Harley Celebrates 115 Motorcycle Years with New Models

Iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson is promising a motorcycle revolution with its 2018 models.

Celebrating Harley-Davidson’s 115th Anniversary year, the Motor Company is launching new styles and new models in two flavors; street bikes offering hard-riding performance and touring motorcycles restyled for more miles. First, a look at the street offerings.

Eight all-new Softail models will merge the hard-riding performance of the Dyna line with the unparalleled custom look of the Softail line.

Designed under the largest product development project in company history, the new bikes compared to prior year models feature a stiffer and significantly lighter frame built to harness the pulse-quickening torque of the new dual-counterbalanced Milwaukee-Eight 107 and 114 engines. With high-performance dual-bending valve front suspension and an easily adjustable hidden rear mono-shock, the aggressively styled 2018 Softail models are faster, lighter and better handling than any of their Big Twin cruiser predecessors.

“The new Softail models are the result of the most extensive research and development program in the company’s history,” said Paul James, manager of product portfolio, Harley-Davidson. “Thousands of hours of research and testing were put into the complete ground-up design of these new cruisers. We focused on taking the total rider experience to a higher level, where authenticity, heritage and soul meet the modern edge of technology for a ride that must be felt to believe.”

New Chassis

The handling of a Softail motorcycle enters a new era with a lighter, more rigid frame that elevates form and function to a higher plane, while maintaining the classic look of a hard tail and delivers a thoroughly modern ride. Benefits of the new chassis include increased lean angles, sharper turn-in response, quicker acceleration, nimble flick-ability, lighter weight, and easier side-stand liftoff than predecessor Softail and Dyna models.

‘The steel foundation of the next generation of custom Harley-Davidson motorcycles has been forged,’ states the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer.

Frame/Swingarm

A new high stiffness carbon steel tubular frame forms the core of the 2018 Softail chassis.

The completely redesigned frame and swingarm significantly increase the rigidity of the new chassis.  The frame itself is 65 percent stiffer than the 2017 Softail frame, which leads to a 34 percent increase in overall chassis stiffness. The frame design achieves reduced complexity with a 50 percent reduction in component parts and a 22 percent reduction in welds.

There are two unique swingarms, one for narrow and one for wide rear tires. The wide chassis is 15 percent lighter (13 pounds) and the narrow chassis is 20 percent (18 pounds) lighter than the 2017 Softail frame. The swingarm transfers rear wheel movement to the under-seat mono-shock while maintaining the pure, classic lines of a hard tail frame.

High Performance Suspension

All-new front and rear suspension components are calibrated to match the dynamics of the new chassis, wheels and tires to enhance the comfort, control and performance of the 2018 Softail motorcycles.

The new high-performance dual-bending valve front suspension, which was first introduced on 2017 Touring models, delivers damping performance that is similar to a cartridge fork but with improved, more responsive damping characteristics. The suspension is optimized for both comfortable cruising and spirited riding with 130 mm of bump-devouring travel. Retuned and optimized rake and trail also enhance the motorcycles’ handling performance.

The new mono-shock rear suspension preserves the classic hard tail look while revamped geometry improves ride quality, traction and control. The new easily adjustable mono-shock enables a 240 pound range of payload capacity for increased passenger comfort and enhanced dynamic handling compared to 2017 Softail models.

All About The Ride

The all-new Softail models are up to 35 pounds lighter than 2017 models, delivering an improved power-to-weight ratio that provides quicker acceleration, better braking and enhanced dynamic cornering capability combined with increased lean angles.

Some models feature new tires specifically designed to work with the new Softail chassis and feature optimized constructions and improved compounds for a confident, long-wearing ride in all riding conditions. New seat designs and materials provide an improved fit for a wider range of riders and greater comfort for cruising. Bar none, the 2018 Softail models are the best handling cruisers Harley-Davidson has ever produced.

All 2018 Softail models get a new heartbeat from the most powerful engines ever offered in Harley-Davidson Big Twin cruisers, the new Milwaukee-Eight 107 and 114 V-Twins.

Milwaukee-Eight engines retain the iconic 45-degree V-Twin cylinder angle with a broad-shouldered top end accentuated by a single camshaft design that tapers to a slim bottom end for a muscular contour. The new Softail frame’s rigid engine mounting is engineered to tightly package the engine and reinforce the chassis stiffness.

