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Mild Bill (Asshole #27)

StephG (Asshole#108)

Revisions/updates  2006 Keeper of the FAQ's
Schmoe (Asshole #128)

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Buying New

I think you are right to look at Harley-Davidsons if this is your first bike. For the most part they're not too slow, not too fast, handle well and are easy to work on. Forget Conventional Wisdom, they are as reliable as any other marquee and will last a LOT longer.

If you change your mind and want a different bike, the HD will have held it's value well. The days of H-D dealers demanding $2-3k+ over MSRP appear to be over.  As of this writing, used HDs are still getting top dollar compared to their Japanese or European counterparts. However, a few short years ago, used bikes were often sold for more than new due to high demand and low supply. Most other bikes lose 30 to 50% of their value the first time you start them. Harleys still hold their value better than any other motorcycle on the market.

While dealers selling for over MSRP are few and further between, some dealers are still trying to maximize their profit by bolting on $2,000 worth of chrome to floor ready new bikes. Shop around, as this practice varies greatly from dealer to dealer. In most parts of the country you should be able to buy for MSRP immediately while you may have to wait a short while to get the exact color & model combination you want. 

In some shops I've visited there have been Sportsters and V-Rods selling for a little below MRSP. Some shops are offering a bonus $1k+- in accessories/apparel money on sales of certain models (obviously the slower moving models in their inventory).

California prices are higher by several hundred dollars to pay for the catalytic converters that you will immediately want to take off.

The Softail engines are rigidly mounted to the frame, and as a consequence vibrate more than the Sportster, Dyna Glide, Touring & V-Rod models. The Sportster had a rigid mounted engine until 2004 and the overall response to the new rubber mounted version has been excellent.

There are two catalogs. The dealer may charge a few dollars for the larger one. The smaller one lists MSRP and is available from the Motor Company at:

Harley-Davidson Inc.
P.O. Box 653
Milwaukee, WI 53201
800.443.2153 for dealer locations

Other Harley Davidson addresses are:

Headquarters and Engine Manufacturing
Harley-Davidson, Inc.
3700 West Juneau Ave.
Milwaukee, WI USA 53201
Final Assembly
Harley Davidson, Inc.
1425 Eden Rd.
York, PA USA 17402

Buell can be reached at:

Buell Motorcycle Company
2286 Church Street
East Troy, WI 53120

For prices see the HD web site.