We get this question a lot. We see someone walk in our store. They scan our showroom expecting "THE" motorcycle to start jumping up and down. The bike that speaks to them. And in their head, as their eyes move from bike to bike to bike, we can see in their head... "Which Harley is right for me?"
There are a lot of options. At the time of this post, there are 30 different models of Harley-Davidson motorcycle available in the current model year. And that only covers the motorcycles being currently pumped out from the factory. That does not include the THOUSANDS of options in the pre-owned market.
Answer these few questions about your riding style - or what you hope your riding style will be - and we'll give you a place to start looking...
What type of riding do you want to do?
Whether it is commuting to work or running around town with friends, if you plan on keeping trips short you'll want a bike that is - not necessarily small - but agile, nimble and reactive. If you plan on taking trips on your motorcycle - think gone for the whole day or multiple days - you'll want some of those touring features like a comfy seat, navigation or luggage. Most riders do both - but they do one more than the other. Think about where you want to ride this bike and let us help you come up with the right model. We can also recommend some of our favorite accessories to fine tune your ride to accommodate where you want to ride to.
Do you want to ride with a passenger?
There is a seat on every motorcycle. Some seats have room for one rider, some have room for a rider and a passenger. There are also levels of comfort for different types of seats. Think about mattresses. Some are harder and some are more plush. Some are Twin sized and some are California King sized. Seats are very similar. And like mattresses the best way to tell which one to get is to sit on them. Each motorcycle starts with a stock seat that compliments the typical rider that would typically purchase that bike for a typical use that the motorcycle was built for. So smaller Sportster models are typically designed for just the rider and have a smaller, narrow profile that matches the style of the motorcycle. They are good for riding around town but might need to be swapped with a seat that has more cushion if you plan on riding the bike to Sturgis and back.
How do you want your foot controls positioned?
When your feet are up and you are riding, where are your feet? In front of you? Under you? Behind you? This has a little to do with how aggressive of a riding position you are looking for. But choosing the right foot placement takes stress off your leg muscles which allows you to be more comfortable and be able to ride longer. Accessories can be installed if you have a preference that isn't supported by the type of motorcycle you want.
What riding position should your handlebars give you?
Just like your feet, think about the same for your hands. Close your eyes, and mount the motorcycle in your head. Where are your hands? This is all about what is comfortable to you. We can even help you dial in the perfect rise, width and pullback if the stock handlebars aren't quite right. How do you know they aren't right? You might feel a pinch in your back or feel like you aren't as confident as you want to be.
Do you want an especially tall or low seat?
Now for your seat. Are you exceptionally tall or exceptionally short? If you are tall you'll want a motorcycle that doesn't make you feel too cramped. If you are short you'll want a motorcycle that allows you to confidently reach the ground with a flat foot. A taller or lower seat will help you get there.
Do you want a windshield or fairing to beat the wind?
A fairing is an aerodynamic panel on the front of your motorcycle attached to the frame or the handlebars that reduces drag and takes the edge off of wind that hits your chest, face and arms. The force of wind on the front of your body can add to the fatigue you might feel on a long day, at high speeds or when riding in strong winds. A fairing can also include instrumentations and infotainment - think touch screen navigation, music and phone calls. Touring motorcycles come with this as a stock option because riders find them very valuable when riding long distances. Smaller sport and cruiser models either have one that comes standard or one can be added as an accessory.
Do you want storage?
When you think about where you are going and who you are bringing with, you should also consider what "stuff" you'd like to bring with you. When thinking about commuting for work, do you want to be able to slide your work gear, a change of clothes and your lunch into a bag mounted to the side or back of your motorcycle? Or are you going to carry it all in a backpack? If you plan on taking trips, would you have enough space to pack for a few days or would you need a top box that would give you some extra capacity? Remember you have to be able to fit all of your passenger's trip essentials as well. While many riders have several different storage options that clip on their bike and can be removed to offer different options, there are several models to consider if you plan on packing up your bike regularly.