Founded in 1903, Harley-Davidson got its start when two young partners from Milwaukee built their first production model (based on a drawing of an engine designed to fit in a bicycle frame) in a 10 feet by 15 feet shed. William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson were just 21 and 20-years old when Harley-Davidson was born.
By the early 1920s, Harley-Davidson was the largest producer of motorcycles in the world, with more than 2,000 dealers operating in 67 countries. In 1921, the 74-cubic-inch V-twin engine design made its debut, establishing a layout closely associated with Harley-Davidson that remains in production today.
Harley-Davidson is the longest running motorcycle nameplate in the United States, surviving multiple ownerships and some rocky financial times. Still based in Milwaukee, the iconic brand continues to make the big V-twin models it's best known for, but the lineup has evolved to include other designs – most recently adding an electric motorcycle
Types of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles
Harley-Davidson built its reputation and image around the large displacement cruiser and saddle bag-equipped touring or bagger models that still dominate its lineup today. Equipped with two-cylinder V-twin engines displacing anywhere from 500 to 1,923 cubic centimeters (cc), it is these big bikes such as the cruiser-type Sportster Iron 883 and touring model Electra-Glide that deliver the distinctive sound and look most often associated with the brand.
While the company still offers plenty of choices in those classic categories (including nearly a dozen touring models), the more than 25 models spread over seven series in its 2020 lineup also include three-wheelers, smaller displacement 500 cc and 750 cc standard models, police motorcycles, and the new for 2020 Livewire street bike – Harley-Davidson’s first street-legal electric motorcycle. Together with two electric Balance Bike scooter models for kids, these new electrics represent a radical departure for Harley-Davidson, and are said to be the first of a planned full lineup of electric city and recreational two-wheelers intended to draw new audiences to the brand. These are also the only models in the current lineup really aimed at new riders. Harley-Davidson has never been big on bikes for beginners.
Harley Davidson also offers a wide variety of factory customization options for most models in its lineup, and more accessories through dealers. Prices range from just under $7,000 for the 500 cc Street 500 to almost $44,000 for the fully loaded CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) Limited touring model. One of three new CVO models for 2020, this new top of the line Harley-Davidson series also includes the CVO Street Glide and three-wheel CVO Tri-Glide. Also new for 2020 are the Low Rider S and Road Glide Limited, along with a new available suite of electronic safety and security features called Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS.) In addition to adding safety systems including traction control and ABS braking, RDRS lets owners remotely monitor their bike’s location, fluid levels, and more using their smartphone.
Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Prices
Harley-Davidson prices for 2020 range from just under $7,000 for the 500 cc Street 500 to almost $44,000 for the fully loaded CVO Limited touring model. With an average price of $20,338 in 2019, that makes Harley-Davidson substantially more expensive than most of its competition with the exception of Indian, its most direct competitor. The average price for a 2019 Indian is about $20,800.
2020 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Lineup
Harley-Davidson divides its lineup into seven series: Electric, Street, Sportster, Softail, Touring, Trike, and CVO. The Livewire is Harley-Davidson’s sole street-legal electric model and starts at $29,799. The Street series consists of mid-displacement cruiser models and prices range from $6,899 for the Street 500 to $8,699 for the Street Rod. Sportster models fall under the standard category, and range in price from $8,999 for the Iron 883 to $11,499 for the Roadster. Softail models are cruisers, and range in price from $14,599 for the Street Bob to $20,599 for the Fat Boy 114. Touring series models are all in the touring/bagger category, and prices range from $18,999 for the Electra Glide Standard to $28,699 for the Ultra Limited. Trike prices range from $27,999 for the Freewheeler to $34,999 for the Tri Glide Ultra. CVO models include two Touring models and a Trike, and range from $40,539 for the CVO Street Glide to $48,999 for the CVO Tri-Glide.
Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycles
Electric motorcycles are gaining in popularity and attracting new riders, trends even a brand as steeped in tradition as Harley-Davidson cannot ignore. Electrics are easy to ride and handle, provide instantaneous response and performance, and don’t require shifting or a clutch. Maintenance is minimal, adding to their appeal – especially for urban riders. For 2020, Harley-Davidson has rolled out its first fully electric model, the Livewire. A spokesperson assures us it is just the first in what will soon be a full electric lineup.
