open primary motorcycle

Open Primary Motorcycles – Bagger Pros, Cons, and Everything In Between

If you’re considering upgrading your 2009 Street Glide with an open primary, it’s important to think through the pros and cons before taking the plunge. This article will provide an in-depth breakdown of what this modification offers for baggers, so that you can make a sound decision about whether or not to proceed.

Pros of Open Primary Motorcycles

Zero Maintenance and No Leaks

One of the top perks of an open primary motorcycle is that it requires minimal upkeep. You don’t have to fret about fluid leakage, something frequently associated with closed primary systems.

Lighter Weight

An open primary motorcycle offers improved performance, plus it is lighter in weight and thus can enhance the entire bike experience.

Easy Clutch Adjustment

An open primary system drastically simplifies clutch adjustments, trimming the task down to a 15-minute job that is effortless and hassle-free.

Improved Power Transfer

Without the need for an oil bath, power is directly transmitted from motor to transmission, resulting in a more efficient ride with minimal energy loss.

Cons of Open Primary Motorcycles

Noisy Clutch

One noticeable downside of an open primary motorcycle is the loud, clunky rattle that can be heard when disengaged – a sound so intrusive that it may turn away potential riders.

Harder Shifting

Establishing a dry clutch to reduce drag can be trying, and results in less seamless gear shifts.

Safety Concerns

With the absence of a belt guard and forward controls, there is an elevated hazard of pant legs or shoelaces being entrapped in the front pulley; this can easily result in dangerous accidents.

Weather Exposure

If you operate an open primary motorcycle, it leaves your wear items vulnerable to the elements and can cause unnecessary repairs or replacements.

Comfort Issues

An open primary motorcycle can cause your leg to spread wider than you’re accustomed to, resulting in an uncomfortable ride.

Crank Run-Out

When installing a precision belt, it is essential to ensure that the crank run-out is accurate; any discrepancy can lead to problems.

Open Primary vs. Closed Primary: Which Is Right for You?

If you’re thinking about transitioning to an open primary, take into account your riding style, personal taste and behaviors. An open primary motorcycle could be more suitable for a pro street or chopper type bike, which typically aren’t used to ride around for miles at once.

For bagger riders, finding the right primary is a difficult decision. If you wish to prioritize comfort and ride long distances in any type of weather condition, an open primary may not be your best option. However if you are looking for something different that will help make a statement on shorter rides or when bar hopping around town, then an open primary could be the perfect solution.


After considering all the options, it is ultimately your choice which primary motorbike to choose. Sure, an open primary has their charm and certain mechanical benefits that are hard to resist; nevertheless you should take into account any potential risks or downsides before making a decision. Think about what matters most for you when riding and make an educated selection that will elevate your experience.


Below are some frequently asked questions on open primary motorcycles:

What is an open primary motorcycle?

Open primaries are becoming increasingly popular for their aesthetic appeal, as well as the notable advantages of being lightweight and low-maintenance. While there are some potential drawbacks including a noisier clutch and harder shifting, most riders consider it worth the tradeoff for improved power transfer and performance. Nevertheless, safety should always remain top of mind when considering an open primary motorcycle modification.

Is an open primary suitable for all types of motorcycles?

Installing an open primary on your bike can add to its aesthetic and boost performance, yet depending on the style of motorcycle you have, it may not be suitable. For example, choppers or pro street bikes that crave a cool factor tend to benefit from the advantages of an open primary; however those who are looking for comfort and shelter during long-distance rides might find this type of system impractical.

How does an open primary affect maintenance and repairs?

Open primaries may require less maintenance and serve up quicker clutch adjustments, however wear items are exposed to the elements which can lead to more frequent repairs or replacements.

Are there safety concerns with an open primary?

Taking safety into account is of the utmost importance when it comes to riding an open primary motorcycle. Without a belt guard and forward controls, there’s always the risk of clothing becoming caught in the front pulley which can cause serious accidents. Be sure to stay mindful of this potential hazard in order to ride safely on an open primary bike.

How does an open primary affect ride comfort?

When riding with an open primary, you may experience discomfort due to the incorrect leg positioning. The extra strain on your body can be especially uncomfortable during lengthy rides and should not be taken lightly.

Can I switch back to a closed primary if I don’t like the open primary?

If you’ve determined that an open primary isn’t for you, it is entirely possible to transition back to a closed primary system. Just be aware that reverting will require some extra time and resources.

Does installing an open primary void my motorcycle’s warranty?

If you’re considering upgrading your motorcycle, it’s vital to check the manufacturer’s warranty conditions and consult with a qualified dealer or mechanic before doing so. Installing an open primary drive could nullify your warranty if its terms don’t allow modifications; however, this isn’t always the case. Make sure you understand what is allowed under your specific circumstances in order to keep any potential damage covered.

Are there any specific brands or models of open primary systems recommended for baggers?

With a plethora of open primary systems on the market, ensure you select one that is compatible with your specific motorcycle make and model. BDL (Belt Drives Ltd) and Evil Engineering are two reputable brands providing custom-made systems for various motorcycles models, including baggers. To guarantee satisfaction with the product, chat to your mechanic or visit your local motorcycle dealer for tailored advice related to your bike.

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