When Harley-Davidson released its updated 2017 touring line with the new Milwaukee-Eight engine, it didn’t take any insider information to figure out that the new powerplant would eventually propel all of Harley’s Big Twins. Well, that time has arrived with the announcement of the Motor Company’s 2018 model lineup. While the engine upgrade itself isn’t much of a surprise, the way HD chose to craft an all-new Big Twin chassis around the Milwaukee-Eight is huge news. We’ll let Paul James, Manager, Product Portfolio for Harley-Davidson explain:

“In model year 2000, when Softails got the Twin Cam engine, the mantra was ‘We changed everything without changing a thing.’ Those bikes were all new and different, yet they cut the same style and look as the bikes they replaced. That was not the intent here. Our intent was to move this design language along.”

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Click the image to view the individual 2018 Softail models.

And design isn’t the only thing that changed. We’ll just get to the point and repeat the subhead of this article: “The Dyna and Softail lines, as you know them, no longer exist.” In fact, the Dyna line doesn’t exist in any form at all.

Pause and let that sink in for a minute.

Dyna lovers shouldn’t fear the loss of their favorite models, though. Each Dyna model still exists, only it’s been subsumed by the Softail line. Now, before you go jump on your beloved Dyna and ride off into the sunset, screaming about the heresy, leaving us with little more than the smell of tire smoke and a lingering vision of a raised middle finger over some dual shocks, read on. You might just find that what the artists and engineers at the Product Design Center (PDC) have done for the performance-minded Harley riders actually suits your tastes. Then, immediately go book a test ride.

Starting from (almost) scratch

With a company that values its history as much as Harley-Davidson does, nothing is ever designed from a truly clean sheet. That said, the changes required to merge the Milwaukee-Eight engine into the existing product line’s chassis provided a unique opportunity. The company could behave as it had done in the past by making the new bikes look like nothing had changed, or the designers and engineers could capitalize on the designs of the past as they look to the present and the future. This time, Harley chose the harder, riskier path, deciding to undertake the largest product-development project in the motor company’s history. Once the project was complete, eight new models plus four larger-displacement variants would be ready for the riding public.

The driving tenets of the Softail program were: incorporate the new powertrain into the chassis; improve the dynamic capability of the entire H-D cruiser line; deliver more comfort to the rider and passenger; and reduce the weight of each model.

Fitting the new engines into the frames while losing weight sounds pretty self-explanatory – if that is all you’re doing. Improving the line’s dynamic capabilities, however, requires comprehensive updates aimed specifically at handling, lean angle, and suspension capabilities. Similarly, rider/passenger comfort covers everything from engine heat to suspension compliance. There simply wasn’t one easy or clear path.

The Twin Cam 103 was replaced by the Milwaukee-Eight 107 with its new dual counterbalancers. An optional 114 cu. in. version is available in select Softail models. Which Harley claim produce 109 lb-ft and 119 lb-ft of torque, respectively.

The Twin Cam 103 was replaced by the Milwaukee-Eight 107 with its new dual counterbalancers. An optional 114 cu. in. version is available in select Softail models. Harley claims the engines produce 109 lb-ft and 119 lb-ft of torque, respectively.

Engine Changes

Although the Milwaukee-Eight engine has a purported 75% less vibration than the Twin Cam (as we noted in our 2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight Engines Tech Brief), the touring line that first received the engines uses rubber mounts, but that level of vibration would be too great for the frame-stiffening and rigid mounting planned for the Softail chassis. So, while the engine is largely the same, having the same rotating assembly, crankshaft, pistons, heads, etc., a second counterbalancer was added to the Milwaukee-Eight for Softail use. Now, twin counterbalancers mounted on each side of the crankshaft rotate in the opposite direction to the crank itself, quelling vibration.

2017 Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight Engines Tech Brief

Unlike some of the liquid-cooled M-E touring models, only oil/air cooling will be offered on the Softails. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the radiators of the Twin-Cooled engine reside in the touring bikes’ lowers – items that none of the Softails have. Instead, a well-hidden trapezoidal oil cooler takes up residence between the frame downtubes. Assisting in keeping the lines around the engine clean, the hoses feeding the cooler are routed so that they are virtually invisible from a distance.

Available in the Breakout, the Fat Bob, the Fat Boy, and the Heritage Classic, the Milwaukee-Eight 114 announces its presence with the oval Ventilator Intake.

Available in the Breakout, the Fat Bob, the Fat Boy, and the Heritage Classic, the Milwaukee-Eight 114 announces its presence with the oval Ventilator Intake.

Perhaps the biggest change to the Milwaukee-Eight is the switch to a wet-sump design which negates the need for an oil tank under the seat. This change yields several benefits. First, it moves a heat source and potential cause for rider discomfort down to the bottom of the engine. Locating all of the oil under the engine also lowers the bike’s center-of-gravity and helps with the handling goals. Finally, since much of the suspension is now under the seat, room was needed to house the battery and electronic components in the smaller space.

Behold the new Softail chassis and its rigid-mounted Milwaukee-Eight engine! Owners of Dynas and lesser Softails should quake with fear. (Note: The upper engine mount is not shown in this photo.)

Behold the new Softail chassis and its rigid-mounted Milwaukee-Eight engine! Owners of Dynas and lesser Softails should quake with fear. (Note: The upper engine mount is not shown in this photo.)

One platform to rule them all

The planning team at Harley-Davidson knew the Dyna and Softail lines attracted different kinds of customers. The Project Rushmore-developed research they conducted, where they literally went into riders’ homes and garages to talk motorcycle likes and dislikes, revealed that Dyna owners had “self-selected” themselves based on the differing performance attributes of the Dyna line.

“The way they rode their bikes was a little bit different from the average Softail customer,” noted James, meaning they valued better handling and more lean angle – you know, the dynamic capability that was one of the stated goals of the Softail project. Of the two platforms, the Softail was always the prettier one. Keeping this goal in mind, James stresses that the new platform was “marrying the best of both worlds: the best attributes of Dyna with the best attributes of Softtail in this platform.”

The 1950 FL that inspired much of the new Softail’s design.

The 1950 FL that inspired much of the new Softail’s design.

Throughout the design process, a 1950 FL stood as inspiration in the Harley-Davidson Styling and Design Studio.

“That motorcycle, in particular, really does show some of the bones that we were trying to capture with the development of the new Softail platform,” said Brad Richards, Vice President, Styling and Design. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t lose any of that original DNA…. We had to make sure we could deliver that esthetic.”

A close look at the new Softail shows how true to the bones of the hardtail frame the project is. Note the visible space between the cylinders and the frame in both the old and new motorcycles. Then, for a point of reference, look at a Twin Cam Softail.

Motorcyclists are well acquainted with how a solid-mounted engine helps increase a frame’s stiffness, but riders may be surprised to learn that it can also help with other tolerances, too. For example, a rubber-mounted engine will move around inside the frame it is mounted in, requiring more space to swing its elbows without bumping into things. A rigid engine allows for tighter margins.