Offering instantaneous performance at the twist of the throttle and no clutch or shifting required, the Livewire is easy for even new riders to handle. Four preset driving modes and the option of creating up to three more make it easy to control response and performance to match a rider’s ability. Standard traction control and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) provide added security, while a phone app lets you monitor the bike's battery status, charge level, and location. It can also provide alerts if the bike is tampered with. With a range of up to 146 miles, the Livewire can be fully charged overnight using a typical outlet in your house, or in an hour using a Level 3 public fast charger. And in a nod to tradition, Harley-Davidson plans a full line of accessories to customize your Livewire. The weight is 549 pounds, and prices start at $29,799.
Harley-Davidson Standard Motorcycles
Standard motorcycles are traditional designs, generally with an upright seating position and easy on the frills. Designed more for around town riding and commuting than long-distance traveling, standard models are typically lighter and more maneuverable than cruisers or touring models, and most don't have fairings or bags. Most standards can accommodate a rider and one passenger, and have small to midsize engines. Harley-Davidson makes four models in this category (which the brand refers to as the Sportster range), including the Iron 883, Iron 1200, Forty-Eight, and Roadster.
Harley-Davidson Iron 883
The lightest and most affordable of the Harley-Davidson cruisers, the 883 Sportster has long been considered something of an entry-level model by devotees of the brand. The Iron 883 has a low 25.7-inch seat height to accommodate smaller riders, and it weighs a relatively light 545 pounds. Power comes from an 883 cubic centimeter (cc) engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission. Brakes are dual-piston caliper discs in the front and rear. Prices start at $8,999. ABS and a security system are optional.
Harley-Davidson Iron 1200
Like the less powerful Iron 883, the Iron 1200 is one of the more stripped down cruisers from Harley-Davidson. That also helps make it one of the lightest and least expensive models in the lineup. Weighing just two pounds more than the 883, at 547 pounds, the Iron 1200 has the same 25.7-inch seat height but packs a 1,200 cc engine matched with a five-speed manual transmission. Prices start at $9,999, and dual-piston caliper disc brakes in the front and rear come standard, while options include ABS and a security system.
With a fatter front tire, beefier fork, and more aggressive styling touches than other Sportster models, the Forty-Eight is also claimed to provide a more comfortable ride and secure handling. Power comes from the same 1,200 cc engine found in the Iron 1200, matched with a five-speed manual transmission. Weighing 545 pounds and with the same low 25.7-inch seat height as other Sportster models, the Forty-Eight is another of the lower and leaner Harley-Davidson models. Prices start at $11,299. Like the other Sportster models, dual-piston caliper brakes front and rear are standard, while ABS and a security system are optional.
Powered by Harley-Davidson’s 1,200 cc air-cooled V-twin engine, the Roadster is light on frills and built for performance. Lowered bars provide an aggressive riding position, and when combined with a 29.5-inch seat height, contribute to a reduced center of gravity. A substantial inverted front fork helps keep the Roadster planted on the road. Custom styling touches include a blacked-out engine, frame, and fenders, along with lightweight five-spoke wheels. The roadster weighs 550 pounds, and prices start at $11,499 without the optional ABS or security system.
Harley-Davidson Cruising Motorcycles
Cruisers provide the power and comfort for extended highway riding or a day exploring back roads, and have long been a Harley-Davidson specialty. The 2020 cruiser lineup includes models from Harley's Softail and Harley-Davidson Street categories.
Harley-Davidson Street 500
The lightest and most affordable motorcycle in the Harley-Davidson lineup, the Street 500 is the closest you’ll find to an entry-level model from the brand. Weighing 492 pounds, it features a narrow frame, a low 25.7-inch seat height for an easy reach, and blacked-out styling for an aggressive look. Powered by a 494 cc liquid cooled two-cylinder engine matched with a six-speed manual transmission, the Street 500 has two-piston disc brakes in the front and rear. Prices start at $6,899, and options include ABS and a security system.
