Harley-Davidson redesigns its Softail family from the ground up
After debuting in Harley-Davidson's Touring models last year, the new Milwaukee Eight motor will now make its way to the 2018 Softails, too. The eight models that make up this popular model family also benefit from a new frame and suspension, making for what the company calls a custom revolution.
The Softail family holds the middle ground between the entry-level Street and Sportster motorcycles, and the high-end Touring motorcycles. The 2018 Softail lineup has undergone a sweeping redesign that practically leaves only the names unchanged.
Harley-Davidson built the new Softails around its new fuel-injected V-twin motor, the Milwaukee Eight. It will be available in two versions measuring 107 and 114 c.i. (1,746 and 1,868 cc) in capacity, but the bigger engine option will only be available for the Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Breakout and Fat Bob models.
The powertrain is housed in a brand new steel frame which, compared to the 2017 version, is 34 percent stiffer, and is complemented with two new swingarm designs depending on the width of the rear tire. The 2018 chassis offers an overall weight reduction from 15 to 20 percent, depending on which swingarm is fitted on the motorcycle.
Another feature directly transferred from the 2017 Touring models is Harley-Davidson's dual-bending valve front suspension system. At the rear, all Softails are equipped with a new emulsion-type mono shock unit, hidden under the seat to preserve the classic hardtail look. The preload adjustment method of the rear suspension is model-dependent, with a classic spanner wrench accessible under the seat for Softail Slim, Street Bob and Low Rider, an external knob adjuster for Fat Boy, Fat Bob and Breakout, while the Deluxe and Heritage Classic models go for an underseat socket adjuster.
The new Softail range also receives an infusion of fresh tech that includes LED Daymaker headlamps, new instrumentation, keyless ignition and USB charging ports mounted on the steering head.