Grow into a Harley Heritage Softail - DR650 to ???

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Quarterbore, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Quarterbore

    Quarterbore Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Valley Forge, PA
    I am looking for an opinion on my next steps... I grew up with a Yamaha 125 dirt bike and now 25+ years later I am getting back into bikes. My first road bike is a 97 DR650 and I am using it to learn but I want a Harley even though I now have doubts I will ever sell my DR650 as it is just so much fun.

    My question is, is moving from the DR650 directly to a USED Harley Heritage Softtail Classic too big of a move? I am a 43 and pretty big guy at 6'3" and 250 or so and I like to think I am reasonably fit. My two options I am considering is something like a Kawasaki Vulcan (or similar) in the 1100 size or a 1200 Harley Sportster as intermediate bikes. On the other hand I have seen a couple nice looking Heritage Softtails for about $8000 on up which makes it tempting to buy a 90s era Heritage. I can pick up a similarly aged Sportster for about $5000 on up to put it in perspective.

    I am not in a huge rush but I need to decide what I should be looking for so I can start studying the years and prices so I can recognize a good value when I find one.

    As an example, this bike is local and it has me twitching from an urge to write out the check...

    http://www.chopperexchange.com/ForSale/Harley-Davidson/Heritage_Softail_Classic/382326
    #1
  2. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,554
    Location:
    Collingwood, Ontario
    I would go straight to the Harley, since that is what you want. Cruiser-type bikes don't have much power anyway, it is the weight and handling that will take getting used to.

    You should be able to get a pretty late model Sportster for $5k. I doubt a 6'3" guy would be comfortable on the Sportster though.
    #2
  3. sparkymcgee

    sparkymcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    340
    Location:
    Southern California
    You'll be fine on the Harley. I bought my Heritage after about 8 years of not riding after an accident. I had only ridden 600cc bikes until then. I'm 6 foot 180 lbs. In fact, I let my buddy learn to ride on my Heritage and he had no problems. Just take your time and get used to the weight.
    #3
  4. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    984
    Location:
    I forget
    You shouldn't have any problems handling it, as long as you do what other say: take it easy, get used to it...

    My pal has this same era bike. It's fun to ride, but it doesn't handle well. It's nowhere near as competent as the newest touring frame.

    I'm not a Harley expert at all, but I'd rather go for a Sportster, and modify it a bit to fit. Cheaper, handles better.

    However, my pal has ridden his bike all around the country, he loves it...it's been completely trouble-free, so what's not to like about that?

    Cakeeater
    #4
  5. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    493
    Location:
    Charles Town, WV
    I would skip the sportster and go right for the softail. I don't think riding a sportster first will help at all and as someone else pointed out, at 6'3" it's unlikely you'll be comfortable on one.
    #5
  6. rokinrider

    rokinrider Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    19
    I love my new Softail SLim. I've been on an Electra glide for 14 years. It's been sitting a lot since the new slim showed up. To me it's the essence of motorcycling, stripped down, low, enough power to make me smile. This is the first SofTail I have ever owned and I'm hooked!
    #6
  7. Mr. G

    Mr. G Normal Dude

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,816
    Location:
    Ventura Co, So Cal
    Iv'e had many bikes including a Kawi Vulcan Nomad 1500. The newer Harley's handle much better and feel like they are several hundred pounds lighter then they are. The metric cruisers are not in the same league. Neither was the EVO Softail I had. I really enjoy my current and previous Harley's, both new frame touring models with 103's.

    An older Softail may not be the easiest Harley to ride. Softail's have limited suspension and bottom out easily. You might want to consider a 2009 or later Road King or Electra Glide for the new frame and larger engines. A Road King Classic looks similar to the Softail Heritage Classic. It has no fairing and leather like bags.

    I don't know your financial situation but the soon to be released Indian Vintage has the look of the Heritage Classic and then some. I am drooling over it in black with tan seats and bags.
    #7
  8. grelcar

    grelcar Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    Oddometer:
    125
    Location:
    757 VA
    at 6'3 and coming off a DR650 you are going to feel like the Heritage Special was designed for a midget.
    #8
  9. BCC

    BCC I know better

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,932
    Location:
    Southern NJ
    If you are good at very slow parking lot speeds, doing lock to lock figure eights, for example, you'll be more than fine moving straight to the Harley, IMO. They are easy bikes to ride, once you are moving.

    Even at low speeds, because of the low seat height and center of gravity, they are easy too. It's just the weight that will be an adjustment.
    #9
  10. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    929
    $8K for a 90's Softail? I'd suggest you keep looking.

