Dos and Donts of Buying Aftermarket Harley Davidson Parts

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Do's and Don'ts of Buying Aftermarket Harley Davidson Parts

There are several joys associated with motorcycle ownership. Between the thrill of the open road and the amazing opportunities to customise one's bike through the addition of aftermarket parts, most motorcycle riders are constantly busy. And, amongst the most passionate of these riders are those who own Harley Davidsons, the 'King' of the motorcycle world. Owning a Harley, as they are commonly called, situates a rider amongst the most passionate and dedicated of bikers and instills in him or her a real sense of obligation to care for and protect the bike.

There are several ways in which bikers care for their Harleys which range from routine maintenance to complicated and expensive personalisation. To accomplish this, many Harley owners turn to aftermarket Harley Davidson parts.. However, buying aftermarket Harley Davidson parts is not as simple as walking into a nearby parts store and browsing the shelves. Both the motorcycle world and the aftermarket parts environment are very specific and exact. Therefore, important do's and don'ts should be adhered to when one is interested in buying aftermarket Harley Davidson parts.

Do Know What Aftermarket Means

One of the most important elements in properly buying aftermarket Harley Davidson parts is first understanding what that term actually means in regards to the parts that one needs. Therefore, it is important to begin by reviewing two key terms: aftermarket, and its opposite Original Equipment Manufacturer, or OEM.

Defining Aftermarket

Also known as a secondary market or replacement market, an aftermarket is a buying market which offers spare parts, supplies, accessories, and/or second-hand equipment and services that are subsequently used for the repair and maintenance of an original good; in this case Harley Davidson motorcycles..

In the automotive sector, aftermarkets are extremely popular and take on a specific meaning within this realm. That is, aftermarket parts for cars and motorcycles specifically refer to those parts which are not made by the original manufacturer of the car or motorcycle. They are placed in direct contrast to the OEM. For the most part, those within the automotive and motorcycle world who are looking for aftermarket parts as such do so for the express purpose of enhancing the performance of their original vehicles beyond the manufacturer's specifications. However, the purchase of aftermarket car and motorcycle parts can also be used in rebuilding, repairs after accidents, and general maintenance as well.

Defining OEM

On the flip side, OEM parts are those offered for sale by the original manufacturer of a vehicle and/or an agent authorised by that manufacturer to sell parts. An example of such an agent is a dealership which sells OEM parts direct from the manufacturer either at a physical location or online.

Fine Print and OEM

Unlike aftermarket parts, OEM Harley Davidson parts are commonly used by car and motorcycle owners who need to repair damage to their vehicle rather than those looking to enhance performance of an otherwise operational unit. Because of this, there is a tendency among non-OEM auto parts dealers to prominently display 'OEM' on their packaging and product descriptions.

However, a closer look reveals that, in fine print, the manufacturer adds something to the effect of 'meets OEM standards' which really translates to 'aftermarket modelled after OEM'. The dangers of this claim are that, in many cases, auto and motorcycle manufacturers hold their specifications very close and it is impossible for many outside agencies to know exactly what the manufacturer does to create a part.

Don't Make Price the Only Factor

One of the reasons that Harley owners look for aftermarket rather than OEM parts has to do with their prices, either real or perceived. However, there is something to be said about the value of parts that come directly from the manufacturer, especially when that manufacturer is one as revered as Harley Davidson. Therefore, it is important to consider the type of part that is needed and the pros and cons of buying it aftermarket vs. going directly to Harley itself.

Buying Essential Parts

The instance when buying parts manufactured by Harley Davidson is most important is when those parts are essential to the performance of the bike. Although there is a rich secondary market on motorcycle parts, anything that has to do with the engine, for example, is best manufactured by Harley Davidson itself and should be fixed only by an experienced motorcycle mechanic.

This does not mean that buyers need to go directly to Harley Davidson or even to an in-person Harley dealer to acquire a part though. It simply means that the part itself should be manufactured by the Harley Davidson company and, either new or used, sold by someone authorised to sell those parts thereby ensuring its viability and safety. The only exception to this rule is when the part in question is from a vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle and therefore no longer made new by the company and/or is rare to find.

Buying 'Swag'

The other type of parts that many Harley Davidson owners tend to buy can most accurately be categorised as 'swag', or otherwise nonessential. 'Swag' parts are not necessarily just about looks, many times they replace parts that are needed for proper operation of the bike, such as wheels and tyres. 'Swag' parts include everything from updated seats to custom lighting and chrome finishes. They generally enhance to look of the motorcycle as well as its performance. These parts are made by a variety of manufacturers all of which offer options that go above and beyond the parts made by Harley Davidson itself. 'Swag' parts are the best ones to buy aftermarket and come with many different options in terms of looks, quality, and price.

Do Research the Common Parts Purchased

Depending on the purpose for buying aftermarket Harley Davidson parts, a quick review of the most common parts purchased and why they are used is helpful. The table below is merely a sampling and meant to help buyers get a basic idea of what is out there and why it might be of benefit to them.

Name of Parts

Reasons Purchased

Handlebars and Foot Rests

Replacement handlebars can be added for comfort as well as look; likewise, footrests can be expanded or contracted into mere foot pegs to personalise a bike according to its rider's preferences


Broken lights are an easy fix and custom lighting systems add a dynamic flare to a bike, especially when done in different colours

Seats and Seat Covers

Used to increase both comfort on long rides and the overall look of a bike in a simple, inexpensive way


Either alone or along with wheels/rims, new tyres can change both the performance and look of a Harley Davidson

Wheels and Rims

As above, noting that larger wheels and those made of chrome are an especially popular aesthetic upgrade

Again, this list is only a sampling of common aftermarket Harley Davidson parts purchased. Obviously, everything from engines to valves and filters also fit this bill, however they are far more needs-based and likely better bought direct from Harley Davidson or one of its authorised dealers.

Buying Aftermarket Harley Davidson Parts on eBay

Buying aftermarket Harley Davidson parts on eBay is a great way to save time and money in the purchasing process. However, there are a few key strategies that buyers should employ in order to get the best results from their search and eliminate time wasted on the site.

Begin by registering for an eBay account.. This makes the purchase process more simple since one's information, including billing info via PayPal,, is already set into the system. Next, begin the search process. A general search bar is located at the top of every eBay page which suffices for initial results.

For a more exact set of results, it is best to be as specific as possible in the search terms used. Therefore, be prepared to enter the model and year of the Harley Davidson motorcycle which needs parts. For the most targeted responses, entering the part's serial number is one's best bet. However, this option is really only open to those looking for replacement parts, not those looking for additional items such as enhanced seats or lighting.


Harley Davidson owners are part of an exclusive club of motorcycle enthusiasts who are equally dedicated to riding and servicing their bikes. Whether the goal is to rebuild an old bike, fix one that has had an accident, or merely enhance an already working model, aftermarket Harley Davidson parts are a great option. However, buyers need to be aware of specific do's and don'ts surrounding the purchase of those products before they commit to buy.

The first 'do' involves understanding the term aftermarket in the first place, and where it sits in contrast to its opposite, OEM or original equipment manufacturer parts. Next, 'don't' use price as the only factor in determining which parts to buy. Knowing when aftermarket parts are the most appropriate choice is very important. The final 'do' involves researching specific options before searching for the parts one wants. There are several great aftermarket parts available and each provides specific benefits.

Finally, buying aftermarket Harley Davidson parts on eBay is a great way to achieve one's goal of fixing or enhancing a Harley Davidson motorcycle, while also saving time and money. eBay is a great site that, when used properly, delivers targeted search results that allow buyers to find exactly what they need, fast.

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