The melodious growl, the random looks of approval, the side-eye of envy, adoration by virtually everyone, and the thrill of the open road: yea, there’s nothing like riding a motorcycle! And I’m not the only person who feels this way.
Today, more Americans are riding motorcycles than ever before in history. According to the latest rider statistics report from the Motorcycle Industry Council, 1.5 million American households have added the joy of two-wheel travel to their garages over the last four years.
But before you join a gang, you probably have a few questions— just as I did. And one of those questions surrounded whether I was making a good investment by choosing a Harley Davidson. To prevent the infamous buyer’s remorse, I conducted research. Then, I researched some more. My goal was to confidently answer the question of “Do Harley Davidson’s hold their value?” And here’s what I found.
Do Harley Davidson Motorcycles Hold Their Value?
Yes, motorcycles made by Harley-Davidson tend to hold their manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing substantially better than others. In other words, when — or if — I am ready to sell my Harley, it’ll garner me excellent resale value.
Even though Harleys rank among the most expensive motorcycles on the market, they are a sound investment due to their ability to depreciate slower than other brands. Here are the depreciation rates for some of the top models, according to MotorWheels.com:
|Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Model||Average Rate of Depreciation|
|Harley-Davidson Road Glide||7%|
|Harley-Davidson Street Glide||47.9%|
|Harley-Davidson Road King||50.1%|
|Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200||51%|
|Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic||53.3%|
|Harley-Davidson Sportster 883||54%|
|Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited||58.2%|
|Harley-Davidson Street (500 & 750)||58.5%|
In short, Harley-Davidson motorcycles boast better resale values than its major rival brands.
Understanding Motorcycle Depreciation
Whether it’s a Harley or any other model, the moment you drive your new bike off the lot, the value will take a hit. In other words, you would be unable to sell your new Harley-Davidson motorcycle that you just purchased for the sale’s price. This is a process called depreciation.
According to the “BikeSocial” page on Bennetts, a brand spanking new motorcycle can drop up to 20% during the first couple of years of ownership.
It’s important to keep in mind this depreciation figure doesn’t take into consideration the condition of the bike or mileage. For bikes that aren’t Harleys or tourers, the biggest depreciation usually occurs during the first year, with an average loss of 12.5%. The good news is that depreciation will usually stabilize and level off at around year 5 or 6. In either case, Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles do depreciate at a significantly slower rate than other motorcycles.
Why Do Harley Davidson’s Hold Their Value Better Than Other Bikes?
As previously mentioned, Harley Davidsons are exceptional at holding their value. Here are a few different reasons Harleys tend to hold their value at a rate superior to other motorcycles.
Harleys Have Low Production Value
Unlike other motorcycles, Harleys aren’t mass-produced at the same rate. Alternatively, they are manufactured in relatively small numbers. Previously, you would have to wait several months prior to getting the motorcycle you ordered.
Even though the ordering process has evolved, there are still not a ton of Harley bikes on the market. And this creates an undeniable level of exclusivity. This scarcity helps keep the price of used Harley-Davidson motorcycles stable.
Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Are Very Popular
Everyone knows Harley-Davidson’s bikes. Whether it’s the unmistakable rumble or exhilarating performance, Harley Davidson is arguably the most popular motorcycle brand in the world. In fact, Harleys can be equated to being the Ferraris of the motorcycle world.
While Harley’s are expensive, the recognition and status associated with them opens the door to volumes of desire and exclusivity. This demand is critical in helping prop up the value of new and used Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Harley-Davidson’s Motorcycles Boasts Outstanding Reliability
Today’s modern Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles are among the most reliable bikes on the planet. Due to this reliability, more people are willing to purchase used models. Coupled with reduced maintenance costs, this reliability helps make Harley bikes even more attractive to potential buyers.
Which Motorcycle Brands Depreciate Faster Than Others?
Just as Harley-Davidson motorcycles tend to hold their value better than other models, there are several brands that depreciate faster than others.
Victory Motorcycles Depreciate Quickly
This brand of motorcycle tends to depreciate extremely quickly. Why? Primarily due to the fact they were discontinued in 2017.
