Classic Motorcycle Build

Install Cycle Electric Generator

Article by Mark Trotta

If your old Sportster, Flathead, or Big-Twin Harley isn't charging properly, one of the best upgrades is installing a Cycle Electric generator with attached regulator.

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This article covers installing a Cycle Electric DGV-5000 generator on a 1974 Ironhead Sportster. The unit is 12-volts and designed to fit 1936-1984 Harley V-Twins. 6-volt units are also available.

NOTE: A 7-amp or larger battery is recommended.

Generator Removal

As a safety precaution, disconnect the negative battery terminal before removing the old unit. Disconnect the two generator wires. Do not remove the two nuts on the left side, they hold the generator together.

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Ironhead Generator Removal

On the right side of the bike, there are two bolts on the top front of the cam cover (at 11 o'clock and 5 o'clock). These are the only two bolts you need to remove to get the generator out.

installing Cycle Electric generator

Tilt the unit while you pull the generator out, there is a flat washer on the other end that needs to clear the cam gear upon removal.

how to install a Cycle Electric generator

Transfer Generator Gear and Deflector

There are several styles of oil deflectors on Harley generators. You will likely have a locknut, flat washer, generator gear, and oil deflector, which must be transferred to the new unit.

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The oil deflector has a built-in collar. The gear is drawn onto the shaft with a nut until it pinches the oil deflector tight against the inner race of the ball bearing. This sets the location of the gear and locks the armature in place.

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Idler gear, generator gear, and oil deflector.

Install Generator Gear

The generator gear is a press fit, meaning it should not slip on and off the generator shaft by hand. If it does, the loose gear will prematurely wear out the armature shaft, which is not covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

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Cycle Electric cautions against over-tightening the locknut. It only needs to be tight enough so the oil deflector turns when the gear spins.

If the old generator mounting gasket is ripped or damaged, replace it.

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The H-D part number for the gasket is 30143-58, but it's fairly easy to make one if needed.

The generator should be mounted so that the fins are horizontal. To allow for this, there are two pairs of threaded holes in the generator casing.

how to install a Cycle Electric generator on an Ironhead Sportster

Wiring The Cycle Electric DGV-5000

The CE generator has two terminals, one is marked "B" and the other is marked "L". Connect "B" to either the positive battery terminal or the headlight/ignition switch.

If wiring directly to the battery, a 20-amp fuse or circuit breaker between battery and generator is recommended.

Cycle Electric recommends 14 gauge wire for the battery to generator wire.

Install Cycle Electric Generator on old Harley

The "L" terminal is for the generator light (it grounds through this terminal). On this 1974 Sportster, it's a tan wire from the stock voltage regulator.

how to install a Cycle Electric generator

After the wires are hooked up, the gen light should come on when you click the key switch to "on" but have not yet started the bike. When the bike is started the gen light should go out. If the light stays on after starting, it's telling you the generator is not charging.

NOTE: If you do not have a generator light, the "L" terminal is simply not used.

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Do I Need To Polarize The New Generator?

The CE generator is polarized from the factory, no further polarization is needed.

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Shop: Cycle Electric DGV-5000 (12V Generator with Regulator)


Cycle Electric DGV-5000L

Cycle Electric also offers this unit in a low-amp model, the DGV-5000L. This model is best suited for 1936-1964 Harleys that have been converted to 12-volts with a 5.5 amp (or less) battery.

Install Cycle Electric Generator on old Harley

Shop: Cycle Electric DGV-5000L (12V Low Amperage Version)


Cycle Electric products are made in USA and have a two-year warranty.


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Harley Generator - Repair or Replace?
Ironhead Generator to Alternator Swap
Basic Motorcycle Wiring