So you’re looking to buy yourself a sweet Harley-Davidson, and the seller has told you that it’s worth a lot because it’s an Anniversary Edition or some other special edition like a Screamin’ Eagle or even a CVO. How can you tell for sure that the Harley-Davidson you’re looking at really is a special edition, and not just a fake?
Anyone can take a base level Harley-Davidson, put a couple $20 plastic badges on it, and tell you that it’s worth a couple thousand more than it should be. Jump in the Motorcycle Towing Toronto truck with me as I walk point out what to look for to make sure you don’t get ripped off.
Click the unmute button in the bottom left corner for audio.
What to look for?
1) Badges and trim pieces
Harley-Davidson isn’t a shy or quiet kind of company. If your Harley-Davidson is an Anniversary Edition, Special Edition, Screamin’ Eagle Edition, or CVO Edition, you’ll know it. You should be able to see at a quick glance some trim, a badge, or even just an inscription on the paint of the gas tank letting you know that this motorcycle is something special.
In the case of the 2003 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom in the video above, there’s evidence that it’s a 100th Anniversary Edition on the gas tank, the derby cover, the battery box, the air box cover, and more.
2) The paint itself will be different from the base models
Harley-Davidson makes sure their special products stand aside on the show room floor as much as they do out on the road. Their special edition models usually come with a slightly different paint job, not available on the other model trims.
It’s good to know that there may be more than one special paint job for a specific Harley-Davidson model in a given year. The year 2003 was Harley-Davidson’s 100th Anniversary, and the Anniversary Edition Sportsters came in two color options, both two tone with a striping in between the colors. The 2003 Sportster 1200 Custom Anniversary Edition in the video was silver with navy, and the 2003 Sportster Hugger XL883 Anniversary Edition was primarily navy with some silver or grey.
3) Just call up the dealer
The thing with trim pieces, badges, fenders and gas tanks, is that all of those can be bought and sold, or stolen, and put on a base model Harley-Davidson by a greasy seller. If you’re reading this far, you probably want to make sure that what you’re looking at really is an Anniversary Edition, Special Edition, Screamin’ Eagle, or CVO, so why not go one more step to really know for sure? After all, greed often drives sellers to lie about their vehicles in order to try get more money from buyers.
A lot of people out there will try to spend $50 on badges in order to try to sell their Harley-Davidson motorcycle for $500 or even $1,500 more than they might otherwise get for it, by pretending the bike is something it’s not. In order to really know for sure what you’re getting, there’s one thing you have to do: call the dealership.
Many Harley-Davidson riders seem to want nothing to do with their local Harley-Davidson dealership, even going so far as to call them the “stealership” – original, right? The truth is that whether or not your local Harley-Davidson dealership is good or bad, they’re still a valuable resource to you, and you don’t have to give them a penny for them to help you.
Here’s what to do:
- Get the VIN# of the motorcycle you’re looking at. You’ll find the VIN # on the frame’s down tube behind the front headlight by the right fork. The VIN # is like a finger print for your motorcycle. Every vehicle on the road has a unique VIN #, and you can use it to identify what kind of Harley-Davidson you have if you aren’t sure.
- Call up your local Harley-Davidson dealership and ask to speak to either the Parts or Service Department.
- Give them your VIN # and ask them whether or not the model in question is an anniversary edition.
There’s no charge for doing this, and most dealerships will be happy to be welcoming a new customer to the Harley-Davidson family.
Now you know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not your Harley-Davidson really is an Anniversary Edition, Special Edition, Screamin’ Eagle Edition, or even a CVO Edition, and how to tell if that’s the way it left from factory, or if someone is trying to fool you. It’s a scary world out there, buyer beware! If you have any questions about a motorcycle you’re trying to buy, even if it isn’t a Harley-Davidson, please leave a comment down below!
Recommended reading and viewing
Now that you’ve brought your Sportster home, you might also want to check out:
- How To Change the Oil on a Harley-Davidson Sportster (article + video)
- How To Change Sportster Handlebars (article + video)
- FAQ: How to Stage 1 Kit a Harley-Davidson Sportster (article)
QUESTION FOR THE COMMENTS SECTION: Have you ever encountered someone lying to you about a motorcycle they were trying to sell you? What happened?