Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tale of Two Wide Glides

Well, I've decided that Harley's Wide Glide model is my first choice, so the hunt is now on full swing. My first try at one ended in failure (read my last post) and soured me on dealers a bit, so, after taking a break, I decided to look at private seller bikes. I saw a 1999 Wide Glide on my local Craigslist, and a 2002 Wide Glide for sale in Massachusetts (the '02 was being listed on both Craigslist and eBay).

After a flurry of emails and phone calls, I managed to coordinate the schedules of three parties - not an easy task. I can't thank my CMA brother Roland Caron enough for offering his time and resources to help me look at Harleys. The plan yesterday (Tuesday) was for me to stop at Roland's house, then the two of us would go look at the '99 bike (which happened to be less than five miles from his house), and then go look at the '02 bike in Massachusetts.

But the guy with the '99 WG called me a few hours before our appointment and said he just sold it. I wasn't disappointed, because the '99 (and some 2000) Harley twin cam engines had issues with cam bearing failures. This bike had fairly low miles (about 15K), but the seller (who is not the original owner) didn't know if the bearings had ever been replaced. I would have felt like I was riding a time bomb ... I'm avoiding 1999 and 2000 model years, unless I found one at an extremely low price. But this bike had sold, so it was a moot point.

Roland and I drove over an hour to Massachusetts to see the other bike. We plugged the seller's address into Roland's GPS. Even with the aid of satellite navigation, we had trouble finding the house, since it was dark and it was in the boonies. The seller was not much help with navigation, since there were so few landmarks, but, after some aggravation, we found the house.

After nearly breaking my neck sliding down a snow and ice-covered hill in his back yard, I saw the bike, crammed into a shed next to another (metric) bike. It was so cramped in the shed that we had to do the limbo to inspect the bike. It was very clean, with low mileage and no leaks or evidence of damage. Although the seller had warmed up the engine prior to our arrival, Roland said the engine sounded good.

The ever-helpful Roland even brought his helmet and coveralls in case the seller allowed a test ride (it was around 15 degrees that night - what a trooper!). But with the snow and ice on the roads, a test ride was obviously out of the question. Still, Roland gave the bike a thumbs-up.

Since the bike passed muster, the next issue was price; the asking price was $7,900. The eBay listing said the bike's price had been reduced twice. Seeing that most bids on similar motorcycles on eBay only go as high as $5,000-$6,000, it was doubtful it would sell this time either.

I would have been satisfied to get the bike for an even $7,000, but was reluctant to offer more on a bike I couldn't test ride and had no warranty, so that's what I offered. The seller did not actually own the bike; he was selling it for his friend, so he called his friend and left a message for him. This morning, the seller sent me an email saying his friend would not accept $7,000.

"He will drop to $7,750," he wrote. "It will fetch that in the spring no problem."

I emailed him back telling him he might as well wait until spring, since I was not willing to increase my offer.

So, I'm back to square one again ... as much as I love riding motorcycles, I sure hate shopping for them.


  1. I hear ya. But that's the right attitude. The bike you want is out there at a price you like. Just need to be patient and not get your hopes up on any one particular machine.

  2. I commend you on your choice of models. I love my Wide Glide. The right bike will present itself when the time is right. Be patient.

  3. It's true that patience is a virtue ... my problem is that it's a virtue I don't always possess, especially when it comes to motorcycles.