In Harley terms, staging follows fairly set patterns. It’s not a general thing you actually can stage any motor and the prices can vary wildly but to get us going let’s look at the basics:
Harleys straight out of the factory have the fundamental issue that they notoriously find it difficult to breathe properly. The reason for this is down to HD needing to meet noise and pollution regulations. There’s an expression floating around – “Harley Tax” which seems to have the notion of HD squeezing even more money out of your original purchase by recommending extras that you should get to get the bike that you want, this really isn’t the case though. UK bike specs are tightly regulated, even more so than the UK law demands and that is because there isn’t actually a “UK spec Harley” it’s just more cost effective for HD to make a small amount of alternative specs as possible which means the riders in the USA get the same model (apart from California) and everyone else (apart from the Swiss) get the International version (by the way the Swiss and California models are even more restricted with catalytics converters due to market demands).
The fact that these out of the factory bike don’t breathe as efficiently as they could isn’t an issue for most people because the power output is more than enough for most people. But for those who want that extra bit of power and are willing to part with their hard earned cash for it there are a number of tweaks that can be carried out, the first upgrade being “Stage One”.
Before we start, this isn’t meant as an absolute “thou shalt fit a ” because we don’t work that way, and because experts will disagree with each other, and with us. There is no such thing as a definitive guide to staging, and there is no absolute right way to go, but this will hopefully put you on the right path.
Harley owners will read this article and probably disagree with some of it’s content and with each other too and that’s fine. The truth is there is no definitive guide to how to stage your Harley, no wrong or right way to do it (apart from some cheap and nasty methods such as drilling holes in the plastic air-filter backplate which is just right at all), there are just “ways” to do it so the aim of this article is simply to point you in the right direction and let you decide how to proceed.