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Old 5th February 2012, 21:49   #1
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Default Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

Hi everyone.
My superbike dream is ON. Err I call it a fatbike.
Primarily, im looking for a 600/600+cc bike primarily for touring. It will do lots of long distance trips and I rake up kms really quickly, so it has to be really reliable and 'longlasting'.
I had earlier shortlisted the MT01 and was almost going to buy it in early 2011 but something came up at the last moment and my money went in that direction.
Now I see more options for lesser price.

I recently visited the Harley showroom in Bombay and saw the Iron 883 for 6.5 lakhs ex showroom.
After some discussion with the expert there i figured that the Harley is not really suitable for touring based upon his inputs.
1. He said, for long distance touring the suspension is good, but it will bottom out on potholed roads in India. Bombay has probably the most potholes of any Indian metro, so how come they are selling in Bombay. I was recommended a suspension upgrade costing 25k.
Harley users and knowledgeable souls please advise and comment.

2. The petrol tank on the Iron is approx 12.7 liters and gives a range of approx 225-250 kms. The tank can be upgraded from the Superlow, approx 17 liters, costing 48k.
Harely users and knowledgeable souls please advise and comment.

Harley does not have a buyback policy in India, which means that they wont exchange the tank and charge me the cost difference. They return all the replaced parts to me so I can build a Harley museum at home.
With the sq.ft rate in Bombay already sky high, I cant afford a Harley museum.

3. Harley offers a 2yrs unlimited mileage policy in India. That does inspire confidence. But from what ive heard, Harley is an American Enfield, and I dont want to become a mechanic. How true is this?

I will be buying in the next 3 months.

Please pour your comments.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by GTO : 6th February 2012 at 15:19. Reason: Removing second last line. We do NOT want a generic-Harley thread. Please continue only your What Bike discussion in here
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Old 5th February 2012, 23:48   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves
Hi everyone.
My superbike dream is ON. Err I call it a fatbike.
Primarily, im looking for a 600/600+cc bike primarily for touring. It will do lots of long distance trips and I rake up kms really quickly, so it has to be really reliable and 'longlasting'.
I had earlier shortlisted the MT01 and was almost going to buy it in early 2011 but something came up at the last moment and my money went in that direction.
Now I see more options for lesser price.

I recently visited the Harley showroom in Bombay and saw the Iron 883 for 6.5 lakhs ex showroom.
After some discussion with the expert there i figured that the Harley is not really suitable for touring based upon his inputs.
1. He said, for long distance touring the suspension is good, but it will bottom out on potholed roads in India. Bombay has probably the most potholes of any Indian metro, so how come they are selling in Bombay. I was recommended a suspension upgrade costing 25k.
Harley users and knowledgeable souls please advise and comment.
I have a 48 and although my use is not for touring I can tell you that all sportsters are not meant to be good touring bikes. This doesn't mean they're horrible but not straight from the factory. I would recommend a change of front and rear shocks to Progressive or similar setup to avoid the bone jarring thuds straight to your spine. Also the seat has to be changed to either a HD Sundowner or other brand like Mustang etc. lots of reviews regarding this can be found under the sportster forums on hdforums.com. I suggest you do read up there also.

Quote:
2. The petrol tank on the Iron is approx 12.7 liters and gives a range of approx 225-250 kms. The tank can be upgraded from the Superlow, approx 17 liters, costing 48k.
Harely users and knowledgeable souls please advise and comment.

Harley does not have a buyback policy in India, which means that they wont exchange the tank and charge me the cost difference. They return all the replaced parts to me so I can build a Harley museum at home.
With the sq.ft rate in Bombay already sky high, I cant afford a Harley museum.
Why not look at the Superlow instead of the iron? You miss out on the blacked out setup but you do get beautiful chrome and the tank you want with the same engine and everything else. I think it's also cheaper than the iron. Also I don't know if Superlow comes with forward controls but iron comes with mid controls and I'd recommend forwards any day for touring.