How important is the new Softail to Harley-Davidson? For the first time since the PDC was opened in 1997, journalists were allowed into the Styling and Design Studio.

How important is the new Softail to Harley-Davidson? For the first time since the PDC was opened in 1997, journalists were allowed into the Styling and Design Studio.

“The way the motor is framed within the frame is really important,” Richards explained. “We didn’t want a lot of excess space around it with a lot of light coming through. We really wanted to make sure we had a tight composition between frame, motor, and componentry. So, the rigid-mount helped us do that.”

While the style of the chassis/engine combination was important, the primary factors affecting the new frame’s design were performance related. The redesigned Softail frame is 65% stiffer than the previous one, and if the stiffness is calculated from contact patch to contact patch, the resulting improvement is 35% – that’s after passing the forces through the steering head and the swingarm pivot. The new frame features 50% fewer parts and a 22% reduction in welds, making it easier to manufacture. The rear suspension loads are transferred from the single shock directly up the backbone of the carbon steel tubular frame, which eliminates any twisting or bending forces that would have required more complex (and heavier) gusseting. The new frame also gave the shock a longer stroke to handle its absorption duties by improving the wheel travel to shock stroke ratio by more than 70%.

In the end, the new Softail line chassis consists of three different frames, consisting of 28°, 30°, and 34° steering head angles. Additionally, one swingarm is used to accommodate a 240mm rear tire while another is used in all the other tire sizes.

When viewed from above, the new Showa shock is located below the seat instead of under the engine as with the previous generation Softail.

When viewed from above, the new Showa shock is located below the seat instead of under the engine as with the previous generation Softail.

New suspenders

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Preload is adjustable by either a ramped collar (top), an under-seat hydraulic adjuster (middle), or an hydraulic adjustment knob (bottom).

The old Softail had dual extending shocks under the frame – a location that made it difficult to adjust the preload to accommodate variances in loading. Consequently, riders mostly left the dual shocks at their factory setting if they knew it was adjustable at all. While this might be fine when riding solo, adding a passenger and/or luggage, or even an American-sized man with an aggressive riding style, could eat up a large percentage of the suspension travel before encountering any road imperfections. So, the developers saw easy adjustment of the rear preload to be more than just a handling issue; it was a rider/passenger comfort issue.

The new, under-seat location of the Showa monoshock makes it possible to easily adjust preload as required. To maximize the benefit, Harley made the preload adjustment capable of spanning a 240-lb. range in passenger/cargo weights (which, in some cases, more than doubled the rated load the bike could carry). Depending on the model, the rider can adjust preload through either a ramped collar, an under-seat hydraulic adjuster, or an external hydraulic adjustment knob.

The new shock position and rear suspension geometry deliver a rear wheel travel to shock stroke ratio of about about 2:1, and the shock stroke has increased to 43mm, giving Showa more stroke to work with for handling bumps. Aside from better control of the rear-wheel movement, the longer strokes allow for a softer stop when the suspension bottoms. Fun fact: two bikes (the Heritage Classic and the Fat Bob) received dampers with 56mm of stroke and the associated increase in rear-wheel travel, but before you ask, these longer shocks will not be available as accessories for the other models.

All of the new Softails, save one, received Showa’s dual bending valve forks that we first sampled and enjoyed last year in Harley’s touring motorcycles. The advantage of the dual-bending technology is that it allows tuning over a wider range of conditions. Previously, the proper balance between comfort and chassis control was more difficult to achieve and usually required compromising one of the options. The dual bending valve allows for the generationt of more low-speed damping and separate control of the high-speed damping’s ability to absorb big hits. The lone exception to the dual bending valve fork, the Fat Bob, utilizes an inverted cartridge fork.

The Heritage Classic enjoys much improved cornering clearance along with its new styling.

The Heritage Classic enjoys much improved cornering clearance along with its new styling.

Get your lean on

Here at MO, we’ve frequently been pretty hard on Harley-Davidson for hamstringing many of their model’s capabilities via limited ground clearance. Well, one of the major ways that the artists and engineers in the PDC wanted to improve the Softail’s dynamic capabilities was through increased lean angle. Every part that could conceivably play a role in increasing cornering clearance was created with this in mind. For example, when the engineers designed the floorboard support brackets, they had strict foot placement and cornering clearance planes relative to the engine and chassis and required that the bracket supporting the floorboard fit within the wedge of space created by those three fixed planes. Oh, and the bracket had to look good, too. The dance between the designers and the engineers yielded organic-looking mounts that met their strength requirements by utilizing forged aluminum which also delivered a nice weight savings, too.

The forged aluminum floorboard brackets assist in both the improved lean angle and the weight loss.

The forged aluminum floorboard brackets assist in both the improved lean angle and the weight loss.

However, the changes to cornering clearance didn’t stop with the easiest places, like the pegs and floorboards. The engine’s primary cover has always been a limiting factor in the left side’s lean angle. Since the engine’s crankshaft had to stay in the same relative position within the frame to maintain the Harley look, raising it in the frame wouldn’t work. Rotating the back of the engine upwards to gain clearance would change the angle of the cylinders’ V, making that a non-option. So, the solution ended up being a change to the interface between the engine’s cases and the transmission to allow the primary to lift a tad higher.

While the lean-angle specifications reflect the fruits of their labors, the engineers and the PR folks all insist that the SAE numbers don’t truly reflect the increases they were able to achieve in real-world scenarios. The SAE standard for measuring motorcycle lean angle requires that both the front and rear suspension be compressed 75% prior to taking the measurement. The  real world instances in which this set of conditions would occur are relatively rare, compared to other cornering scenarios. So, the real world increases in cornering clearance are more pronounced than the numbers would reflect.

All of the Softail gas tanks were redesigned for reduced weight. The new 3.5 gallon tank (shown here) was angled in a V-shape to give a better view of the engine heads.

All of the Softail gas tanks were redesigned for reduced weight. The new 3.5 gallon tank (shown here) was angled in a V-shape to give a better view of the engine heads.

Trimming the fat

According to Harley, the bulk of the new Softail line lost about 30 pounds of weight compared to last year’s versions. Some of the former Dyna models didn’t lose quite that much, but the differences are still significant. According to the engineers, every part was subject to a weight-reduction goal because the weight of the motorcycle affects every dynamic characteristic of the machine. Any weight loss would improve acceleration, handling, and braking.

The list of how the weight reduction was achieved reads like a parts manifest. The new chassis is 15%-20% lighter (13-18 lbs.) than the 2017 Softail models. The bulky steel exhaust hanger was replaced with a lighter forged aluminum unit saving a couple pounds. The fender supports are now forged aluminum, as are the triple clamps. New fuel tanks shaved weight. Every little bit adds up with the net result being an improved power-to-weight ratio that riders will enjoy every time they twist the throttle.

The Softail Slim looks cleaner and more modern while retaining its classic persona.

The all-important styling

People who don’t grok the whole Harley-Davidson motorcycle thing think they are all about style, and on a certain level they are right. Harley, more than just about any other manufacturer, places a huge importance on curating the company history as it plays out in the styling of its current generation motorcycles. Remember, the mantra from the 2000 implementation of the Twin Cam engine: “We changed everything without changing a thing.”

