Breaking into the world of motorcycles can be intimidating, even for the most experienced driver. From balance and weight distribution to power, comfort, and safety, there’s a lot to consider when you’re buying your first motorcycle. Luckily Harley-Davidson is here to help. The storied brand might have built a reputation for raw power and performance over its 120 years in the industry, but it has also made a concerted effort to roll out a steady stream of entry-level options to help riders to build their confidence behind the handlebars. These models manage to retain that classic Harley-Davidson style without going overboard, giving new riders a more manageable bike that acts as the perfect introduction to all things two-wheeled. If you’re just starting out and are in the market for a used Harley-Davidson for sale, consider looking into some of these models.
Street 500 and 750
Harley-Davidson’s Street motorcycle series might not have been around long, but it filled a niche in the market for beginners seeking a lightweight, budget-friendly bike. Debuting in 2014, the Street 500 and 750 were the brand’s first lightweight offerings since the Sprint hit the market in 1974. Designed in the style of a classic cafe racer, the Street 500 and 750 were priced well within the reach of the youth crowd they were aiming for, with a starting price of just $6,899 when new. The Street 500 and 750 are the easiest way to break into the world of the legendary brand. Both Street models, along with the Street Rod, were discontinued in 2020, but the used market is still flush, with examples available for around $6,000 or less.
Both models are built around Harley-Davidson’s Revolution X engine, a smaller version of the brand’s 60-degree SOHC V-twin Revolution engine. The 500 features a 494cc engine, while the 750 gets a 749cc variant. With 29.5 lb-ft of torque, a tuned suspension and low center of gravity, the Street 500 is the perfect choice for bopping around the city, with a small, maneuverable body that’s ideal for weaving through dense urban traffic. The larger 750 brings an obvious upgrade in power, giving riders 43.5 lb-ft of torque and enabling a higher top speed and improved acceleration over the 500. Both the 500 and 750 tip the scales at less than 500 pounds, an important benchmark that makes the bikes an ideal fit for those riders who are just learning the ropes. The Street 500 and 750’s smaller size makes them a great fit for shorter riders as well, who won’t need to worry about their feet reaching the ground thanks to the bike’s 25.7-inch seat. Harley-Davidson used the Street models in their own motorcycle training classes. If it’s good enough for them, it’s certainly good enough for you.
Sportster 883 Superlow
When you’re just starting out in the world of motorcycle riding, a low center of gravity is your friend. The stability provided by a bike with a low center of gravity can go a long way in helping new riders to cut their teeth, giving them a safe and comfortable way to earn their stripes. The SuperLow was designed with just such riders in mind, featuring a low center of gravity and a low bucket seat that sits just 27.8 inches off the pavement. The cruiser also weighs in at a relatively spritely 545 pounds, making the model easier to maneuver than some of its beefier cousins.
It’s not just the low center of gravity that makes the SuperLow such an attractive option for fledgling riders. Harley-Davidson has also seen fit to grace the bike with an adjustable rear shock, a high-performance Foundation braking system, and a suspension that’s specifically tuned for low-speed maneuvering. These features make the SuperLow a comfortable, controlled ride that riders of all experience levels can enjoy. The SuperLow also looks every bit a Harley-Davidson, featuring classic styling and allowing newbies to blend in with the crowd.
The SuperLow’s longer, low-slung nature does come with some drawbacks. The bike doesn’t boast the same turning radius or lean angles as some of the brand’s sportier models, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off for those just starting out. The SuperLow is built around a 883cc Evolution engine, which should give newer riders all the power they need to get comfortable in the saddle. Most importantly, the SuperLow is one of the most affordable Harley-Davidson models on offer, with KelleyBlueBook.com estimating the average price of a used version at just under $6,000. Harley recently discontinued the classic Sportster models, but they’re so popular, and have been around for so long, that the aftermarket is bound to be strong for them for a long time to come.
Sportster Iron 883
Those seeking a step up from the SuperLow should take a look at the Harley-Davidson Iron 883. Like the SuperLow, the bike is built around a Harley-Davidson Sportster, and has an exceptionally low center of gravity. But the Iron 883 makes some important improvements that go a long way toward improving the model while still making it a great choice for new riders. The seat sits just 26.7 inches off the ground, making the 883 Iron an even lower rider than the SuperLow, though it is around 20 pounds heavier. As the name implies, the Iron 883 features a 883cc engine, putting out 53.8 lb-ft of torque and giving riders enough power to navigate everything from city streets and to country roads without being overwhelming. The Iron 883 also comes with a mean-looking, blacked-out frame and a host of darker components that give the bike an aggressive, serious look when compared to its flashier, chromed-out stablemates.
