Jan 12, 2018

Harley-Davidson 2018 Softail Motorcycle Review

RumbleOn Road Captain

Bye Dyna, the New 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Models Are Here

The motorcycle world is full of people who show so much passion for the culture and the ride. It's a lifestyle, and it's a life we love living.  As Harley lifers, we hold a special place in our heart for the craft and creation of these bikes.

We're part of a tight-knit culture, and we have exceedingly high expectations for Harley. That’s why when Harley-Davidson decided to remove the much loved Dyna and traditional Harley Softail line, it was met with some aggressive aversion and backlash.

These two lines, especially the Dyna, had so much emotion and fondness attached to it. To say that most riders were unhappy would have been an understatement, and there are still some ill feelings that linger there. That also means that when they announced the new replacement line-the 2018 Harley Davidson Softail lineup-it wasn’t exactly welcomed.

The new Harley Softails were meant to replace the classic Softail and Dyna bikes, which seemed like some impossibly large shoes to fill. These bikes weren’t shown much of a welcome right from the start, and it seemed very much like the reaction people have when their favorite sports player is replaced by someone younger and less experienced. There was anger, frustration, and disappointment. This response seemed to destroy any open-mindedness for the new Softail Harley lineup, which prevented these bikes from getting a fair trial. But as time moves on, emotions settled, and you are left to face the reality of the situation. And while, for some people, it’s still not a reality that they’re very thrilled about, we have to say that this isn’t as bad of a reality as we thought.

Let’s take a quick flashback to some Harley history and consider the most familiar Softails: the 1984 FXST Softail, the 2002 FXST Softail, the FXSTC Softail Custom, and the FLSTFB Softail Fat Boy Lo. These bikes have lots of love attached to them because of the impact they had in the Harley-Davidson line.

We all know about the classic Softails, but this article is meant to address the new 2018 Softail lineup. While Harley tried to keep similar functions and style choices with their new line, the updates are not something to be taken lightly.  If I may say so without judgement, the new Softail Harley Davidson lineup is surprisingly good.

While we were running for our pitchforks as an angry mob at first, I think the 2018 Softail reality is being accepted by most. The Dyna lineup seemed to embody the history and character that the Harley brand is known to portray, and there're hints that Harley is making a nod to it with the new Softails.

Do you think they’ve managed that? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Harley-Davidson Street Bob

Video source: BLOCKHEAD YouTube

The Harley Street Bob is one of those rides that’s both visually attractive and a great bike to ride. Its inclusion of a Softail chassis is really where the magic happens. It includes an entirely new frame that is noticeably stiffer and helps give it the drive it needs. While these differences might not sound monumental, they are, and that’s proven as soon as you take a quick ride on this choice. While this bike tends to feel like a small option on the Softail line, it has the perfect pegs and grips that promise easy control. This bike sports some modern technology with keyless ignition, a USB charging port, and LED lighting. But despite the advanced tech on this bike, it’s still pretty simplistic. The new suspension makes sure that the ride can handle uneven roads better than the previous Harley Davidson Street Bob, and overall, this is a great pick.

Harley Low Rider

Video Source: Rabid Hedgehog YouTube

The style of this bike tries to mimic other staples from Harley history, and you can tell. It works to keep the foundation of the older Harley Davidson Low Rider models with the single round headlight and a full rear fender, but the changes included have helped catapult this bike to a new level. The Harley-Davidson Low Rider has its title for a reason. It drives low to the ground at 27-inch seat height. The newly designed handlebars help to contribute towards a slightly more ‘tight’ riding style, but it’s easy to adjust to. If you’re a chrome lover, this bike will probably have a special place in your heart. The new rear mono shock will allow for more acceleration ease, all without jeopardizing the look.

Harley Davidson Softail Slim

Video Source: Fast-Action Jax YouTube

This style holds very accurately for the classic Harley look, but you’d be surprised to know the number of changes that have occurred. But the fact that Harley could create this look with those changes should demand us all to take a little moment of appreciation. There is no headlight backing to be seen on this model, and it also has the traditional Harley tank badge that is giving us all types of feels. This choice is easy to ride for a variety of riders, no matter the height difference, and that adaptability helps to sell it. The 64.2-inch wheelbase will offer a bit more flexibility, and the ride is comfortable with tuck-and-roll seat addition. The first Harley Slim captivated many riders and this born-again version will be sure to do just the same.