Since a 1950 FL was front-and-center in the designers’ minds when they were creating the new Softail line, the company has not ceased to place styling and history high on its priorities; the list is simply expanding. For example, we find ourselves some 2,300 words into this article about the new Softails, and the bulk of the text has been about how the designers have infused the new chassis with more function. Only now, are we ready to take a closer look at the styling.

An icon reimagined: The 2018 Fat Boy looks completely modern. New are the solid cast Lakester wheels, the massive 160mm front tire, and the 1950’s retro headlight nacelle.

An icon reimagined: The 2018 Fat Boy looks completely modern. New are the solid cast Lakester wheels, the massive 160mm front tire, and the 1950’s retro headlight nacelle.

The enthusiasts who were tasked with creating the new Softails (and they are enthusiasts) clearly feel the weight of this responsibility. When the conversation finally moved into styling, a demarcation in the model line began to appear. Although not an official marketing term for the line, a group of three models was referred to multiple times as Foundational Standard Cruisers. Richards noted the importance of these models by stating, “If you do those foundational motorcycles correctly, our customers will give us permission to stretch the brand into places they might not have thought it could go.”

The Softail Slim, the Deluxe, and the Heritage Classic form this grouping, and when viewed from a distance, their lines are almost identical to those of the previous model year. However, details start to emerge on closer inspection that point to the bikes being MY2018 models. The engine is more tightly framed within the chassis. Cables and wiring are more neatly tucked away. The oil tank has been replaced by covers over the battery and electronics. The Deluxe becomes a solo seat model and receives LED lighting throughout along with a modern integrated light bar and turn signals. The Heritage Classic, while still maintaining its profile, takes on a darker, more modern style and gains sealed, locking saddlebags that can be easily removed.

As with the rest of the Softail line, the Deluxe received a signature LED headlight. Unlike the others, the Deluxe also sports LED fog lamps, turn signals and brake light.

As with the rest of the Softail line, the Deluxe received a signature LED headlight. Unlike the others, the Deluxe also sports LED light bar, turn signals and brake light.

The designers took more risks with the remaining five members of the Softail line. Several models look like they have no instrumentation thanks to the new LED panels embedded in the top of the handlebar clamp. While most of these bikes have profiles that will be immediately identifiable to Harley cognoscenti, the designers have taken tremendous liberties with a couple well-loved icons. This is where Richards says the design department is cashing in the chips it earned with the Deluxe, the Heritage Classic, and the Slim.

The new handlebar clamp LCD instrumentation is standard on several of the Softail models.

The new handlebar clamp LCD instrumentation is standard on several of the Softail models.

Yes, at first glance, the 2018 Fat Boy could only be a Fat Boy, but the update is radical. The solid wheels remain, yet they grew to accommodate 160-wide front and 240-wide rear tire sizes. The fenders are bobbed, and the center-mounted brake light has disappeared. The headlight has morphed into a 1950s-inspired trapezoidal nacelle that defies description. Yes, it’s a Fat Boy, but boy, is it different.

The Fat Bob, your 2018 post-apocalyptic urban assault vehicle.

The Fat Bob, your 2018 post-apocalyptic urban assault vehicle.

The same can be said of the most radical update of the Softails, the Fat Bob. Looking like a mash-up of an adventure bike, a Monster, and a V-Max, the Fat Bob offers the most cornering clearance of all the Softails, with more than 30° lean angle on both sides. Where the Fat Boy looks like a steamroller, the Fat Bob could be the vehicle for riding out the zombie apocalypse. The narrow, rectangular LED headlight looks like it is ready to shoot laser beams. Harley is clearly gunning for a younger, sportier demographic with the Fat Bob. Only time will tell if they succeeded.

Look, the Breakout is leaned over and nothing but rubber is touching the ground. Crazy!

Look the Breakout is leaned over and nothing but rubber is touching the ground. Crazy!

A brief ride

Because so much of the development of the Softails was focused on function, Harley-Davidson flew a select group of journalists to Milwaukee to sample the line in a controlled environment. The structure of the ride was brief and information-filled. Over the space of about four hours, journalists rode a total of 20 motorcycles. By the time we were done, we had ridden the entire Softail line of eight bikes plus two 114 cu. in. variants for a total of 10 models spanning two model years each.

The routine was: first, a 2017 model would be ridden and would immediately be followed with the new 2018 version to give a direct comparison. Each stint consisted of two laps around the Blackhawk Farms Raceway with a 0-80-mph acceleration test taking place on the front straight between laps one and two. The test was designed to give a brief sampling of the improved ground clearance and handling along with the upgraded power-to-weight ratio.

Even though it lost its dual shocks and became a Softail, the Street Bob is still the Street Bob – only moreso.

Even though it lost its dual shocks and became a Softail, the Street Bob is still the Street Bob – only moreso.

Anyone who says they could get more than a cursory impression in approximately four miles of riding is either deluding themselves or is many times more talented a rider than I am. My general impressions are that the Milwaukee-Eight engine is much more powerful than the erstwhile Twin Cam and out-performed it in every way. The 0-80-mph acceleration test not only revealed a smoother, more powerful engine, but also how easy it was to modulate the torque-assist clutch. Shifting from first to second gear usually resulted in a chirp from the rear tire. At speed around the track, the EFI tuning was spot on without any hint of abruptness in throttle transitions. Vibration was minimal until the upper rpm range where the typical rider wouldn’t spend much time. Cruising at highway speeds, the engine had a pleasant vibrational signature.

As you might expect, handling varied by model since wheel size and rake play such a prominent role. The first bike I sampled was a Breakout, a bike I’ve never been particularly fond of riding. Despite its attitude and straight-line badassery, the pegs – or the rider’s heel – on the 2017 model touch down as soon as you think about turning. Even tiptoeing into the corners at the track generated scraping noises. While the 2018 version still had handling influenced by the 18-inch 240mm wide rear tire and the 21-inch front, the ground clearance was noticeably better. The 114 cu. in. variant delivered the performance you’d want from such a dragracing-inspired motorcycle.

The first revelation of what I could expect from cruisers with floorboards came with the Softail Slim. The previous generation dragged hard parts predictably and fairly early. The 2018 Slim, however, surprised me in the first corner. It turned in easier, precisely holding its line, and I didn’t touch the pavement with any hard parts until I went looking for the limits of lean angle.

The Heritage Classic performed in a similar manner, but since it has the taller shock option, I’d expected a smidge more cornering clearance. A quick glance at the spec sheet reveals lean angle numbers virtually identical to the Slim. The longer shock must, in this instance, be directed towards providing better cargo-carrying capacity to suit the Heritage’s light-tourer duties.

The Fat Boy handles better than any bike with a 160mm front tire should. New new bobbed fenders are a nice change.

The Fat Boy handles better than any bike with a 160mm front tire should. New new bobbed fenders are a nice change.

