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Should You Buy a Harley Davidson?

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I have conversed with many other motorcycle riders about what motorcycle is the best.

Many riders had wanted, ordered or already purchased a Harley. Reasons I hear from other riders and potentially interested persons as to why they have to have a Harley:

It is the only real American made motorcycle. A Harley is the best motorcycle on the road. Harley Davidson is the oldest motorcycle company. A Harley Davidson is a good investment. American riders do not want to ride "Jap Junk." Riders do not want to start on something small and have to trade up.

Fact: Harley Davidson is not the only American made motorcycle. There is a myth that Harley is the only American made motorcycle. To believe that, you would need to overlook the Honda of America plant in Marysville, Ohio and the Kawasaki Plant in Nebraska. Both are manufacturing plants, not assembly plants. That means that Honda does not ship in boxes of parts and put them together here as part of some evil conspiracy. Simple fact, it makes good business sense to manufacture their motorcycles in the USA. Manufacturers will be the first to tell you that the work force here is skilled, the U.S. suppliers and vendors produce excellent pieces. Take a good look at the contemporary Harley Davidson; it has quite a collection of foreign made parts. I do not have a problem with this; lets just keep it in perspective. Finally, manufacturers cannot just claim something is "Made in the USA." The Federal Trade Commission has specific criteria for what percentage of the parts must be made and sourced in the USA. There have been years where a larger percentage of a Honda Goldwing was USA made and sourced than a Harley Davidson.

Everyone wants to think their motorcycle is "the best." I have owned several different brands of motorcycles. I would not call any of my former motorcycles "the best." Yes, maybe they were the best sport bikes in a given year, or touring model, or trail bike at the moment. Each and every motorcycle I have owned had room for improvement. What would make a Harley Davidson the best? Best should be defined as a motorcycle that suits you and your primary use for it. I think if you got right down to it, most of the people that were saying this to me felt it had the best image. Image is part of it but image should not be the primary basis for buying a motorcycle.

So all your friends ride Harleys, so what! If your friends are not paying for your motorcycle then ride what best suits you. It is more important to ride with experienced riders than to ride with inexperienced Harley riders. If a person will not ride with you because you are not on a Harley, they are not capturing the real meaning of being a biker.

Harley Davidson is not the oldest motorcycle company. Harley Davidson is the oldest original motorcycle manufacturer in the USA. Company history is not always the best reference point. Harley is a company whose products success depends very heavily on nostalgia. Nostalgia is great, except it has slowed and restricted Harley's ability to innovate. Harley's customers are looking for a specific image and experience. If Harley Davidson varies too much and too quickly Harley Davidson's long-term customers can get a bit cranky. The introduction to the Evolution engine first stirred this sentiment up. BMW motorcycles suffer from restrictive thinking too.

Harley Davidson motorcycles are not a good investment. Vintage Harley Davidson motorcycles are a good investment. Time has established them as a good solid investment. In the 1600's the Dutch saw an investment surge called tulip mania. Those who over invested in tulip bulbs lost out. When production catches up with demand prices will soften. A lazy economy causes non-essential items like a motorcycle to receive the domestic axe. Unless you are very knowledgeable about the motorcycle industry, buy a motorcycle as a serious investment.

The "Jap Junk" theory is a typical defense mechanism. Japanese do not make junk. I have watched first hand what countless customers have done to their Japanese cars and motorcycles. I know that I have mistreated several Japanese motorcycles. In spite of the neglect and abuse dished out to these well-engineered motorcycles they are hard to kill. I have seen Japanese motorcycles run out of oil, run with two-stroke oil in the crankcase, ridden without air filters and revved off of the tachometer endlessly. I do not think a stock Harley Davidson or BMW motorcycle can take the abuse the average Japanese motorcycle can take. As a motorcycle rider do you want durability and reliability or bragging rights?

You do not want to start out on a small no name motorcycle. I have heard this used by dealers as a selling point, I disagree with this type of sales pitch. You are a new rider and you are going to be learning on your new motorcycle. Your newly purchased motorcycle will probably fall over a time or two and you will make mistakes and possibly wreck. If you have no previous motorcycle experience, how do you know what you really want in a motorcycle? It took me several years to know specifically what I want a motorcycle to do. The good news for a new rider is that ignorance is bliss. Anything will be fun for a while and that is what it should be. A motorcycle should be fun and not intimidating to ride. Most new riders are quite surprised when they find out that most bikes used in motorcycle training classes weigh about 300 pounds. The weight for an 883 Harley Davidson Sportster, which is the smallest Harley Davidson model, is 600 pounds. Do not tie up money on a hunch or the pursuit of an image. Ride, learn what you like and want, make some mistakes and then move up. As for loosing money, most likely you will not sell your motorcycle for what you paid for it. There are always people looking for a good small starter bike and you should not have any trouble selling your starter bike because it does not say Harley Davidson.

The bottom line is that what type of motorcycle you ride is your decision. You reap the rewards for your decision and endure the consequences of your purchase. Make the decision with complete honesty to yourself not an image or a group of bikers.

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