I just recently purchased my first touring bike, a 2001 Road Glide with EFI. The bike is in decent condition, the fairing and paint need a little work, but I was able to pick up a twenty-year-old motorcycle for $5500; not a bad deal. Oh, and the bonus--the bike only had 11,xxx miles on the odometer. This glide is barely broken in.
Now while finding a low-mileage motorcycle is fantastic, I want to inform/remind all of the first-term or returning Harley buyers to not forget about the common things that need to be addressed with buying an older motorcycle that may or may not have sat for a decade or so.
So, the Road Glide has low mileage, but, in my opinion, was not properly maintained. This biggest give-a-way was when I went to test ride the motorcycle. I first checked out everything and it looked pretty good, superficially. However, by the time I got up to 25-30 MPH, I noticed the infamous Harley death-wobble. I immediately turned back around and parked it. I asked him if he had done the 10,000 mandatory maintenance and he said, "it needed an oil change." Well, no sweat, I know what that entails, but I needed to ensure there wasn't anything serious going on with the bike. I checked the front tire pressure . . . 9, yes 9 PSI. So, this continues to demonstrate that the bike needed a little maintenance and TLC. Nevertheless, it was a solid foundation and we were able to mutually agree on a price. I through some air in the tires, checked the oils (minus the primary), and rode my new Road Glide home!
However, as with all motorcycles that sit for long periods, some maintenance needed to be done to get the bike truly road worthy. With that maintenance, come maintenance costs, which should definitely be considered when purchasing your next motorcycle. I knew what the 10,000-mile service would cost me to do, as well as some modifications I would add to the bike, so I negotiated that into my price. This ensures I can afford the bike, its registration, and the little things to get her on the road for those long trips.
For the Road Glide, there were a couple mandatory things that definitely need to be addressed. First, no matter what the previous owner says, you should change the oil in the engine, primary, and transmission as soon as you take ownership (unless they have the receipt showing it being recently serviced). Depending on the mileage, I would also go through the most recent or upcoming service inspection items, i.e.: primary chain tension, belt tension, spoke tension, fall-away, engine mount torques. If you aren’t familiar with these items, either take the bike to your favorite local mechanic or pick up a Harley-Davidson Service Manual. I only recommend picking up the actual HD service manual because it covers everything thoroughly. They can easily be found used on eBay for $50-$60 (that’s actually how I bought my manual for my Dyna and Road Glide–$110 for both!).
I did a little bit of work to ensure my new Road Glide, a.k.a. Jemma (the Wife and I have been binge-watching Agents of Shield and we like to name the bikes after awesome female characters from our favorite t.v. shows), was ready to go for my next day trip. First, I did the 10,000 miles service which I felt was both necessary and cheap insurance. Second, I began changing those small, but pivotal, items that can make or break a ride. I found an old backrest in the garage and installed it. I also found some old stock mirrors that weren't loose and made the bike look a little better (I like the OEM look, what can I say). Last, I changed the front wheel. I did this for two reasons. First, the bike had definitely been sitting for a while and the front spokes were loose. After inspecting the wheel, I concluded it needed to be trued. As truing a wheel is out of my "wheelhouse" (pun intended). I decided to just swap it out for a solid-mag wheel. I found one on eBay for cheap, grabbed some new bearings from Harley, and had my local mechanic press them in for me. Installed the rotors (with new rotor bolts, of course), swapped the tire, and she was ready to roll. After all was said I done, Jemma was ready to roll, and the wobble went away.
With all this said, don’t forget to take into consideration the “getting it road worthy costs” when purchasing a used motorcycle. Overall, getting the road glide ready, with all the maintenance being done by myself cost me around $500 for everything, but the bike looked better and road better. It was more than I expected, but thankfully I wasn't too upset about the extra costs because I factored them into my purchasing price.
This is my completed (at the moment) Road Glide.
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