What To Look For When Buying A Used Harley Davidson Motorcycle

American Motorcycle Trading Co. - March 29, 2021

 

Harley-Davidson is a beloved American icon, and it’s the first name that comes to mind when most people think of motorcycles. Fans of the brand love its cool image and reputation for quality and safety. Owning a Harley isn’t just about having a powerful bike to ride, but it’s also about joining a community of riders all over the world.

 

Since new motorcycles are expensive, buying a pre-owned Harley is an excellent option, especially if you do the research and purchase from a reputable dealer. The following are some tips for finding the Harley of your dreams at a price you can afford.

 

Choose The Right Model

 

Though it’s best known for popularizing the chopper-style motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has produced a huge variety of models since it was founded in 1903. Today, buyers can choose among Touring bikes, Softail bikes, Dyna models, Sportsters, Street bikes, and an electric model known as the Live Wire. The company also makes a three-wheeled trike for riders who want extra stability. The following are a few things to consider when choosing a Harley.

 

  1. Comfort

 

If you plan to do a lot of traveling and want to enjoy an easy and comfortable ride, consider a bike in the Touring family, like the Road King or Road Glide. Touring bikes feature wide windshields, large saddlebags, and a smooth, powerful engine.

 

  1. Style

 

When you’re choosing a motorcycle, looks are undeniably important. Many Harley fans love the old-school look of the Softail Lowrider or the Heritage Classic. If you prefer a more modern style, consider a Street Glide or Sportster. Chances are you’ll recognize the style that’s right for you the minute you lay eyes on it.

 

  1. Handling

 

Another consideration when choosing the right model is how well it handles. Harleys are known to be heavy, which can make them harder to manage on curves. However, the 1980s-era FXR and the contemporary Dyna family of bikes are known for their superior handling. New riders, in particular, should consider a model that will be easy to control.

 

Check For Signs Of Damage Or Neglect

 

Before buying a used motorcycle, you’ll want to look it over carefully. Issues that may seem merely cosmetic can reveal a lot about the condition of the bike and how well it has been cared for. Details like mismatched paint, scratches, and dents may indicate that the bike was in an accident at some point.

 

Foot pegs, handlebar ends, and levers are also worth inspecting. If the bike was in an accident, you may notice that these parts have slightly bent or curved ends. Aftermarket pegs and levers are another sign that the bike has likely been in a crash.

 

Check For Engine Problems

 

When you test the engine and electrical system, make sure the bike is cold. If it has been running for a while before you test it, you can easily miss problems. When you turn on the ignition, the bike should start up quickly, and the sound of the engine should be free of clicking or knocking noises. Make sure the lights and turn signals come on and that all dashboard gauges are working.

 

Finally, take note of any smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. Black or dark gray smoke may be a sign of a clogged air filter or a clog in the fuel line. White smoke, on the other hand, is a common indicator of a coolant-related issue, meaning the engine is at risk of overheating. If you see blue smoke, oil may be leaking into the combustion chamber.

 

Check The VIN And Title

 

The vehicle identification number (VIN) is stamped into the frame of the bike behind the headlight. Before buying a used motorcycle, make sure that the VIN on the bike matches the number on the title. You can also use this number to run a vehicle history report and find out whether the bike was ever involved in a crash or recalled by the manufacturer for any reason.

 

Buy From A Dealer Rather Than An Individual

 

If you search sites like Craigslist or eBay for used motorcycles, chances are you’ll see a variety of Harleys for sale, but it’s hard to know what you’re getting when you’re buying from an individual. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous sellers out there who sell stolen or previously totaled bikes. You’ll stand a better chance of getting a reliable bike if you buy from a dealer with a reputation to uphold. The following are several benefits of buying from a Harley dealer.

 

  1. More Bikes To Choose From

 

Dealers that specialize in used Harley-Davidsons keep a variety of bikes in stock. Buyers have a better chance of finding the right model for their needs and level of experience if they work with a reputable dealer. Moreover, dealers are always getting new stock, so if the perfect bike isn’t available the first time you look, you can just check back in a few days.

 

  1. A Guaranteed Clean Title

 

A clean title means that the motorcycle has not been marked with any conditions that would reduce its value. For example, if a vehicle was deemed a total loss by an insurance company, that fact would be noted on the title. Similarly, if the motorcycle was declared a total loss and then rebuilt with aftermarket parts, the word “salvage” would appear on the title. A title might also note odometer issues that would cause a false mileage reading.

 

  1. Financing Options

 

Another benefit of purchasing a used bike from a dealer is that dealers can offer in-house financing options. Private sellers typically want cash up front, but dealers can arrange affordable monthly payments. In addition, you can trade in another vehicle to reduce the price.

 

Final Thoughts

 

If you’re in the market for a used Harley, you can avoid a lot of pitfalls if you buy from a reputable dealer. At American Motorcycle, we take pride in our selection of Harley-Davidson bikes, and we make sure they’re in optimal condition before they leave our facility. When you purchase from us, you can be confident that you’re getting a top-quality vehicle.

 

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