Now is a good time to consider what increased cornering clearance means to the new models. The improved lean angle doesn’t mean that Softails have magically become sportbikes. They’re still cruisers with all the limitations associated with the feet-forward riding position – and cruiser riders don’t go around constantly scraping floorboards. They simply don’t ride that way. However, any increase in cornering ability means that riders will have more lean available to them should a turn tighten up on them unexpectedly. This improvement can be seen as a safety feature. For riders who do like to ride at the limits of their motorcycle, more lean means more fun. So, everyone should be happy with the Softail’s newfound capabilities.

From the moment I laid eyes on the new Fat Boy, I was anxious to ride it. How could a motorcycle with a 160mm front tire and a 240 rear do anything other than go in a straight line? I’ll have to admit that the Fat Boy surprised me. At low speeds it was remarkably easy to maneuver. The bulk fell away. However, it requires a firm hand when cornering at speed. The nature of the big tires front and rear makes the bike want to stand up in corners. Give the handlebar constant countersteering input, and the Fat Boy corners remarkably well. As Paul James put it when introducing the Fat Boy, “It handles better than any motorcycle with a rear tire for a front should.” Still, the Fat Boy is clearly a profiling bike and not one riders will be spending tons of time strafing apexes on.

The Fat Bob looks aggressive from any angle, and it has the increased capabilities to back up the attitude.

The Fat Bob looks aggressive from any angle, and it has the increased capabilities to back up the attitude.

Since the Fat Bob is the most performance-oriented of the Softails, I was most excited about riding it – in both the 107-inch and 114-inch iterations. However, riding on a racetrack and not the open road, I had the most trouble riding the Fat Bob at a street-reasonable pace. The ride is sporty with decent cornering clearance. The beefy tires were remarkably neutral steering, and the Bob didn’t mind having the brakes trailed to the apex of the corner. I could see myself having a fun time romping along a bunch of my favorite SoCal roads. Clearly, MO needs to get a Fat Bob in our possession as quickly as possible.

Let the waiting begin

For 2018, Harley-Davidson has made a bold move with its Softail line. Every performance aspect has been updated to some degree, and from my experience, the dynamic updates were all for the better. Some Dyna diehards will be upset by the end of the line, but since many of them are more performance-oriented riders, they may be won over by a test ride – or three.

The styling changes are the larger risk. While each model has largely stayed true to the lines of the motorcycle it replaces, Harley – and therefore Harley riders – have typically been averse to large-scale change, and large-scale change is what the Motor Company has on the menu for 2018.

Will the new Softails help to fill the spaces vacated by Harley’s core demographic aging out of riding? We’re as yet unable to say for certain, but we’re excited by the prospects that the new models offer and can’t wait for the opportunity to really test them for you. Let us know what you think of the new Softail line in the comments.

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  • Born to Ride

    Uh, I hate to say this, but that new Fat Bob looks cool!

    Also the Bar-Clamp mounted digital speedo is beautiful. Could it already be time to trade in the California?

    • Gabriel Owens

      Well that 28 degree lean angle is darn impressive

      • Born to Ride

        Yeah that’s the kicker. The Cali has tons of ground clearance for a cruiser. Rides more like a heavy standard than a floorboard equipped barge. Can’t imagine that the handling manners are better on the Harley.

        • Gabriel Owens

          Lemmy has already done mini reviews for everyone of these bikes. The Fat Bob was his favorite.

        • Gabriel Owens

          Well i was wrong. The lean angled is greater than 30. Thats all i need. Probably my new favorite American bike.

      • Absolutely right

    • Gabriel Owens

      Btw i think id take the street bob. Looks comfy.

    • DickRuble

      All HD had to do was to copy some details from the look of Japanese cruisers from the 90’s and all of a sudden everyone is falling on their a$$es in ecstatic admiration.

      Here, from the 80’s, 750cc, and will run circles around any HD

      http://refinedcycle.com/images/88-SuperMagna-Blacked.jpg

      • Born to Ride

        The styling cues look more European than Japanese to me, but either way diversity of design is a good thing Dick.

      • Born to Ride

        That Magna is far from stock, but beautiful indeed.

        • DickRuble

          The only non-stock parts are the foot forward controls (stupid imo), the blacked out forks, shocks, bars and rims, after market exhaust, and the custom fenders and seat. Not so “far from stock”.

          • Born to Ride

            I actually didn’t recognize it as the “super magna”. It looked like an 80s magna with the square headlight removed, different fenders and different tank, plus all the stuff you listed.

          • DickRuble

            Same tank.

          • Green Mellow

            The Super Magna didn’t have a blacked out engine, either, fwiw, so you’re right, it really isn’t close to stock, production tank notwithstanding.

          • DickRuble

            Indeed, painting the engine is a radical customization.

          • Green Mellow

            The rear fender, seat, exhaust, and shocks have been swapped out, the fork lowers, levers, pegs, handlebars, wheels, rear fender struts, engine and gauges have all been blacked out, the reflectors have been removed, fork gaiters have been added, it now has forward controls, the mirrors and signals have been removed and the signals replaced with smaller versions, and the rear brake light likely had to be changed, but yeah, other than ALL THOSE THINGS, it’s “[n]ot so “far from stock”.” ::eyeroll::

      • Auphliam

        Well, they’re kind of “damned if they do, damned if they don’t”, right? Everybody has been clamoring for decades for them to catch up. Now, when they do start moving forward, it’s inevitable they’re going to cross ground that’s already been covered by some other marques. I’m just happy to see the progress.

        Funny thing is, the new Softail frame is actually quite a close copy of the original Victory v92 frame. If it handles nearly as well, with the weight reduction they claim, these will be fun bikes.

        Looking at this release, one could actually picture this being what should’ve been the natural evolution of the original v92 line…you know, if Polaris execs actually possessed any real ability to evolve a successful product LOL

        • DickRuble

          Don’t forget how the HD core sneer at Japanese cruisers. Now that they’re basically imitating the same Japanese designs, everybody falls over themselves in awe.

          • Douglas

            Not me…..but tell us how ya reeeaalllly feel about the new H-D offerings…be honest. I quit sneering, by the way…no percentage in it, I found out.

      • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

        there was a wrecked Magna around the corner from me a few years ago-had i realized what it was i would have bought it just for the powerplant

      • TheMarvelous1310

        Well, that looks terrible. I wouldn’t even race it-I’d turn the corner out of disgust and let him tell his friends whatever.

    • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

      i,too, like the bar clamp mounted speedo! a nice touch,wonder if it also registers RPM?

  • lennon2017

    The 2018 Fat Bob is cool incarnate. It is a hot, and cheaper, alternative to Ducati’s XDiavel. Perhaps the unorthodox headlight won’t go over so easy in the light of a noontime sun, similar to the cowl on the Street Rod. Perhaps its fine, super fine, even. The new Street Bob looks like a good answer to Triumph’s Bobber. The introduction of the new engines will have to face the scrutiny of skeptics who see the removal of rubber mounting just to fit a limited spacing aesthetic as anathema, but Evans seems convinced, and as vibration tolerance can fairly quickly be assessed, I’ll take the trust-but-verify approach.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Softail riders love the frame mounted engine. With twin counter balancers, there is just enough low frequency vibration to let you know you are riding a big and powerful V-twin. Otherwise it would be like riding a sewing machine.

