How to Adjust Valves on a Shovelhead Harley Davidson

by Christina Teter
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motorcycle image by Bionic Media from

Motorcycle pushrods link the cams to the valves, the primary components of the engine. Valves require adjustment over time due to wear. You may notice a ticking noise in the top of your Shovelhead engine. If so, it’s likely your motorcycle requires a valve adjustment. To make such adjustments, you must fine-tune the pushrods by increasing and decreasing their length. This task requires only simple hand tools, making it feasible for motorcycle owners to maintain their valves.

Step 1

Remove original pushrods, with a screwdriver, by removing the retainer clips that hold the cover tubes in place. Then remove the cover tubes. As you are sitting on the motorcycle, the tubes containing the pushrods are located on the right-hand side of the engine, behind the air-cleaner.

Step 2

Screw the pushrods, by hand, as far into the tubes as possible. Once you have adjusted pushrods to their shortest length, rotate the engine by placing the motorcycle on a jack and turning the rear wheel with the transmission in fourth gear, for ease of turning. Rotate the engine until at least one lobe of the cam sits at the lowest lift point. Tighten the pushrod until you are able to turn it from side to side, but there is zero lash, or up and down movement.

Step 3

Tighten the pushrod locknut with two 7/16-inch wrenches for solid lifters. If your lifters are hydraulic, turn the pushrods longer by three and a half to four full turns before tightening the locknut.

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