Harley-Davidson Street 750
A more powerful version of the Street 500 with the same blacked out engine, pipes, and wheels, the Street 750 is targeted at the same urban audience. Beyond the 750's larger engine and price tag, the bikes are virtually identical right down to the dimensions and weight. The 750 weighs the same 492 pounds, and features a narrow frame and 25.7-inch seat height to appeal to newer riders. Power comes from a 749 cc liquid cooled two-cylinder engine matched with a six-speed transmission, and brakes are two-piston disc front and rear. Prices start at $7,599. ABS and a security system are optional.
Harley-Davidson Street Rod
A step up from the Street 750 in both power and performance, the Street Rod gets its own version of the 749 cc liquid-cooled engine with more power and more torque. The transmission is the same six-speed manual, while a performance suspension provides more responsive handling and increased travel, along with a more upright riding position. The brakes have two-piston discs in both the front and rear. The beefy Street Rod weighs 505 pounds, and has a taller, 29.8-inch seat height than the other Street models. Prices start at $8,699, with ABS and a security system optional.
Harley-Davidson Street Bob
The lightest and most affordable Softail cruiser from Harley-Davidson, the Street Bob weighs in at 630 pounds. While not exactly a lightweight, that makes it about 40 pounds less than some Softail models. Power comes from a 1,746 cc V-twin engine matched with a six-speed manual transmission. A 26.2-inch seat height helps accommodate a variety of riders, and mid-rise bars provide an upright seating position. Standard features include digital instrumentation and keyless ignition. Four-piston front and two-piston rear brakes are standard, along with a security system. ABS is optional. Prices start at $14,599.
Harley-Davidson Low Rider
With lots of chrome and retro graphics, the Low Rider has a more retro look than most Softails or other Harley-Davidson models. With the same 26.2-inch seat height as the Street Bob, however, the ride is not in fact any lower. It’s powered by the same 1,746 cc V-twin engine found in the Street Bob paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Four piston front and two-piston rear disc brakes are standard, along with a mix of digital and analog instrumentation and a security system. The weight is 633 pounds, and prices start at $14,899.
Harley-Davidson Softail Slim
Spoke wheels, a low 25.5-inch solo seat, an upright riding position and minimal filigree give the Softail Slim a vintage look, while its low stance helps make it easier to handle for smaller riders. The powertrain pairs a 1,746 cc V-twin engine with a six-speed manual transmission, and the Softail Slim weighs in at 642 pounds. Brakes are four-piston front and two-piston rear, with ABS optional. A security system is standard, and prices start at $15,999
Harley-Davidson Lowrider S
A blacked-out look distinguishes the Lowrider S from other Softail models, while revised frame geometry and an upgraded front fork are said to provide improved handling. The seating position is upright, and a 26.5-inch seat height enhances access. The Lowrider S gets the largest engine available in a Softail, a 1,868 cc V-twin paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Weighing 650 pounds, the Lowrider S comes standard with a security system, ABS, and four-piston and two-piston disc brakes in the front and rear, respectively. Prices start at $17,999.
Chrome laced wheels, whitewall tires, pullback handlebars, and a solo seat lend the Deluxe a throwback look, while the mechanicals underneath are strictly modern Softail. The Deluxe gets the 1,746 cc version of the Harley-Davidson V-twin engine, paired with a six-speed manual transmission. The seat height is 25.9 inches, and the weight is 668 pounds. The Deluxe's brakes are four-piston front and two-piston rear discs with standard ABS. A security system is also standard, and prices start at $18,399.
Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114
With fat tires on black cast wheels, LED lighting, and big upswept pipes, the Fat Bob 114 is anything but subtle. An inverted fork is said to give more secure handling, while dual-disc front and single-disc rear brakes provide sure stops. Power comes from a 1,868 cc V-twin paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Weighing in at 653 pounds, the Fat Bob 114 has a 27.7-inch seat height. A security system and ABS are standard, and prices start at $18,799.
