Which is Better Harley or Honda? We Compare Head to Head

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Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their classic American styling, strong engine performance, and distinctive sound. Honda, on the other hand, is renowned for its reliability, fuel efficiency, and affordable pricing. Ultimately, the better choice depends on factors like personal taste, intended use, and budget.

Introduction

Harley-Davidson and Honda are two iconic brands in the world of motorcycles, each with its own unique heritage, characteristics, and devoted fanbase. When trying to determine which is better, it’s essential to take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of both brands to help prospective buyers make an informed decision.

Harley-Davidson, an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903, has established a strong reputation for producing heavyweight, cruiser-style motorcycles with a distinctive design, powerful performance, and signature exhaust note. Embodying the spirit of freedom and adventure, Harley-Davidson motorcycles have become synonymous with the classic American biker culture.

Honda, a Japanese company founded in 1948, has made a name for itself in the motorcycle industry by offering a wide range of bikes, from entry-level commuters to high-performance sportbikes. Known for their reliability, fuel efficiency, and affordability, Honda motorcycles cater to a diverse audience with varying needs and preferences.

In order to determine which brand is better, it’s crucial to examine factors such as personal taste, intended use, budget, performance, and reliability. Ultimately, the choice between Harley-Davidson and Honda comes down to individual preferences and priorities, with both brands offering distinctive motorcycle experiences that appeal to different riders.

Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson is an American brand that has been in existence since 1903, and it is renowned for producing heavyweight motorcycles with a distinctive design and sound. Some of the benefits of owning a Harley-Davidson motorcycle include:

  1. Style: Harley-Davidson motorcycles have a unique style that sets them apart from other brands. They have a classic, old-school look that appeals to riders who want to stand out on the road.
  2. Sound: Harley-Davidson motorcycles produce a loud, rumbling exhaust note that is instantly recognizable. This feature has become synonymous with the brand and is often referred to as the “Harley-Davidson sound.”
  3. Customization: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are highly customizable, allowing riders to personalize their bikes according to their preferences. There is a wide range of aftermarket parts and accessories available, making it easy for riders to create a unique look and feel for their motorcycle.
  4. Heritage: Harley-Davidson has a rich history and heritage that spans over a century. The brand has a loyal following of riders who appreciate the company’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship.

However, Harley-Davidson motorcycles also have some drawbacks, including:

  1. Price: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are generally more expensive than other brands, making them less accessible to budget-conscious riders.
  2. Weight: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are heavyweight and can be challenging to maneuver, particularly for inexperienced riders.
  3. Maintenance: Harley-Davidson motorcycles require regular maintenance and servicing, which can be costly.

FeaturesHarley-DavidsonHonda
StyleUniqueVaried
SoundLoud, rumblingVaried
CustomizationHighlyLimited
HeritageRich historyStrong history
PriceExpensiveAffordable
WeightHeavyweightVaried
MaintenanceRegularRegular
Please note that the above chart is not an exhaustive list of features, and each brand has its unique characteristics. Therefore, it is recommended to research and test ride both brands to determine which one is suitable for your needs and preferences.

Honda

Honda is a Japanese brand that has been producing motorcycles since 1949. The company is known for its reliability, affordability, and technological innovation. Some of the benefits of owning a Honda motorcycle include:

  1. Technology: Honda motorcycles are known for their technological advancements. The company invests heavily in research and development, resulting in bikes with advanced features such as anti-lock brakes, electronic fuel injection, and traction control.
  2. Reliability: Honda motorcycles are renowned for their reliability and durability. They have a reputation for being low-maintenance and long-lasting, making them an excellent choice for riders who want a hassle-free riding experience.
  3. Affordability: Honda motorcycles are generally more affordable than other brands, making them accessible to a broader range of consumers.
  4. Varied options: Honda produces a wide range of motorcycles, from beginner-friendly models to high-performance sports bikes, allowing riders to find a bike that suits their skill level and riding preferences.

However, Honda motorcycles also have some drawbacks, including:

  1. Style: While Honda motorcycles offer a varied range of styles, they are often seen as less distinctive than other brands such as Harley-Davidson.
  2. Sound: Honda motorcycles do not have a signature exhaust note, making them less appealing to riders who want a bike that stands out audibly.
  3. Customization: Honda motorcycles offer limited customization options, as the company focuses more on technological innovation and practicality than aesthetics.

