Speedometer/Tachometer Upgrade

The speedometer and instrument panel for the Harley-Davidson Softail Night Train consists of a single gauge located on the top of the gas tank. It has an analog speedometer as well as an odometer. The odometer portion has not only the total bike mileage but also has a resettable trip odometer.

From a readability perspective the gauge is first rate but somewhat limited. I prefer having a gauge that shows not only the current speed but also has a tachometer for monitoring RPMs. For a Softail owner you basically have two choices.

The first choice is to add a separate tachometer gauge. Harley-Davidson offers such a gauge in a three-inch gauge that mounts to the center of the handlebar. While this is the least expensive choice for adding a tachometer, it does require adding yet another item to the handlebar.

spd_tachI like the handlebar relatively free of clutter so the thoughts of adding a gauge front and center was not something I was interested in. Besides the gauge it would also require additional wiring to tap into the bike’s electronics, which is yet another connection to manage while you, are on the road.

The second option replaces the existing speedometer instrument gauge on the tank with a combination speedometer and tachometer. This provides one single instrument gauge rather than two. The tachometer speedometer combination also is a five-inch gauge making the face easier to read as you glance down.

The combination gauge also is plug compatible with the existing wiring harness for the factory speedometer meaning that there is no splicing or additional wiring that needs to take place making it a very simple installation.

To order, you must visit your Harley-Davidson dealer who will verify your mileage on your existing instrument panel then order the new gauge. When it arrives it will have the mileage entered into the odometer. It’s kind of a crapshoot as to whether the mileage will match. I guess if you noted the mileage then took the bike home and left it parked until the new gauge cluster arrived it would probably be close. Mine ended up being within 15 miles of the estimate I had.

The new instrument cluster comes with simple instructions and it took less than half an hour to complete the transformation. When I started the bike the tachometer immediately registered as did the speedometer so it’s basically foolproof to install.

At first I thought the tachometer would just be informational or a nice-to-have addition to the bike but I find myself monitoring it more often than I would have guessed. The face of the gauges is quite easy to read.

Harley-Davidson offers several different types of faces to their gauges. I went with a traditional black faced gauge with speed listed on the top half and the tachometer listed on the bottom. The style is very close to the stock gauge giving the bike a traditional look. The instrument panel is lighted making it easy to see both in daylight as well as night.

You can never have too much information when you are riding so this has been a valuable addition. It’s also one more way for you to customize your Harley-Davidson motorcycle to make it unique.

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