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I have absolutely no problem with people who like riding Harleys because of the look of the bike or the feel of the engine.



However...



In the last HD discussion, a lot of people said that HDs are a good investment because they don't depreciate. And I was mulling that over, and this is what I came up with.



Buy a Nighthawk 750 or ZR7 or Bandit 600 for $5500. Pay low insurance because they don't have sportbike surcharges, they're low theft, and they have low MSRPs. Sell the bike ten years later for $2500 (about what they sell for around where I live). You've lost $3000 for the bike and maybe $1000 for insurance. Total loss: $4000.



Now take a Fatboy, buy for $18000, pay very high insurance rates because of high theft rates and high MSRP, dump $2000 of custom doo-dads in, and sell 10 years later for $18000. You lose 0 for the bike, $2000 for "necessary" customization (when's the last time you saw a stock HD?), maybe $6000 for insurance. Total loss: $8000.



And that's not even including the higher maintainence costs of a HD Fatboy over a Honda Nighthawk--though HDs are easy to work on, the higher vibration of their engines do tend to shake a few screws loose. The same happens with bikes like the BMW F650--I'm not bashing Harleys, just stating facts.



My conclusion? If you like the way Harleys look, feel, and sound, buy one and have a blast. But if you're looking to make "a good monetary investment," buy a Japanese standard. You'll get good handling, braking, and comfortable seating and you'll still spend less than a Harley--even when you factor in Japanese depreciation.



starvingstudent
 

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Okay, so maybe I overshot on the insurance estimates. However, a couple posters above mentioned investing the other money, which alters things again.



So here's more math:



Let's say that the ZR7/Nighthawk/Bandit owner loses $3000 on the value of the bike for 10 years, the HD owner loses 0, and the HD owner only pays $1000 more over ten years (a somewhat generous underestimate) for insurance. Remember the HD owner spends, say, $2000 more on customization than the standard-bike owner does. However, remember that if all other factors are equal, the Japanese bike owner now has $12,000 of cash left over. Let's say this person is very conservative, and chooses a savings bank instead of the stock market. They earn only, say, 3% APR (investing in the stock market could make a much higher annual yield). However, after 10 years, that 3% APR means that they make over $4000 in interest on their cash.



That means that after 10 years, the Harley rider will have lost $4000 more than the Japanese standard rider.



Another factor is for people like myself, who don't have $18,000 in cash handy. Financing a bike is little better than high-seas piracy--in the end, you'll pay nearly twice the value of the bike if you sit down and add up all of your financing payments. Many people have the ability to buy a new $6000 motorcycle with cash, but would have to finance an $18,000 bike--and they'd lose out big-time even if the resale value held steady.



In closing, let me say that if you just plain prefer the sound, feel, and ride of a Harley-Davidson, GOOD. Buy one and never look back (except when changing lanes, of course). But if you aren't devoted to any one type of motorcycle and you're very concerned with money, you can get a new 65-75hp Japanese standard and it will be easier on you financially in the long run.



Starving Student
 

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No type of motorcycle is immune to a stupid owner buying loud pipes. Cruisers have them; sportbikes have them. Hell, there's a Nighthawk half a block up my street with a Vance and Hines pipe--loudest CB750 I've ever heard. I'm sure even some Goldwing riders put loud pipes on their bikes.
 

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Re: This whole thread makes no sense...

I wholeheartedly agree that everyone should just ride what they like riding.

The reason I chose to compare a Nighthawk and a big twin is because they have similar horsepower (the Nighthawk might even have a few more horses if both are stock), not because they have similar displacement. They are also "comfortable" seating positions as opposed to "agressive" seating positions. I know they look very different, but--I know I'm in the minority here--I would be happy with a bike that looked like either a Japanese standard or an American twin. Both have an elemental, simple look (before customization, at least) and proudly display their mildly-tuned, air-cooled engine.

I bring up the money issue because it is, unfortunately, important. I can't ride what I REALLY like--an R1150R--because I just plain can't afford it. Thus I'm looking for a bike that's comfortable, fun to ride, but also economical to own.

And, of course, the purpose of this thread was NOT to bash Harley-Davidson. The Sportster 883 is one of the bikes on my "possible next bike to buy" list, though it has significantly lower horsepower than a Japanese 750/4. I'd love to see what they do with the Evo-replacement Sportster engine (which I really want them to get around to releasing). Since I'm working on very limited finances, finding a fun ride that is also economical is very important to me.

Starving Student
 

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I like to buy new because I once bought a bike that had been poorly broken in and thoroughly abused by the former owner, even though it only had 9000 miles and looked like a good buy. After that experience, I much prefer to break bikes in myself.



However, if you can find last-year-leftovers (something that never happens with Harley-Davidsons), take them. You should be able to get at least $1000 off list price for taking a left-over, and its still an unridden bike. With most motorcycles besides sportbikes, the only thing that changes from year to year is the color, so left-overs are a great find.



Starving Student

 
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