How to Ride a Harley Davidson

Riding and owning a Harley Davidson motorcycle is an honor and a privilege. There are some basic tenets that you should remember to keep the ride safe and memorable.


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    Find a suitable and rideable Harley Davidson motorcycle. Not every Harley is suitable for 'cruising' or riding distances shorter than a few blocks or miles. If you really want to enjoy all a Harley has to offer, find a Harley that runs well, is comfortable, and one that you can handle. If you find the bike too heavy, drop down a level or improve your riding skills on another, smaller bike first. In general, the bike "heaviness" runs in the following order, from heaviest to lightest:
    1. Touring. (Includes Road King, Street Glide, Ultra Classic, Limited and Road Glide).
    2. Softail (Includes Fatboy, Heritage, Slim, Deluxe and Breakout)
    3. Dyna (Includes Street Bob, Low Rider, Fat Bob, Switchback and Wide Glide)
    4. Sportster (Includes 883's and 1200's)
      • A note about the Sportster: Some consider it the most difficult to ride, despite its lightness. This is due to its relative unbalance and high placement of the gas tank thus raising the center of gravity. Despite this, it remains one of the most fun Harleys to ride, and is exemplified in carrying the honor of being the longest running production motorcycle in United States history.
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    Decide how you're going to get your Harley, either by borrowing, renting, or buying. Sometimes renting or borrowing (provided that you have a motorcycle license) is the best way to introduce yourself to the world of Harleys without a huge financial commitment.
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    Observe the bike. Look at the subtleties and richness of the chrome, or lack thereof, and special features unique to the design of the particular Harley you are going to ride. Prep the bike for ride by checking the gas level, tires, lights, and any obvious flaws or defects.
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    Get on the bike. Remember, "right is wrong." Get on the bike from the left side, as it is good etiquette. (BS. Getting on from the right is the only "correct" way. It is how professionals are trained, and if you slip, you will not shove the bike over) Feel the handlebars, feel the weight of the bike underneath you. Pull the choke if need-be. Then...
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    Start the bike. Listen to it. Feel it underneath you. Let it warm up as you warm up to the bike.
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    Ride the bike. See the road scurry underneath you. Feel the wind in your face and on your body. See how it's just much better when on the bike. Feel the rumble in between your legs. Lean back. See the blur of the side road as you look straight ahead.
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    Enjoy the ride. Harley Davidson motorcycles enjoy a rich and storied tradition. Riding one is not about the speed or handling of the bike per se, but rather, the enjoyment of the feel and embodiment of the entire experience. Look at the scenery, hear and feel the engine. Look to your right... to your left. Even look up at the sky - all the while making sure to keep another eye on the road to stay safe. Beware of 'cagers' ie. car drivers.
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    Find a road all your own (preferably deserted and without any traffic), and ride until you feel good. Then ride some more. Stop at a tavern (no alcoholic beverages,please). Visit a friend. Enjoy the freedom of riding a Harley Davidson. When you're done, bring it back and ride again another day.
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  • "Not all who wander are lost."
  • Be safe. Wear a helmet and watch for traffic and cell-phone lobotomized drivers. They're not looking out for you. Look out for them.
  • When you ride a Harley, that grants you entrance into the biker family. When not using your left hand to clutch, always acknowledge other bikers by simply extending a cool, waist high wave. It is acceptable to suspend this practice at rallies or events where there is very high bike traffic.
  • Riding a Harley is like enjoying a fine wine. Take care to notice the make, model and strengths and weaknesses of the particular model you're riding. Enjoy the ride, and look not to the destination.
  • Sometimes being lost is the only way to find yourself
  • Only bikers know why the dog sticks his head out the window.


  • Take a motorcycle safety course if you can. While riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle is possibly the greatest thing you can experience, it can be dangerous. Know how to ride over a piece of lumber. Know how to handle the bike. Join a motorcycle riders club or the "HOG" organization if need be (HOG = Harley Owners Group). You'll meet everlasting friends.

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Categories: Motorcycles