It has been an iconic American staple since 1903, but in a world where motorcycle rider numbers have been fast
falling and core loyalists are hanging up their leathers, Harley-Davidson (HD) has unveiled some bold changes to
appeal to a crucial upcoming audience.
Just don’t call them millennials. In the brand’s view, it’s all about individuals and customizing.
“We definitely want to attract young riders, the 18-34 year-olds,” Paul James, Director of HD’s Motorcycle Product
Planning, told Fox News. “Bikes that are nimble, easy-to-ride and easy to park … but still motorcycles that you don’t
throw away, passed on from generation to generation.”
This week, the motorcycle giant revealed a game-changing 2018 lineup – in line with its 115th anniversary and quest
to add two million new Harley riders to the roughly 8.5 million total U.S ridership by 2027.
Perhaps most shockingly for veteran devotees, HD announced that the 25-year-old, much-loved Dyna line is done.
Rather, the Dyna look has been melded into the custom Softail range to create one all-encompassing line comprised
of eight new Softail models, rolling into dealerships immediately.
Each comes with an upgraded suspension and a lighter, significantly more stiffer frame than the 2017 Softail models to
allow for increased lean angles and quicker acceleration. They’ll all be powered by new fuel tanks and bigger engines –
the new 45-degree, Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-twin with dual counter balancers comes standard. And the Fat Bob, Breakout,
Heritage Classic and Fat Boy models now come with an optional Milwaukee-Eight 114 upgrade.
“The new Softail models are the result of the most extensive research and development program in the company’s history,”
James said. “We focused on taking the total rider experience to a higher level, where authenticity, heritage and soul meet the
modern edge of technology.”
Indeed, each 2018 Softail is set to come with signature LED Headlamps, a double-speed charging system, steering head
mounted USB charge ports, keyless ignition and system security standard. The new touring lineup too is being touted as
having undergone the most vigorous array of style changes in their history – subdued color schemes and dusky-hues in
place of the traditional chrome.
For the brands top brass, it’s all about interpreting its age-old history and styling through a “modern lens.” And in the
expedition to corner the young market, the next few years likely are to bring even more lane-splitting changes to the iconic
“We’re exploring the idea of an electric model – doesn’t have manual transmission, no heating, instant throttle,” James
added. “It’s a market we plan to enter before 2020.”