In The Shop: Trike Reverse System Overview

Back It Up! Harley Reverse Issues

We have had a lot of questions come into Fix My Hog concerning Tri Glide reverse issues. We wanted to share what we have learned about this system. Hopefully it will help our members have a better understanding of the assembly and be able to diagnose issues that may arise with their Trikes, or a friend’s Trike.

The reverse motor is powered by the motorcycle’s battery when the motorcycle is running and the transmission is in neutral. It is designed only for a light load and short durations of use. Trying to climb steep inclines or attempting to travel long distances in reverse will drain the battery and can cause the reverse circuit breaker to trip.

Excessive resistance in reverse is the most common reason for problems to arise and reverse components to fail. The reverse system consists of six basic components. A reverse motor, reverse motor solenoid, reverse control solenoid, a reverse control module, a 150 amp manual reset circuit breaker, and a reverse hand switch. The reverse motor and reverse motor solenoid look, very much, like a starter motor.

In order for the ECM to enable the reverse function, there are a few things that must occur: The reverse switch must be pressed. Transmission must be in neutral. The bike must be moving less than 2 mph. The engine must be running at, less than, 1500 RPM and there must not be any reverse codes that are present.

When reverse is enabled, the ECM activates the reverse telltale lamp in the speedometer and “informs” the body control module of the reverse status via a CAN (BUS) message. The BCM then supplies battery voltage to the reverse control module (RCM). Next, the RCM sends a signal to the ECM and the ECM sends a 5 volt signal to the RCM. Finally, the RCM activates the the reverse motor solenoid which causes the reverse motor to engage and the vehicle to move in reverse.

Image of circuit breaker

This is a basic overview that you must understand before attempting to diagnose reverse system failure. In our next “In The Shop” we will get into diagnostic tips for the Tri Glide reverse system.

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36 Responses to “In The Shop: Trike Reverse System Overview”
  1. Dennis

    I hoping you’ll be able to help me with my reverse problem. I have 2012 Trike with only 485 miles and the reverse is not working, checked all the obvious. breaker, fuse with no avail. I’m thinking it may need to be rebuilt, so a video on how to remove the motor would be great or some troubleshooting technics thanks

  2. David R. Gibson

    Thanks for the overview. I had no idea it was so complicated. I thought the reverse was supplied by the starter motor but you seem to imply that it’s a seperate motor solely for reverse.I do wish it wouldn’t always kill the radio when it is engaged however.

  3. Rick

    2016 triglide silenoid was replaced and bench test fine but when installed and you activate reverse drive unit wont engage into ring gear like its not getting enough power ( ideas?)

    • Brian

      Rick, I had a similar problem with my Trigg Trike starter motor. Checked everything ( wiring, both batteries, starter, solenoid ) fully, and come to find out the bendix in the starter was sticking not allowing the starter to engage.A few taps wth a mallet and the starter started working again. Followed up with some White Lithium Grease inside motor. Works great now.

  4. Gene Murphy

    My 2013 Harley TriGlide reverse still works but is VERY weak. This has happened rather quickly and didn’t happen over a period of time.

  5. Richard Przybylski

    The reverse motor engages but won’t move. Every now and then you get a little help but mostly a click indicating it’s engaged. Do I have to lift the trike to get to the reverse motor?

    • Customer Service

      Dear Richard,

      Thank you for contacting us. Our exerts will need to know the year and make of your Harley to better assist you. Please respond at your earliest convenience with this information.


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  6. peter john

    I have a 2013 triglide, I can hear a clicking at the circuit breaker when I press the reverse button but system does not engage. also recently the bike just quits running . I noticed that there is fule pump wiring in the reverse control module. coule replacing the rcm solve both issues ?

  7. Earl Lizotte

    y reverse system stopped working on my 2013 Triglide. I tested the circuit breaker with a multi-meter and it reads fine. I have reason to believe the problem lies in the component that is mounted right beside the circuit breaker (12V 1012 stamped on it). When I push the reverse button all that component does is click.
    Can you tell me what that component is?

  8. Chris

    I have a 2014 Tri Glide and having no luck with the reverse. Circuit breaker is not tripped

  9. ann

    Very Upsetting that people pay over $30,000 for a Harley Trike and when the reverse starter goes bad…Harley wants over $1500.00 for a new one because they can’t rebuilt them when the mounting tabs break…Seems like a Piss Poor Design..And Harley Should Be Ashamed of Themselves For CHARGING That Kind Of Money—lucky for us, I found someone to rebuilt it for a hell of a lot less and fixed the mounting tabs problem with a warranty.

  10. Elden Duce

    My 2015 Honda 1800 Trike, the reverse does not work. From day one it would have problems every now and then. Go to use reverse and it would sound like gears not quite meshing properly. Try it again and it would work. 2 months ago the bike kind of stopped forward motion while I was already in high gear. It felt as if someone had jammed on the brakes. After pulling over and putting back to neutral it eventually freed itself but shortly after words the reverse would not mesh again. Now it doesn’t even give that clicking noise. It does nothing. The light shows its in reverse but nothing happens.
    Don’t know where to turn to.


    • Customer Service


      I do apologize but we only specialize in Harley Davidson.

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  11. Donna

    Our 2014 trike is going on its 2nd reverse. Are the motors going to keep going out, it gets expensive to keep replacing them!

    • Customer Service

      Hi there Donna!

      That’s a great question!

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

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  12. Michael Hunsicker

    I have a 2016 Triglide, the reverse does not engage it only clicks when you push the R button. I put the trike on jack stands to clean it up and figured I would tri the reverse, seat is off so I can see the reverse motor, star the bike push the button and the reverse motor Bendix engages the gear and I have reverse, here us the kicker, put the bike back on the ground and try the reverse and all it does is click, no reverse…… any thoughts?

  13. Gary Gissiner

    Did you ever do a video on putting manual reverse gear kit on a tri glide. Sounds like good subject seeing Harley has so many problems with their electric reverse system.

  14. James kimbrel

    I have a 2013 FLTCUTG. I am working for the US Army at Camp. Walker, Korea. I am having problems with the reverse. Our local Harley shop says I need a new circuit breaker. I figure it’s worth a shot. Can I order this thru you guys.

    • Customer Service

      Hey James,

      Thanks for reaching out. We are not a parts retailer, we provide educational video content for Harley owners.

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  15. John Erskine sr

    Thanks for the step by step removal instructions sounds like a piece of cake experienced ase master+ my aircraft experience thank you