Reviewed by Shadow
The tank-mount gauge found on my 2012 FLD Switchback as well as many other late-model Harley-Davidsons is a wondrous thing. With just a quick flick of a “key cap” (the switch on the left grip housing that sounds the horn), one can cycle through a whole range of functions, including tach, clock, gear indicator, miles remaining, and more. And therein lies the rub. I have separate tachometers on all my bikes and it’s an annoyance to me that the rpms aren’t visible on this type of stock gauge unless I cycle through the displays—every single time.
The MVX-2011 “electronic instrumentation system,” as Dakota Digital refers to it, provides everything the stock gauge offers and more, including a separate tach display which eliminates the need to cycle through the gauge functions to view rpms. It comes in four different face options: black with red accents, black with gray accents, white with red accents, and white with gray accents, and you can choose between a black or chrome bezel. For you speed freaks out there, the speedo goes up to 140 mph and the tach has an adjustable shift point which can display in the digital readout. There’s also a resettable miles-to-service warning and a low voltage readout alert. The gauge offers 31 colors that can be selected individually for the “pointer,” backlight and LCD readout.
The 4 ½” gauge is a direct plug-in for 2011-newer Softails, 2012-newer Dynas and 2014-newer Road Kings. If enabled, it can display cylinder head temperature (factory sender is required), oil pressure (Oil Pressure Sender #SEN-1039 is required), and oil temperature (Oil Temperature Sensor #SEN-1043 or 1044 is required, depending on bike model). I opted for the Oil Pressure Sender, figuring it would be a useful warning signal if anything untoward happened to the bike’s oil circulation. Additional gauges that can be added include an air suspension pressure gauge and a GPS-powered compass.
Shipped with the gauge was a set of detailed installation instructions. Before starting the install, I suggest that you read the instructions from beginning to end and, just as importantly, execute the instructions in the order in which they appear. Note that gauges are shipped from the factory with zero miles on the odometer, and after installation, it must be set within 100 miles, otherwise, you will have to send the gauge back to the factory and pay a $20 charge to reset it. The same holds true if you set the odometer incorrectly.
Ken Puzio at Black Hills Custom Parts in Rockaway, New Jersey, performed the installation for me. Before removing the stock gauge, we wrote down the current mileage displayed on the odometer, which will be needed for setup of the new gauge after it’s installed. All told, it took about an hour to remove the old gauge from the dash and install the new one, and installing the oil pressure sensor didn’t take more than a half hour.
After installation came the gauge setup and calibration steps. The instructions are clear and detailed for calibrating the speed (note that any Harley 2004 or later is plug and play and does not need to have the speed calibrated on the road or on a dyno), unit (mph/kmh), miles to next service, clock, odometer preset, tach warning, fuel level, low voltage warning, oil pressure indicator, and oil temperature if you have the oil temperature sensor installed. You may want to change some of the defaults for various settings. The gauge is preset to work with stock five- or six-speed transmissions and can “learn” the gear ratios (from four to seven speeds) for other setups. The fun part is setting the message display options where I could adjust the screen contrast, indicators, and, of course, colors. There are more gauge options and settings you can fiddle with, as well.
A function offered on this gauge that isn’t part of the stock offering is head temperature, which starts to display at ambient temperatures (this is available for ECM-controlled models). Also displayed is the number of hours the engine has been running since the gauge was installed. And, for those interested in performance, readings such as 0-60 time, ¼-mile speed, ¼-mile time, high speed recall, and high rpm recall can be displayed. And one of the features I really like about this gauge is that when you start up the bike, the last display on the gauge comes up rather than defaulting to a particular readout. And the gauge face is easily visible at night as well as in the daytime.
When I traded in my Switchback for a 2017 Road King, I learned that the gauge will work in the Road King as well! All I need to do is send the gauge back to Dakota Digital to have the odometer reset to zero (there is a nominal $20 charge) so that I can set the correct mileage upon installation, or they can set the mileage for you. Dakota Digital gauges are made in the U.S., come with a two-year warranty, and the company also offers service and repair of its products. I have found their customer service to be quite responsive and helpful, and most importantly, the gauge offers all the functions I need and more.