Many thanks for the clarification. All right then!
You're right - this certainly sounds like a fund project! By way of
credentials, I should let you know that I am a biker. Though I have my
own small ride, most of my riding time is spent as the back half of a
two-up team and yes, we ride a Harley. We have a 2003 Anniversary
Edition Road King on which we have put nearly 60,000 miles since we
bought it in October 2002, a combination of short and long-distance
riding. There are presently three motorcycles in our garage (though we
have had as many as six at a time in residence), motorcycle magazines
in the bathroom, motorcycle knicknacks in the living room, and Harley
parts, accessories and paraphernaliea all over the house and garage,
both our own and as part of our sideline business selling them. We are
active in our local biker community, ride regularly with several local
riding groups, belong to a number of online forums, are national
H.O.G. members, and the front half of our team is a certified
motorcycle safety instructor. So we do have a bit of knowledge on this
Therefore, on that note, my first tip to you would be, if you haven't
already, take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) certified riding
course, either the Basic Rider course, or if you're already an
experienced rider, the Experienced Rider Course (ERC). You will gain a
lot of knowledge, not only about riding, but
about motorcycles in general, that will be directly applicable to your
decision as to what model of bike to purchase.
You can find an MSF class near you by using the locator on the main
site, here: http://www.msf-usa.org/
However, since you are especially interested in purchasing a
Harley-Davidson motorcycle, I'd recommend you look into the Rider's
Edge course at your local Harley-Davidson dealership. Rider's Edge
uses the MSF curriculum (as do all reputable motorcycle training
schools), but they add extra information about H-D motorcycles and
products. Their instructors have likely ridden at least one example of
each model of H-D motorcycle during their training, and can answer
questions about them.
Also, since at least the classroom portion of the training will be at
the dealership, you would have opportunity to askk more questions of
the sales staff and interact with other Harley riders. H-D dealerships
all have a nice customer lounge area, and go to great efforts to make
their businesses fun, friendly places to hang out. Check out the
Rider's Edge website for more information, and to find a course near
you (look for the Dealer Locator button on the top):
As you've already indicated, you know that one good source of
information about buying a Harley is other riders. And there are many
eager Harley riders in lots of places, online and off, who would be
very happy to share their opinions with you. On the subject of
motorcycles, riders are usually an enthusiastic and garrulous bunch,
and I don't think you'll have any trouble at all eliciting a great
deal of opinion! You'll need to sign up for most forums in order to
post, sometimes also to read posts, but that's usually a fairly
painless process. Following are links to what I believe are some of
the best places to begin.
ABOUT.COM HARLEY-DAVIDSON FORUM
Lots of members here in a couple of pretty active forums. A nice plus
is the About.com "guide," who might chime in with advice or
information, as well as the additional knowledge base and links on the
Here too is a large and active motorcycle section, which includes
dedicated H-D groups such as "The Road King Riders," Harley Electra
Glide Garage," and of course, "The Harley-Davidson Forum." You will
need to register to be able to either view messages or post. Also,
don't overlook the riding club and general motorcycle listings, as
there are knowledgable people there as well, who don't necessarily
belong to brand-specific groups. See here:
There are a couple of Harley related groups here, and they can be
viewed on the Google Groups site if you don't have a newsreader. They
This forum isn't just for Harleys, but there are a lot of Harley
riders here, and it is very active. I'd suggest posting a question on
one of the general thread listings, then sitting back and waiting for
what will probably be a deluge of advice and information. See here:
This is an enormous resource, though as with Delphi Groups, many of
the best groups here are local. For instance, I belong to four local
Yahoo Groups plus another four regional ones. I'd recommend searching
the Yahoo Groups motorcycle and/or Harley specific sections for groups
in your local area or region. However, again, bear in mind that some
general groups, i.e. those made up of all riders/makes/models, can
also be great resources. Many of the member ride and know H-D
motorcycles, but choose to belong to a more general as opposed to
brand-specific groups. Here's the main link to Yahoo Groups -
And here's a link to the Harley section:
LOCAL MEETING PLACES
In addition to online communities, one other suggestion would be to go
to places in your area where bikers gather, i.e. "biker bars" or other
hangouts. Go there, meet some bikers, ask to see their rides. Every
biker loves to show off his/her bike! Ask their advice. Most people
are flattered to be asked for advice, and bikers are no exception.
Most would be only too happy to give you the benefit of their opinion.
A good place to begin is, as mentioned before, the local Harley
dealer. As to other places, if you don't know any, here are a few
links that list "biker friendly" restaurants, bars and such. Maybe you
can find one there. Do exercise a little caution, though. There are
still a few clubs out there who don't exactly cotton to strangers as a
rule (think Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos, etc.) so use a bit of
prudence when going to an unfamiliar place, and always be very, very
TIPS AND ADVICE
There are a lot of general things to keep in mind when buying ANY
motorcycle, not just a Harley-Davidson. I'd suggest you begin your
search by reading over the following articles that have just good
general advice on how to choose and buy a motorcycle:
About.com has lots of interesting information and good advice for
prospective purchasers of motorcycles in general. Check out:
"Buy a Motorcycle," here:
"Motorcycles FAQs (Buy a Motorcycle)," here:
"SELECTING THE RIGHT MOTORCYCLE TO SUIT YOUR NEEDS, LIFESTYLE AND EXPECTATIONS"
A good list of things to consider when buying a motorcycle. It uses
Hondas in the examples, but the things to consider are the same for
any brand. (Looks best in Internet Explorer.)