  • lennon2017

    I hope the new Low Rider’s single front disc has a caliper that won’t disappoint people who gravitated to previous gens’ duals.

    • Ray

      Agree on single front disc – in these times the whole line should have modern stopping power

      • Sayyed Bashir

        The look is more important in a cruiser than stopping power. The right disc obstructs the view of the designer wheel from the right side. The people who buy these motorcycles like it, and as they say, the customer is always right.

  • John A. Smith

    Great article! Almost makes me not entirely despise Harley. And I’m deeply ashamed by that.

    • Walkeride

      We all grown up

  • Terry George

    Not liking that they killed off the Dyna’s. Going to miss the raw looks, These bikes look “too” polished and round. I want the industrial unadulterated look from the past.

  • spiff

    I have to say I am impressed with this launch. It appears Indian may have lit fire under Harley. Competition is good, it looks like a good time to be a crusier guy.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Indian has a tough road to hoe. The bar (and shield) has been raised out of its reach once again.

      • spiff

        Indian started this fight and it’s only the 1st round. It could get interesting.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          There is no fight. Harley is going its own direction and not worrying about the competition. They are more worried about attracting the new generation to motorcycles and away from their iPhones and Uber.

          • spiff

            All these bike are for the established rider. The next generation is looking at the beginners lines. I think it would be cool if the Sportster leaves that badge behind. I hope the sportster and Scout lines take the spirit of flat tracking. Still offer the traditional, but also offering some hot rod style of bikes would be fun.

          • Douglas

            1st thing H-D could to further that cause wd be to slip the VRod motor into the Sporty….w/good suspension, tank and bars from the Custom, flatter seat, full instruments and lotsa brake (ala Roadster). And no ridiculous forward controls….and Screamin’ Eagle intake & exhaust. That could be a butt-kicker.

          • Douglas

            Don’t kid yrself…..every product manager/planner had better keep an eye on the competition…..Sears didn’t see WalMart coming until it was too late.

          • TheMarvelous1310

            Yeah, and Wal-Mart doesn’t see Amazon coming.

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            very true! and because i’m old(64) i think they should stick with the Sportster,but that’s probably the wrong prescription for the next gen

      • Gary Latessa

        LMAO. Out of it’s reach my arse. Indian will counter punch with a much needed new platform. I also have a sneaky suspicion we will see the vrod come back in a new platform that will elate the dyna boys.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          “Much needed” is right. They have wrung all they can out of the Thunderstroke engine. But a new engine is a huge undertaking. Indian has to make money first. No one liked the V-Rod when it existed, especially the Dyna boys. No one wants it to come back. It is going to be the Softail Milwaukee Eight from now on.

          • Max Wellian

            As I recall, it took the Polaris boys a year to design the Injun. They also had a really good engine before they made the leap to butt jewelry. It was called a Victory.

          • Gary Latessa

            Indian is going on it’s 5th year under Polaris. So at this point they have done a great job. The 111 is just fine and makes better torque at lower rpm. I test rode a 114 street glide, and will admit the motor was nice. Better top end than the Indian but the Indian still better low end. A bit of a toss up. The Indian flat out rides the street glide though. It’s not even close.

        • TheMarvelous1310

          Polaris is banking off the old Indian’s worst years, out here selling mock flatheads and valanced fenders like the original bikes wearing them didn’t kill Indian! Meanwhile, they have the technology to make an inline-four Chief and take the market and run with it, but they’d rather chase Harley-Davidson around with a copy of an embarrassing moment in their history. You fall behind that if you want to, I’ll go with the team that stays winning!

      • BB53

        You don’t hoe a road. The expression is “tough ROW to hoe”. Like, in a garden. Just try to hoe a road! Especially a paved one!
        Geez, I hate it when people get sh*t wrong!

    • Gabriel Owens

      If i can make to 70….then ill be ready for a cruiser.

      • spiff

        Nah, if you don’t understand by now you probably never will. Buy a SDgt or the Ninga 1000 or whatever. If they won’t do get an adventure bike.

        • Gabriel Owens

          Its not really a matter of understanding, its is a desire to go through corners at very fast speeds. 😊 But maybe one day ill learn to enjoy the “cruise”.

      • BB53

        You’ll be sick, alright.

        • Gabriel Owens

          I am sick already

      • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

        my solution will be to put bags &sissy bar on a Sportster,in other words,an XL1200C

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Evans, a very well-written and detailed review. Look forward to your first ride reviews. Now I am sorry I already own a Harley and can’t buy a new one. It is like being married 🙁

  • TheMarvelous1310

    I was about to be REAL MAD about them deleting the Dyna frame, but the kept the Street Bob. Well done, Harley-Davidson! Just when I was gonna cancel your whole company for a Scout, you find a way to puuuuuuuuulllll me back in.

  • Don Orton

    Uhh…could I please see the LEFT side of the engine(s)?

  • Old MOron

    New dynamics? I hope Harley really is turning a corner.
    But I still can’t get past those ergos.
    Oh well, looking foward to the MOronic shootouts!

  • Starmag

    wow. how amazing, all new, and cutting edge. This will fuel conversations long into the future about slightly different frames, headlights and gas tank shapes.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You are forgetting a new dual counter balanced frame mounted 4-valve engine, new dual bending forks and a new pre-load adjustable single shock under the seat. A stiffer frame with less welds. More cornering clearance. A top triple clamp with built-in speedometer and lights. All LED headlight, auxiliary lights, turn signals and brake light. ABS standard. Oil cooler. Torque-assist clutch. There is not much else in a motorcycle except wheels and those are also new.

      • Starmag

        You can be a bit over the top in your defense of H-D sometimes, but in this case I think you may be right. My comment may have been too cynical.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Thank you!

  • Matt Gustafson

    I’m guessing that eliminating the dyna lineup was partially motivated by cost cutting. Why develop two platforms, when one will do?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Also for improving performance and reducing weight. Single shock vs two. Stiffer frame with a solid mounted dual counter balanced engine.

      • BB53

        The two shocks at each end of the axle would offer improved performance. The softail shock is just for looks.
        And I’ll bet the second gen Dyna frame was stiffer than the new, improved Softail.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    So, does HD expect people like me 36 to pique interest in the Fatbob, because they sure hit the mark on that. Im wondering if they are targeting people younger than me. Cause I know people under my age cannot afford an 17K motorcycle

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Their parents can.

  • Racqueteer9

    Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t see any new models with mid mounted pegs. I own a Dyna with highway pegs because I want mid pegs when I am in the mountains or riding fast. Forward mount pegs or floorboard are only for cruising.

    • Kenneth

      I’d imagine a sportier Sportster would have a more-appropriate seat height for mid-pegs.

    • Ken Floyd Jr.

      The Lowrider has mid-mounts.

    • Auphliam

      I think the Low Rider and Street Bob both have mid pegs.

  • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

    petty issue but a couple of models were sporting pipes that looked like they were copying Indian

    • Green Mellow

      The Low Rider and Softail Slim would look much better with staggered pipes like the rest of the line, imo.

      • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

        i like the look of stock Sporty pipes;but not the sound of the stock mufflers

        • Green Mellow

          Same here.

  • Do any still have mid-mounted controls??

    • Kenneth

      The Touring models always have a pretty standard/neutral riding position. The Street Bob photo w/rider looks fairly “mid.” Putting mid-mounted controls on a cruiser usually seems to push the knees way up.

      • Lee

        Mid-mounts certainly push the knees up but they’re important for hard riding. Highway pegs should come standard to solve that.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          It is hard to put mid controls with a low seat height.

          • John A. Stockman

            I looked at the photos of the new 750 with mid-mount pegs and the rider/tester’s knees were obviously higher than his hips. I think the write-up mentioned that, being quite uncomfortable both in practice and visually. Although a glacier-pace, it’s been a long time coming for increased lean angles, less weight, better suspension performance and especially rear travel.

    • Auphliam

      Low Rider and Street Bob

  • SRMark

    I’m an older person but I like the Fat Bob. I hope the younger kids out there like it too. These are some of the best looking bikes I’ve seen from HD. Looks like Indian woke them up a bit.

    • Michael Hoffman

      I very much agree with you that the Fat Bob is awesome looking and this comes from a former owner of the older varient before I moved on to the Night Rod Special. And I am 31 so their target audience! I believe they hit the nail on the head with styling this time and the bikes the have look great.

  • Gary Latessa

    I am a bit surprised to see the deletion of the oil tank. It was an iconic styling feature of the Softail line. Looks a bit like a Japanese bike with a cover designed to look like something it isn’t. Not quite up to the legendary standards. But i suppose one could live with it. This shows that the styling Dept has been knocked down a notch.

    • Kenneth

      I’d say the engineering shift from a dry-sump engine to wet-sump carries much more importance than the consideration of an oil tank as a “styling feature.”

      • Lee

        They could have done what Triumph did when they put fuel injection on the Bonneville – left dummy carburetors on for tradition.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I agree. I owned a 1986 Softail Custom for 16 years and currently own a 2007 FXSTC. One feature I love is the U-shaped chrome oil tank under the seat instead of the rectangular battery box of the Dynas. But life goes on …

  • Buzz

    Fantastic write up Evans and you didn’t even wreck one! Awesome!

    A huge change. I’ve always been a Dyna fan and disliked Softails.

    Haters are gonna hate but this is a big move for H-D.

    Now how about that Sporty line?

    • Evans Brasfield

      No word on the Sportsters yet, but my money is on next year.

      I’ll try to stay upright when I ride the new Softails next week. Gotta keep my streak going…

      • Buzz

        Hopefully the Sportster becomes truly Sporty again instead of cruiser lite. The Street line has the low cost end covered.

      • Douglas

        Well, if ya talk to any H-D product planners, float the idea of using the VRod motor in new Sportys, tho’ I’m sure that’s been mentioned. It’d be a shame to let that one slip away, as the EVO, while okay, is dated.

    • Lee

      Harley will definitely add a 6th gear unless they’re daft. They already added upgraded suspension on the ’17 Roadster. The Sportster probably has the most reliable and low-maintenance engine of any m/c engine in the world – a combination of no valve adjustments, no chain maintenance, and constant refinement since 1957. Where do you go from there? Counter balancers for less vibration? Alloy frame for less weight? Monoshock for better suspension? Wet sump for lower COG? A V-4 for more HP? My fear is that Harley will run into European emissions restrictions that might force them to add water cooling which would make it look as dumb as a 500/750. On the other hand, Indian started with a clean slate a few years ago and designed their engines air-cooled.

  • sgray44444

    I like the Fat Bob this year. I would like it better with a round headlight though. Reminds me of an 80’s Magna… never a look I liked.

    • KevinM044

      That was actually my first thought! A magna with 2 less cylinders and pipes.

  • JamesC

    Sure, you drop 6+ pounds of wet weight for each gallon of gas you take from the tank’s capacity. 3.5 gallons? Let’s hope this is fuel efficient.

  • jeff benson

    So do these “new” softails have more or less travel than the departed Dynas? In all that verbiage I didn’t see it.

  • JAORE

    I’ve liked the Fat Bob for some time. And the new one, per your write up, is substantially improved. Part of why I like it is better cornering clearance. Yet they don’t offer mid controls. Perhaps they will wise up and at least offer mids as an option in 2018.

    On another topic, 3.5 gallon tanks on a big twin? Way to reinforce the “only ride ’em to a bar” stereotype.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You cannot have mid controls if you have a low seat height. If you are sitting at 27″, the natural position for your feet is forward.

      • JAORE

        Was the original Fat Bob higher? It came with mids, at least as an option.

        • Sayyed Bashir
          • JAORE

            Notice I said “original”. 2016 is hardly the first year for the Fat Bob. From Top Speed, review of an earlier, 2008, Fat Bob, “The Fat Bob can be ordered from the factory with a choice of forward
            foot controls or mid-mount foot controls, to suit rider preference or
            stature.”

          • Sayyed Bashir
          • JAORE

            Yeah, I KNOW the seat was low then too. That was covered in the article I cited. But the point is they still offered mids. That was my complaint. You said you can not have mids with a low (27 inch) seat height. Yet the early Fat Bob offered optional mid controls. So, I’m sorry, you are wrong and can not seem to admit it. Should be the best handling H-D out there, but forward controls only.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Your question was “Was the original Fat Bob higher?”. It was not. Then “It came with mids, at least as an option”. I don’t know. With that dual exhaust in the way, it seems highly unlikely.

          • Rev

            Google is your friend. There are many articles that mention that they are an option as well as many pics.

          • JAORE

            LOL. YOU are the one that said “You cannot have mid controls if you have a low seat height.” That’s the ONLY reason I questioned the original seat height – I will certainly not assume your comments have validity in the future w/o checking. And THEN you say mids were “highly unlikely”. Only now you say Google is your friend and that many articles say mids were an option…. exactly what I’d already said. Me thinks you are a troll.

          • Rev

            Uhh, no, Sayyed said that, I was responding to him, not you. And I certainly concur that Sayyed’s posts have a “trolliness” to them.

          • JAORE

            Sorry, my mistake.

    • Rev

      The original Super Glide had a small tank. Looks great to me, but no thanks on the range.

  • Kenneth

    ‘Nicely-thorough write-up. I’m not an H-D super-fan, but am impressed by the R&D they’ve evidently put into these new big twins. Still, I’d guess that those who always complain that Harley never updates their engineering will still rant-on, like an endless loop, regardless of new information.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Harley cannot please everyone, only those who want to buy their bikes.

      • BB53

        They sure aren’t pleasing anyone here. People who want Harleys want Harleys that look like Harleys, not Yamaha cruisers. People who want Yamaha cruisers are going to buy the much cheaper Yamaha cruisers. I think Harley bit the big one here.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          You are the only one who doesn’t seem to be pleased. Have you gone and seen and ridden the bikes or are just making up your mind based on one sided pictures? Harley is not trying to sell to the cheaper Yamaha buyers.

