Yup – there are things to know before getting a motorcycle. Few experiences are more exciting than buying your first bike, especially if the purchase is a Harley. The company’s reputation is both pristine and legendary, so it’s a good idea to begin your motorcycle journey with our team on your side. Still, it helps to know what to expect when you visit a dealership to buy that first Harley. Having your ducks in a row is a great starting point, so here’s what to know before buying your first motorcycle.
What Should I Look for When Buying My First Motorcycle?
First things first—do some legwork, online and otherwise. As mentioned in the intro, there are things to know before getting a motorcycle. It’s easy to walk into any dealership with a dream vision of your ideal ride, only to have that vision chip into fragments when you discover some of the realities about buying your first motorcycle.
For most people, the budget is either at or near the top of the list. The good news for Harley buyers is that they’re making a great investment. There are plenty of reasons to buy the best, and lasting value is one that draws many riders to Harley-Davidson.
Once you’ve got your budget nailed down, it’s time to do some narrowing. What kind of riding do you intend to do? Commuting? Weekend rides? Long trips? Even if the answer is “all of the above,” knowing what’s most important to you will help you make the best choice when you finally hit the dealership.
What is the Best Motorcycle for Beginners?
Let’s review the basics: There are three main types of motorcycles—standard bikes, sports bikes, and cruisers.
Standard motorcycles are usually great for beginners as they allow the rider to be upright with a minimum amount of leaning and reaching.
Sports bikes have a sexy reputation because of their high-speed capability. For a novice rider, though, this speed comes at a price: Sport riders have to lean forward more, the footpegs are higher, and the reach to the handlebars is longer. That combination can make long rides tough on the back and the hands, so you should know that going in.
This brings us to cruisers, and as the name implies, they’re built for long trips, but many experienced riders think they’re the toughest bikes for beginners to master. The combination of high handlebars and forward footpegs forces riders to lean back slightly, which can be uncomfortable for new Harley enthusiasts while they’re learning to ride. Also, the low-rider seat can cause pulling when dealing with the handlebars, and cruisers tend to be heavier, which poses a separate issue, making them harder to control at low speeds.
The upside to all this analysis is that it will help you know what model you want. You may hone in on a specific ride, or you may narrow your search to two or three different models and use your visit to the dealership to make the final choice. Popular choices include the Street Glide, the Road King, the Sportster, and the Iron 883.
Any of these choices are fine, but the more you know going in, the better your dealership experience will be.
What to Do Before Visiting the Harley-Davidson Dealership
So what should your strategy be when you visit the dealership? Once again, there are parts and pieces involved, so let’s do a breakdown.
Start by bringing an experienced friend if you have one. This can be invaluable—you don’t know what you don’t know, after all. A friend who rides and knows Harleys can help steer the questions and the conversations with sales reps and service people.
You should also know as much as you can about the dealership itself. What kind of inventory do they have on hand, and how does it match up with your needs? What’s their local reputation? Is their service department strong, and can they get parts right away when necessary?
One way to back up your knowledge when you ask these kinds of questions is to do searches and use online forums. Searching for words like “reliability,” “issues,” and “reviews” will help you ask better questions, and it will help your Harley rep clear up any misconceptions that you may have.
Test drives should be an obvious part of your strategy, but make sure you’re thorough and careful about this part of the process. It’s easy to get dazzled in any dealer showroom, which is why it’s best to have a comprehensive strategy set up in advance.
Why Should I Buy a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle?
Dealers and dealerships may have a sketchy reputation in the world of four-wheel vehicles, but it’s a very different story in the motorcycle world. This is particularly true when it comes to how the bike fits, so let’s take a closer look at how that works.
Motorcycles generally don’t have adjustable features like cars do—i.e., standard steering wheels, seats, etc. That means you need to do some things to make sure that what feels right in a showroom will also feel great when you’re out on the road.
Simply put, it’s important to allow the dealership to help you get a good fit. Be honest about your riding skills and the type of riding you intend to do—this will help enhance your riding experience and prevent hassles down the road.
Seat height is important. You should be able to plant your feet flat on the pavement, which gives you better balance and prevents you from dropping the bike. Balance is critical to safe riding, so make this a high priority during the fitting process.
Weight is another issue you need to address at the dealership since it’s especially important for riders getting their first motorcycle. It’s easy to imagine yourself cruising the open road until you realize that the weight of a cruiser will take some getting used to.
Another thing to remember when you go to the dealership is not to fall into the so-called “power trap.” Many beginner riders go all-in on power, and sometimes this can be a mistake.
Let’s take a look at an example of how engine size can work in all this. Even a bike with a 600 cc engine has more power than a lot of experienced riders need, so consider sticking to 500 cc engines and under, which falls into the category of small- and medium-displacement bikes. Some manufacturers design bikes in this classification specifically for new riders, so consider that possibility as well. You may want to start small and then switch over to larger bikes later when you have the experience to handle them.
How Much Should You Spend on Your First Motorcycle?
One of the most underrated parts of the dealership experience is the final steps when you finally buy your bike. This is particularly important as it relates to add-ons. Know what add-on features you want when it comes to things like paint schemes, options, anti-lock brakes, security systems, and so on. Ask about the terms of the warranty, too, if there are any specific issues that catch your eye, but remember to stick to the budget you set before you walked in.
Lastly, check the final invoice carefully. Look for things like setup fees, freight costs, admin fees, etc. that might be out of line, and ask whatever questions you need to ask to get them resolved.
Financing is part of those last steps, on the list for things to know before getting a motorcycle. Harley-Davidson has a solid financing program, so that’s a possibility you may want to consider. You should know your credit score going in, and always negotiate for the best possible terms possible. The dealership may even offer a path for insurance options, so make that part of your research as well!
Serving Riders of All Levels—Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands
Now that we’ve covered what to know before buying your first motorcycle, remember that you’re forming a future path for subsequent purchases, and there’s a good chance your attachment to Harley-Davidson could become an obsession. Still, don’t be upset if you don’t get everything you want with your first bike; sometimes it’s hard to know what you don’t know.
Lucky for you, our experienced team at Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands is here to help you find the new or pre-owned bike of your dreams today! No matter where you are on your Harley-buying journey, our team meets you there to provide you with the information you need to feel comfortable investing in your first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Congratulations – you have successfully gone over the list of things to know before getting a motorcycle!
Harley Davidson of The Woodlands
Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands has been serving Southeast Texas for more than 20 years. We provide the Greater Houston area with new and pre-owned motorcycles, riding apparel, parts, maintenance service, and more at our state-of-the-art dealership. Whether you’re a new rider or a seasoned Harley vet, our friendly team of Harley-Davidson experts is ready to help you find the perfect bike today. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands Showroom off of I-45 North in The Woodlands, TX.