2015 Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide

How to Choose the Perfect Harley Davidson Model for You

Choosing which Harley Davidson model to buy can be both exciting and overwhelming. With so many options available, finding the perfect bike to suit your unique riding style and preferences might seem like a daunting task.

Harley Davidson offers a wide range of motorcycle models and chances are, they have one that will suit you. You’ll need to take an honest look at your experience level, riding style, body type, and styling preferences – don’t just go based on what “looks cool.”

Once you’ve done your brainstorming and researched all of the options available, it’s important to go and ride one (or at least sit on it). Theory will only get you so far and eventually, you need to see how it feels in order to make a responsible decision.

Understanding the Harley Davidson Model Range

When you’re considering buying a Harley Davidson, it’s essential to understand the different model ranges available and the type of riding that they’re best suited for. We’ll provide a brief overview of the four main categories: Touring Models, Softail Models, Sportster Models, and Street Models.

Touring Models

For those who enjoy long highway rides and comfortable journeys, the Touring Models are an ideal choice. These bikes are designed with comfort and ease in mind, allowing you to tackle extended trips without feeling fatigued. Models within this category include the Road Glide, Road King, and Electra Glide. They typically offer:

  • Large, comfortable seats
  • Ample luggage storage
  • Excellent wind protection
  • Superior suspension for smoother rides

They’re also much heavier and larger than other models, making them more cumbersome to handle, especially at low speeds.

Softail Models

If you’re seeking a versatile motorcycle that blends the comfort of a Touring Model with the agility of a Sportster, the Softail Models are the perfect middle ground. Some popular options include the Heritage Classic, Fat Boy, and Softail Slim. These bikes offer:

  • An adjusted suspension for both comfort and performance
  • A relaxed, comfortable riding position
  • Sleek designs reminiscent of classic Harleys
  • Good balance between touring and city riding capabilities

These bikes will certainly get you out of town and look good doing it, but you won’t be racking up 500+ mile days in comfort as you can with a Touring bike. Be prepared to stop for more rest breaks.

Sportster Models

For riders who primarily plan to ride in the city or enjoy a more aggressive, sporty experience, the Sportster Models are an excellent choice. These bikes, including the Iron 883, Forty-Eight, and Roadster, are great for navigating urban environments and shorter commutes. Sportster Models provide:

  • Lightweight and agile frames
  • Easier handling for city riding
  • A more aggressive riding position
  • Smaller size perfect for maneuvering through traffic

Of course, a nimble bike like this won’t be as stable at highway speeds. Sportsters are much more suited for short trips.

Street Models

Lastly, the Street Models are a modern take on urban riding designed for newer riders. Some options include the Street 500 and Street 750. These motorcycles have a beginner-friendly nature, offering:

  • Smaller engines and lightweight frames for easier handling
  • A less intimidating size for new riders
  • Affordable price points
  • More focus on street performance

Many people will consider the Street lineup as more of a beginner bike and I’d have to agree with that. If you want a small, easy-to-ride bike that has the cool look of a Harley, it’s a great choice.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Harley Davidson

Your Experience Level

It’s important to choose a Harley Davidson model that matches your skill level. For instance, the Softail series is known to be lighter and easier to handle for new riders.

Keep in mind that more experienced riders might prefer heavier and more powerful touring-style motorcycles. They can also get away with riding bikes that are technically not a perfect fit for them.

Your Riding Style

Think about what kind of riding you enjoy most. Are you into daily commuting, weekend trips, or long-distance touring? Different Harley models cater to different riding styles. For example, touring motorcycles provide greater comfort for long rides, while sport bikes offer speed and agility.

If you’re a shorter rider who spends a lot of time on the highway, a Sportster might not actually be the best choice. Consider getting a Softail and lowering the suspension in order to combine good highway manners with the ability to get your feet on the ground safely.