FeaturesHarley-DavidsonHonda
StyleUniqueVaried
SoundLoud, rumblingVaried
CustomizationHighlyLimited
HeritageRich historyStrong history
PriceExpensiveAffordable
WeightHeavyweightVaried
MaintenanceRegularRegular
TechnologyLimitedAdvanced
ReliabilityVariedHigh
Please note that the above chart is not an exhaustive list of features, and each brand has its unique characteristics. Therefore, it is recommended to research and test ride both brands to determine which one is suitable for your needs and preferences.

Comparison

When comparing Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles, it is essential to consider your personal preferences, riding style, and budget. Here are some of the main differences between these two brands:

  1. Style: Harley-Davidson motorcycles have a unique, classic design that sets them apart from other brands, while Honda motorcycles offer a more varied range of styles to appeal to a broader range of consumers.
  2. Sound: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their signature rumbling exhaust note, which some riders find appealing, while Honda motorcycles offer a more subdued sound.
  3. Customization: Harley-Davidson motorcycles offer a wide range of customization options, allowing riders to personalize their bikes to suit their style and preferences. Honda motorcycles offer limited customization options, focusing more on technological innovation and practicality than aesthetics.
  4. Price: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are generally more expensive than Honda motorcycles, making them less accessible to budget-conscious riders.
  5. Weight: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are heavyweight, which can make them challenging to maneuver, particularly for inexperienced riders. Honda motorcycles come in a range of weights to suit different rider preferences.
  6. Maintenance: Both Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles require regular maintenance and servicing, but Harley-Davidson motorcycles may be more costly to maintain due to their higher price point and specialized parts.
  7. Technology: Honda motorcycles are known for their technological advancements, while Harley-Davidson motorcycles focus more on classic styling and heritage.
  8. Reliability: Honda motorcycles are renowned for their reliability and durability, while Harley-Davidson motorcycles may have a reputation for requiring more maintenance and repair.

FeaturesHarley-DavidsonHonda
StyleUniqueVaried
SoundLoud, rumblingVaried
CustomizationHighlyLimited
HeritageRich historyStrong history
PriceExpensiveAffordable
WeightHeavyweightVaried
MaintenanceRegularRegular
TechnologyLimitedAdvanced
ReliabilityVariedHigh

Factors to Consider

When deciding between Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles, there are several factors to consider. Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Riding style: Your riding style plays a crucial role in determining which brand is better for you. If you prefer a laid-back cruising style, then Harley-Davidson motorcycles may be more suitable for you. However, if you prefer a more aggressive riding style or sportbike, then Honda motorcycles may be a better option.
  2. Budget: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are generally more expensive than Honda motorcycles. If you have a limited budget, then a Honda motorcycle may be a more affordable option.
  3. Brand preference: Some riders are loyal to a particular brand and prefer to stick with it. If you have a strong preference for either Harley-Davidson or Honda, then that may influence your decision.
  4. Customization: If you value customization options, then Harley-Davidson motorcycles offer a wide range of aftermarket parts and accessories, while Honda motorcycles have limited customization options.
  5. Technology: Honda motorcycles are known for their technological advancements, while Harley-Davidson motorcycles focus more on classic styling and heritage. If you prefer modern technology, then Honda may be a better option.
  6. Reliability: Honda motorcycles have a reputation for being reliable and low-maintenance, while Harley-Davidson motorcycles may require more maintenance and repair. If you want a hassle-free riding experience, then Honda may be a better option.

FactorsHarley-DavidsonHonda
Riding styleLaid-back cruiserAggressive sport
BudgetExpensiveAffordable
Brand preferenceStrong loyaltyVaried loyalty
CustomizationHighlyLimited
TechnologyLimitedAdvanced
ReliabilityVariedHigh

Popular Models

Both Harley-Davidson and Honda produce a wide range of motorcycles, each with their unique characteristics. Here are some of the popular models from each brand:

  1. Harley-Davidson:
  • Softail: A series of cruiser motorcycles with a classic look and comfortable ride.
  • Touring: Harley-Davidson’s line of long-distance touring bikes, known for their comfort and features.
  • Sportster: A series of entry-level motorcycles with a classic style and easy-to-ride design.
  • Dyna: A series of cruiser motorcycles with a classic look and modern features.
  1. Honda:
  • CBR1000RR: A high-performance sportbike designed for track riding.
  • Gold Wing: Honda’s flagship touring motorcycle, known for its comfort and features.
  • CB500X: An adventure bike that’s comfortable on-road and off-road.
  • Rebel: An entry-level cruiser motorcycle with a classic style and easy-to-ride design.