Harley-Davidson FXDR 114
Built for performance, the FXDR features an inverted race-style front fork and adjustable rear mono shock suspension with an aluminum subframe and swingarm to save weight. A short bobbed rear fender and teardrop tank lend a sleek look, while a 1,868 cc V-twin engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission provides the power. Weighing a relatively light 637 pounds, the FXDR 114 has a 27.7-inch seat height. Brakes are four-piston front, and two-piston rear discs. Standard features include LED lighting, ABS, and a security system. Prices start at $18,999.
Harley-Davidson Breakout 114
With a long, lean look combining retro, and modern design cues, the Breakout 114 incorporates a performance adjustable rear mono shock suspension with an inverted front fork for sure handling, and a huge rear tire for a drag bike look. The Breakout 114 gets the 1,868 cc V-twin engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission, and weighs 648 pounds. This bike's seat height is a relatively low 25.6 inches. Standard features include gloss black aluminum wheels, an LCD instrument display, four-piston front and two-piston rear disc brakes with ABS, and a security system. Prices start at $20,499.
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114
Solid disc machined aluminum wheels, fat tires, a massive front fork, and lots of satin chrome give the Fat Boy a presence befitting its name, while a performance suspension front and rear help keep things under control. The Fat Boy gets Harley-Davidson’s biggest 1,868 cc V-twin engine, matched with a six-speed manual transmission. Weighing in at 671 pounds, the Fat Boy’s seat height is 25.9 inches. Standard Features include LED lighting, four-piston front and two-piston rear disc brakes with ABS, and a security system. Prices start at $20,599.
Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles
Touring models provide more than ample power and a comfortable ride for all-day travel, along with saddle bags and other storage compartments to accommodate clothing and gear for longer trips. Also known as baggers or dressers, touring models typically include a front fairing and windshield for more shelter from the elements, and many models include creature comforts such as stereo systems, heated gloves, and a communication system to let a helmeted driver and passenger talk to one another on the road. Harley-Davidson takes credit for having invented the category in the 1960s, and has long been known for its touring models such as the Electra Glide and Road Glide. The lineup has grown over the years, and now includes 11 models offering a large range of prices and features. If the stock bikes don't have enough variety for you, Harley-Davidson offers a wide range of additional accessories to make your bike your own.
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Standard
Described by Harley as a “dressed down dresser,” the Electra Glide Standard is as close as you’ll find to a minimalist touring model. With a small fairing, solo seat, and saddle bags, the Standard’s classic styling cues include lots of chrome combined with blacked out surfaces and any color paint you like as long as its black. The Electra Glide not only looks the part, it sounds it too, thanks to a 1,746 cc V-twin engine and twin pipes. The transmission is a six-speed manual, and standard cruise control helps rack up highway miles. Brembo disc brakes are standard, while ABS is optional. With a 26.8-inch seat height and weighing 781 pounds, prices start at $18,999.
Harley-Davidson Road King
An upright windshield with a large headlight flanked by smaller lights contributes to the classic look of the Road Glide, while a tandem saddle provides room for a passenger. Powered by the same 1,746-cubic centimeter V-twin engine as the Electra Glide and matched with a six-speed manual transmission, the Road King comes standard with a security system, cruise control, adjustable rear shocks, cast aluminum wheels, Brembo brakes with standard ABS, and larger, one touch opening saddlebags. The seat height is 26.3 inches, and the bike weighs 794 pounds. Prices start at $19,499.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide
With a sleek fairing encompassing dual LED headlights, the Road Glide presents a distinctive and aerodynamic look, complemented by a tandem touring seat and generously sized saddlebags. Power comes from a 1,746 cc V-twin engine matched with a six-speed manual transmission. Standard features include an audio system, cruise control, a security system, Brembo disc brakes with ABS, along with the Harley-Davidson app for vehicle monitoring, tracking, and more. Options include an upgraded audio system and the Reflex Defensive Rider System (RDRS) including traction control and other electronic assists. Prices start at $21,699.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide
A Batwing fairing and small windshield contribute to a minimalist, classic look, but the Street Glide adds more features for comfortable cruising and performance. Standard features include a performance suspension with adjustable rear shocks, and Brembo disc brakes with standard ABS. A 1,746-cubic centimeter V-twin engine matched with a six-speed manual transmission provides the power. Creature comforts include the Boom Box GTS infotainment system, with audio, navigation, and phone functions available through either voice control, hard keys, or a weather-resistant and glove-friendly touch screen. Other standard features include cruise control and a security system. The bike weighs 796 pounds, and the seat height is 26.1 inches. Prices start at $21,999. The RDRS suite including traction control and other electronic driver aids is optional.
