Getting Your Feet Wet: What Is the Best Harley Davidson for a Beginner Biker?

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Riding any motorcycle is fun and exciting, but riding a Harley is like a way of life. Beginner bikers are often intimidated by Harleys, assuming they’re only for seasoned riders. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. Read on to find out about a few of the best Harley Davidson motorcycles for beginner bikers.

Harley Davidson Street 750

Harley’s Street 750 and its related Street 500 constitute somewhat of a break from the brand’s usual offerings, but they’re perfect for beginner riders. Unlike traditional Harleys, which can be quite heavy and difficult to maneuver, these bikes are known for being lightweight and capable.

The Street 750 a perfect entry-level choice for riders who don’t care about the Harley aesthetic but want to buy a quality motorcycle from a reputable manufacturer. As an added bonus, it’s also more affordable and efficient than older, more traditional Harleys, but still exudes that classic Harley aesthetic.

The Street 750 and Street 500 received somewhat of a chilly reception from older Harley enthusiasts, who prefer larger, louder models. Some seasoned bikers also bemoan its single-sided turn signal switch. For most novice riders, though, these are non-issues.

Buyers on a budget usually avoid the Street 500, which will start feeling underpowered within months. Those who don’t mind buying a starter bike only to sell it a few months later can find a buyer by going to cleanharleys.com. This makes it easy to trade up to a more powerful or more traditionally styled model once riders have gotten their feet wet.

Harley Davidson Street Rod XG750A

Don’t mind getting started on a street bike, but want something a little sportier than the Street 750? Harley’s Street Rod XG750A might be a good fit. It’s a little more expensive than the Street 750, but urban riders who plan to stick with street bikes instead of moving on to cruisers or choppers will find that it’s worth the money.

The Street Rod XG750A lends itself to excellent performance in cities and on open roads, alike. The company’s Styling Lead, Chetan Shedjale, calls it an “Urban Bulldog.” Its forward riding position belies what purists think of as the traditional Harley aesthetic, but it’s still a Harley and it’s a much better fit for beginners than a giant chopper.

Harley Davidson SuperLow

Those who don’t want to sacrifice style for safety and affordability may want to check out the SuperLow. It’s the least expensive model in the company’s new Sportster line, but it still features classic Harley Davidson styling.

The SuperLow comes with an 883cc V-twin engine and offers 53.5 ft/lb of torque, so it’s got plenty of power for a beginner biker. Its accessible 25.5-inch seat height, 59-inch wheelbase, and comparatively light weight make it more manageable than the company’s Big Twins.

The SuperLow is also versatile. It makes a great, affordable commuter bike, but can also be outfitted with saddlebags, windshields, and other accessories for light touring and weekend trips. Plus, its low-slung bucket seat makes it comfortable enough for medium-distance rides.

Harley Davidson Iron 883

The Iron 883 is like a more impressively styled version of the SuperLow. With its matte paint and blacked-out components, this bike is designed to make a statement. Its slammed rear suspension and lower seats also make for a more aggressive riding position but its 25.7-inch seat height won’t put off beginner bikers from throwing a leg over and hitting the road.

Like the SuperLow, the Iron 883 features an 883cc engine with 53.8 ft/lb of torque and a light body that makes it easy to maneuver. Whether riders plan to dodge city traffic or cruise the open roads, the raw, industrial style of the Iron 883 will turn heads everywhere they go.

Those looking for a little more power may want to check out the Iron 1200. It’s a little pricier, but still within a reasonable range for beginners, and packs more punch. Just keep in mind that it won’t be as easy to learn on as the Iron 883.

Why Not a Chopper?

At this point, buyers might be wondering why an article about Harleys is focusing on middle-weight street bikes and adventure-touring motorcycles. Harley Davidson is known for its choppers, so that’s what most riders are probably looking for. It’s only within the past decade that Harley Davidson has genuinely started moving into more urban markets.

Unfortunately, choppers make terrible beginner bikes. A classic Harley is heavy, difficult to maneuver, and much more expensive than the company’s more recent additions to its motorcycle collection. It doesn’t make sense for riders who don’t know what they’re doing to purchase a bike that will be difficult to learn on and expensive to replace if something goes wrong.

Whether they plan to stick with a more urban aesthetic or they plan to eventually make the move to more classic Harley offerings, beginner bikers need to start small. A smaller engine won’t give experienced riders the kind of power they’re looking for, but it will be more manageable to learn on, especially if they live in the city where empty, gently winding roads are difficult to come by.

Once they learn the ropes and get their M-class licenses, riders can trade in their beginner bikes for more powerful, showier alternatives. Those who want the classic Harley style without sacrificing touches of modernity can buy a Softail Heritage, an Ultra Classic, or a Road King. Riders willing to invest in a classic motorcycle can buy a used Harley from the 60s for a real, retro feel. The important thing is to learn the ropes first before moving on to a bigger, badder bike.

The Bottom Line

Harley Davidson is known for manufacturing high-quality, powerful bikes. That doesn’t mean the ubiquitous American motorcycle company has nothing to offer the beginner biker, though. Its recent move toward bikes designed for urban riders has allowed more novice bikers to get into riding Harleys without spending a fortune or risking their safety, so these newer lines are the perfect way to go for riders who want to get their feet under them before buying cruisers, choppers, or other heavier and more difficult to maneuver models.


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