Milwaukee-Eight engines for Softail models feature a refined dual internally counter-balanced system that reduces engine vibration while maintaining the familiar Harley-Davidson feel. Harley-Davidson’s trademark “potato-potato-potato” sound comes through strong with less intake and mechanical noise.

Here is a rundown of the two engines;

Milwaukee-Eight 107 Engine

(107 CID; 1746cc) Standard on all models

  • 100 mm bore and 4.375 inch stroke with 10.0:1 compression ratio
  • 0-60 mph - 10 percent quicker acceleration than the High Output Twin Cam 103
  • 60-80 mph/5th gear - 16 percent faster acceleration than the High Output Twin Cam 103

Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine

(114 CID; 1868cc) Optional

  • Available on four models: Fat Bob® 114, Fat Boy® 114, Breakout® 114, Heritage Classic 114
  • 102 mm bore and 4.5 inch stroke with 10.5:1 compression ratio
  • Ventilator Intake with 114 graphics and badging
  • Standard ABS
  • 0-60 mph – Nine percent faster acceleration than the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine
  • 60-80 mph/5th gear -13 percent faster acceleration than the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine

Harley Style

Interpreting Harley-Davidson’s history, authenticity and styling DNA through a modern lens, the eight new Softail models feature all-new designs that strongly differentiate them from their predecessors and each other. From a new base of style, comfort and performance, the next generation of factory custom cruisers are ready for riders to take even higher with their own personalization.

“The authenticity of Harley-Davidson design comes by sweating the details from start to finish, ‘hard to do and hard to copy.’ Harley-Davidson motorcycles are not a commodity; they are handed down from generation to generation,” said Brad Richards, vice president of styling and design, Harley-Davidson. “We look at every nut and bolt on the bike, all the finishes, and every small detail. The new Softail frame is like a piece of art, and the more you take off the bike, the more beautiful it becomes. Its design speaks to the teamwork that our styling and engineering processes demand.”

The performance, feel and looks are seen in eight new Softail models which share the following technology;

  • Unique Daymaker Signature LED Headlamps on all models
  • Improved electrical system charging, more than doubled at idle speeds
  • Easily adjustable rear shock pre-load settings (method varies by model)
  • Under seat spanner wrench: Softail Slim, Street Bob, Low Rider
  • External hand adjustment knob: Fat Bob, Fat Boy, Breakout®
  • Under seat socket adjustment: Deluxe, Heritage Classic
  • Steering head mounted USB charge port
  • New instrumentation
  • Keyless ignition and security system standard
  • New fuel tanks

Fat Boy

The legendary Fat Boy motorcycle that defined contemporary custom style for decades now enjoys ripped and refined satin-chrome finishes delivering a bold, muscular styling statement showing off its powerful engine and new and improved ride and handling.

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The look of the Fat Boy is more muscular than ever, thanks to all-new solid-disc wheels, and the 240mm rear tire matched with a 160mm front. But now the Fat Boy is 29lb lighter and benefits from the extra power of the Milwaukee-Eight® V-Twin engine.

  • Aggressive, steamroller stance and front end design
  • Modern-day interpretation of the classic headlight nacelle
  • 160 mm front tire, the widest-ever on a Harley-Davidson production model, wraps the solid Lakester front wheel
  • 31-pound weight reduction to previous model
  • Standard ABS
  • 240 mm rear tire with solid Lakester rear wheel
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine
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Heritage Classic

Design cues evoke the blacked-out styling of vintage ‘50s Harley-Davidson models updated with a modern edge. The new Heritage Classic adds a fresh edge to chromed ‘50s nostalgia.

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The history is still there, but it’s done with a dark style, modern edge and totally reinvigorated ride. At the heart of it all is a blacked-out Milwaukee-Eight® V-Twin engine. It has reduced weight, awesome acceleration and smooth ride of an all-new Softail motorcycle, and features a windshield and hard saddlebags for light touring. Available in 107 and 114 engine displacements.

  • New detachable windscreen
  • New rigid, lockable, sealed, water-resistant saddlebags
  • Taller suspension with increased passenger and cargo payload capacity
  • 32-pound weight reduction to previous model
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine
  • Standard cruise control and ABS
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Low Rider

The tradition of individualism in the custom chopper era is demonstrated by the Low Rider’s rake on its front end, dual gauges on the tank and ‘70s-inspired graphics. Inspired by the individualism of the ‘70s custom chopper era that birthed the original, the new Low Rider model is lighter and faster with corner-carving handling unimaginable back in the day.

