Traditionally Harley Davidson’s were very much a male status symbol. However, times have changed and there are many female riders choosing a Harley as their ride, joining Harley Owners Groups and going on group rides – which is awesome.
This article uncovers the Best Harley Davidson motorcycles for women riders and what to consider before getting a Harley.
What are the Best Harley Davidson’s for Women?
Ultimately, the best Harley Davidson for any woman is the one that she is the most comfortable on. Comfort creates confidence and confidence creates an enjoyable ride. With that in mind, the best Harley’s for women have a low centre of gravity, low seat height, and lighter weight than some other models in their range.
Harley has 6 categories that their model line up is split into:
- Adventure Touring
After considering the entire range of categories and the models that have since been discontinued (but are available on the used market), these are the 9 Harley’s that are best for women riders:
- Street 750
- Sportster 883 Superlow
- Street Bob
- Softail Slim
- Low Rider S
- Road Glide
- Pan America
Before we get into details of each ride, let’s answer some frequently asked questions regarding women riders and Harley’s.
What’s The Best Harley for Short Girls?
The Harley Davidson 883 Superlow is a great choice for shorter riders. It compromises on nothing and gives the added benefit of a super low seat height. The Superlow was offered with a touring package such as saddlebags and a windshield.
It was marketed as a smaller version of Harley’s touring range and was aimed at ladies. The Sportster has been in production for 64 years, it has been involved in every possible aspect of motorcycling, from the racetrack to touring.
It’s a really good solid bike and despite some women being put off by the Sportster getting a reputation for being a ‘girl’s bike’ we stand by the Sportster as one of the best bikes that Harley Davidson ever made. The modification options for the Sportster range are also one of the widest so you can easily turn your bike into a completely original design. For example, here are some epic Harley headlights that are sure to turn heads no matter where you go.
What’s the Best Harley for a Female Beginner?
The Street 750 would be a really good choice for a female beginner wanting a Harley Davidson as their first bike. It was made as an entry-level model for the Harley brand, built for ease of use with Harley’s smallest capacity engine, low seat height, neutral ergonomics and lightweight. Check out this post where we’ve covered the best beginner Harley motorcycles (WIP).
The Street 750 range was discontinued in 2020, so a used model can be picked up cheaply for around $3,000 which is a perfect price point for a first timer.
Which Models are the Easiest to Ride for Women?
This question isn’t the easiest to answer as it really comes down to the riders experience. We have selected models from all of Harley’s range and tried to cater for all riders. As a general rule, the easiest Harley to ride for Women would be those in the Cruiser category.
Cruisers are built to be laid back, comfortable, and not too aggressive. The Softail Slim is a model that ticks all these boxes.
What to Consider Before Getting a Harley?
Comfort is important when riding any motorcycle, and is often overlooked in the decision process when deliberating a new purchase. If you are comfortable, confidence increases and you are not distracted by little things that worry you in the back of your mind. e.g. not being able to flat foot the bike at stop lights. You might be able to solve this problem with a nice set of matching Harley Davidson boots or a set of motorcycle boots for ladies.
Some questions you should ask yourself are:
- Is the seating position comfortable?
- Are your stretching for the handlebars or footpegs?
- Are you too cramped?
- Do you feel in control?
- Does the bike feel too heavy?
- Are you confident to maneuver at slow speeds or push it around the driveway?
Riding schools traditionally teach you to ride on bikes like the Suzuki SV650 because of the comfortable and neutral ergonomics, upright seating position that instills confidence and gives plenty of room for movement, and great visibility.
Most Harley’s are very different to a Suzuki SV650 ergonomically, so it’s important you are just as comfortable in the different riding position, especially if you are a new rider.
There are no 2 ways about it, Harley Davidson Motorcycles are heavy. Even the smallest displacement Street 750 weighs in at 514lbs, which is over 100lbs heavier than Yamaha’s MT-07.
It isn’t all bad though – as a general rule, Harley’s Street and Cruiser lines carry their weight down low and when moving the weight is manageable, some would even say no longer noticeable.
The problem lies in slow speed maneuvers such as turning round in a car park, or a slow u-turn, and when moving the bike around the garage or driveway.
You will want to be conscious of this when purchasing your Harley and make sure that you can manage the weight. It can make quite a difference for riders moving to the Harley brand from Naked bikes or Sportsbikes.
Another factor to consider is that Harley’s aren’t Sports Bikes. They might have huge displacement engines but they won’t handle like the Kawasaki Z1000.
Some Harley models have mid mounted footpegs and others have forward controls, the new Street Bob has a pretty aggressive riding stance while the Softail Slim is much more relaxed.
Harley is catering to every rider now more than ever. If you want to make the move to electric, the Livewire is waiting. Fancy some adventure touring? The Pan America is ready to roll.
There is a big difference in power and engine displacement between the whole Harley range. Where this is most relevant is for new riders. There are hundreds of controversial debates that take place about power and new riders, often you will read or hear things like:
“Don’t go less than 600cc”
“1000cc is way too much for a first bike”
“Why even bother with a 350cc?”
The best thing to do is take all of this with a pinch of salt and focus on what is going to work for you. The 1,868cc Low Rider S might prove too much for a novice and the torque might make you feel like you’re trying to tame a wild stallion.
On the other hand the Street 750cc might prove far too listless and lacking for a taller heavy set rider, which can cause fatigue from struggling up the hilly landscape or long journeys.