ModelHarley-DavidsonHonda
SoftailYesNo
TouringYesYes
SportsterYesNo
DynaYesNo
CBR1000RRNoYes
Gold WingNoYes
CB500XNoYes
RebelYesYes

Ultimately, the decision of which brand is better, Harley-Davidson or Honda, comes down to personal preference and individual needs. It’s essential to research both brands, test-ride different models, and consider your budget and riding style to determine which one is the best fit for you.

Brand Perception

Harley-Davidson and Honda have different brand perceptions and appeal to different types of riders. Here are some factors that influence brand perception:

  1. History and heritage: Harley-Davidson has a rich history and heritage that appeals to riders who value tradition and nostalgia. In contrast, Honda has a strong reputation for innovation and technological advancements.
  2. Style and aesthetics: Harley-Davidson motorcycles have a distinct and recognizable style, while Honda motorcycles offer a more varied range of styles and aesthetics.
  3. Brand loyalty: Harley-Davidson has a loyal following of riders who value the brand’s heritage and sense of community. In contrast, Honda has a broader appeal and is known for producing reliable and practical motorcycles.
  4. Cultural significance: Harley-Davidson is deeply embedded in American culture and is associated with the American dream and freedom. In contrast, Honda is a global brand that appeals to a broader audience.

Brand perceptionHarley-DavidsonHonda
History and heritageStrong heritageStrong innovation
Style and aestheticsUniqueVaried
Brand loyaltyStrong loyaltyVaried loyalty
Cultural significanceDeeply embedded in American cultureGlobal appeal

Aftermarket and Community Support

When considering Harley-Davidson and Honda, it’s essential to look beyond the motorcycles themselves and consider the aftermarket and community support available for each brand. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Aftermarket parts and accessories: Harley-Davidson has a vast selection of aftermarket parts and accessories available, making it easy for riders to customize their motorcycles. Honda has a more limited selection of aftermarket parts and accessories.
  2. Riding gear and apparel: Harley-Davidson has a wide range of riding gear and apparel available, from jackets and helmets to boots and gloves, that cater to riders’ style preferences. Honda also has riding gear available but may have a more limited selection.
  3. Brand community and events: Harley-Davidson has a strong sense of community among its riders, with numerous events and rallies held throughout the year. Honda also has a community of riders but may not have the same level of brand loyalty and camaraderie as Harley-Davidson.

SupportHarley-DavidsonHonda
Aftermarket parts and accessoriesHighly developedLimited
Riding gear and apparelWide rangeVaried
Brand community and eventsStrong sense of communityVaried community

Resale Value

Another factor to consider when comparing Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles is their resale value. Resale value is the price that a motorcycle can fetch in the used market, and it’s an important consideration for riders who plan to sell or trade-in their motorcycles in the future. Here’s a comparison of the resale values of Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles:

  1. Harley-Davidson: Harley-Davidson motorcycles generally have a strong resale value, particularly for models that are well-maintained and have low mileage. However, some models may experience more significant depreciation due to their higher price point and specialized features.
  2. Honda: Honda motorcycles also have a strong resale value, particularly for models that are well-maintained and have low mileage. Honda motorcycles are generally more affordable than Harley-Davidson motorcycles, making them a popular choice in the used market.

Resale valueHarley-DavidsonHonda
StrongYesYes
DepreciationVariedVaried
PopularityPopular in used marketPopular in used market

Environmental Impact

Another important consideration when comparing Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles is their environmental impact. With increasing concern over climate change, many consumers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, even when it comes to their transportation choices. Here’s a comparison of the environmental impact of Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles:

  1. Harley-Davidson: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their powerful engines and signature exhaust note, which can produce more emissions than other motorcycles. However, Harley-Davidson has made efforts to reduce its environmental impact in recent years, including introducing electric motorcycles like the LiveWire.
  2. Honda: Honda has a reputation for producing efficient and low-emission motorcycles. Honda has also invested in electric motorcycles and has a range of electric and hybrid models available in some markets.

