If you just got your motorcycle license, maybe you’re lucky enough to be getting a bike for Christmas. But what’s the best choice for a new rider? Don’t get bogged down in opinions and reviews, just stop by our Dallas Harley dealership and throw a leg over these best picks for your first Harley®, we’ll help you find your perfect match.
Identifying Your Preferred Riding Position and Seat Height
People have an idea what they want a first Harley® to look like, and what they want it to make them look like. You probably already know what you had in your head when you signed up for a motorcycle riding course. Did you picture yourself on a street bike, a cruiser, a touring bike or something else?
How did the motorcycles at your training course compare with what was in your head? What was your comfort level like with them? Think specifically about their seat height and riding position.
Smaller Harley®s like the Iron 883 and Sportster S have a more stretched-out riding position, where Street Glide allows riders to be a little more upright with arms in neutral. A touring bike’s forward controls may take some getting used to for new riders, but they’re worth it in the long run when it comes to comfort on long trips.
Seat height and handlebars can be adjusted, but what’s comfortable for you will always depend on your frame and riding preferences. For example, although the seat is adjustable, adventure touring Pan America’s seat might still be a little high for riders with short legs.
The Type of Riding You’ll Do
If you’re hoping to use your first Harley® as a commuter, research which ones work best on the types of roads you travel. Some models offer less wind protection and deliver more vibration at highway speeds, so what’s stripped-down power cruising with friends could wear you out on your daily commute. If you’re doing a lot of extended high-speed riding, the Softails and Touring bikes are smooth as butter.
Best First Touring Harley®
One of the things Harley® is best known for is manufacturing motorcycles you can get on and just go for as long as you want, even if that means riding from coast to coast. Touring bikes like Street Glide, CVO Road Glide and Ultra have upgraded infotainment systems, roomy seating for passengers, saddlebags so you can take whatever you need for the trip, and a whole lot of other features for long rides.
They have big gas tanks so you have a lot of range. They’re also built for wind deflection and reducing rider fatigue. They’re pricey in comparison to smaller bikes, which also makes them a bit of a status symbol with other motorcyclists. They also tend to be a little taller and wider than cruisers and Sportster, so short riders may need to make adjustments to be able to sit flat-footed, but tall riders will find them roomy.
Cruisers That Make a Good First Harley Choice
If a touring bike isn't for you, Heritage Classic still comes with loads of power and saddlebag options, so it delivers plenty of comfort for an overnight road trip with a lower price tag. If you’re in the market for a first Harley®, we absolutely recommend you sit on one of these first. Fat Bob and Low Rider S are also geared toward cranking out a lot of power with a lighter frame than touring models.
Some new riders don’t see themselves on a big touring bike, they prefer a stripped-down, bare knuckles look with improved agility and a lighter frame. Sportster S is low, with a stretched riding position and forward foot controls. It’s built for riders looking for top-notch performance and aggressive riding. It will also have you turning heads with its beefy tires and high mount exhaust.
Riders can still add saddlebags and swingarms, but they way they come is very light and stripped down, more built for sportiness and agile handling than long trips.
Really, when new riders buy a first Harley®, it’s because they want a bike that looks like a Harley®. You get a powerful, built to last motorcycle that, while not huge for a Harley, is more powerful and robust than a lot of the other bikes recommended for beginners. It comes with 3 pre-programmed Ride Modes and cornering rider safety enhancements like ABS and Traction Control. The laden seat height is a low 28.9 inches, so it’s comfortable even if you don’t have long limbs.
Iron 883 as a First Harley®
A lot of people are looking to buy a first Harley® for under 10k that’s lightweight and good for beginners. For years, experts have been recommending Iron 883 to riders in that category. They’re a good choice because you should be able to find a used Iron 883 in good condition for less than ten grand, there are plenty of available parts if you need them, and they have a rock solid reputation for performance and customizability.
Why Shop Dallas Harley-Davidson® For Your First Harley®
Don’t buy a bike from a dealership or individual that won’t let you can’t sit on it. It’s also hard to trust a salesman who doesn’t ride. At Dallas Harley-Davidson® we have a passion for helping people find the right bike because we all ride, many of us every day. We invite you to come try out our bikes and talk to our team about finding your perfect match.