  • Kelly Bogigian

    ZZZZZZ, same ole same ole!

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Keep your eyes closed. Nothing to see here.

    • BB53

      Whether you like these bikes or not, it’s REALLY stupid to say it’s the same old ANYTHING.!

  • Lee

    If the Sportster comes next I see a V-4 engine with the same profile as the traditional V-twin and a modern chassis and suspension with a model line that includes a dual sport and a scrambler.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Harley hasn’t bought Ducati yet.

  • Bruce Woltz

    “Perhaps the biggest change to the Milwaukee-Eight is the switch to a wet-sump design which negates the need for an oil tank under the seat.”

    Still a dry sump design.. Oil tank is simply under the tranny like a bagger. Baggers are dry sump.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Actually, we were told by a Harley engineer multiple times during the press briefings that the engine has a wet sump. I figure he got it right, so I’ll stand by my statement.

      Thanks for your comment, though.

  • Jim

    Hmmm… I don’t think I’ve seen so few comments on a Harley story. An announcement of this magnitude would seemingly bring out quite a few opinions, but not so in this case, apparently. Anyway, here’s what I see. Harley made a move to cut production costs while maintaining (or even increasing) the sales price. Someone mentioned that the Low Rider now looks like a Vulcan 900 Custom. It does. I’m sure the bikes are plenty nice to ride, but somehow I feel like Harley has taken a step back here. The uniqueness, the individuality, the edge (?) is gone. I’ll withhold final judgement until I see the bikes in person, but something just feels wrong to me.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Over 100 comments are not enough for you? Most comments are positive. The trolls haven’t come out yet or have given up. Change is always uncomfortable at first but people get used to it after a while. There is a lot more technology on these bikes so some price increase is to be expected. The move was not just to cut production costs but to reduce weight and increase performance. Less welds in the frame lead to a stiffer frame. It always takes a lot more work to simplify or optimize something.

      • Jim

        Sayyed, I had a chance to ride the new Heritage and the Fat Boy this weekend. The bikes are beautiful, and even though they share the same frame, they all have a unique personality. After the test rides, I hopped back on my old Nomad and rode home; thinking the whole time that, even as nice as the new bikes are, I know that I would immediately regret spending 20K on one. They’re simply not 20K better than the one I’ve already paid for. Would I want one? Yes. Will I purchase one? I don’t think so. I just cant justify it.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Yes, it is the same dilemma everyone else has. They like the bikes but they cost a lot. I am glad I bought my Harley when I did. It cost almost as much as these bikes but I didn’t think about it at the time. Now its been paid for and I can enjoy it as long as I want.

    • CFLAP

      The new Fat Bob reminds me a lot of my 08 Suzuki C109…..On the other hand, nah.

  • LogicDude

    I predict that the Super Glide will reappear in a few years. Looking around at least the Low Rider will be around in this new incarnation. I’ve always wished for monoshock Harleys, but I’m not sure they’re putting them in the right location and angle for them to be effective. I guess we’ll see.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      My 2007 Softail Custom has two shocks horizontally mounted under the engine. By your logic they shouldn’t work, but they work fine. It depends on how they are connected to the rear swing arm.

      • LogicDude

        Fair enough going by what little I wrote, but what I meant was the kind of suspension you find on bikes like adventure-touring (e.g., Suzuki V-Strom) or sport touring (e.g., FJR), as opposed to the double shocks like on my Sportster or on many Dynas. If the geometry and the force reaction characteristics are good, sure, if it works (and I’m glad yours does for you). I’m not sure you can take Dyna/Sportster-style shock placement and get the kind of compliance you get with the kind of bikes I’ve mentioned. Maybe you can. Maybe these were-Dyna-now-Softail bikes will have much better suspension in the new models. I hope so.

  • Grimbo

    I hope they sell tons of these so maybe I can afford one in a couple of years… HD got it all wrong, millenials do want to get a Harley, we just cant afford them. *longing sigh*

    • Tango Alpha

      Really? You can’t afford $6,899? That’s what Harley’s start at. If you can’t afford that, then you’re probably going to wait a while longer or just get yourself a scooter or a 250cc Jap cruiser. HD has this reputation as being unaffordable, unattainable and overpriced. I just don’t get it. Yes, some models at the upper end of the product line are expensive, but then again so are all the competing brands. Yamaha just came out with a new Touring model which sells for more than a comparably equipped HD Ultra Classic. If you haven’t looked recently, check out the new Street model line.

      • Grimbo

        In some parts of the world where global warming is a thing, such as the country I live in there is tax on new vehicles. The tax in my country is calculated based on weight, horsepower and CO2 emissions. As you can imagine, this makes Harleys especially expensive. For example, your $6899 Harley(assuming XG750) costs approx $14500 out the door, a Iron 883 costs $19000, Roadster $26000 and the new Street Bob $34000. In comparison, an Indian Scout costs $26000, and the Scout Bobber comes in at $26500. Cant comment on the new Yamaha Tourer as it is not sold in my country but a HD Ultra will set you back a hefty $53300. (which is sligtly more than I make in a year). That makes only the Sportster line something I can afford new, and only the cheaper models. (No one buys Street models anyway) Used market is packed though, but the prices are severly inflated because of this.

        • Tango Alpha

          I sympathize with you and you’re situation is somewhat unique I’d say to most of the people who post on this forum. The tax you have to pay is absolutely outrageous! I’ve heard of that before and it disgusts me to think of the gross abuse that’s taking place in such countries where people are taxed in to oblivion. It’s just flat out abusive. We can all agree that everyone should pay a fair and reasonable tax, but such abusive taxes are shameful. What country are you from by the way?

          As for the HD, people here in the U.S. often bemoan how expensive Harley’s are. In truth, when compared to comparable bikes and by comparable I mean in size, equipment, quality, etc. most of the HD models are priced very competitively against Honda, Yamaha, BMW, Indian, etc. Yet, the myth persists because it’s been repeated so often for so many years. The myth is also repeated by people who’ve never owned a Harley and in many of those cases, probably by a person who is not in the market to buy or wouldn’t buy a Harley even if they were considering buying a bike. Often these people are just looking for something to bitch about and make excuses for why they don’t like Harley’s. It goes along the same lines of Harley’s leak oil….are unreliable, yaditty, yaditty, yaditty. It’s all a load of garbage. As a former Harley owner, I get tired of hearing the same old myths being repeated constantly. While I currently ride a BMW, I can tell you that HD builds a reliable, well made motorcycle that are built for the long haul. My BMW by comparison had a shaft failure at only 19,000 miles! Never had any major issues with either of my Harley’s and frankly, there are guys with high mileage on this bikes. one person in particular has over 1,000,000 documented miles on his HOG. So I guess when I read your post, I thought….”Oh boy! Here we go again. Harley’s are sooo expensive.” Most aren’t even aware that they can buy a Harley for under $7,000. For people who are on a set budget and can’t afford much, that Street is a nice alternative to comparable Japanese bikes.