Only it’s built for rolling faster, harder and longer than any Low Rider motorcycle that ever rolled out of the factory. It’s also lighter with the massive, refined power of the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, and lean angles and suspension that let you carve corners in ways they never imagined back in the day.

  • Throwback-style dual tank-mount speedo and tach gauges, headlight visor and fuel tank graphics
  • 19-inch front and 16-inch rear Radiate cast wheels
  • 2-into-2 Shotgun exhaust
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Softail Slim

Stripped to its essential elements, the Softail Slim model pays homage to post-war custom bobbers with a narrow rear end, trimmed front fender, solo seat and minimal chrome.

The idea behind bobbers has always been to strip down and soup up the bike for a more exciting ride. The all-new Softail Slim takes that idea to the edge.

The look is authentic bobber-style done the way only Harley-Davidson can. It’s 35lb lighter than before, has more power, more lean angle, and redesigned front and rear suspension.

  • Dark finishes adorn the laced wheels, Hollywood handlebar, and all-new front-end design
  • Low-slung tuck and roll seat
  • Bold and smooth new front nacelle and fork cover styling
  • 35-pound weight reduction to previous model
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Deluxe

A classic hi-line showstopper that stands out on any boulevard, the Deluxe glistens with bright chrome while delivering the ride of a seriously modern machine.

The look of the Softail Deluxe has always been ‘deluxe’, now, underneath the bright chrome is a seriously modern machine. It’s a combination of vintage style and modern know-how with everything a rider expects that technology can deliver.

The Deluxe is 31lb lighter with easier handling, massive power and acceleration from the Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin engine, and all-day comfort from the comfortable new seat and pullback handlebars.

  • Signature all-LED lighting from front to back: headlight, running lights, Tombstone taillight and blade-like turn signals
  • Signature pull-back handlebar
  • 33-pound weight reduction to previous model
  • Standard ABS
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Breakout

With more lean angle and agility than ever imagined in a bike carrying so much dragster attitude and style, the all-new Breakout model takes long, lean muscle to a modern edge.

The all-new Breakout model takes the idea of long, lean, asphalt-devouring muscle to the modern edge. The new smaller tank lets the Milwaukee-Eight engine stand out. The 240mm rear tire looks like it was born to leave a fat patch on the pavement. The all-new suspension lets riders put maximum power to the street with the 35lb weight reduction apparent with a twist the throttle.

  • New smooth-top 3.5-gallon fuel tank
  • Long and wide with low-slung raked out 49 mm front forks
  • 18-inch rear (240 mm tire) and 21-inch front (130 mm tire) Gasser-style gloss-black powder coated cast aluminum wheels
  • Distinctive Daymaker Signature LED headlamp
  • Low-profile, riser-mounted digital instrument screen
  • 35-pound weight reduction to previous model
  • Standard ABS
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine
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Fat Bob

Asphalt-eating traction, pothole-devouring suspension, agile cornering, and a blacked-out take-no-prisoners look make the Fat Bob® model a groundbreaking motorcycle that could only come from Harley-Davidson.

  • 2-1-2 upswept performance exhaust with a custom finish
  • Largest aggressively treaded tires from the Motor Company:150 mm front and 180 mm rear
  • Dual disc front brakes
  • 3.6-gallon fuel tank
  • 33-pound weight reduction to previous model
  • Inverted 43 mm cartridge style front forks
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine
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Street Bob

A bare-bones bike with go-anywhere DNA, the all-new Street Bob motorcycle has a fists-in-the-wind attitude with nothing extra to weigh it down.

Now 7.7kg lighter, quicker and stronger, the all-new, blacked-out Street Bob rolls on spoked wheels and comes with chopped mudguards, hidden digital instrument screen, mini-ape bars and mid-mount controls

  • Smooth-top 3.5-gallon fuel tank
  • Black spoke wheels with chopped fenders
  • Low-profile, riser-mounted digital instrument screen
  • 17-pound weight reduction to previous model
  • Lowest MSRP in Softail lineup
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