Physical Fit and Comfort

A comfortable fit is crucial for enjoyable riding experiences. Pay attention to the seat height, handlebar reach, and leg positioning when choosing a Harley Davidson. Don’t hesitate to visit a dealer and test different models to find the one that suits you best physically.

Who You Ride With

Keep in mind the type of bikes your friends or group members ride. If all your friends are riding baggers, buying a Sportster will have you slowing down the pack with more frequent fuel stops and breaks to stretch out. Opt for a model that complements the group’s riding style and preferences.

Engine Size and Horsepower

Engine size and horsepower vary across Harley Davidson models. Beginner riders might feel more comfortable with lower horsepower bikes, while experienced riders may prefer models with higher engine capacities. Consider your skill and experience levels when selecting a model with suitable engine size and horsepower.

Your Budget

Harley Davidson motorcycles can range from $13,499 for the Nightster to $51,999 for the CVO Road Glide Limited (2023 prices). Determine your budget and prioritize features important to you when choosing a model within your price range. Don’t forget to factor in additional costs such as insurance, maintenance, and accessories.

Where To Buy A Harley Davidson

When choosing the right Harley Davidson model for you, the next important step is to decide where to buy it from. There are mainly three options: Harley Davidson Dealerships, 3rd Party Motorcycle Dealerships, and Private Sellers. Depending on your preferences and budget, each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Used vs. New Harley Davidson

Before diving into each option, let’s briefly cover the topic of used versus new Harley Davidson. When buying a new one, you only have the current models to choose from, which ensures you get the latest features and technologies. However, buying a used Harley opens up the possibility of finding models that have been discontinued but might be the perfect fit for you.

For a more detailed look at the pros and cons of buying used vs new, check out this article.

Harley Davidson Dealership

A Harley Davidson dealership is an authorized seller of brand-new or certified pre-owned Harley Davidson motorcycles. Purchasing from a dealership has several benefits:

  • Expert Advice: Dealerships have knowledgeable staff that can help you choose the right model for your needs and provide advice on financing options, warranty, and service plans.
  • Wide Selection: You’ll be able to choose from the latest models and have access to certified pre-owned bikes as well.
  • Financing Options: Dealerships often offer various financing options and special promotions or incentives, making it easier to afford your dream bike.

3rd Party Motorcycle Dealership

Another option is to purchase a Harley Davidson from a 3rd party motorcycle dealership that sells various brands, including Harley Davidson. Some benefits include:

  • Variety of Brands: A 3rd party dealership offers a wider selection of different motorcycle brands, allowing you to compare models and make an informed decision.
  • Used Motorcycles:┬áThese dealerships often have a large stock of used bikes, allowing you to find a great deal on a pre-owned Harley Davidson at a cheaper price.

However, you might not get the same level of expertise and specific knowledge of Harley Davidson models as you would from an authorized dealership.

Private Seller

Lastly, you may choose to purchase a Harley from a private seller. This option can be a bit more challenging but often comes with the best deals. Here are some benefits:

  • Lower Prices: Buying from a private seller usually entails lower prices compared to dealerships since there are no overhead costs.
  • Negotiation Possibility: You can negotiate the price directly with the seller, potentially bringing down the cost even more.

However, risks can be higher with private sellers due to possible lack of maintenance records, no warranty, and limited recourse in case of any issues.

Whichever option you choose for buying your Harley Davidson, make sure to carefully assess your needs, budget, and preferences, as well as conduct a thorough inspection of the motorcycle before making your final decision.

Check out our used Harley Inspection Checklist here:

Choosing a Harley Model: Key Takeaways

If you haven’t already noticed, it’s important to take an honest, unbiased look at your experience and body type before choosing which Harley to buy. Forcing yourself to buy a big bagger that you don’t have the size or experience to ride safely is going to suck all the fun out of riding.

You’ll be far less stressed if you choose a bike that fits you perfectly and allows you to ride with confidence. It’s better to enjoy the scenery than to be worried about falling over every time you stop at a red light!

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