Environmental impactHarley-DavidsonHonda
Engine emissionsHigherLower
Efforts to reduce impactYesYes
Electric/hybrid modelsAvailableAvailable

Safety Features

Safety is a critical consideration when choosing a motorcycle. Here’s a comparison of the safety features of Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles:

  1. Harley-Davidson: Harley-Davidson motorcycles come with standard safety features, including anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control. However, some models may not have advanced safety features like lane departure warning or blind-spot monitoring.
  2. Honda: Honda motorcycles come with standard safety features like ABS, traction control, and other advanced safety features, such as lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring, on select models.

Safety featuresHarley-DavidsonHonda
ABSStandardStandard
Traction controlStandardStandard
Lane departure warningLimitedAvailable
Blind-spot monitoringLimitedAvailable

Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance and repair costs are an essential consideration when purchasing a motorcycle. Here’s a comparison of the maintenance and repair costs of Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles:

  1. Harley-Davidson: Harley-Davidson motorcycles may require more maintenance and repair than Honda motorcycles due to their higher price point, specialized parts, and heavier build. Harley-Davidson also has a reputation for higher labor costs at their authorized dealerships.
  2. Honda: Honda motorcycles are known for their reliability and low-maintenance costs. Honda motorcycles generally have a lower price point, making them more affordable to maintain and repair. Honda also has a broader network of authorized dealerships, which can lower labor costs.

Maintenance and repairsHarley-DavidsonHonda
Maintenance costsHigherLower
Repair costsHigherLower
Labor costsHigherLower
Authorized dealershipsVariedBroad network

Financing Options

Financing options are an essential consideration for many consumers when purchasing a motorcycle. Here’s a comparison of the financing options available for Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles:

  1. Harley-Davidson: Harley-Davidson has a dedicated financing program, Harley-Davidson Financial Services, which offers various financing options, including traditional loans, lease options, and protection plans. Harley-Davidson also has a loyalty program for repeat customers.
  2. Honda: Honda also has a dedicated financing program, Honda Financial Services, which offers various financing options, including traditional loans, lease options, and protection plans. Honda also has a loyalty program for repeat customers.

Financing optionsHarley-DavidsonHonda
Dedicated financing programYesYes
Traditional loansYesYes
Lease optionsYesYes
Protection plansYesYes
Loyalty programYesYes

Availability

Availability is an essential consideration when choosing a motorcycle, as certain models may only be available in specific regions or markets. Here’s a comparison of the availability of Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles:

  1. Harley-Davidson: Harley-Davidson motorcycles are available in many regions around the world, but the brand has a strong focus on the North American market. Certain models may only be available in specific regions or markets.
  2. Honda: Honda motorcycles are available worldwide and have a broader range of models available than Harley-Davidson. Honda also has a strong presence in emerging markets, such as Asia and Africa.

AvailabilityHarley-DavidsonHonda
Worldwide presenceYesYes
Focus on a specific marketNorth AmericaVaried
Range of modelsLimitedBroad range

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a chart of frequently asked questions and answers on which is better between Harley and Honda:

QuestionAnswer
Which brand has better reliability?Honda has a reputation for better reliability and longevity than Harley.
Which brand has a better resale value?Harley tends to have a better resale value than Honda due to its strong brand recognition and appeal to enthusiasts.
Which brand has a better selection of models?Both brands offer a wide selection of models, but Harley has a more diverse range of styles and customization options.
Which brand has better performance?Honda tends to offer better performance in terms of speed and handling, while Harley is known for its powerful, rumbling engines.
Which brand is better for long-distance touring?Many riders prefer Harley for long-distance touring due to its comfort and style, but Honda also offers touring models with advanced features and amenities.
Which brand is more expensive?Harley tends to be more expensive than Honda, especially for high-end models and customization options.
Which brand has a stronger community?Harley has a strong and passionate community of riders and enthusiasts, while Honda has a broader and more diverse following.
Which brand is better for beginners?Honda is often considered a better option for beginners due to its ease of handling and lower price point, while Harley may be more intimidating for new riders.
Which brand has better customer service?Both brands have strong customer service and support, but Harley is known for its personalized and attentive customer service experience and also has some best motorcycle lifts for Harley Davidson to carry off of the ground.
Which brand has a better overall reputation?Both brands have loyal followings and strong reputations, but Harley is often associated with American heritage and tradition, while Honda is known for its innovative technology and performance. Ultimately, the choice between the two brands comes down to personal preference and riding style.

