Owing a Harley-Davidson appeals to a lot of people. There’s often quite a bond between bike and owner, something they say car owners aren’t able to understand. This bond can, of course, be developed for buyers of used Harleys as well. However, there are some things to look for when buying used.
Know What You Want
Harleys come in a multitude of flavors, so it’s important to match up yourself up with the right bike. Harley-Davidson is more of a cruising or custom-type motorcycle. So if your style of riding is geared toward sports or racing, even a used Harley “Sportster” may not be right for you.
Make sure you choose a bike you can handle. Harleys can be big and powerful, so it may be better to set your sights on some moderate horsepower and graduate to a stronger bike down the line. Being able to handle and maneuver your bike is far more important than starting with a heavier bike. By purchasing used, you can avoid the buying pressure that comes with the longer-term commitment of a new bike. Additionally, Harleys are extremely durable and engineered to last — important for a used bike.
You may want to consider renting a motorcycle before buying even a used bike to make sure ownership is right for you. Harley-Davidson dealers offer rentals.
Where to Buy
Obviously, buying any vehicle used comes with some risks. One of the safer ways is to buy a used Harley directly from a dealer. Most offer some sort of pre-owned assurance program complete with financing and limited warranty. Their reputation as a dealer is on the line with any product they sell. Buying from a dealer may be a good way to limit your chances of “buying someone else’s problem.”
If you consider buying from an owner, check to see if a vehicle history report is available via the VIN number. Ask if he’s the original owner and why he’s selling. Make sure to get a good feel for how he cared for and stored the bike. Most Harley-Davidson owners maintain their bikes very well and may be looking to simply trade up for a newer or bigger model. If he seems like he is parting with an old friend, this is probably a good sign.
If you use Internet resources such as eBay, try to remain within driving distance of the cycle owner. This can eliminate some of the ambiguity about an online seller and any overhyped claims of an unseen bike. Be sure to follow the guidelines, including doing due diligence on the seller’s transaction history. Another idea is to ask the seller if he can provide written service receipts.
When you go to meet your potential new hog, see if you can bring along someone who really knows bikes to check it out thoroughly. Scratched paint can mean the bike was mishandled. Also be on the lookout for rust to see if the bike was repeatedly left out in the rain. Check the tires and pedals as well and be sure often overlooked items such as blinkers are still working.
When you start the engine, make sure it sounds right and check for dark smoke from the exhaust, a sign that the engine is worn. Make sure it’s not leaking oil.