"SELECTING A TOURING MOTORCYCLE"
Written from a British perspective, this article discusses how to
select a touring bike. Again, not brand specific, but definitely
informative and fun to read:
"BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO MOTORCYCLING"
There is some good information here, but keep in mind that this is
just one person's opinion about buying new vs. used. For instance,
this writer says nearly everybody falls during their first year of
riding, which my expert declares is simply not true! But it's another
perspective, and so might be useful.
ONLINE SOURCES FOR BUYING A HARLEY
Many Harley-Davidson dealers list their inventory in whole or part on
their websites. Some will even do at least preliminary negotiations
via email. Check out the main Harley-Davidson site, the dealer
Then click on the "Dealer Locator" to find dealers near you. Most will
have a link to the individual dealers' websites, where you can then go
to happily browse the goods.
CYCLE CLASSIFIEDS Y2K
For sale by owner classified site, this covers the whole US and all
makes, including Harleys.
There are many satisfied Harley owners who have bought their ride from
Ebay. As of this posting, there are over a thousand H-Ds listed.
However, be careful of listings that are "restricted," meaning the
seller requires "approval" before a person can bid. Many of these
types of listings have turned out to be fraudulent. The way the work
is that emails to the sellers result in a return email offering to
sell immediately, and typically the bike will be in Europe or another
place where it would be impossible to see/touch it. So use caution,
but also keep in mind there are a lot of good deals to be had, and
most sellers are honest and upfront.
This site has classified listings of new/used Harleys from all over the US.
HARLEY TRADER ONLINE
Classified site for buying and selling new/used H-D and Buell motorcycles.
This is another online classified site specializing in new/used Harleys:
This site features new and used Harleys for sale, from both dealers
and private individuals. Most listings have thumbnails and contact
information for the seller.
This is another large motorcycle sales site, with at present over 700
Another classified site with all makes/models available, including a
large selection of H-Ds.
This site has far fewer bikes for sale than Ebay, but there are a few Harleys.
Article: "Buy a Motorcycle Online? You Bet!"
Check the value of used bikes at NADA Guides:
http://www.nadaguides.com/ (click the "motorcycles" tab)
Kelly Blue Book motorcycle section, here:
Article: "Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide"
Here's a good description of the different types of bikes, i.e.
cruisers, sport bikes, etc.
A critical measurement to keep in mind is the height of the seat.
Here's a page that gives the seat heights of '06 H-D models:
Decide the Harley "alphabet" here:
It's a fair statement I think to say that buying a Harley-Davidson
motorcycle is just the beginning. Most Harley owners take that as an
invitation to make their bike their own by customizing it in a variety
of ways. One of the most important of these can be the seat, as
nothing can make or break your riding experience the way a comfortable
vs. uncomfortable seat can. And while not everyone would agree,
general word on the street is that there are few things less kind to
your backside than a stock Harley seat. (I can certainly attest to
that ...! And now we use a Corbin seat.) So don't base your purchase
just on the look, configuration or feel of the seat. There are lots of
options, both H-D and aftermarket, in all price ranges. Here are a few
Article: "Five Motorcycle Seat Comfort Pads Compared"
The following links are for either information or purchase. But keep
in mind that once you know what you want, you can also frequently find
good deals on Ebay and from other online/local accessories sources.
PADS and COVERS
Gel Pads: http://www.motorcycleseating.com/motorcycleseat.php
http://www.sheepskinsusa.com/html/sheepskin_auto.html (scroll down)
Extreme (custom): http://www.extrememotorcycleseats.com/main.html
Rayfin (custom): http://www.rayfin.net/index.php
This is another part where the stock option may not feel just exactly
right, but again, for which there are many other possible choices.
Here are a few:
This is another area where many owners choose to customize, both for
looks and for comfort. For example, many riders like to add "highway
pegs" to the standard footpeg configuration in order to have a way to
stretch out their legs on longer rides, or just a way to change
position. If you plan to carry a passenger, you can also get highway
pegs for the back position. A few sources:
http://www.kuryakyn.com/fphd.asp?bn=harley&cn=Footpegs (we have this
brand on the Road King)
GENERAL PARTS & ACCESSORIES
JP CYCLES: http://www.jpcycles.com/harley.aspx
JC WHITNEY (need to select make/model/year from drop down list):
BIKE BANDIT: http://www.bikebandit.com/partsbandit/
I hope this gives you a good supply of information and resources to
assist you in the process of buying a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. If
anything isn't clear, or you don't see something you'd hoped to,
please let me know in a Request for Clarification before rating and
closing your question, so I can be sure you have what you need, and
that you're happy with the information provided. Also, despite care
taken, sometimes links don't post properly, so if you have any
problems with them, let me know, and I can try to repost any
Looking forward to welcoming another new Harley rider to the road!
First, I consulted with my onsite 'expert,' aka my riding partner cum
instructor, who evaluated and supplied most of the information and
links on how to choose a motorcycle.
I reviewed archived messages on this topic from some of the forums to
which I belong. In addition to those listed above, some are local to
my area/region, but here are a few links in case you're interested:
http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/CTXIR (closed group, invitation only)
I also made heavy use of my own fairly large bookmark collection for
motorcycle links and resources.
As a supplement, I used and/or recomment the following search terms:
[buy harley online]
[buy new harley-davidson online]
[motorcycle seat pad OR cushion OR sheepskin]