Harley-Davidson Road King Special
Blacked out with a matte finish from one end to the other, the Road King Special is virtually devoid of chrome. Raised handlebars provide an upright seating position, and a big, exposed headlight with no fairing adds to the businesslike look. Power is provided by a big, 1,868 cc V-twin engine, paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Weighing 774 pounds and with a 26.4-inch seat height, the bike comes with Brembo four-piston disc brakes in the front and rear with standard ABS. Other standard features include a security system and cruise control. Prices start at $22,999. The RDRS suite of safety features including traction control and other electronic driver aids is optional.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special
A more powerful version of the Road Glide, the Road Glide Special gets Harley-Davidson’s 1,868 cc V-twin engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Other features shared with the basic Road Glide include the same sleek fairing with dual LED headlights, tandem touring seat with big saddlebags, cruise control, security system, Brembo disc brakes with ABS, and compatibility with the Harley-Davidson app for vehicle monitoring, tracking, and other remote functionality. In addition, the Special adds the Boom Box GTS infotainment system, with audio, navigation, and phone functions available through either voice control, hard keys, or a weather-resistant and glove-friendly touch screen. Weighing 818 pounds and with a 25.9-inch seat height, the Road Glide Special starts at $27,299. RDRS is optional.
Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
Opting for the Street Glide Special gets the same matte look of the base Street Glide, but with more features and power. Powered by the 1,868 cc V-twin engine matched with a six-speed manual transmission, the Street Glide Special also adds the Boom Box GTS infotainment system as standard, including audio, navigation, and phone functions accessible through voice control, handlebar controls, or a weather-resistant and glove-friendly touch screen. Other standard features include cruise control, a security system, Brembo disc brakes with ABS, and compatibility with the Harley-Davidson app for vehicle monitoring, tracking, and other remote functionality. The seat height is 26.1 inches, and the weight is 792 pounds. Prices start at $27,699, RDRS is optional.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited
Loaded with features, the Road Glide Limited gets heated hand grips, a rear luggage carrier, a built-in fairing with dual LED headlights, along with all the extras of lesser models including the Boom Box GTS infotainment system with touch or voice-activated audio, navigation, and phone function access. Brembo disc brakes with ABS, cruise control, a security system, and compatibility with the Harley-Davidson app are also standard. This bike is powered by the 1,868 cc V-twin engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission, the Road Glide Limited weighs a beefy 897 pounds and has a 27.2-inch seat height. Prices start at $28,299, and options include a matte finish and the RDRS suite of safety aids.
Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited
With 19 single and two-tone color choices and packed with features, the Ultra Limited includes a Batwing fairing said to provide minimal buffeting thanks to a pressure-equalizing air duct. It also gets the features found on the Road Glide Limited, including heated hand grips, a rear luggage carrier, the Boom Box GTS infotainment system, Brembo disc brakes, ABS, cruise control, a security system, and the Harley-Davidson app. Power comes from the 1,868 cc V-twin engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Weighing 880 pounds with a 27.5-inch seat height, the bike starts at $28,699. The RDRS suite of safety aids is optional.
Harley-Davidson CVO Limited and Street Glide
These two limited-edition Custom Vehicle Operations touring models are essentially in-house customs, equipped with special paint, upholstery, and all the standard and optional features of lesser models at no extra cost. Power comes from the largest engine offered by Harley-Davidson – exclusive to CVO models – a 1,923 cc V-twin matched with a six-speed manual transmission. Both models also include the RDRS suite of safety aids, Brembo disc brakes, ABS, a rear luggage carrier, the Boom Box GTS infotainment system, a wireless headset, cruise control, a security system, and the Harley-Davidson app. The CVO Street Glide weighs 831 pounds, has a seat height of 26.1 inches, and starts at $40,539. The CVO Limited weighs 906 pounds, has a 27.7-inch seat height, and starts at $44,039.
