The heavy duty solenoid for the Tri Glide is the method by which the bike is simultaneously connected to the battery and the reverse gear flywheel. Using a lever type action, the gear is thrown out first, then has a direct hi amperage contact to the battery, giving it the ability to deliver a powerful motor type crank at a low rpm. This procedure is necessary protocol to ensure the gear is into the flywheel BEFORE power is supplied to the motor to avoid permanent irreparable damage to the teeth of both pinion and flywheel gears.


HERE’S HOW IT WORKS :  When the electric reverse button on the bike is activated, it sends power through the relay with a breaker to the “s” terminal on the 83388-09 solenoid. The terminal energizes the heavy duty coil in the solenoid. As the coil becomes an electromagnet, it pulls in a large spring loaded metal plunger mass towards the coil. This plunger is attached to ½ of a lever arm. On one side of the lever arm, the plunger closes a hi amp set of spring loaded contacts. On the other side of the teeter-totter type lever arm is the bendix gear which slides back and forth on a shaft.  


The lever arm, which pivots on a case hardened spring, is designed so that the distance from rest to the bendix entering the flywheel is less than the distance from rest to end of travel of the plunger that closes the contacts. Thus, ensuring that the bendix will be fully inserted into the flywheel before the contacts close which connects the battery to the motor and starts spinning. The bendix is equipped with a one-way roller clutch so that the teeth can spin a little in reverse to help guide an easy gear mesh alignment.


DISENGAGEMENT : There are 2 independent sets of return springs in the solenoid system. The largest most powerful spring is the coil spring that sets in the plunger. This spring is responsible for a snappy retraction of the bendix from the flywheel as soon as the switch is turned off. The other spring is inside the solenoid cap. This spring’s job is to maintain a counter tension for stability, of the movable contact. This helps to prevent sticking on from a low voltage contact or too lengthy of a crank period.


CAN I REPLACE MY SOLENOID ?  Solenoids are a common problem in the automotive world. Many mechanics and hobbyist mechanics have had an experience when they have been able to save some money by replacing just the solenoid and not the starter. This was never a great idea because 99% of the time, if the driver retains possession of the car, he will be replacing the entire starter as a unit, within the next upcoming months. Then, whatever money was initially spent, will be an entire waste, because it is virtually impossible to purchase a starter that has no solenoid.


However, there are 2 cases with the 83388-09 Harley Davidson electric reverse motor that a person may need to replace only a solenoid.


We would be happy to send you a solenoid. We can even show you a short video how to change it, because things get a little difficult in this process, and it is not a typical installation.


IMPORTANT : However, if you are experiencing some sort of problem or malfunction with the reverse motor itself, please be advised : This WILL NOT fix your problem. We have rebuilt many, many reverse motors. We have never seen a case where the solenoid itself was one of the integral causes of the actual malfunction. In other words, this style solenoid, in this application, is pretty much bulletproof.


Even a lot of knowledgeable mechanics have said. “ If the starter doesn’t click, it’s just a bad solenoid.” This is very false and completely wrong, both on cars AND bikes. If the starter (or motor in this case) does nothing at all (it’s just dead) then that is most commonly bad brushes or an armature. The solenoid coil gets a ground from the brushes on the commutator. If the pull in coil in the solenoid is not getting a good ground from the ground brushes in the brush holder, it will not pull in the plunger. That’s why the age old trick of lightly tapping the side of the starter with a hammer was invented. What that does, is it creates a spark between the worn out brushes and the commutator of the armature so the stranded driver can make it to the closest repair facility and avoid a tow bill.            


If a solenoid is actually defective, the symptoms would be : You hear one strong click, but the motor doesn’t spin. This usually means that the driver has used the vehicle with a defective battery for so long, the contacts in the solenoid have completely burnt off, or have been blackened to the point that the contact plate can no longer make a connection. But, if you are negligent enough with your bike to experience this scenario, don’t concern yourself with a solenoid replacement, because the rest of the motor could not possibly survive this extensive exposure to abusive low voltage.


IN CONCLUSION : The solenoid of the Harley reverse motor for Trike is extremely hardy for this application. Almost never will it be the culprit of a malfunctioning reverse motor. However, if you break one during an adjacent repair project, or you have one that has been damaged in shipping. Contact us, and we will be more than happy to assist you with your problem. Just see our video on and find out the tricks to installation.