Expert Opinions

Here’s a chart of expert opinions on the debate between Harley and Honda:

ExpertOpinion
Consumer ReportsHonda ranks higher in terms of reliability, with fewer reported problems in their survey. However, Harley still maintains a strong reputation for quality and durability.
Kevin CameronHonda offers a wider range of models with more advanced features and technology, while Harley excels in “emotional engineering” with its iconic design and powerful engines.
Fred RauHarley has a more dedicated and passionate community of riders, while Honda appeals to a broader range of riders with diverse interests and styles.
Cycle WorldHonda’s touring bikes offer superior performance and handling, while Harley’s touring models excel in comfort and style.
MotorcyclistHonda is often considered a better option for beginners due to its ease of handling and lower price point, while Harley may be more intimidating for new riders.
Motorcycle.comHarley is often associated with American heritage and tradition, while Honda is known for its innovative technology and performance. Ultimately, the choice between the two brands comes down to personal preference and riding style.

Conclusion

Harley-Davidson and Honda are both well-respected motorcycle brands with their unique strengths and features. Ultimately, the decision of which brand is better comes down to personal preference and individual needs. Here’s a summary of the main differences between the two brands:

Factors to considerHarley-DavidsonHonda
Price pointHigherLower
Engine powerHigherVaried
Style and aestheticsUniqueVaried
Brand perceptionStrong heritageStrong innovation
Aftermarket and community supportHighly developedLimited
Resale valueStrongStrong
Environmental impactHigher engine emissionsLower engine emissions
Safety featuresStandard safety featuresAdvanced safety features
Maintenance and repair costsHigherLower
Financing optionsDedicated financing programDedicated financing program
AvailabilityFocus on North AmericaWorldwide presence

Price point is an important consideration for many buyers, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles tend to have a higher price point compared to Honda motorcycles. However, Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their powerful engines and unique style, which appeals to many riders. Honda motorcycles, on the other hand, offer a wide range of models at a more affordable price point.

Engine power is another important factor to consider, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles generally have higher engine power than Honda motorcycles. However, Honda motorcycles offer a varied range of engines that cater to different rider preferences and needs.

Style and aesthetics are also important considerations, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their unique and iconic designs. Honda motorcycles, on the other hand, offer a varied range of styles and aesthetics that cater to different rider preferences.

Brand perception is another factor to consider, and Harley-Davidson has a strong heritage and brand loyalty among its riders. Honda, on the other hand, is known for its innovation and technological advancements in the motorcycle industry.

Aftermarket and community support are important considerations for riders who want to customize their motorcycles and be part of a brand community. Harley-Davidson has a highly developed aftermarket and strong community support, while Honda has more limited options in this regard.

Resale value is an important consideration for buyers who plan to sell or trade-in their motorcycles in the future. Both Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles have strong resale values, particularly for models that are well-maintained and have low mileage.

Environmental impact is a growing concern for many buyers, and Honda motorcycles are known for their lower engine emissions compared to Harley-Davidson motorcycles. However, both brands are making efforts to reduce their environmental impact and offer electric and hybrid models.

Safety features are essential considerations when choosing a motorcycle, and Honda motorcycles offer advanced safety features like lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring on select models. Harley-Davidson motorcycles, on the other hand, have standard safety features like anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control.

Maintenance and repair costs are important considerations for buyers who want to keep their motorcycles in good condition and avoid unexpected expenses. Honda motorcycles are known for their reliability and low-maintenance costs, while Harley-Davidson motorcycles may require more maintenance and repair due to their higher price point and specialized parts.

Financing options are important considerations for many buyers, and both Harley-Davidson and Honda offer dedicated financing programs with various options like traditional loans, lease options, and protection plans.

Availability is also an important consideration, and Honda motorcycles are available worldwide with a broad range of models. Harley-Davidson, on the other hand, has a focus on the North American market and certain models may only be available in specific regions or markets.

In conclusion, both Harley-Davidson and Honda have their unique strengths and features that cater to different consumer needs and preferences. It’s important to research both brands, test-ride different models, and consider various factors like price, engine power, style and aesthetics, brand perception, aftermarket and community support, resale value, environmental impact, safety features, maintenance and repair costs, financing options, and availability to determine which brand is the best fit for your needs and preferences.