Useful recommendations when buying a used Harley-Davidson


Harley-Davidson motorcycles have managed to acquire worldwide fame and recognition for their performance characteristics and design. Being probably the world’s most recognizable bike brand, this recognition reflects in the price. The cheapest Harley-Davidson is close to US$7,000 (the Street 500 model) but the typical cost is usually on the range of tens of thousands of dollars (e.g. for the Harley Davidson CVO Limited).

Given all these, one can save a lot by purchasing a used Harley (especially considering that these are luxurious objects and reselling them would likely significantly reduce the price). The good news is that being more of a recreation vehicle, such bikes are typically used much less than a regular car and would consequently be in better shape if maintained adequately.

Learning More from the VIN

There are many things to look for when buying a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Of course, you would be willing to assess its looks for potential scratches, rust, the quality of the painting layer – while most of these could be relatively easily fixed, they could be a good indication of both the mileage and the treatment and care this bike received. But since the looks could be fixed by a cosmetic “renovation”, running a comprehensive HD VIN check will tell you the true story of the vehicle.

Starting with 1981, the VIN number is made of 17 characters and is located on the frame but is also abbreviated on the engine. Thus, if the code is shorter than 17 digits, this is an indication the vehicle was manufactured before this date. Obviously, much more information could be deduced by an analysis of the VIN code, including:

  • The world manufacturer ID (designating the country of production and/or the target market)
  • Weight class
  • Model designation
  • Engine type (engine displacement)
  • Introduction period (normal, mid-year or special introduction and the respective country)
  • A check number (calculated according to a formula to prevent invalid VINs)
  • Model year
  • Manufacturing plant, etc.
Harley Davidson

Even if you are dealing with a transparent and trustworthy dealer, learning all this information would still be highly recommended.

Benefits of Running a VIN Check

The VIN itself is not only a way to store information about the characteristics of the vehicle and its manufacturing process – it is also an identifier used to track the entire history of the vehicle. Thus, performing a complete VIN Check would yield a lot of useful information about the motorcycle including:

  • Registrations in chronological order
  • Mileage as recorded by third parties (e.g. car service) and its correspondence with odometer readings
  • Potential sequestration and imposed liens – knowing this can help avoid legal problems with property rights
  • Potential involvement in accidents and corresponding damage
  • Theft and recovery (you don’t want to purchase a stolen vehicle!)

Even if you are dealing with a transparent and trustworthy dealer, learning all this information would still be highly recommended, since some information might be overlooked or ignored by dealers. In addition, it will give peace of mind that you made a safe and responsible purchase.

Are you planning on buying a Harley-Davidson?

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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