Black Harley Davidson Night Train

Used Vs. Brand New: Which Harley Davidson Should You Buy?

Harley Davidson used to be a company that was tailored to the blue-collar worker. With the prices of some of the new bikes nowadays, you might be more likely to find a doctor, lawyer, or business owner riding that bagger than a construction worker. Is it still worth it to buy one brand new?

There are benefits to buying a Harley Davidson brand new. Things like financing incentives and warranties sweeten the deal along with knowing the entire history of the bike from day one. It’s hard to beat the cost savings of a used bike though and for many, that’s still the best choice.

Reasons to buy a Harley brand new

Many people complain that Harley Davidsons haven’t changed much over the years. In some ways, that might be true – but you’d be surprised at what you find if you park a 2023 model next to a 20-year-old bike like mine. The tech on the modern bikes has certainly improved over the years making the new bikes more useable, comfortable, and downright faster.

You won’t find modern features on the older bikes like a keyless ignition, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, alarm system, and much more.

One of the biggest perks of buying new is the manufacturer’s warranty. New HDs come with a 2-year unlimited mileage warranty. That’s equivalent to what Indian offers, and on par with European manufacturers.

There are also financing incentives when you buy a bike from the Harley Davidson dealership. You’ll often get a better interest rate on a brand-new one than you will on an older used bike.

No matter what, interest rates on Harley Davidsons aren’t exactly great compared to cars. These are considered luxury items after all, so the company doesn’t exactly need to show compassion for the single mom who needs to replace her old Hyundai so she can pick up Jayden, Kayden, and Brayden from soccer practice.

Black Harley Davidson Night Train

Dealerships will often let you roll your accessories and riding gear into the financing of your new ride. If you’ve seen the price of HD-branded gear, you’ll know that this can be a pretty large investment of cash upfront otherwise.

There’s also something to be said for knowing the complete history of your beloved motorcycle from day one. You know when every oil change happened, what gas was put in it at every fill-up, and the name of the meathead that does your routine service. There’s no guessing what kind of life the bike has lived before you.

Benefits of Buying an Older Harley

Despite all of those benefits, you might be surprised to know that I highly recommend buying a used Harley Davidson. There is one main reason for this, and it’s a big one:

The price.

New Harley Davidsons are very expensive, and the prices are likely only going to rise as time goes on. Take a look at the pricing for a top-of-the-line CVO bagger – you can seriously buy a brand-new full-size pickup truck for that money.

Black Harley Davidson Night Train

There is a risk with buying used though, and you want to be confident in your ability to assess the condition of a bike before handing over your hard-earned dollars to some stranger you met up with in a gas station parking lot that you’ll never see again.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, bring along a friend who has more experience or consider paying a trusted mechanic or dealership to do an inspection for you. Spending some money here could mean you don’t have a chrome-laden paperweight a year from now.

As long as you inspect the bike closely and know what to look for, a used Harley Davidson can be a fantastic investment. We’ve compiled a checklist of things to look for when shopping for a used bike here.

Harley has recently gotten into the certified used vehicle market which could be the best of both worlds. They’re calling the new program the “H-D1 Marketplace.” Their certified bikes are subject to a 110 point inspection and include 1 year unlimited mileage warranty plus 1 year of H.O.G. membership with roadside assistance.

Black Harley Davidson Night Train

They also have promotional financing on the certified bikes. Currently, you’d get 3.99% vs 4.49% if you take an accredited riding course. Kudos, Harley, for encouraging people to better their rider skills.

Of course, if the new Sportster S just doesn’t do it for you and you’re craving the simplicity of an 883, then used is going to be your only option. Sometimes the older models appeal more to us for different reasons.

Check out my experience in buying a Harley Davidson as my first bike if you’re a new rider.

I know I already mentioned the many upgrades the newer bikes have received over the years, but let’s be honest – in terms of looks, do you really think the untrained eye can tell the difference between a 15-year-old Dyna and a brand-new Street Bob? The old bikes look A LOT like the expensive new ones.

There’s one other reason why you might want to purchase a used Harley rather than a new one. With all the supply chain shortages the world is still dealing with, there’s a chance that the bike you order is either going to be delayed, or simply take a long time to arrive. Buying a used bike is a matter of paperwork and you’ll be out on 2 wheels instantly, making it a great choice for the impatient buyer.

Is buying a Harley Davidson a good investment?

This certainly depends on what your definition of a good investment is. Warren Buffet would probably laugh at you, while the knuckle dragger with the flame tattoos will tell you it’s his most valuable asset.

Unless you buy a very special model that is likely to become collectible one day, buying a Harley Davidson isn’t a great long-term investment. They cost money to own and run – things like fuel, maintenance, and insurance add up over time. And unlike real estate, your bike isn’t going to earn you any money (unless you rent it to your local Sons Of Anarchy fans to pose in front of for photos).

With that said, Harley Davidsons don’t depreciate nearly as much or as quickly as other motorcycles. They tend to hold their value very well. So while it might not be an investment that will earn you money, it’s also not going to lose a whole lot either.

When is a Good Time to Buy a Used Harley?

Buying a used Harley Davidson is a lot like buying any other hobby vehicle that isn’t typically driven/ridden in bad weather – do it right before the off-season! Many sellers just want their bikes gone so they don’t have to deal with storage once the snow flies. Their back is against the wall. You know it and so do they.

As long as you have a storage spot available and you’re willing to wait until the spring to ride your new purchase, this can be a great position to be in. For more details on what time of year to buy new or used Harleys, check out this article.

Black Harley Davidson Night Train

Final word

Whether or not you should buy a new or used Harley really depends on what your priorities are and what your budget looks like. If money is no object, head to your local dealer and get one with all the bells and whistles, including the new bike smell.

For those of us who seem to have bills to pay coming at us from all directions, a used Harley can be a fantastic way to get out on the open road on the bike you’ve always dreamed of (without losing the house).

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