5 Of The Most Affordable Harley-Davidson Motorcycles For New Riders

For many motorcycle enthusiasts, a Harley-Davidson is something to aspire to, and rightly so. Set up over 100 years ago, the brand ushered in a revolution in motorcycle culture and quickly grew to become a symbol of individuality, adventure, and freedom. Although motorcycles from the brand have gained legendary status among riders in the United States and abroad, the fact remains that Harley-Davidson bikes are often associated with higher price tags. 

This can, unfortunately, often put off new riders who might be on a more stringent budget. However, beyond some of the best Harley-Davidson models that come to mind when you think of the brand, the company has, in fact, time and again launched motorcycles that are more accessible, making them perfect for new riders. While some of these budget offerings are part of Harley-Davidson's 2024 lineup, others are best sourced from the used market, where they continue to offer excellent value. Let's explore some of the affordable offerings from Harley-Davidson below.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883

If you're looking for an entry-level cruiser, the Harley-Davidson Iron 883, which is part of the Sportster series, is a good bet. Compared to many other cruisers, it has a no-nonsense appeal with its stripped-down, minimalist aesthetic. The hallmark features of this motorcycle, including the low-slung seat, mid-mounted footpegs, and the five-speed transmission that offers adequately smooth shifting, make it an excellent choice for new riders looking for a bike that's powerful but still easy to ride. Another appealing feature of the Iron 883 is that it's painted matte black with several blacked-out components, giving it a tough, rugged appearance.

The motorcycle features a distinct peanut tank, which is a nod to the classic Harley-Davidson models of the past. While this is a nostalgic touch, keep in mind that this results in a smaller fuel capacity, which might mean frequent stops at the gas station if you're planning a long ride. Another thing to note is that the Harley-Davidson Iron 883, for all its urban appeal and new-rider-friendly features, is not the fastest motorcycle. Despite these minor limitations, a largely positive Cycle World review notes that this "starter Harley" can "be a highly entertaining ride around town." The review also states that this motorcycle can make a great project bike. If you are looking to purchase a pre-owned Iron 883, you can expect to pay anywhere between $6,000 and $11,000, based on the year of manufacture, specifications, and the overall condition of the motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson Street 500

The Harley-Davidson Street 500, which debuted in 2014, was the brand's first foray into sub-500cc motorcycles since the 1970s. Overtly, the Street 500 departs from the more traditional Harley-Davidson design aesthetic. This model features a 60-degree V-angle, as opposed to the traditional 45-degree layout, and a liquid-cooled engine instead of the air-cooled engine that Harley motorcycles are famously known for. These features, although a shift from the brand's design and engineering philosophy, were intentionally chosen to meet the needs of urban riders.

The motorcycle favors a more upright riding position, which new riders might find comfortable and more natural. Additionally, the controls are easy to spot and operate, the seat is comfortable, and the handling is nimble, making the Street 500 a great option for new motorcyclists. The short-travel suspension provides a fairly smooth ride in urban environments; it might not offer the best riding performance in rough terrain, but that's to be expected of an entry-level motorcycle.

Having said this, some aspects of this motorcycle, like the plastic highlights, for instance, make it evident that this is a budget offering from the brand. Still, Cycle World's review notes that this motorcycle offers "a nonthreatening ride experience that new riders will genuinely appreciate." Given that this motorcycle is no longer in production, you'll need to purchase it used — expect to pay anywhere around the $5,000 mark, depending on the condition, upgrades, and model year of the motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T

An affordable offering in the touring motorcycle category, the Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow 1200T offers a comfortable riding experience, even to those who are new to the riding game. This model has seen an upgrade in its displacement (from 883cc to 1,200cc), which provides the necessary torque and acceleration for a touring bike. In terms of its appearance, there's no denying that the SuperLow 1200T is a good-looking motorcycle. In fact, RideApart's review notes that, "At a passing glance, one would be forgiven for thinking this model was a Big Twin, especially when the large 4.5-gallon gas tank dominates the upper half of the bike."

The motorcycle offers sufficient torque at low revs, but the power drops once you hit about 5,000 rpm. The bike's five-speed transmission offers smooth enough shifts, but those who are used to riding touring motorcycles might desire a six-speed. Still, despite weighing around 600 pounds, the motorcycle is fairly easy to ride and operate, and the braking system feels adequate for the bike's weight and power. If you're interested in purchasing this model, you can pick it up in the pre-owned market for between $5,000 and $10,000.

Harley-Davidson Nightster

If you want an affordable Harley-Davidson motorcycle and want to purchase it brand new, you can't do better than the 2024 Nightster. The motorcycle is designed with a liquid-cooled V-Twin engine, called the Revolution Max 975. The engine offers robust acceleration and delivers 72 ft-lb of torque at a relatively low RPM. Taking a nod from the chassis of the Sportster line, the Nightster has been designed with exposed dual rear shocks for better handling. Although it's a fairly basic motorcycle, it features magnesium covers, which are typically seen on more premium motorcycles. Its lightweight chassis reduces the overall weight of the motorcycle, making it a good option for new riders as well.

Although the motorcycle offers good value, a video review by RevZilla noted that the non-kickstand-showing side of the motorcycle looks significantly less attractive than the other side, thanks to the numerous wires, radiator fans, and chunks of hardware that are exposed. While this might detract some buyers, the fact is that the 2024 Nightster, which is priced at $11,999, is currently the most affordable offering from the brand. And despite the accessible price point, the Nightster offers a comfortable ride quality, which makes this bike worth considering if you're looking to purchase your first Harley.

Harley-Davidson Softail Standard

If a Bobber-style motorcycle appeals to you, the 2023 Softail Standard, with its stripped-down aesthetic and lightweight design, is an option worth considering. Currently available for $14,399, it's a fairly budget-friendly option. In line with this, SlashGear notes, "The Harley-Davidson Softail Standard is a rider's bike intended for those who admire the American hog aesthetic but don't wish to break the bank in achieving their dream."

The Softail Standard is designed with the brand's Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin engine that produces a powerful and familiar rumble that Harley fans are sure to recognize. The motorcycle has a classic Softail frame with clean lines and a classic look, making it a great pick if you find this timeless silhouette attractive. The low-slung seating, upright riding position it creates, and easy-reach bars are all factors that contribute toward making this motorcycle new-rider-friendly, especially if you're looking to do some touring or city cruising on it. 

Additionally, the mono-shock rear suspension provides ample stability and allows for dynamic cornering. Given that this motorcycle is pretty basic, it can also be a great project motorcycle. All you need to do is purchase the right parts and accessories to upgrade it to suit your exact needs and preferences.