Harley Fat Bob

Video Source: RevZilla YouTube

An assertive name for an even more confident looking bike. The Harley Davidson Fat Bob stands out due to its golden tinted pipes along the sides, so you should be prepared for many stares with this one. Everyone might not love this style, but it’s hard to pull your eyes away. It has a sculpted seat that is likely to be one of the more comfortable options in the harley Softail line. Unlike the Harley Dyna, this ride handles corners well because of its 63.3-inch wheelbase and 28-degree rake. It has inverted forks, dual disc front brakes, and fat tires fitting for its ‘Fat Bob’ name. The single, LED headlight makes this bike look aggressive, and it is. A style not for the faint of heart, but will surely be loved by many.

Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe

Video Source: Fast-Action Jax YouTube

The first thought that comes to mind when you take a look at the Harley Deluxe? It’s beautiful; it’s as simple as that. It’s a modernized vintage look because of the steel fenders, chrome-accented wheels, white-wall tires, and LED headlight. It’s tough not to drool over the Harley Softail Deluxe. It’s improved by losing 50% of component parts and is 34% more rigid, and that’s given it a 33-pound weight reduction. It has pull-back handlebars for great ease and control, a front suspension that helps with the reduced weight, and is very comfortable because of seat and floorboard placement. While the Fat Boy demands attention because of its slightly ‘out there’ look, this ride gets attention because it tends to look like the embodiment of grace and speed. You can tell this ride is an ode to Harleys of the past, and it’s an easy favorite from the other Softail selections.

Harley Sport Glide

Video Source: John Maxwell YouTube

This ride is all about sleekness and performance, so what’s not to like? The forward pegs and low seat give it a surprisingly natural feeling for riding, and you don’t ever feel like you have to reach for anything. The added bags offer up some storage options, which means it’s a good pick for someone who’s looking to travel a short-distance (this isn’t a touring bike that is made for long travel). The bikini fairing addition does a great job towards directing the wind away from you. An additional bonus about those previously mentioned components is that you can quickly remove the bags and the fairing, which gives it a much different look. The Harley Davidson Sport Glide is an excellent adaptability bike-its rear monoshock with preload adjustment allows you to make this bike your own.

Harley Davidson Fat Boy

Video Source: PowerDrift YouTube

The wheels, the wheels, the wheels: that’s the first thing that rides into mind when you take a look at this Harley Fat Boy. It has 18-inch disc wheels that are just too cool not to look at. When you pair that with the boxed, metal headlight display, it’s just got a visually interesting appearance. The steel tubular frame is now 65% stiffer and helps to reduce the weight by 31 pounds, like other bikes in the Softail collection, which has also contributed to improving the steering ability. The satin chrome finishes pair perfectly with the new look of the wheels. This Fat Boy Harley is one of the most popular choices in the line, and that’s likely because it still looks like a beloved ‘fat boy’ from the 1990 debut.

Harley Heritage Classic

Video Source: Luxury Fred YouTube

The Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic is just that, a classic. It still has a 1950’s, chrome look that so many people fell in love with. You should probably expect to fall in love all over again, but it’s okay, I'm falling too. But despite its similarities to its older brother, it’s equipped with some modern features that plant it firmly in the year 2018. It has fob-sensing keyless ignition, LCD multi-function display, and excellent storage abilities. It’s got great LED forward lighting for perfect visibility in the dark, and it’s a smooth ride. The Heritage Classic also has a detachable windscreen and, when removed from the bike, it gives it a whole new personality. There’s cruise control for those long highway rides, and it can easily handle the miles.

Harley Davidson Breakout

Video Source: Fast-Action Jax YouTube

The Harley Breakout is a long and lean machine that you’ll probably want to get your hands on. This bike is all about power. Because of the Showa Dual Bending Valve, this ride offers a more comfortable feel and easier handling than other bikes. It’s got a digital riser gauge that is in your field of vision so that you can focus on the road. Its 240mm rear tire gives it that drag-bike look and feel, which most will be very happy to see. If you like the feel of a Fat Boy, but without the Fat Boy look, the Harley Davidson Breakout might be a great alternative option. And once again, if you like the chrome look, the Breakout has some chrome-and-black exhaust carries that make a statement. It’s a great bike with a great look and will not disappoint.

We understand that the decision to remove the Harley Davidson Dyna and merge the past Softails might still be a sore spot for most riders. However, these all-new Softail models are some really great bikes that pay homage to the original Harley Dyna and Softail bikes. The inclusion of the Milwaukee-Eight engine promises powerful and smooth rides with these options, and they’re likely to surprise you. While change isn’t always taken very well, sometimes change is a fantastic thing, and we’d like to think these new additions to the Harley culture are a change that everyone will love if they merely give it a chance.

Note: RumbleOn is an Amazon Affiliate, dedicated to reviewing the best and safest gear and more, for riders everywhere. We may receive commissions if products are purchased from them.

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