Eight all-new Softail ® models were released by Harley-Davidson to celebrate its 115th Anniversary.
The new bikes feature a stiffer and significantly lighter frame for the new dual-counterbalanced
Milwaukee-Eight® 107 and 114 engines.
Harley-Davidson Inc. has unveiled its largest product development project ever: eight redesigned
cruiser motorcycles for 2018, including bikes that have been a mainstay of the Milwaukee-based
company for decades.
Harley says the new Softail models, available this fall, come with the most powerful engine ever
offered on its cruisers.
The new bikes, aimed at Harley’s 115th anniversary year, are being rolled out as manufacturers of
cruiser and touring motorcycles have seen a decline in U.S. sales.
Harley has a 10-year goal of attracting several million more customers, which is important as baby
boomers age out of riding.
The company says a massive amount of research and testing went into the makeover of some of its
best-known motorcycles, including the Heritage Classic.
“The new Softail models are the result of the most extensive research and development program in the
company’s history,” said Paul James, product portfolio manager.
Harley’s Softail and Dyna product lines, as riders have known them, are gone.
“It’s now one platform for them all,” James said.
There’s a “new frame, new chassis, new suspension, new metal. New everything, really,” he said.
As part of the research, Harley-Davidson says it interviewed more than 3,000 riders for their views
on cruisers — a versatile style of bike with a relaxed riding position, suitable for long-distance riding
but more nimble than a big touring motorcycle.
“We were literally in people’s homes and garages, talking with them about their motorcycles,” James said.
The eight new bikes — Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Low Rider, Softail Slim, Deluxe, Breakout, Fat Bob and
Street Bob — have an all-new chassis and suspension system that Harley says delivers a much better ride.
The bikes are powered by a specially configured version of the Milwaukee Eight engine Harley introduced a
year ago for its touring motorcycles. The company says the 107 cubic inch version of that engine provides 10%
quicker acceleration, from 0-60 mph, than the High Output Twin Cam 103 engine on previous models.
Four of the new Softails — Fat Bob, Fat Boy, Breakout and Heritage Classic — are available with a more powerful
114 cubic inch Milwaukee Eight.
Up to 35 pounds lighter than 2017 models, Harley says all eight bikes have an improved power-to-weight ratio
for quicker acceleration, better braking and handling.
“Every component of the bikes had a weight-reduction target, and we rigidly monitored it through the program,”
said Ben Wright, chief engineer for the Softail redesign program.
“Every little bit of weight savings counted.”
The company gave the bikes a healthy dose of classic cruiser looks — some of it vintage 1950s — while incorporating
modern features such as anti-lock brakes, LED lighting, a digital instrument screen, keyless ignition, a USB charge
port, mono-shock rear suspension and lockable saddlebags.
Some of the new Softails have a dark, muted finish, while the Deluxe and Low Rider models glisten with chrome.
The new Heritage Classic has a darker, more sinister appearance.