The discontinuation was directly related to the brand being purchased by Polaris. Once purchased, Polaris looked at the low-profit margins of Victory and decided it was best to discontinue it.
Hyosung Motorcycles Do Not Hold Their Value
Manufactured in South Korea, Hyosung motorcycles are relatively new but are depreciating extremely quickly across Europe and the U.S. This rapid depreciation can be due to the fact that it’s a new brand and people are reluctant to dole out trust to brands that are new to the market.
For perspective, Honda had to deal with this same phenomenon back in the 70s but look at the brand today.
BMW Bikes Do Not Hold Their Value Very Well
Surprisingly, BMW bikes depreciate relatively quickly. Ironically, this rapid depreciation can be attributed to the wealthy demographic who purchases them. BMW motorcycles are typically bought by more affluent riders who have an affinity for the newest bikes.
This causes them to purchase a new model every few years. While good for sales, this practice can drive down the price of used models. Even though BMW motorcycles are quality, they do depreciate relatively quickly.
Triumph Doesn’t Triumph in the Depreciation Department
Every bike will depreciate, but new Triumph models tend to depreciate extremely quickly. Why?
Because of the struggles the brand has had over the years, which has led to them going in and out of business multiple times. Although Triumph motorcycles of the 60s and 70s were great investments, the newer models are notorious for losing value.
What Factors Make Motorcycles Depreciate Faster?
There are a number of factors that can determine the speed at which a motorcycle depreciates. Some of the most influential factors are explained below.
- Condition of the motorcycle. How well the previous owner took care of the motorcycle is a major factor in determining the value. Things like dents, lack of routine maintenance, scratches, and other factors can decrease the value of the bike.
- The number of motorcycles produced. When manufacturers flood the market with motorcycles, it can work against the value of used units. For example, Honda manufactures large numbers of every model and sells them at lower costs. This can make them have a lower value later down the road.
- Fads and trends. Based on no ration, rhyme, or reason, society can appreciate certain motorcycle models because they have become a fad. However, once the fad passes, the brand is subject to rapid depreciation.
- Pop culture. Pop culture can also drive up the value of the motorcycle. For instance, if a certain motorcycle is featured in a popular movie, it can cause nostalgia and increase demand.
- Accident history. Identical to vehicles with four wheels, accidents can reduce the value of a motorcycle. Why? Because an accident will make a potential buyer think twice about the motorcycle — regardless of the severity of the accident.
How Can You Increase the Value of Your Harley?
If you’re currently looking to sell your motorcycle or planning on selling it in the future, there are a few simple steps and best practices you can use to help increase the value of your Harley.
Limit Excess Upgrades and Modifications
When someone purchases a Harley, you can rest assured they are planning on making modifications. Some upgrades are engineered to bolster performance, and others will offer aesthetic improvement. While certain performance mods can increase resale, this is only the case where the buyer wants or appreciates those upgrades.
Alternatively, if a buyer is looking for a clean motorcycle, they will not pay more for a bike that’s heavily customized. In addition, performance-based modifications can communicate that the motorcycle has been ridden hard, which may increase the likelihood of excessive wear and tear.
Everyone Wants a Low Mileage Harley
If you’ve ever gone to purchase a vehicle from a dealership, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the legendary used vehicle that was “owned by an old lady who only drove it to church.” This scenario communicates the value placed on vehicles that have been driven lightly and have low mileage. And just like cars, trucks, and SUVs, buyers will pay higher prices for motorcycles with low mileage.
In the event you’ve purchased a Harley as an investment, make sure you do everything within your power to keep the miles down. Most buyers interpret high mileage on a motorcycle as a sign of a tired bike that has been exposed to excessive wear and tear.
Keep Your Bike Conditioned for Excellence
While you can’t judge a book by its cover, this anecdote fails to meet the mark when it comes to motorcycles. As a highly visual process, the condition of your motorcycle is everything. If it has visible signs of damage or wear, it will most definitely decrease the value.
Faulty electronics, rusted parts, body dents, etc are all signs of poor maintenance and can communicate the wrong message about the value you’ve placed on the motorcycle. You can, however, demonstrate the care and value you’ve had for the bike by keeping it in excellent condition and by offering comprehensive service records.