It's been a long time since I have had to shop for a motorcycle, but now that I am there, I thought I would share with you some of the challenges one faces.

On my trusty old Street Glide
Now I am in a unique situation compared to many. Firstly, it's riding season and as a reporter I need to be out there, getting the stories, the videos and the interviews. I have a week to find a bike and get things wrapped up with insurance so I can afford the bike I need.

My needs are specific. Tour Pack, Hard Bags and comfort for the long haul.

I need a bike with reasonably low mileage, as I am a high mile rider and I need warranty that is really decent because I can't afford to be down long when crap happens.

I also don't have deep pockets contrary to the thoughts of many. Because of the Sturgis North Lawsuit for defamation that I am fighting, I have to watch EVERY PENNY I spend and from here on in that is going to become even more so, to ensure I can pay a lawyer to prove my innocence.

What I get from insurance and every bit of my overdraft is what it will take to get me into a ride that has what I need. I have no delusions about getting the ride I want - that just isn't happening on my budget.

I am not a brand snob. I loved my Street Glide, but I have been looking at Victory's, BMW Sport Touring bikes, and Harley's. I ruled out most imports like Ducati and Aprilia and sadly even the BMW simply because of where I live and the lack of services available on those brands.
I considered Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki, but they just don't appeal to me at all and all for a variety of reasons. There are some limitations to those brands that are deal breakers for me.

I want to stick to brands that can be serviced where I live not 5 hours away like in Edmonton.
My husband is well versed on HD's so I wouldn't have to always go to Edmonton for my service work if I bought an HD, but I am leaning toward a Victory as Gaudin's Honda sells them and I have a good relationship with Alan, the owner.

BUT, it also comes down to what I can afford to spend.

The way I see it right now, after all of my investigations, it is a duke it out comest between the Victory Cross Country Tour and The Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and a few private sale Street Glides I have found.

I have spoken to over 30 dealers from the BC coast to Ontario and even a couple of American ones.
I have spent countless hours on Kijiji, Autotrader , etc., researching prices , etc., and speaking to different owners.

What I have experienced in this process, that is far from over, has left me wondering what in the HE DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS has happened to customer service and the art of sales and negotiation.

In my searching, I first decided to call every dealer that is connected to our newspaper and the Rider Friendly Business Association. I started with the H-D shops because I did so love my Street Glide and hoped to find a good used one. Not happening right now at least, a new one starts at $28,000+ and there are very few used ones around and when they can be found they average $24,999 before taxes etc.  Way out of my budget. The Street Glide is the most popular touring bike Harley makes!

Everyone of the RFBA dealers I takes to has been helpful, although only a few have had any kind of used inventory to discuss.

I called a central Alberta dealer, the salesman never even asked my name, just did his best to sell me on a 2014 Project Rushmore Street Glide.  Only $14,000 out of my price range.

I called two southern Alberta dealers, one was attentive and sympathetic but really had no used inventory to discuss and was diplomatic enough NOT to bring up the new bikes and financing.

The other tried to put me on a Slim, not taking into consideration any of my physical needs and never asked for my name.

I called north central dealers and one didn't have the time of day for me based on the dollar amount I had to spend and the other has gone above and beyond in trying to aid me.

I did not give my local dealer a call but I did check out their used inventory on line.
There was nothing there for me.

I tried 7 BC dealers, one was just straight up front that they had nothing on the floor for used inventory, another who didn't ask my name tried to put me into a Slim and then told me that the dollars I had wouldn't put me into anything close to what I want. He actually inferred that I wanted too much for the money I have - well maybe so, but I will keep looking thanks...

Three others have bent over backwards trying to find something they could put me in and are looking at options for me and one didn't even have the decency to call me back.

Of the three who are working with me, one admitted that the 2010 Ultra with 4,000 KM's on it is the best deal for me and that he couldn't come close to touching it unless I wanted a custom painted Ultra which is not very practical for a gal who seldom has time to wash her own bike, I'd destroy the $10K paint job on it in a year.

I spoke to three dealers in Ontario and only one has really listened and is doing their best to see what they can do for me with numbers.

So far in the HD department I have l bike that is really close to my budget (About $1,400 out of my reach), and two I don't have numbers on yet, I should have them today.

In the Victory Department, I spoke to several dealers and the problem there is a total lack of used inventory and I cannot really afford the new non current bikes either, they are all $5-6,000 out of my budget range.

Now for the questions I have asked about the bikes I have been looking at and some of the comments from some of the sales people...

Here is how I started pretty much every conversation unless I KNEW the sales person on the other end of the line.

Hi there (salespersons name if they gave it), I am looking for a used touring bike.
I need a motorcycle with a tour pack and hard bags. I would like a bike that either has or can have extended warranty on it. I ride a lot, average 20,000 K per year,  and would like to find something with lower KM's on it and preferably (in the case of the H-D's) 2010 or newer so I am on the new frame style.

Q: What kind of mileage is on the bike?
A: I'm not sure, but it's an immaculate bike, blue and silver in colour.

Q: Does it have a tour pack?
A: No it doesn't

Q: What does the warranty cover?
A: Oh, you know, everything the manufacturer's doesn't and more.

These were the craziest of the answers I got to some of my questions.

And why is it every salesperson save two asked me what colour I wanted first instead of talking about the equipment I need. I don't care what colour it is, I don't ride the colour.

For people who are so desperate to sell you something, why is it they don't try to build a relationship with you?  I couldn't believe how many people never asked my name - that BLEW me away!

I am NOT BRAND LOYAL but I could be dealership loyal, if people care to earn my business.
Just because I don't have a lot to spend now doesn't mean that someday soon I won't. So far three dealerships are trying really hard to earn my business. 3 out of 30 and then these dealers wonder WHY so many people go south of the border to buy.

My business is one that is supported solely by advertisers and I never get a chance to do much in the way of sales calls because of admin time, writing, editing etc and the charitable work we do here at Belt Drive Betty Media.  I start training two sales people this weekend so that this business can grow and do more.  As it grows, I can see my way clear to buying the bike of my dreams, but for now, they are all out of my reach - this is truly a hunt for the bike I need, not the one I want.

On the private sale end of things there have been a few interesting machines out there but the owners don't seem to be willing to budge on prices and they want all the money for their machines and then some.

It's riding season and so I am going to pay a premium price for any used bike if I want to ride and do my job this season.

I will fill you in on this epic hunt as it blossoms into a new to me ride.

If you are blessed enough to be riding today, please remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and cannot see you, and please consider dressing for the slide, not the ride.

Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider

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  1. Betty, noticed a poster in the North side Safeway for a 1600 Vulcan. Has hard bags, but no trunk. I think it had a windshield, too. Not an ideal ride, but looked like a quick, easy way to get back on wheels.

  2. I did manage to find a bike Darryl - thank you for keeping your eyes peeled though!