          To to me the whole solution boils down to this….you need to move to the United States, buy a Harley and then we can go riding together!

  • Auphliam

    I like them. That new FatBob looks like a bike I’d certainly like to try and wear out on some back roads. Shrewd business move for the MoCo. While Indian seems content to keep hyping their heritage and adding fringes, HD takes a substantial step toward modernizing their product. Your move, Mr. Wine.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Another “Old Milwaukee” Chieftain from Indian.

    • Tango Alpha

      I’ve never been a Fat Bob fan. I must say, this Mad Max version does look much more appealing. It’s like the MoCo just decided to say, “Screw it! Let’s just go all in with this post zombie apocalypse look.” The finished product looks very bad ass in my opinion. This time around they weren’t trying to claim any nostalgic value, they just went with something new and sinister looking. I like it. I like it a lot.

  • Chuck Smith

    I’m sure these bikes are in many ways an improvement over the previous and I think the changes to the existing Softail models is pretty cohesive. To slap previous Dyna names on these new Softails is IMO lazy, very un-imaginative and a great way to piss on the heritage they built over many years with the Dynas, FXRs and Superglide models. If they Dyna’s were not a great seller then kill the line or figure out a way to weld upper shock mounts to the new frame and add a swingarm and another shock to the parts count.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Everyone wanted HD to move on. It is.

      • Chuck Smith

        Not that your response is in anyway related to what I originally posted but nothing says “moving on” like recycling names from a totally unrelated bike line and slapping them on a new model. Again, I think these are going to be really good bikes but would it have been so hard to come up with new names?

        • BB53

          Or better yet, come up with something that looks like Harley, instead of the worst Japanese cruisers you can imagine?

          • Tango Alpha

            Ummm…well, I agree with you on one point. I don’t like much of the new styling, but I’d hardly compare it to the worst of the Japanese cruisers. Some of those bikes really lacked creativity and styling. Not so much anymore, but back in the day…some were uggggggly!

  • Eric

    This new frame design is practically begging for a floating seat, swingarm mounted fender, old school bobber treatment, just like a cut down early FL or WL! I look forward to seeing what customizers do with it!

  • TheMarvelous1310

    One quick technical question: Does the left side of the bike exist? I have yet to see any evidence of it.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The right side is more photogenic.

  • ADB

    Evans – great article.

    H-D – will you ever build a bike for “the rest of us”? You know, pegs back and down, seat up (way up), loose another 100 lbs. (nice start on this year’s diet though), regular levers, etc., etc., etc. I’ll stick with my Norge, my Thruxton, and my Thunderbolt. Too bad for us, very good for Davidson and the masses. This “new” round ought to make them some money and keep the squirrels fed. Bet MO will give the whole lot “Motorcycles of the Year” when the time comes (Triumph deserved it, H-D, well, not so…).

    • BB53

      How do you “loosen” a hundred pounds?

      • ADB

        Touche! “lose”…..

    • Tango Alpha

      Obviously you love Brit bikes. Nothing wrong with that. The Triumph Thruxton and Thunderbolt are super bikes. I also have a soft spot in my heart for the Italian machinery and I do love me some Moto Guzzi. In the Touring realm, I especially like the Norge. I ride a BMW RT, but I consider the Norge and also the Triumph Trophy to be equally great bikes. As for Harley, I’ve owned a couple and I love them also. They have very wide appeal and let’s face it, HD sells more bikes than probably all the other major brands put together. They must be doing something right. That said, they also know that the company needs to evolve and you can clearly see that playing out with new (lower priced) models that were rolled out a couple years ago. The Livewire is another bike which will be out in a few years that gives you a good indication the company is looking forward. Will they ever make an adventure bike, a sport bike, fill in the blank bike? I don’t know, I suspect not…but only time will tell.

  • Bubba Blue

    I’d ‘ve preferred analogue gauges. Other than that these bikes will top all “Best” lists.

    • BB53

      Agree with your first sentence. Not the second.

  • Buzz

    News Flash!

    If you go to the H-D website and click on 2018 motorcycles, VRods are NOT listed.

    Hmmm

    • Auphliam

      V-Rods have gone the way of the dodo.

      • BB53

        A couple of years ago. Someone’s been taking a long nap?

  • Bubba Blue

    I’d like to see a standard based upon the touring platform from Harley-Davidson. It should be like a Road King but with no bags, no large nacelle, no mustache bar and no highway bars. It should have a long, flat seat and two analogue gauges.

    • Tango Alpha

      They made such a bike, similar to what you describe. It was the Road King Custom and was discontinued. Didn’t sell very well.

  • BB53

    All I can say is thank God I bought my ’92 FXRS when I did. Even with near 200,000 miles, I’ll take it over these abortions any day.

  • kenneth_moore

    The Softail design was developed by a small custom frame builder who sold the patent to HD. It was always a compromised design that tried to give a hardtail look with at least a little suspension travel. I always preferred the Dynas because their traditional swingarm design was inherently better and upgradable. I put a set of Progressive rear shocks and fork springs on my FXS and it handled beautifully. With the 2-3 inches of travel Softails have there’s not much any shock can do to improve the ride. This new design is still about looks first and function second, but perhaps it will be less of a compromise. Regardless of all that I’m glad to see HD is doing more than resorting the parts bin.

    When does the Livewire go into production?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      LiveWire 2021.
      Harley has always been about looks, sound and feel first and performance second. That’s why the Softail was developed and has been so successful.

  • DGB23

    Funny how everyone is saying “most powerful Harley ever” yet the Vrod is still more powerful and faster. 76ci Vrod motor smokes any of these new Milwaukee 8 motors.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Np one wants to buy a V-Rod.

    • Tango Alpha

      True! But the V-rod has been virtually unloved by nearly everyone since its introduction. The only place where they sold more units was in Europe. The Porsche designed engine had all the right DNA, but it just wasn’t the right platform. People simply weren’t ready for a V-rod and frankly most people who go looking for a bike that bears a Harley nameplate, a high performance muscle bike is generally not at the top of their list. Think of the Yamaha V-max. Great bike! But how many of those do they sell compared to all the other models in their lineup? Not very many. It’s a limited market and I never thought the V-rod would have lasted as long as it did.

  • halfofone

    Not one paragraph on cost. I understand that all HD riders don’t care about $$$$ but at some point, it becomes a deciding factor!!!

    • Tango Alpha

      Well…does the article really need to point that out? You can go directly to the HD website and find out for yourself how much they sell for, but just to get you started I checked it for you. Prices start at $6,899 for a Street 500 and go up from there depending on model. Considering what all brands/models sell for these days, I’d say HD is competitively priced.

  • Douglas

    Well, one thing about H-D articles…..they generate more love/hate/interest/indifferent responses than any other brand, by a good margin, I think. The only negative thing I can see is printing Harley press releases instead of scintillating, thought-provoking pieces by the ever-metaphoric, clever & entertaining (while still informative) MO staffers…I’m serious.