2018 Harley-Davidson Softails | First Look Review

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114
Of the eight new cruisers in Harley-Davidson’s Softail lineup, the Fat Bob has the boldest styling. All models get the new Milwaukee-Eight Big Twin (in 107ci or 114ci), new Showa suspension and more.

Last year Harley-Davidson launched the Milwaukee-Eight, the ninth generation of its Big Twin, an all-new, eight-valve, 45-degree V-twin available in 107ci or 114ci sizes with oil- or liquid-cooled cylinder heads that delivered faster throttle response, more torque, better sound, less heat, improved fuel economy and a smoother ride. Versions of the Milwaukee-Eight powered every model in the 2017 Touring lineup, which also got new Showa suspension for improved handling and comfort. Duly impressed, for the first time in 27 years we awarded Rider’s 2017 Motorcycle of the Year to the entire Milwaukee-Eight Touring family rather than a single bike.

2018 Harley-Davidson Softail frame
The new 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail frame with rigidly mounted Milwaukee-Eight V-twin and Showa suspension.

With its R&D pipeline flowing at full blast, just a year later Harley-Davidson has announced the results of the “most extensive research and development program in the company’s history,” according to Paul James, Manager of Product Portfolio. For 2018—which also happens to be Harley’s 115th Anniversary—the Dyna line will be merged into the Softail family, with eight new cruiser models sharing a common, flexible architecture. Every model gets a dual-counterbalanced version of the Milwaukee-Eight (107ci or 114ci with oil-cooled heads) that’s rigidly mounted in a new steel frame made with fewer components and welds, resulting in a lighter, stiffer chassis. Inspired by the 1936 Knucklehead with a straight line from the steering head to the rear axle, the new Softails maintain that classic hardtail look, but a new swingarm—which comes in narrow and wide sizes to accommodate different wheels—replaces the under-slung suspension with a new single shock under the seat that offers easily adjustable preload. Up front is a new Showa Dual Bending Valve cartridge fork. Together, the new engine and chassis promise more power and performance, less weight, sharper handling and a better ride.

Read our 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails first ride review

Every model has also been restyled, with special attention paid to honoring Harley’s foundational standards (Deluxe, Heritage Classic and Slim), modernizing its factory customs (Breakout, Low Rider and Street Bob) and looking ahead to the future (Fat Bob and Fat Boy). Each one has a unique Daymaker Signature LED headlight and features standard keyless ignition, a security system and a USB charge port on the steering head. Some models are available with special 115th Anniversary badging and paint schemes. Here are a few highlights:

2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe

2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe
2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe

The classic-looking, heavily chromed Deluxe starts at $17,999 and features standard ABS, full LED lighting and a 5-gallon tank.

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic

Starting at $18,999, the Heritage Classic tourer is available in 107ci or 114ci and comes with standard cruise control and ABS, a new detachable windscreen, lockable, sealed, water-resistant saddlebags, taller suspension, more load capacity and a 5-gallon tank.

2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim
2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

The stripped-down Softtail Slim starts at $15,899 and has a 5-gallon tank.

2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout

2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout 114
2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout 114

The Pro Street-styled Breakout starts at $18,999. It’s available in 107ci or 114ci and features a fat 240mm rear tire, standard ABS and a smooth-top 3.5-gallon tank with hidden digital riser gauge.

Read our 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails first ride review

2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider

2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider
2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider

Ready for the boulevard, the Low Rider starts at $14,999 and has a 5-gallon tank.

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob
2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob

With mini-ape handlebars and a custom look, the Street Bob starts at $14,499 and features a 3.5-gallon tank and a hidden digital gauge.

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob

With bold, futuristic styling, the new Fat Bob starts at $16,999, is available in 107ci or 114ci and features an upside-down fork, dual-disc front brakes and a 3.6-gallon tank.

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

Starting at $18,999, the one-of-a-kind Fat Boy starts at $18,999, is available in 107ci or 114ci and features standard ABS, Lakester solid disc wheels shod with 160mm front/240mm rear tires and a 5-gallon tank.

Read our 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails first ride review

 

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Harley destroyed the appearance of the Heritage. They are so busy chasing a group that’s never going to buy their bikes that they are ignoring loyal Harley buyers. I waited a year for them to put the Milwaukee 8 in the Heritage before trading my 2013. I just saw the new Heritage and wouldn’t trade mine even up. They made great mechanical upgrades and then made it too ugly to be seen on. Heritage buyers choose that model for one reason….acres of chrome and bright colors. So Harley blacks it out and offers a variety of drab colors

    • I could not agree more. I wouldn’t trade my ’14 Heritage for one of the new ones if they offered me an extra 5000 bucks in cash to go with the trade. They absolutely ruined the best looking bike in their fleet.

    • I’ve never been much of a Harley fan but the new Fat Bob is the kind of bike that peaks my interest. It’s definitely an option for my next bike and buying a Harley was never an option before. So, they did chase a buyer like me and there’s a strong possibility that I purchase my first Harley.

    • I agree! I couldn’t tell if the bikes were made by harley davidson or Japanese, with satin aluminum HD really cheap out their bikes.

  2. What a mistake. The only non-touring option for a big bike is the heavy, poor handling softail? And every one of them with a radiator? Bleh.

  3. Shockingly ugly though a much better bike all around. Call joe martin of the t.v. show iron resurection so he can knockout. The ugly !!!

  4. GREAT, GREAT, GREAT and sexy too. It was the best decision to stop designing bikes for the 50+ generation only – even though being one myself. Really iconic bikes…

  5. the ugliest lineup of dyna/softails I have ever seen. Now there are no reasons to avoid the jap bikes as the HD lineup looks Japanese made and just as ugly….

    • They updated some of the bikes to attract the younger crowd. I’m 42 but I’ve never liked HD motorcycles. They seem for the “old guys”. The Fat Bob just changed that for me.

      • I rode the new Fat Bob 114 twice this weekend.
        Gonna order a new one soon.
        I am 56, own many bikes and this new motor in a performance bike is wild.
        Hooligan bike.
        Comfortable and fun.

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