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2018 Softail "revolution"

24th August 2017

 

Harley-Davidson | Milwaukee Eight |

 

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Harley-Davidson is calling it a "custom revolution". But the truth is that the firm has long since worn out the words "custom" and "revolution" to the point where the terms are almost meaningless. However, there are eight new Softail models on the hoof for 2018, and it looks like H-D has made some pretty significant upgrades. Here are the new Softails:

 

Fat Boy®
Heritage Classic (see image below)
Low Rider®
Softail Slim®
Deluxe
Breakout®
Fat Bob®
Street Bob®
 

All the bikes are running either a Milwaukee-Eight™ 45-degree 107-inch or a 114-inch, dual counter-balanced V-twin engine (read: 1,745cc or 1,868cc). A new "lighter and stiffer" frame has been developed coupled with a new Dual-Bending Valve front end that was introduced on the 2017 Touring models. We're advised that this fork offers damping performance similar to a cartridge fork, but with increased responsiveness.

 

We haven't tested this yet, so we're taking Milwaukee at its word. Fork travel is 130mm, and the rake and trail has been tinkered with (if that really makes any difference to anyone who's not a motorcycle design engineer).

 

Two new rigid-looking swinging arms have been designed, one for wide tyres and one for even wider rubber. Both arms bounce on an under-seat mono shock in much the usual way.

 

 

Meanwhile, the charging system has been upgraded and doubles the alternator output at tickover. And new Daymaker LED lamps will light your way on whatever mean, low-down, aggressive, bad-ass, knuckledusting streets upon which you happen to find yourself. The all-up weight of the new models, incidentally, is claimed to be up to 7.7lbs (17kg) less—which, in Harley country, is neither here nor there (and note the use of the term "up to").

 

The 2018 design revision has, apparently, been prompted by Harley-Davidson's 115th anniversary—and if the significance of that number has escaped you, it means absolutely nothing to us either except as an arbitrary opportunity to roll out the old commemoration banner. Regardless, the factory reckons that the new designs strongly differentiate these new Softails from early models—which is like trying to explain how one battleship looks much different to the next; meaning that you have to have a very practiced eye and a lot of patience.

 

Still, for all our nitpicking and marketing debunking, Harley-Davidson makes a very high-quality product, and if the firm doesn't always move in giant leaps and bounds, it certainly ratchets itself along nicely and consistently produces better and better motorcycles and a stronger brand. So get your "fists-in-the-wind" (yes the company really said that) and visit your local H-D dealer.

 

Prices start at £12,295.


 

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