Three-wheeled motorcycles have long been popular for commercial and police use, and many more have been built by customizers. Harley-Davidson is the only major manufacturer making trikes for private use, with three models in the 2020 lineup. All use a V-twin powertrain with a conventional front fork, two wheels in back, and rear-wheel drive.
Harley-Davidson’s most basic three-wheeler, the Freewheeler, is powered by a 1,868 cc V-twin engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission. ABS and traction control are standard, and a hill-holder feature helps keep the Freelander from rolling backwards when starting out on a hill. Other standard features include cruise control, a security system, and Brembo disc brakes in the front and rear with a parking brake function. The seat height is 26.2 inches, and the weight is 1,085 pounds. Prices start at $27,999.
Harley-Davidson Tri-Glide Ultra
The Tri-Glide Ultra adds a number of features, including a rear trunk and seatback, LED headlights, LED fog lights, the RDRS suite, an infotainment system, and compatibility with the Harley-Davidson app. The powertrain is the same 1,868 cc V-twin engine and six-speed manual transmission found in the Freewheeler, and the Tri-Glide also gets the hill holder feature, standard ABS, traction control, cruise control, and security system. The brakes are Brembo discs in the front and rear, with a parking brake included. The seat height is 27.1 inches, and the weight is 1,204 pounds. Pricing starts at $34,999.
Harley-Davidson CVO Tri-Glide
Harley-Davidson’s flagship trike, the CVO Tri-Glide has the most powerful engine offered by the manufacturer, along with every standard feature available and myriad customization options. Power comes from the CVO-only 1,923 cc V-twin matched with a six-speed manual transmission. Features included heated seats and a wireless headset, along with the RDRS suite of safety aids, traction control, Brembo disc brakes, ABS, a rear luggage carrier, the Boom Box GTS infotainment system, cruise control, a security system, and the Harley-Davidson app. Seat height is 25.9 inches, weight is 1,239 pounds. Prices start at $48,999
Harley-Davidson vs. Indian
Harley-Davidson and Indian are direct competitors, with both offering a similar lineup of primarily cruisers and touring models. Both have historically appealed to a similar audience looking for a big, full-throated motorcycle.
Both are American brands dating from the early 1900s. Harley-Davidson has remained in production the entire time, while Indian has been resurrected after failing in the 1940s. While both offer a two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty and prices that are similar for competing models, Harley-Davidson has a much larger lineup, with models that are both more and less expensive than Indian’s most affordable and priciest offerings.
Harley-Davidson also offers an electric motorcycle, gasoline models with engines as small as 500 cc, and prices starting at only $6,899. Indian doesn't offer any of those options. That might make Harley-Davidson a better, more affordable choice for less-experienced riders.
Harley-Davidson vs. Honda
Honda offers cruisers and touring models such as the Gold Wing as part of its lineup, which compete directly with the core of the Harley-Davidson lineup. Big bike traditionalists and brand loyalists tend to prefer Harley-Davidson, but Honda’s reputation for reliability in automobiles also carries over to its motorcycles. Honda also offers an automatic transmission with the Gold Wing, something Harley-Davidson does not.
As a brand, Honda is also a better choice for novice riders, with a much more extensive lineup including lightweight and inexpensive models designed for less experienced riders. Honda offers other types of motorcycles not available from Harley-Davidson, including off-road models, cafe-racers, and even scooters for those wanting something still smaller.
Harley-Davidson offers a two-year/unlimited mileage warranty, while Honda’s is just one-year with unlimited mileage. Honda Gold Wing models outdo Harley-Davidson with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty.
Harley-Davidson vs. Kawasaki
Like Honda, Kawasaki offers a complete range of motorcycles, from small, entry level models, to off-road bikes, standards, cruisers and tourers. Kawasaki’s Vulcan Models are the closest competitors to Harley-Davidson’s core lineup, topping out with the Vulcan 1700 Voyageur, a loaded V-twin touring model with a fairing and saddlebags, and standard ABS. While perhaps lacking the mystique of a Harley-Davidson, the Vulcan 1700 Voyageur is something of a bargain at $17,499.