How to buy a bike? With used bike sales on the rise thanks to Craigslist and Cycle Trader, surfing the web has become commonplace for 20 years. Overwhelmed by people, places, and things to the point of near mental paralysis? Want a bike to call your own that doesn't look like 20 other matchy-matchy machines at Alice's Restaurant, Rock Store, or Fuel Café? The Motor Company makes it easier than you think, and here's how to do it.

With nearly 1,500 Harley-Davidson dealers worldwide and Eaglerider rental facilities in 31 states, getting your butt on a bike to try before you buy takes away some of the investment anxiety. But the first and most entertaining step can be taken with the H-D 1 Bike Builder which allows you to choose a base model and customize a virtual bike in your pajamas in the comfort of your home without speaking to a bearded soul.

2018 Harley-Davidson Roadster
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Roadster.Gaz Boulanger

First, go to Harley’s website, then click on the “Build” icon in the orange icon bar at the bottom of the page. Choose the model that piques your interest. Here you’ll find “Options,” “Fit,” “Performance,” and “Style” to begin the process. Choose paint, seats, hand and foot controls, mirrors, exhaust and engine trim. Make sure to register to save your bike for future reference.

Roadster Rooster
Here’s my Roadster Rooster.Harley-Davidson Motor Co.

I ride nearly 30,000 miles annually and travel whenever I can convince my better half to pack up a few things and head for the mountains. Sometimes I like to roll solo, and my customization of the 2018 Roadster reflects my practical side with windshield and panniers. I saved this one as "Rooster" because it reminded me of Foghorn Leghorn. My custom version comes in at $15,243 from the $11,299 base price.

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114Gaz Boulanger

The Fat Bob 114 has more than enough aesthetic grunt to match its exhaust-note growl, but Jean loves the cut of its jib as much as I do, so I spec'd a double seat to go with the windshield to double our fun on jaunts down 101 to Pismo Beach. I saved this one as "Another Gray Bike" to match the other four in my garage. My custom version comes in at $21,188 from the $18,699 base price.

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Fat Bob Another Gray Bike
Here’s my Fat Bob Another Gray Bike.Harley-Davidson Motor Co.

Harley’s custom online process is clean and simple, and doesn’t seem to take much bandwidth to load. Prices and descriptions are clearly visible, with easy-to-use dealer locator, payment estimator, and print icons.

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod.Gaz Boulanger

My third choice was a Street Rod I named “Golden Apple,” which I spec’d to look like a Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, my second choice to a non-existent Evel Knievel stars-and-stripes option. My custom version comes in at $10,023 from the $8,699 base price.

Street Rod Golden Apple
Here’s my Street Rod Golden Apple.Harley-Davidson Motor Co.

Now that you’ve had your virtual fun, print off your selections, grab your riding gear and visit a local Harley dealer. If you’re not ready to buy, leave the custom spec sheets at home and just test ride the models on your short list. Once you’ve narrowed it down, rent that model from participating Harley dealers or choose one from an Eaglerider location and spend several days riding your favorite roads.

Based on my experience, a motorcycle is God’s natural antidepressant. Take it up a notch and pick something to enjoy for several thousand smiles.