Best Harley-Davidson Motorcycles for Beginners

Dec 23, 2023

Tags:harley-davidsonriders sharerenter

picture of Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle parked in a grassy field

Harley-Davidson isn't just a motorcycle brand; it's a symbol of American freedom and rebellion. Since its inception in 1903, Harley-Davidson has woven itself into the fabric of American pop culture. It's appeared in countless movies, TV shows, and music videos, becoming an icon that represents the spirit of individualism and the open road.

Generations of riders have passed down the Harley-Davidson tradition, creating a sense of continuity and family heritage. Many riders grew up with tales of their parents or grandparents cruising on Harley bikes, fostering a deep connection to the brand. This multi-generational love for Harley-Davidson is a testament to its appeal. Harley-Davidson's influence extends beyond motorcycles. It's a lifestyle choice. 

Starting your Harley-Davidson journey by finding the perfect Harley for beginners means becoming a part of this rich tapestry of American culture. This culture has left an indelible mark on the nation's history and continues to shape the future of motorcycling and freedom on the road. Read on to discover our top 7 recommendations for good beginner Harleys. 

Quick Overview:

  1. Street 500
  2. Street 750
  3. Iron 883
  4. Street Bob
  5. Softail Standard
  6. Sportster S
  7. Street Rod

Our Top 2 Recommendations: Street 500 & 750

The Street™ 500 and 750 stand out as two of Harley-Davidson's most welcoming cruiser models, particularly ideal for beginners. In fact, when you enroll in a Harley-Davidson® Riding Academy course, the Street 500 often serves as the practice bike. These lightweight cruisers boast user-friendly handling, courtesy of their low center of gravity. Both motorcycles feature a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-twin engine that delivers ample power and torque while still maintaining impressive fuel efficiency. 

The primary distinction lies in engine displacement, with the Street 500 housing a 494cc engine and the Street 750 sporting a 749cc engine. Both bikes offer a low seat height of just 25.7 inches, making them accommodating for riders of shorter stature. Whether you're commuting daily or embarking on weekend adventures, these bikes excel with their nimble handling and predictable power delivery. The Street 500 and 750 represent enticing options for novice cruiser riders who desire the iconic Harley-Davidson brand while seeking a manageable motorcycle.

1. Harley-Davidson Street 500 

For the Urban Commuter Beginner

picture of a black harley street 500 parked in a parking lot

*Note* The H-D Street 500 was discontinued in 2021. The model was first released in 2013. There are still numerous Street 500’s available for sale, used, as well as to rent. 

  • Average Price (Used): $4,550
  • Engine and Power: The Street 500 features a 494cc liquid-cooled Revolution X™ V-Twin engine. It's powerful enough for a thrilling ride but not overwhelming for a beginner.
  • Handling and Size: Its lightweight frame and low seat height make it easier to handle, especially for those who are learning the nuances of bike control.
  • Why It's Good for Beginners: The combination of manageable power, easy handling, and confidence-inspiring ergonomics makes the Street 500 a great beginner Harley. 

2. Harley-Davidson Street 750

Perfect for the Aspiring Tourer

picture of a woman with a helmet sitting on a black harley davidson street 750 with flowers in the background

*Note* The H-D Street 750 was discontinued in 2021. The model was first released in 2013. There are still numerous Street 750’s available for sale, used, as well as to rent. 

  • Average Price (Used): $4,995
  • Engine and Power: This model steps up with a 749cc liquid-cooled Revolution X™ engine, offering a bit more power while still being beginner-friendly.
  • Handling and Size: Similar to the Street 500, it has a low center of gravity and a comfortable riding position, which is great for building riding skills.
  • Why It's Good for Beginners: It's a good middle ground for those who want a bit more power than the Street 500 but aren't ready for the larger, more powerful Harleys.

Classic Choice for the Style-Conscious Newbie

3. Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Picture of a harley davidson iron 883 sitting on next to the ocean

*Note* The H-D 883  was discontinued in 2022. The model was first released in 2009. There are still numerous 883’s available for sale, new, used, as well as to rent. 

  • 2022 MSRP: Starting at Starting at $16,399, payments as low as $238/month
  • Engine and Power: The Iron 883 sports an 883cc air-cooled Evolution® engine. It provides a classic Harley feel with enough power to keep things interesting.
  • Handling and Size: Known for its nimble handling and comfortable ergonomics, it's a great bike for urban environments and easy maneuvering.
  • Why It's Good for Beginners: Its iconic style, combined with approachable performance, makes it a popular choice for new riders who want the classic Harley experience.

Best Fit for the Shorter or Less Confident Rider

4. Harley-Davidson Street Bob

Picture of a harley davidson street bob parked in the middle of a deserted road with mountains in the background

  • 2023 MSRP: Starting at Starting at $16,599, payments as low as $241/month
  • Engine and Power: Milwaukee-Eight® 114 V-twin engine
  • Handling and Size: Mid-weight cruiser with agile and responsive riding. Low seat height. 
  • Why It's Good for Beginners: Its still your unmistakable power of a Harley, with a lightweight feel that’s stripped down from a modern classic. Great for getting your highway miles in!