Confidence, Comfort and Respect for the machine you choose is far more relevant than the engine capacity. Understand your limits and riding ability.
New vs Used
Harley Davidsons are capable of lasting a really long time when looked after. An average Sportster engine lifespan is 80,000 miles before it might need some work or parts replaced. Even then, with a bit of TLC it’s good to go again. Sportsters are also great value for money and often you can find a bike that is 2 or 3 years old with just 5,000 miles, for $3,000 below the current price.
Best value for money Harley Davidson
New model prices based on Harley Davidson’s website (2021), and used prices give an average from reviewing the used market on the discontinued models. Weight is based on bike ready to ride.
|Model||Price (At time of writing)||Seat Height||Weight||Engine Size||Top Speed|
|Street 750||$3,000 – $7,599||25.7”||514lbs||750cc||98mph|
|Sportster 883 Superlow||$3,500 – $6,500||26.7”||568lbs||883c||104mph|
|Low Rider S||$17,999||26.5”||679lbs||1,868cc||120mph|
These 9 models have been carefully selected as some of the Best Harley’s for women based on a variety of reasons, let’s take a look:
The Street 750 was discontinued along with the Street Rod (which shared the same engine) in 2020. It was built as an entry-level motorcycle into the Harley Davidson brand as a way to attract new riders and a younger demographic.
For new riders that want a Harley Davidson motorcycle the Street 750 is a solid choice and on the used market you could pick one up for as little as $3,500. Harley riding schools were actually teaching riders on the Street 750 and Sportster 883.
It’s a good choice for shorter ladies and new riders. It’s a relatively low powered engine, has an upright seating position, is low to the ground and built to instill confidence in the rider.
Sportster 883 Superlow
The 883 Superlow was also recently discontinued from the line-up. The Superlow is the stand out model from Harley’s Sportster range for Women riders as its name suggests it’s super low. The seat height sits at 26.7” and it’s one of the lightest Harley models.
The weight is carried low, so the centre of balance is pretty good, The styling was particularly targeted at female riders with bright paint schemes and chrome plating which made it stand out against other Sportsters such as the Iron 883 which is mostly blacked out.
To be honest, any of Harley’s Sportsters are going to be a pretty good choice for Women looking to buy a Harley. Being the lightest models, even the smallest rider should be able to manage a Sportster. They have been in production since 1957 so they carry the Harley heritage through every pop of the engine.
100lbs heavier and 1,000cc bigger engine capacity than the 883cc Sportsters, the Street Bob is a popular choice for riders moving up the Harley line-up. The new 2021 model has a super low seat height of just over 25”, which is great for riders moving from the Street or Sportsters model as it helps to compensate for the extra weight.
The Street Bob is a good choice for females who want a ‘Big’ Harley but don’t want to deal with the extra weight that comes with one. The power is there, the aggressive riding stance is there, the 2021 paint schemes are pretty awesome, and it gives that big Harley vibe without actually feeling like one.
We picked two of Harley’s Cruisers, the Softail Slim and the Low Rider S, the reason being they are 2 different styles of Cruiser that will equally suit two different types of rider.
The Softail Slim is a traditionally styled bike, harking back to the 1950’s, it still has a low seat height and relaxed riding position. The bike is perfect for ladies looking for a traditional laid back cruiser.
Low Rider S
The Low Rider S has more power than the Softail Slim and is styled in the more modern blacked out, aggressive styling, it’s like the big brother of the Street Bob.
Still relatively lightweight compared to other cruisers in the line up and a reasonably low seat height, the bike lends itself to many lady riders, but it gives them an option of a sportier Harley – one that can cruise but also take your breath away with a flick of the throttle. It’s a solid choice for ladies moving from Sportsbikes.
Plucked out of the range of Touring models that Harley has to offer. The Road Glide offers all the comforts of a big fully faired touring bike, while being the lightest, and having the lowest seat height.
For ladies looking for a big tourer, the Road Glide is a really good option, the bike is very well balanced which inspires great confidence when moving at slow speeds and the low seat height ensures control when stationary as even the shortest riders should be able to flat foot the bike.
As one of the leading electric motorcycles on the market, it would have been rude to leave Harley’s electric offering off the table as a viable option. The main selling point for all riders here will be the fact it’s an electric motorcycle, so it’s definitely a good option for those ladies who are looking to make that move.
The Freewheeler is one of three of Harley’s trikes. It’s the lightest option, but also it’s just a really good trike. Picked for this list based on its build for solo riders, it isn’t as big as the other options and is super comfortable for a short trip to the local food spot, or can be fully loaded for long tours.
The Pan America is Harley’s first real foray into the Adventure motorcycle world. It makes the list for female riders because it’s actually lighter than the BMW GS1250 (one of the biggest competitors in the field) and has a lower seat height.
More ladies are going on big adventure tours across the country or even round the World. It’s too early to say anything much about the durability of a Pan America on such a trip, however, from reviews and test riders, it does seem like a capable machine.
The lighter weight and lower seat height might make it a really good option for ladies ready to take on a big adventure as even a few pounds makes a bike like this easier to move around.
There you have it – a comprehensive guide of which Harley’s we think are best for women riders. There are lots of things to consider when buying a Harley and hopefully this guide will help you make the right decision.
The overriding point to take away is go for the Harley that most inspires your confidence whether that’s the new Pan America or the Street 750, pick the one you will most enjoy crunching down the miles as they all share the same iconic Harley Davidson badge and heritage.