The changes made in the 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail line were so numerous we couldn’t fit them in one article! To read about the hows and whys of the changes, check out “Harley-Davidson Introduces All New 2018 Softail Line.” This article is strictly an adjunct to that text which is intended to let you know what happened to each individual member of the completely revamped Softail line. Strap on your helmet; this is gonna be quite a ride.

Fat Boy

Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy

Is it possible to recreate an icon? Harley sure thinks so. For 2018, the Fat Boy gets even beefier with a 160mm front tire, the widest ever fit to a H-D production model. Above it, wrapped in satin chrome, is a shapely headlight nacelle, teleported directly from 1950s TV screens. Like all the Softails, the Fat Boy carries the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine standard, but for more beef, riders can step up to the optional 114 cubic inch version. With all the big changes in the Fat Boy, it still managed a 31-pound weight reduction compared to 2017.

Heritage Classic

Harley-Davidson Softail Heritage Classic

If you like your vintage 1950s styling with a modern flavor, you’re gonna like the changes ladled upon the 2018 Heritage Classic. Starting up front with a new detachable windscreen, the touring amenities also feature rigid, lockable, water-resistant, and removable saddlebags. The taller suspension offers increased passenger and cargo payload capacity. ABS and cruise control are standard. Harley still managed to shave off a whopping 32 lbs. from the 2017 Heritage. A Milwaukee-Eight 114 is available as an option.

Low Rider

Harley-Davidson Softail Low Rider

Perhaps 1970s-style choppers are more your speed. The Low Rider’s Milwaukee-Eight exhales through a 2-into–2 shotgun style exhaust, while the cast 19-inch front and 16-inch rear “Radiate” wheels assist in cornering performance that is much improved over last year. Don’t forget to take a gander at the retro dual tank with built-in speedometer and tachometer.

Softail Slim

Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

Post-war-era bobbers were all about stripping away the non-essential elements. For 2018, the Softail Slim was shorn of 35 pounds! However, Harley didn’t skimp on styling. The Slim still sports a narrow rear end, a trimmed front fender, a solo seat, and minimal chrome. Like all the new Softails, the Slim received new LED lighting in the form of a nacelle that integrates with the covered front fork.


Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe

If you like your cruiser dripping with chrome, the Deluxe fits the bill with brightwork from stem to stern. The signature LED headlight is complemented by LED running lights featuring integrated LED turn signals. The all-LED lighting is filled out in the rear with a Tombstone taillight and turn signals. The Deluxe’s performance is updated, thanks to the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine and the new, more capable Softail chassis. ABS is standard.


Harley-Davidson Softail Breakout

The Breakout may be about dragster attitude, but for 2018, it includes actual cornering clearance. With the Milwaukee-Eight 107 or the optional 114 providing the motivation, the 21-inch front wheel and the 18-inch 240mm rear bring the strip to the street. To highlight the importance of the Breakout to Harley-Davidson, it receives a bespoke, signature Daymaker headlight with swooping modern lines. Atop the handlebar riser, flush-mount LED instrumentation provide all the information a rider needs without cluttering up the lines of the front end. ABS is standard.

Fat Bob

Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Bob

Looking like something straight-out of an action-adventure movie, the Fat Bob delivers the most performance of any of the new Softails. The Milwaukee-Eight 107 and beefy optional 114 bellow through the two-into-one-into-two performance exhaust system. The bespoke Softail chassis with 28° rake and the longer-travel suspension give the Fat Bob its cornering chops – to the tune of more than 30° of lean angle on both sides. The inverted fork holds a 150mm front tire. Out back a 180mm tire completes the look with its matching blocky, adventure-inspired tread pattern. The LED Daymaker headlight is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from Harley. All this and a 33-pound weight savings over last year’s model.

Street Bob

Harley-Davidson Softail Street Bob

The Street Bob gives you only what you need for an elemental ride with the fists in the wind. New for 2018 is the smooth 3.5-gallon tank that helps to show off the beauty of the Milwaukee-Eight’s top end. Spoked wheels are framed with chopped fenders. The clean minimalist style receives the virtually invisible low-profile riser-mounted LED digital instruments. The Street Bob lost 17 lbs. in the transition to the new model year but retains the lowest MSRP in the Softail line.

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  • Ulysses Araujo

    Harleys aren’t usually my thing, but that Fat Boy surely looks great. Is that a non ventilated disk in the front wheel?

    • Born to Ride

      Solid wheel, Disk is on the other side.

