2018 Harley Davidson Soft-tail Line: First Ride Review

Here at Rider’s Claw, we strive to bring you the latest in motorcycle news. This week we are sharing a first ride review of the 2018 Harley Davidson soft-tail line. Enjoy and as always don’t forget your Riders Claw mount when you are out cruising. 

2018 Harley Davidson Soft-tail Line: First Ride Review ~ Shared by your Smart Phone Motorcycle Mount Resource

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I always viewed the Softail’s pull-shocks as a black eye on the Harley-Davidson lineup. I saw it as a big flag saying “We Put Form Before Function,” opting to tuck the shock underneath the engine which didn’t provide even close to the same damping as the twin-shocked cruiser or touring models, not to mention better-handling mono-shocked metrics. Sure the Softail managed to pull off the clean lines of a hardtail motorcycle while integrating suspension, but after so many years without an update it has started to feel neglected. Softails were the bike to have for a while but as riders shifted to more aggressive styles of riding, the Softail just couldn’t keep up and they leaned heavier on Dynas. Then I heard whispers that the Dyna line might be dying, but I knew it wouldn’t happen without an adequate performance-minded replacement. The new bikes are not your old Softail, and they’re not a “new Dyna.” This is a set of new bikes, and they’re awesome.

A mono shock Softail. I was ecstatic. Even if the looks on some of them would take a little getting used to, I thought these might be the bikes to finally embody Willie G’s famous old adage: “Form follows function, but they both report to emotion.” While the new chassis design is a vast improvement, and the addition of the Milwaukee Eight improved the ride in huge variety of ways, we still see the Motor Co. choosing form over function on one model we were very hopeful for, and find surprising performance on a few bikes we had expected to be more docile cruisers.

2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Line

2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider

Harley-Davidson

You’re Different, and That’s Bad

Maybe it’s just taking me some getting used to because it’s new. I rode a Dyna for years and really liked the way those bikes looked, despite all the criticism they got when they first came out. I think older Softails, despite their flaws, were great looking bikes most of the time. There are some aspects of the design on these new models that I am instantly attracted to—the Tombstone taillight on the Deluxe is an awesome way to bring back some classic H-D style, the little divot on the exposed neck of each bike’s frame looks really clean with the smaller tanks.

But then there are things like the big piece of plastic hanging under the neck/ gas tank to hide where the wiring harness goes up into the frame on a lot of the models that’s just an eyesore to me. This might be able to be cleaned up in the aftermarket, or maybe I’ll get used to it. Either way, I think they cover a lot of their bases style-wise. I love the look of the Street Bob all slimmed down with the little apes, but something like the Breakout with the 240mm rear tire and long rake might be good for riders on the other side of the spectrum.

There were two bikes that stood out to me as being difficult to ride, and even those weren’t that bad. The Fat Boy has the same 30-degree rake as all but two of the bikes, but the 240mm rear tire and 160mm front make it a real mule in the corners. Any touch of the front brake would bring the bike straight back up, and putting power to that wide rear would do the same thing. It felt a little like wrestling an ape trying to get that thing through the corners.

2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Line

2018 Softail Breakout

Harley-Davidson

The Softail Breakout is the only model in the lineup with a 34-degree rake, and I was expecting this bike to handle worse than it did. It took a little bit of doing, but it would drop into the corners surprisingly well for a bike with this rake and a 21-inch front wheel up front. Don’t hit the throttle too early though, because just like the Fat Boy, that wide rear will just straighten you out as soon as you start giving it gas. Every other model in the lineup was awesome.

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