Quote:
3. Harley offers a 2yrs unlimited mileage policy in India. That does inspire confidence. But from what ive heard, Harley is an American Enfield, and I dont want to become a mechanic. How true is this?
Harleys used to be troublesome but that has changed in the newer bikes. Reliability issues that may leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere are no longer the case. Again HD forums will help you with that. Also if you have a service manual with you you can do a lot of stuff on your own if you choose to do so. The best part I like about Harleys is that there is a lot you can do to make the bike truly yours.
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Old 5th February 2012, 23:50   #3
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Default re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

An important addition to the list: LOW GROUND CLEARANCE: This is what has kept many away (including my dad) from getting a HOG.
I think any Triumph would be a better option for touring...
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Old 6th February 2012, 00:58   #4
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Default re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

If you want to do touring in India you looking at the wrong bike. You could look at the kawasaki 650 , The suzuki bandit or the triumph models once they are launched. I do most of the touring on my gsx1300r ( 8000+ kms on 5 month old bike ) and as long as there are proper roads its awsesome. Anything less and the fun factor goes for a toss. If you want to stick to a Harley , check out the roadking or street glide. More suited for touring. What you pick up largely depends upon where you want to tour.
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Old 6th February 2012, 11:37   #5
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Default re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

jaysmokesleaves - I'm glad that your inquires are going in the right direction on your purchase instead of fancying to buy out something to regret. Its really good.

HD's unlimited mileage is something like "useless 36 months warranty" for a battery, so lets knock it out. HD used to be a Fix Or Repair Daily motorcycle once, but they've become more reliable these days, atleast in the last decade+

Any HD is excellent on smooth & long highways that helps you to keep high speeds under less RPM's, which is exactly what you need to do on a highway. Let's say you ride between Jaisalmer-Pokhran-Bikaner, you'll simply love for what the bike can do. I mean, no traffic, silky smooth road of atleast 400-500 Kms in total. However, if you intend to ride like in Kolli hills, where the road is still good, I'm sure you'll regret for the ride, not out of inability, but on practical reasons.

So the point being that, its the place that becomes important rather than the ride itself & you've to strike a balance on the ride versus the rides.
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Old 6th February 2012, 14:07   #6
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Default re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

I am actually very surprised that people are speaking like experts who have owned harleys for years instead of refering to some travelogues of people who actually own these bikes. Someone took a Harley Fatboy to Leh. Without any major problems. I know people who have dropped thier own harley's on a regular basis without much damage. The machine is like a RE from US. Oh yes by the way, RE's are not unreliable. Only the not cared for are.

On the comfort part I have talked to various owners of harleys in Delhi and all of them have been riding to jaipur and pushkar and they are all happy with them. In fact based on that i am planning to get a harley myself. The procedure is happening as i write.
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Old 6th February 2012, 15:36   #7
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Default Re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

There have been some valid points made on the Harley above here and yes, they are reliable now. However, if its more of touring and enjoying the ride AND if you are leaning towards the Sportster in the Harley range, I would suggest you wait for a few more months when the Triumph line comes. If you can TD the Sportster Super Low or Iron etc as well as the Triumph Bonneville SE and then decide for yourself what suits you best....From personal experience, the forward foot controls have not been very comfortable for my lower back on long rides although I dont have any back problems so far.

BTW, I still think one of the best value for money sport touring machines available in the country is the Suzuki bandit 1250.

Last edited by Haroon : 6th February 2012 at 15:55.
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Old 6th February 2012, 16:08   #8
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Ok, yes, I am biased. There I said it. But hands down there is no better touring bike than an HD fatboy. If they don't offer the ride adjustable shocks, then get on the HD US website and order a pair, you will be happy you did. It's all in how you set up the bike and that's the beauty of HD,..it's not some hyper-tech bike like a Triumph or Kaw. It's simple, rugged and reliable. And even though the new models don't rattle themselves to pieces anymore, some old timers enjoyed that as giving them an excuse to tinker and tighten all the bolts that have come loose. But you needn't worry about that.

But I think the best example I can give is this: I've rode Hogs in a mix of terrain and the streets of Pittsburgh can be as bad as Mumbai...I've also rode RE Bullets here under similar "challenging terrain". The Bullet manages and the suspension is nowhere as good as a Harley. So where's this 'bottoming out' concern coming from? If the ride is set too soft, then it can be stiffened and it will STILL be the most comfortable ride you've ever had. If you looking for a tourer there's nothing better until the Honda Goldwing makes it to the India shores.

Quote:
Originally Posted by navpreet318 View Post
I am actually very surprised that people are speaking like experts who have owned harleys for years instead of refering to some travelogues of people who actually own these bikes. Someone took a Harley Fatboy to Leh. Without any major problems. I know people who have dropped thier own harley's on a regular basis without much damage. The machine is like a RE from US. Oh yes by the way, RE's are not unreliable. Only the not cared for are.

On the comfort part I have talked to various owners of harleys in Delhi and all of them have been riding to jaipur and pushkar and they are all happy with them. In fact based on that i am planning to get a harley myself. The procedure is happening as i write.
This is EXACTLY right. The reason you buy a Harley is so you can ride it for a very long distance in comfort and hassle free. And you are so so right about the output being exactly in proportion to the input. Don't rest on a warranty. Take care of your iron horse and she'll be a reliable friend.

