What to Consider When Buying a Used Harley

What to Consider When Buying a Used Harley

by Chris Rutter September 01, 2021

There's nothing like shopping for a motorcycle, especially when it's a Harley-Davidson. Whether this is your first Harley or you're adding another Harley to your extensive collection, purchasing a bike is exciting.

What to Consider When Buying a Used Harley

It's no secret that new Harley bikes can fetch high prices. Harley-Davidson's reputation for quality and the unique lifestyle of the Harley community are unmatched, so if you're looking for a Harley bike that will fit your budget, search for a used one.

The process of buying a used Harley-Davidson motorcycle is different from purchasing a new bike. Since this bike isn't fresh from the manufacturer, you'll need to inspect more details and do your homework before taking the plunge. Learn what to look out for when buying a used Harley and how you can ensure you're getting a good deal.

What Should I Look for While Buying a Used Harley-Davidson?

What Should I Look for While Buying a Used Harley-Davidson?

Reviewing a checklist of areas to inspect and questions to ask will help you find a great used Harley bike. Take a look at this list of eight things to know before buying a used Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

1. All the Bike Records

Some of the most critical things to check when looking at used Harley bikes are all its records. These include title, theft and impound records.

Title records are the first thing you should check if you're serious about purchasing a used motorcycle. The bike's title should be clean, which means it hasn't been in an accident. Since motorcycles have a high accident rate, ensure the title record is a priority on your list.

Theft records will let you know if anyone has ever reported the motorcycle stolen. A VIN report can also let you know of any theft records.

An impound record will let you know if the motorcycle has ever spent time in an impound lot or tow yard, which is valuable information to know when negotiating the price and checking for any damage.

2. The Market Value of the Bike

Researching the MSRP and market value of the Harley bike you're interested in can come in handy. Knowing this price range will help you negotiate and ensure you're getting a fair deal on the motorcycle. You can find plenty of resources online to search for motorcycle market values and keep a record of prices you see in person as you search for the perfect used Harley motorcycle.

Knowing your motorcycle's market value is also helpful if you ever need to negotiate with your insurance company for a claim payout. 

3. Specs of the Used Harley Bike

Checking all the specifications of a used Harley seems like a no-brainer, but it's essential to know everything this bike has to offer and if it aligns with what you want. You'll need to check essentials like the engine, model, year, tires, fuel type and other specs on the Harley. You'll also want to compare the list of specs you receive from the dealer or owner to an online report to note if anything doesn't align. 

4. The Odometer Reading

The odometer will tell you how many miles are on the Harley motorcycle. This information is helpful because it will let you know how often the previous owner drove the bike and approximately how many more years the motorcycle has left. The number of miles on the bike can also help you in the negotiating process, potentially making a significant difference in the price you can purchase the used Harley-Davidson bike for. 

5. Assess the Used Bike's Condition

You'll want to inspect your bike's condition meticulously. It may look superficially fantastic, but there's no telling what kind of nicks or scratches are present unless you closely examine it. You'll want to search for things like rust, scratches, dents, wear, leaks and other damages.

If a motorcycle has been sitting in a garage for a long time, you should check all its parts are OK. A bike that hasn't seen much recent use can acquire rust on the tank, frame, pipes and other components. Ask how often the previous owner drove the motorcycle and how well they took care of it while it was in storage.

If the previous owner was a frequent rider, you'll want to ensure there isn't any excessive wear and tear on essential parts like the brakes and tires. 

6. Take a Test Ride

If you have the opportunity to take a test drive before buying your bike, don't turn it down. A test ride is an ideal way to ensure all the motorcycle's parts are functioning correctly and that you enjoy the feel of the Harley. You can catch any performance problems and help you feel more confident in your decision to purchase. If you're buying from an owner, they may not let you take it for a test run, but a dealer should allow you to try out the Harley motorcycle before you purchase.

7. Check the VIN and Engine Number

Check that the VIN on the bike matches the one on the title record and other essential documents the seller has for the bike. It's also helpful to check the engine number to know its type and the year of its manufacture. 

8. History of the Bike

Learning about the bike's complete history is essential before you purchase a used Harley. Situations like an auction or recall are factors that play a significant role in the bike's price and performance.

If the bike has ever been an auction item before, ask about the price. This information can help with price negotiation and warn you that there might be something wrong with the bike. If it's been up for auction numerous times, find out why and if the motorcycle is worth it.

To ensure you're safe on the road, protect yourself by researching the recall history of the Harley model you want to purchase.

Other Crucial Questions to Ask

You'll quickly realize there is a lot to learn about a used motorcycle. Before you buy your used Harley, make sure to ask some of these critical questions:

  • How often has maintenance work been done on the bike?
  • Has the bike been repainted?
  • Did anyone ever use the bike to race?
  • How long has the owner or dealer had the motorcycle?
  • Have there been any problems with the bike?
  • Where have they stored the motorcycle?

Shop for Harley Products and Service at Fat Head Cycles

Shop for Harley Products and Service at Fat Head Cycles

Learning as much information as possible about a used Harley will help ensure you make a wise purchase. While you might be looking for a good deal on a Harley-Davidson bike, you still want the excellent performance this brand is famous for. Once you're the proud owner of a used Harley motorcycle, you can search for parts, gear and service for your bike.

You can find high-quality Harley-Davidson products and excellent motorcycle maintenance from Fat Head Cycles. At Fat Head Cycles, we are proud to serve as your full-service Harley-Davidson shop. Contact us today to learn more about the parts we can provide for your used Harley motorcycle.

Chris Rutter
Chris Rutter


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