Like the 883 Superlow, the Iron 883 was recently discontinued by Harley-Davidson, but there are still plenty of models available on the used market. The 883 might not offer the SuperLow’s same bargain basement pricing, but is still a steal with an average used price of between $7,000 and $10,000. The 2022 model, which represents the bike’s last year in production, is slightly more expensive at $12,000 to $14,000, but earns its price tag as a well-rounded option with a special focus on styling.
The Sportster frame is a great choice for Harley-Davidson neophytes, but as you get some experience under your belt, you might start to feel the pull of larger, heavier models. The Softail-based Street Bob is the perfect step up from Sportster-based options, weighing in 100 pounds heavier than the smaller models and offering 1,000ccs of additional engine capacity. Powered by a 1,868cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, the Street Bob is an updated take on the classic bobber-style motorcycles of old. Known for their built-in rifle mounts, ammunition boxes, and other military-inspired features, bobbers were a battlefield staple before being converted into more civilian-friendly models after WWII.
Debuting in 2006, the Street Bob was Harley-Davidson’s ode to these wartime favorites, featuring a low solo seat, thick tires, the classic Fat Bob fuel tank, and ape hanger handlebars. The Street Bob has a low 25-inch seat, keeping the bike’s center of gravity low and making it the ideal option for nascent Harley-Davidson riders who are starting to grow in confidence. Ideal for heavier or taller riders who might feel cramped on a Sportster model, the Street Bob is one of Harley-Davidson’s most well-rounded offerings. The larger Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine does increase the bike’s price over 883-powered models, but the Street Bob still rings in at a reasonable $12,000 to $14,000.
For some riders, the ear-splitting belch of a motorcycle is half the appeal. While traditional gas-powered bikes are hard to ignore, they’re not the only option out there for new riders. Electric offerings represent an exciting new choice for those seeking all the benefits of two-wheeled travel without the associated racket. Some traditionalists might scoff at this new generation of all-electric motorcycles, but models like the Harley-Davidson LiveWire actually offer a number of advantages for newer riders. First off, the bike is relatively light at just 549 pounds.. It’s also designed with a notably upright riding position, which is an important feature for those who are new to the motorcycle scene. This position allows riders to easily scan their surroundings, plus it reduces fatigue on longer rides, two important safety factors when you’re new to the two-wheel tribe. Design aside, it’s actually the LiveWire’s electric powertrain that offers the biggest benefit for fledgling riders. Unlike gas-powered Harley-Davidsons, the bike only comes with a single gear that’s good all the way from zero to 90 mph. This approach goes a long way in addressing one of the biggest hurdles for any new rider, learning when and how to switch gears. The lack of shifting allows riders to focus on other important aspects of motorcycle proficiency, like cornering and braking, which makes the LiveWire a great choice for those who are just starting out.
Released in 2019, the LiveWire brand was actually spun off into its own company in 2022, but we’re still going to count this one as a Harley-Davidson model for the time being. Given the fact that they’ve only been on the market for a few years, it might be tougher to find used LiveWire models compared to some of the gas-powered options listed above, but they’re out there. Unfortunately, the electric motorcycle also isn’t the most affordable option on the list, with the original 2019 model retailing for around $29,000. Harley-Davidson has since cut that cost with the introduction of the LiveWire One with a starting price of $21,000, but there’s just no getting around the inherent cost of the bike’s 15.5 kWh battery and sophisticated electric drivetrain. The LiveWire has a range of 146 miles, making it the perfect option for cruising around the city or shorter road trips. The LiveWire might be a relatively new addition to the Harley-Davidson lineup, but it represents an exciting new direction for the century-old brand, bringing a taste of the future to one of the classics of the past.
Anyone Can Hop on a Harley
With more than a century of history to its name, Harley-Davidson has learned a few things about building a great starter bike over the years. The brand might be known for its powerful, aggressive lineup of asphalt-chewing behemoths, but these models are perfectly complemented by less intimidating offerings that allow riders to ease into the scene on a budget. From scaled-down versions of classic Harley-Davidson designs to cutting-edge electric models, the five options listed above should serve as the perfect starting point for any rider who is just starting their Harley-Davidson journey. Once you’ve built up a little confidence, larger and beefier models like the Street Bob provide a great way to take your riding game to the next level, and experience the sort of power that only a Milwaukee-Eight engine can offer. For those with a little more cash to splash around, the LiveWire is an intriguing new option that provides unmatched efficiency and convenience. Whether you’re working on your balance while zipping around town on a Street 500 or 750, low-riding with the best of them on a Sportster 883 Superlow or Iron 883, Harley-Davidson has you covered.