Mod team note: Back to back posts, please use Multi Quote (Quote+) instead. Thanks

Last edited by Jaggu : 6th February 2012 at 16:29. Reason: Back to back posts, please use Multi Quote (Quote+) instead. Thanks
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Old 6th February 2012, 16:18   #9
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Default Re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

I'm in quite a similar dilemma and the major issue I see going for this iconic brand is that its not properly homogenised for Indian road and driving conditions. Some problems I foresee are-
- Low capacity fuel tank gives limited range. Even though vast majority of the country has fuel pumps in 200km range but more travel to the fuel stations is an irritant.
- Low ground clearance. I had heard some owners on the forum taking special care while going over our speed bumps
- Service issue especially for me as I do not live in a Harley dealership city
- Lacklustre styling on lowest price models like the Super-Low
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Old 6th February 2012, 17:25   #10
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Default Re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

From what I have gathered from my own research to purchase a Harley for myself,
the Sporsters 1200 should be a great option for a everyday practical HD. I have selected it for my purchase, after considering ground clearance, size, power, the flexibility to modify, and of course budget. That's if you want only a Harley, else today you may have far better options in that price...!!
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Old 6th February 2012, 17:31   #11
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Default Re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

bradhey: could you quote some of the better options available justifying why you think they are far better options. Also by the way at the price of the sportster 1200, now they have the Street Bob 1600cc available which would be a far better proposition at the price.Which is 9.95 lakhs.
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Old 6th February 2012, 18:11   #12
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Default Re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

Jay,
If you are looking at a tourer in the 600-650 CC, am afraid HD will not be a suitable bet. If you are keen on a HD, then suggest you give the street bob a thorough look. That's one helluva machine with some amazing stats. Avoid sportsters as they are ideally not good tourers.(these views were arrived by me when I was in the market for a similar machine but ended up with FZ). Sportsters with the exception of super low come with poor tank capacity, best ground clearance of 120mm. The suspensions in the sportster range are all rock hard with very less movement if not negligible.
Remember one thing when you buy a HD, it means acquiring a different lifestyle rather than that being just a bike. Have no second thoughts on their reliability.Also keep an eye on the maintenance which is not exactly rosy.
Do consider the other Jap/Brit bikes as Haroon has suggested before taking the plunge.
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Old 6th February 2012, 18:47   #13
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Default Re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by avneeshj View Post
I have a 48 and although my use is not for touring I can tell you that all sportsters are not meant to be good touring bikes. This doesn't mean they're horrible but not straight from the factory. I would recommend a change of front and rear shocks to Progressive or similar setup to avoid the bone jarring thuds straight to your spine. Also the seat has to be changed to either a HD Sundowner or other brand like Mustang etc. ....
Why not look at the Superlow instead of the iron? You miss out on the blacked out setup but you do get beautiful chrome and the tank you want with the same engine and everything else. I think it's also cheaper than the iron. Also I don't know if Superlow comes with forward controls but iron comes with mid controls and I'd recommend forwards any day for touring.

....... The best part I like about Harleys is that there is a lot you can do to make the bike truly yours.
The super low is too low to ride anywhere in India, if you really want to tour. And whats the point in buying a bike to tour and then spending a small bomb to customize it to tour. I dont want to spend anything extra to make the bike "truly mine"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leepower View Post
An important addition to the list: LOW GROUND CLEARANCE: This is what has kept many away (including my dad) from getting a HOG.
I think any Triumph would be a better option for touring...

Yes ground clearance is a major concern because of the long wheelbase.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigron View Post
If you want to do touring in India you looking at the wrong bike. You could look at the kawasaki 650 , The suzuki bandit or the triumph models once they are launched. I do most of the touring on my gsx1300r ( 8000+ kms on 5 month old bike ) and as long as there are proper roads its awsesome. Anything less and the fun factor goes for a toss. If you want to stick to a Harley , check out the roadking or street glide. More suited for touring. What you pick up largely depends upon where you want to tour.
The bike you mention are too painful to manoeuvre at slower speeds due to their size.


Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
..... Let's say you ride between Jaisalmer-Pokhran-Bikaner, you'll simply love for what the bike can do. I mean, no traffic, silky smooth road of atleast 400-500 Kms in total. However, if you intend to ride like in Kolli hills, where the road is still good, I'm sure you'll regret for the ride, not out of inability, but on practical reasons.