  • Junker

    Hmm… Don’t know what to say. I’m glad they’re trying, but…just don’t know.

    So they killed the Dyna, and everyone who swore it was the best but never bought a new one can claim they wouldn’t have this abomination and get down to their Milwaukee’s Best guzzling in earnest. No need to save now, and dangit they were just about to buy. Will need new aspiration to lie about at bar, but will still require a push start on that 80-something that won all those awards at that custom show that time with the one-of-a-kind paint job and all. A guy offered him 40k for it, but he laughed in that motherfucker’s face. happened just like that.

    Ahem, now that’s out of my system. Some of these do look nice, and there are some decent improvements. But, you know, at the end of the day it looks like they just primarily raised the pegs making a bad seating position even worse, but hey at least the lean angle is only awful now, right? Taking 25 pounds off a 450 lb bike would be okay, but doesn’t seem like much of an effort on a 700 pounder. Consider Kawasaki took, what, 60 off the little Ninja 650 last year??? Getting rid of the under-ass oiltank was nice, but are we giving points on that in 2018? Seriously? Engine is awesome, they say; compared to the last one, that is. New frame! Hope it’s good since it will be in service until about 2040.

    I’m holding out hope that the Sporters will actually be interesting…but if HD can’t escape the feet forward, ass on the wheel thing then they seem doomed to me.

    Any of these would be cool to cruise around, but I can’t imagine the long-term use case.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      They haven’t been doomed yet, only in your imagination.

      • Junker

        Those, what, 3 years of declining sales are not imaginary.

        Don’t misunderstand me, though. I’m over 50. I actually like several of these, and perhaps they are a step in the right direction for the buyers they need for their future. I just suspect it’s not enough. I think they need a paradigm shift, but you’re right that that is just my opinion.

        • Buzz

          Declining sales are across all brands in the motorcycle world.

          I’m 53 and don’t ride as much as I used to.

          The pajama boy ANTIFAs have no job and 100 grand in student loan debt paying off their gender studies degrees and can’t afford anything. Maybe that’s why they are so pissed off.

          • Junker

            All brands? Don’t tell Triumph and Ducati, just to name a couple. And that’s only in the US

          • Most of the numbers Ducati and Triumph have posted are inflated by the shuffle of putting bikes on dealers’ showroom floors and dealers ‘punching’ bikes to take advantage of factory cash. The ‘punched’ bikes are still in inventory and were just marked as sold to the factory for quarterly reports.

            Nobody in the business is “up”, this is a record bad tears across the boards.

            And yes, millennials have neither the income nor the credit to buy most new bikes. Plus there is an aversion to risk for the bubble wrapped generation

          • Junker

            There’s a little dealer here that told me about the credit thing. He said he has no shortage of young people wanting to buy, but they fail at the loan stage. And then if they made it past that, they would fail at the insurance stage since they choose almost exclusively the sportiest bikes.

            The US may need a tiered licensing, so these young people can get a reasonable bike with no shame, since they “had” to do it.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            August 22: Motorcycle Sales Slump in Japan. Bike sales in the Japanese domestic market are plummeting.

          • Larry Kahn

            You mad bro? Maybe you should ride more..

          • Lee

            He’s not mad. It’s what happens to Rump supporters. No time to ride, has to attend Rump rallies.

          • Born to Ride

            In what way does being in opposition to militant extremism make you a Trump supporter? In what way does pointing out the idiocy in spending 100 grand on an unmarketable education make you a far right sympathizer? That’s as if saying “Nazi’s are bad” automatically makes you a social justice warrior. This fallacy in the interpretation of ideology is why our country looks like a dumpster fire to the international community.

          • Lee

            Antifa isn’t militant extremism. White supremacists are militant extremism. You’re just repeating Rump’s fake news. Good for you. Carry on. I can see it now, any day now America will be great again.

          • Born to Ride

            When you show up armed to protest a legally organized demonstration, you have become the textbook definition of militant extremism. Go watch hours of goPro footage on both sides of the conflict and you will see exactly what I see, unbridled stupidity and bigotry. Am I saying that I think Antifa is on the same level as the KKK and Neo-Nazis? Well, no. They don’t have the grand and storied history of violence and murder in the name of their hate like the good ol boys, but they are going to get there right quick.

          • Lee

            Probably the antifas are more pissed off at white supremacists chanting “Kill the Jews,” regardless of their college major or debt level. They’re joblessness might have more to do with a shrinking middle class. I’m sure you voted for the Cheeto in Chief so he’ll fix the plight of the middle class and make America great again so you have nothing to worry about, young people will soon be swimming in money and buying motorcycles again.