    Have your ridden one yet? If not, try it. And take the likes of a Road King out as well. I wouldn't be surprised if you find you like the Road King better.
    #10
  11. Quarterbore

    Quarterbore Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Valley Forge, PA
    I will do some test rides or attend an open house when I can and before I buy. I do love the looks of the new Indians too but that is outside my budget at this time. This next bike needs to be under 10k so I am looking at used bikes and used is fine by me.

    Thanks again for the feedback. I will keep the DR under me until I have it figured out but I will start studying the Harley's more. I also had a guy suggest that The Vulcan 93c (I think that is the model) is worth looking at too. I just need to sit on some bikes now.
    #11
  12. elementalg20

    elementalg20 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    807
    Location:
    Melcher, Iowa
    Certainly pays to do your research and look around, but it's also easy to get lost in the sea of good bikes out there. Just make sure when you buy one it's not only because it checked some boxes, but because it's the one that puts a smile on your face when you ride and makes you take a second look at before turning the lights out in the garage.
    #12
  13. ZZ-R Rider

    ZZ-R Rider Captain Fantastic

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2011
    Oddometer:
    753
    Location:
    Far East of the Western World
    An ex-GF of mine went from a 350lb LS650 Savage to a 700lb Heritage Softail with no issues whatsoever ... and she's only 5'-2", approx. 115lbs herself ... you should have no problem ...
    #13
  14. plugeye

    plugeye mc caregiver

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,015
    Location:
    Garland, Texas
    it should be like going from fun to humdrum.
    stay off the front brake when taxiing
    you will miss the DR
    #14
  15. Gyprat

    Gyprat Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    16
    Location:
    Near Charlotte, NC
    I'm about your size and have a hard time finding anything that fits. Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad was the only bike that somewhat fit me and I bought a new one back in 2006. The seat was raised about 3" and I added a backrest to be able to ride it for more than an hour. I tried sitting on many other bikes back then, including Harleys but they all were to small. Harleys are a maintenance nightmare too.
    Two years ago I stopped by a motorcycle dealership to get an oil filter for my Nomad. They had a used KLR-650 on a show floor. I sat on it and fell in love. It was the most comfortable bike I ever sat on. Bought a new one last year and absolutely love riding it. My cruiser is sitting lonely in the garage as it only gets used when my wife wants to go for a ride. KLR is just too small for both of us.

    P.S. Check out some used Yamaha Royal Star or a Voyager. They have decent leg room and lot's of power when compared to other cruisers. My friend owned a Royal Star once. He put over 120,000 miles on it with zero maintenance issues. He sold it on favor of a new Harley and now he knows all the dealership mechanics by name as his bike spends a lot of time in there. The engine was already replaced once while it was on warranty.
    #15
  16. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    493
    Location:
    Charles Town, WV
    And you base this on ... the other numb nutz on the forum that have never owned a Harley but somehow know all about them?

    Modern Harley's are no more unreliable than any other bikes. Frankly, the other bikes I've owned have cost me more than any of my Harley's.
    #16
  17. Mattbastard

    Mattbastard Lazy ass

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,226
    Location:
    Sheboygan
    Size-wise, get the Heritage.

    Regarding the era, I'd look for a 2000 or newer. You'll get the counterbalanced twin cam engine rather than the unbalanced Evo.
    #17
  18. Ericson38

    Ericson38 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    14
    Location:
    Virginia Countryside
    I rented a 2010 Heritage softail and a 2010 RK classic (one day rentals). The softail may look better and be more comfortable at the stop light seeing as it is low to the ground and the 96B engine has no real vibration at idle. But, once moving over 20 mph, the 96A engine in the RK (rubber mounted) was as smooth, and at 70 mph the RK had no buzz at all, unlike the 96B engine. The RK handled better, and without the counterbalancers, the engine had less mechanical noise coming from under the tank. I would have put softail bars on the RK though, if I had one. Try them both first.
    #18
  19. Smopho

    Smopho Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    163
    Location:
    Central TX
    It's not a big jump in terms of handling the bike. But, there are more comfortable models for those over 6'. The Touring chassis bikes, especially the Road Glide works superb for taller folks, as does the Dyna Wide Glide. I think you'll find the Heritage a bit cramped.
    #19
  20. Gyprat

    Gyprat Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Oddometer:
    16
    Location:
    Near Charlotte, NC
    I once considered buying a full dressed Harley and did a lot of research on them. Many of my friends own them. I rode many Harleys too. Lets not turn this into another Harley bashing thread. OP is looking for a bike to fit a tall rider. Being tall is a major handicap. I'm 6'3".All Harleys and most jap bikes I looked at had very little leg room and very low seats. BMWs were the worst in that respect.
    #20