that too.
 

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I put almost 60K on my '13 with the heel shifter, when I traded for my '22 that was the first thing I bought while waiting for them to finish the paperwork and I've had it on for 3Kish miles, no problem on either but I do check the hardware regularly just like every other nut/bolt I can get my hands on.
 

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My first experience with a heel toe shifter, was my mother's Trail 90, i beat the shit out of that shifter!! And it took it, my Tour Glide came with a heel toe shifter, with me having raced dirt bikes, it just didn't feel right so I took it off, and was pleased with the amount of floorboard space i gained, every bike in between that I have had I have taken off the heel shifters.....
Now to my point of view, the reason I mentioned the trail 90, is that I used my toe for the heel shifter, banging it trashing it, not with the heel. I wonder how many people use the toe on the on the heel shifter? Could you imagine getting caught up in a panic situation, using the heel shifter to downshift banging the whole time, now that would not be pretty. You guys that just have to have that heel shifter, get one of those small heel shifter that sits tucked in out of the way, it'd be harder to bang it that way, cuz I'm sure that's what's happening... and I'm not saying that you cant do the same with the front shifter, cuz I have banged it down a few times and panic situations!!! It is my humble opinion that the heel shifter cannot take the abuse, like the toe shifter and that is just one opinion,there are hundreds out there.....and not one the same....
 
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