So the point being that, its the place that becomes important rather than the ride itself & you've to strike a balance on the ride versus the rides.
Im looking for a touring bike that can tour all kids of roads in India once you step off the expressways into the state highways.. not an offroad bike, but something that will not be painful to manoeuvre.

Quote:
Originally Posted by navpreet318 View Post
I am actually very surprised that people are speaking like experts who have owned harleys for years instead of refering to some travelogues of people who actually own these bikes. Someone took a Harley Fatboy to Leh. Without any major problems.
The Fatboy story to Leh was told to me by the sales chap at the HD showroom. Well honestly i wont have the courage to take a really fat american motorcycle to the hills. Its too long and too fat. Almost as long as an entry level sedan. When you have to take another hairpin bend just as the first one ends, thats when you begin to curse yourself.
WIsh you a happy HD ownership though. Will love to red of your ownership experiences.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haroon View Post
.... I would suggest you wait for a few more months when the Triumph line comes. If you can TD the Sportster Super Low or Iron etc as well as the Triumph Bonneville SE and then decide for yourself what suits you best......
BTW, I still think one of the best value for money sport touring machines available in the country is the Suzuki bandit 1250.

Yes hopefully I should be able to see the Triumph in flesh in about 3 months which is when i plan to buy. I did read about the Bandit and yes it is a good touring bike. But I couldnt find any in the showroom in Bombay. And if I have to spend 10 lakhs then im already looking at the FZ1 which looks like a worthy contender in the 10 lakhs price range.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Yankee Frankie View Post
.....If you looking for a tourer there's nothing better until the Honda Goldwing makes it to the India shores.
Hahaha.. are you serious. Goldwing!!!! I would rather buy a Fortuner for that price. Besides, with its size and proportions, I feel its just 2 wheels short of being call a car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkaile View Post
....Some problems I foresee are-
- Low capacity fuel tank gives limited range. Even though vast majority of the country has fuel pumps in 200km range but more travel to the fuel stations is an irritant.
- Low ground clearance. I had heard some owners on the forum taking special care while going over our speed bumps
- Service issue especially for me as I do not live in a Harley dealership city
- Lacklustre styling on lowest price models like the Super-Low
The very limited size of the fuel tank is a genuine concern which cannot be addressed with a tank upgrade either. And so is the ground clearance issue, especially due to the longish wheelbase.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradhey View Post
From what I have gathered from my own research to purchase a Harley for myself,
the Sporsters 1200 should be a great option for a everyday practical HD. I have selected it for my purchase, after considering ground clearance, size, power, the flexibility to modify, and of course budget. That's if you want only a Harley, else today you may have far better options in that price...!!
When are you buying? Im buying in 3 months. would love to know of your ownership experience until then.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Jay,
If you are looking at a tourer in the 600-650 CC, am afraid HD will not be a suitable bet. If you are keen on a HD, then suggest you give the street bob a thorough look. That's one helluva machine with some amazing stats. Avoid sportsters as they are ideally not good tourers.(these views were arrived by me when I was in the market for a similar machine but ended up with FZ). Sportsters with the exception of super low come with poor tank capacity, best ground clearance of 120mm. The suspensions in the sportster range are all rock hard with very less movement if not negligible.
Remember one thing when you buy a HD, it means acquiring a different lifestyle rather than that being just a bike. Have no second thoughts on their reliability.Also keep an eye on the maintenance which is not exactly rosy.
Do consider the other Jap/Brit bikes as Haroon has suggested before taking the plunge.
Yes you sum it up well. Ground clearance, tank capacity and distance range, ease of manoeuvrability and maintenance are the primary drivers for this purchase.
The Triumph Bonneville and the FZ1 are now in contention too. So its the Bandit. but with the plain jane pics, im yet to see one in flesh. Im already following the ownership reivew of an FZ1 on the forum, is it yours?
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Old 6th February 2012, 19:02   #14
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Default Re: Want to buy a Harley-Davidson. Which one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
The Triumph Bonneville and the FZ1 are now in contention too. So its the Bandit. but with the plain jane pics, im yet to see one in flesh. Im already following the ownership reivew of an FZ1 on the forum, is it yours?
Guess there are 2 members (niks & me) who have written/posted our experiences with efzee. Should admit that i have been a bit lazy to pen down my notes to my thread.
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Old 6th February 2012, 19:06   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Guess there are 2 members (niks & me) who have written/posted our experiences with efzee. Should admit that i have been a bit lazy to pen down my notes to my thread.
Yes, i think its the Niks thread with videos and lots of useful basic information. Will look forward to your updates too. Please send me a link to your thread if possible.
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