Should I test ride a Harley-Davidson® before buying one


Should I test ride a Harley-Davidson® before buying one?

Rule one of buying motorcycles is if you don't test ride it, do not buy it. This goes for everything from a 100cc commuter that only needs to be hardy and frugal to a litre-class superbike that is expected to be a road-going rocket. If the manufacturer doesn't give you a motorcycle so you can get a feel of it, walk away. At Pfaff Harley-Davidson® in Vaughan, we are always encouraging our prospective customers to schedule a test ride on the Harley-Davidson® they are looking at. Simply reading about the features of a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle can only do it so much justice. In this blog, we take a look at some of the characteristics to look for during your test ride on a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle!

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Focus on the engine during your test ride... 

Firstly, notice how the bike idles (sound, vibration and feel). Then as you head out, focus on clutch effort, gear shift quality and the small bits. These are the basic building blocks of whether or not you'll think of the bike as smooth and sweet. Then tune into the vibration you can feel in the pegs, through your thighs and your hands. In a low gear, rev the bike out steadily just feeling the vibration. That is all you need to form a fairly vivid, if initial, picture of how smooth and refined the Harley-Davidson® motorcycle you are riding is.

Focus on the engine performance…

Once again, it isn't a great idea for you to try to see if you can match manufacturer or magazine test results on the road on your test ride. You are wasting precious time. Instead, think of performance in terms of your daily riding. Ride at a low speed in a high gear and see how the bike responds to the throttle. Then ride at a higher speed in a more appropriate gear, something you might use in traffic as an owner and see how that feels. Get a loose sense of whether you think a certain kind of performance (for instance low speed, high gear) seems to strain the engine or not. You're looking to form a picture of the motorcycle in traffic, where you're going to spend most of your riding time in most cases.

Test the handling... 

Here you're looking mostly for confidence in the handling. Does it react as you expect to your inputs? When leaned over does it feel trustworthy? Again, having a mental reference of another motorcycle is a good idea to establish your opinion. Now venture off the good roads and wander onto the broken roads. To make it as hard as possible for the bike, arrive over bumps on a closed throttle and see how it feels. Remember in actual riding, you'll probably have a little bit of throttle on, so ride quality on the test ride will feel worse. Negotiate a pothole or two. If you're going to ride two up a lot, badger the dealer into allowing your most common pillion to join you for a short stint.

Test the brakes... 

Brakes are really easy to test. You're looking to see how much the bite is. Fast bikes tend to have aggressive brakes that come on strong and can be harder to live with, in unskilled or new hands. In the case of drum brakes, you're looking for whether you think they're effective or not. A couple of decent stops will tell you the whole story, don't bother doing a full-on emergency stop.

It is always a good idea to test ride a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle you are looking at before you buy it. What better way to truly experience the performance and qualities of the motorcycle then by getting on it and taking it for a spin! 

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