The Street Bob® presents itself as a versatile mid-weight cruiser, catering to those seeking an agile and responsive riding experience. Equipped with the potent Milwaukee-Eight® 114 V-twin engine, it delivers a consistently smooth and dependable performance, making it an excellent choice for riders with a penchant for covering highway miles. With a comfortable and manageable low seat height of 25.8 inches, coupled with its stripped-down and modern classic design, the Street Bob® exudes sleekness. It offers an appealing middle ground for riders who desire something between the lightweight cruisers like the Street™ 500 and Iron 883™ models while still craving the unmistakable raw power that defines Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

For the Beginner with Big Bike Aspirations

5. Harley-Davidson Softail Standard

picture of a silver harley davidson softail standard motorcycle parked in a parking lot

  • 2023 MSRP: Starting at Starting at $14,399, payments as low as $209/month
  • Engine and Power: A step up with a larger 107ci Milwaukee-Eight® engine, it's for beginners who are confident they can handle more power.
  • Handling and Size: Despite its larger engine, it has a balanced and comfortable ride, with a design that's not too intimidating for new riders.
  • Why It's Good for Beginners: It offers a taste of the classic "big bike" Harley experience but in a more manageable package for newcomers.

Designed for beginners with ambitious aspirations for a big bike, the Harley-Davidson Softail Standard steps up the game with its substantial 107ci Milwaukee-Eight® engine, catering to riders who are eager to embrace more power. What sets this bike apart is its ability to balance the enhanced engine performance with a comfortable and approachable ride. Despite the larger engine, it doesn't overwhelm new riders with an intimidating design. The Softail Standard provides an entry point into the classic "big bike" Harley experience while packaging it in a way that's accessible and manageable for those just starting their riding journey.

The Muscle Bike for the Rookie Rider

6. Harley-Davidson Sportster S

Picture of a white and black harley davidson sportster s parked in a showroom

  • 2023 MSRP: Starting at Starting at $16,399, payments as low as $238/month
  • Engine and Power: The Sportster features a Revolution Max 1250T engine. While it's a step up in power, it's tuned in a way that's manageable for beginners.
  • Handling and Size: It has a distinctive, low-slung design with a fat front tire that contributes to stable handling. The bike's overall ergonomics are designed for comfort and control.
  • Why It's Good for Beginners: The Sportster offers a more muscular feel without being overwhelming. It's a great beginner Harley for those who want a bit more power than an 883cc but in a bike that's still approachable and easy to handle.

Under the hood, the Sportster S boasts a potent Revolution Max 1250T engine, representing a step up in power that's thoughtfully tuned to remain manageable for beginners. Its distinctive low-slung design, coupled with a robust front tire, contributes to stable and confident handling, while the bike's overall ergonomics prioritize both comfort and control. What makes the Sportster S an excellent choice for novice riders is its ability to provide a more muscular riding experience without overwhelming them. It strikes a perfect balance for beginners who desire more power than an 883cc engine can offer while maintaining an approachable and easy-to-handle ride.

The Sporty Beginner's Choice

7. Harley-Davidson Street Rod

picture of a black harley davidson street rod parked in front of a garage door

*Note* The Street Rod was discontinued in 2020. The model was first released in 2017. There are still numerous Street Rod’s available for sale, used, as well as to rent. 

  • Average Price (Used): $5,000
  • Engine and Power: Powered by a High Output Revolution X™ 750 engine, the Street Rod offers a bit more punch compared to the standard Street 750, making it exciting yet manageable for new riders.
  • Handling and Size: It stands out with its aggressive riding position and tuned suspension that's geared towards responsive handling. The bike is also lightweight, which aids in maneuverability.
  • Why It's Good for Beginners: The Street Rod is ideal for those who are looking for a more performance-oriented ride but still want a bike that's not too intimidating. Its urban agility and responsive handling make it a great Harley for beginners who might be more interested in a sporty riding experience.

For those seeking a sportier introduction to the Harley-Davidson world, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod emerges as the ideal choice. Powered by a High Output Revolution X™ 750 engine, it offers a bit more punch compared to the standard Street 750, striking a balance between excitement and manageability for new riders. Its distinctiveness continues in its aggressive riding position and finely tuned suspension, which contributes to highly responsive handling. Adding to its appeal, the Street Rod is lightweight, further enhancing maneuverability. This Harley model caters to riders who yearn for a more performance-oriented experience without the intimidation factor. Its urban agility and responsive handling qualities make it a superb Harley for beginners who are drawn to a sportier riding style.

Test Out Your Favorite Beginner Harley with Riders Share

We understand your passion for these iconic motorcycles, and that's why we offer a vast selection of Harley-Davidson models for rent, spanning across the entire United States.

Whether you've always dreamed of riding the agile Street 500, yearned for the powerful Sportster S, or have a different Harley-Davidson model in mind, Riders Share has you covered. Our platform allows you to rent your favorite Harley and embark on an extended test ride, so you can truly connect with the bike and ensure it matches your unique riding style.

Join the ranks of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts who have discovered the thrill of renting their favorite bikes through Riders Share. It's time to turn your passion into reality and explore the open road on the Harley-Davidson of your dreams.