        • Lee

          If they buy Ducati they get an instant paradigm shift with no development costs.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            They don’t want a paradigm shift. They don’t want to be Ducati. They want to stay Harley Davidson.

          • Lee

            Guess you didn’t get the memo. Harley sales are declining because their demographics are aging out and dying off and younger people don’t want their bikes. Harley wants Ducati’s customers. They don’t want to stay Harley into bankruptcy. Where do you get your data from? Let me know.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            There is no memo. It is just a urban myth. Harley is not going to make sport bikes. It is going to make its own bikes. It is not going to lose its identity or heritage. Harley designs for the look, feel and sound, not just for the performance. They sold more than a quarter million bikes last year so they are nowhere near bankruptcy, at least not in our lifetime.

    • TheMarvelous1310

      Did you seriously just compare a Softail with a Ninja 650?! Come on, man! You’re a better fisherman than you are a critic.

      They still make the Street Bob, Low Rider, and Fat Bob, the three most important and popular Dynas, only now they’re on a platform that’s stiffer than anything elastomer mounted could be yet just as smooth. The Dyna looked cool, yeah, but the performance was the important part, and now it’s in the Softail.

      • Junker

        Ha, I think it was obvious I wasn’t comparing bikes. I was unimpressed by 25 lb off a 700 lb bike.

        • TheMarvelous1310

          Weight isn’t really a factor to a Harley buyer, in fact he might pass another bike up because it’s too light. It makes no sense, I know, but the weight adds to the feeling of substance, of solidity, that Harley sells itself on. Either that or bragging rights-A wheelie means a LOT more on a Harley than it does on, say, a Hayabusa! That kind of thing.

  • Don Orton

    Nope. Still looking for a photo of the left side of the new models. Nothing here. For all I know, the primary cover could be made of pre-stressed balsa wood and resin-covered Kleenex – chromed, of course. The Low Rider now looks like a Vulcan 900, BTW.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    I would love to get the Breakout but it would be hard to keep CHP off my back.

  • I think the Fat Boy is maybe the best looking non board-track Harley I’ve seen in, well, ever.

    • Buzz

      I have to agree. I’ve never been a Fat Boy fan but that thing looks the business.

  • Dana Pellerin

    So the V-Rod is history? I don’t see it in the new 2018 lineup on the HD website.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Harley is moving on.

  • Buzz

    Awe man. No Wide Glide?

  • Tim M Simmons

    Disappointed, not to knock other brands, but they look like a Japanese attempt to do a Harley knockoff. Hopefully they are better built then previous years. Looking forward to seeing the touring models.

    • Larry Kahn

      I’ve had a chance over the last 10-12 years to ride the various cruisers and each successive year the metrics felt more like the Harleys and the Harleys more like the metrics. Means something on a grander level but I’m not sure what.

      • Tim M Simmons

        I loved my 2009 Ultra, but something was always going out… I got rid of it and went back to my trusted 2005 Road King Classic when it’s warranty ran out. People don’t buy a new bike without the warranty.

    • spiff

      Breakout looks very Yamaha.

  • Bmwclay

    Just as long as they keep the Dyna S. And add the Milwaukee eight engine to it.

  • Peter c

    The Fat Bob almost has a scrambler look about it.

  • Craig Hoffman

    The Fat Bob looks bad ass. I actually like it, and that is remarkable, as I usually go ho-hum when it comes to Harleys.

    Wondering if HD will eventually sprinkle some 4 valve love into the Sportster line?

  • Marc

    Fat Bob is a cool looking bike but I wish they left off the feet forward pegs on that one. It looks like a street fighter but with cruiser pegs. Shame. Just added rear sets to my roadster.

  • rick

    I think it was a mistake to get rid of the v-rod, they should of added the needed sixth gear, made it more of a sport bike to compete in the street fighter genre,that would have shook things up for the better.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      It would always have feet forward controls which sport bike riders don’t like. Seat height of only 27.8″ makes it hard to put mid or rear sets. Also not enough lean angle.

  • Green Mellow

    Two Brothers Racing have already fabbed a prototype replacement for the Fat Bob’s stock exhaust. I wonder how much lighter it is than the original.

    Making of:

    Sound clip:

    • Cmon

      Doesn’t matter how much lighter it is, that’s like flicking a fly off a hippos back. Not gonna notice a pound off a Harley or 50 pounds for that matter. Why does that tractor only have two wheels?