anyone who buys a harley and thinks they are the ultimate in motorcycling will be sadly dissapointed . i have owned harleys for over 25 years and they cannot compare with jap reliabilty in anyway , but having said that they have something that a jap could never have and that is true soul.
the bike i ride at present is a 1997 springer softail with the evo motor. this bike has toured some 17 countries and all over the uk , had a bottom end rebuild at 55000 and now getting a top end rebuild at 100000 miles . you really do have to keep on top of them making sure that after every ride they are cleaned otherwise they will soon start to look shabby.
the motors are good for around 70000 miles then they need work but a harley will go on for ever so long as they are given fresh oil evey 4000 miles . the belt drive is good and needs changing at 60000 miles having said that i have never had one break on me in over 200000 miles .
the brakes are woeful with only a single front disc stopping over 600 lbs of motorcycle, but as will all harleys they can be upgraded (at a cost).the ride i would describe as interesting if ridden hard and things will touch down with ease, the front end takes a little getting used. the rear suspenion is fine and i am still running the original shocks.
gearbox is best described as clunky but i have never had any problems with it.
to sum up there is a lot of bull written about harleys my view would be if you like retro dont mind working on the bike and cleaning then a harley is fine ,they look good they hold thier price as long as the miles are kept down (but if you dont ride them i dont see the point).
a harley is unlike any other motorcycle ,the japs will never be able to produce what harleys have and even for all thier faults i would never sell my springer .so find a nice one clean and cherish it and keep it for ever just dont get sucked into the harley bull