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I think you are right to look at Harley Davidsons if this is your first bike. For the most part they're not too slow, not too fast, handle well and are easy to work on. Forget Conventional Wisdom, they are as reliable as any other marque and will last a LOT longer.
If you change your mind and want a different bike, the HD will have held it's value well. As of this writing, used HDs are selling for more than new in the SF area. Most other bikes loose 30 to 50% of their value the first time you start them.
The Softail and Sportster engines are rigidly mounted to the frame, and as a consequence vibrate more than the Dyna Glide and FLH models.
There are two catalogs. The dealer may charge a few dollars for the larger one. The smaller one lists MSRP and is available from the Motor Company at:
Other Harley Davidson addresses are:
Buell can be reached at:
As this is such a seller's market, many dealers are marking up their motorcycles by as much as $3,000. Other dealers are bolting on $2,000 worth of chrome to maximize their profit. Shop around, as this practice varies greatly from dealer to dealer. In most parts of the country you should be able to put your name on a waiting list at MSRP. Some of the more popular models have a two year wait.
In almost all of the shops I've visited there have been Sportsters and Baggers on the floor selling at list price.
California prices are higher by several hundred dollars to pay for the catalytic converters that you will immediately want to take off.
For prices see the HD web site.