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.
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.
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
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
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
The stripped-down Softtail Slim starts at $15,899 and has a 5-gallon tank.
2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout
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.
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
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
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
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.
**There have been some questions about the location of the USB port on the new Softails. It is difficult to see, but it’s located on the left side of the frame neck in front of the tank. Below is a picture of it on a Fat Bob.