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Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Harley launches eight new Softails, additional CVOs and Tourers, 115th anniversary specials and drops the Dyna and V-Rod lines

Described as a “Custom Revolution”, the 2018 ‘Gang of Eight’ Softails are no longer soft, featuring a stiffer, rigid mount chassis, refined standard fit 107” M-8 with a “dual, internally counter-balanced system” that is said to reduce engine vibration (and produce less intake and mechanical noise), a transition to Dyna style single monoshock rear suspension and the Showa cartridge style SDBV (Dual Bending Valve) technology in the front suspension, as seen in the 2017 Tourers.
Described as merging “the hard riding performance of the Dyna line with the unparalleled custom look of the Softail line,” Harley claims the new Softails have been “designed under the largest product development project in company history.”
“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 be believed.”
There’s no question that a redesigned swingarm and lighter, stiffer rigid mount frame (said to be 65 percent stiffer than the 2017 Softail frame, for a 34 increase in overall chassis stiffness) with a 22 percent reduction in the number of welds and 50 percent reduction in component parts is a much needed nod to the increased power of the M-8 and contemporary riding and ownership expectations.
Harley says it delivers “increased lean angles, sharper turn-in response, quicker acceleration, nimble flick-ability, lighter weight, and easier side stand lift-off,” which are improvements over previous Softail (and Dyna) models.
In fact, there are two 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 monoshock while maintaining the pure, classic lines of a hard tail frame.”
The all-new front and rear suspension components are said to be 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 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.

“lighter, stiffer rigid-mount frame"

“The new monoshock rear suspension preserves the classic hard tail look while revamped geometry improves ride quality, traction and control. The new, easily adjustable monoshock enables a 240-pound range of payload capacity for increased passenger comfort and enhanced dynamic handling compared to 2017 Softail models.”
Depending on the model, the new Softails are up to 35 pounds lighter than the 2017s, “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.”
The standard 107”/1746cc M-8 has 100 mm bore and 4.375-inch stroke with 10.0:1 compression ratio and is said to deliver 10 percent quicker 0-60 mph acceleration than the High Output Twin Cam 103 with 16 percent faster acceleration in the 60-80 mph/5th gear.
An option for the Fat Bob, Fat Boy, Breakout and Heritage Classic, the 114”/1868cc M-8 has 102 mm bore and 4.5-inch stroke with 10.5:1 compression ratio, ventilator intake with 114 graphics and badging and ABS as standard with 0-60 mph acceleration quoted as being nine percent faster than the 107 incher and 60-80 mph/5th gear acceleration 13 percent faster.
Many are already calling the styling of the 2018 Softails into question, but Harley claim they interpret their “history, authenticity and styling DNA through a modern lens” with “all-new designs that strongly differentiate them from their predecessors and each other,” stating that the “new base of style, comfort and performance [of the] next generation of factory custom cruisers are ready for riders to take them even higher with their own personalization,” which sounds like a tacit admission that they know they could and should have done better.
“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.”

‘Dyna-Softs’ headline Harley’s MY2018 offer

Fat Boy
Harley says: “The legendary Fat Boy motorcycle that defined contemporary custom style for decades has outdone itself,” describing “ripped and refined satin-chrome finishes” as delivering “a bold, muscular styling statement, showing off its powerful engine and new and improved ride and handling” with an “aggressive, steamroller stance and front end design” and “modern day interpretation of the classic headlight nacelle.”

  • 160 mm front tire (the widest ever on a Harley-Davidson production model)
  • 240 mm rear tire
  • Solid ‘Lakester’ front and rear wheels
  • 31 pound weight reduction
  • ABS as standard
  • 114” M-8 option


Heritage Classic
“Design cues evoke the blacked-out styling of vintage ‘50s Harley-Davidson models updated with a modern edge.”

  • new detachable windscreen
  • new rigid, lockable, sealed, water-resistant saddlebags
  • taller suspension with increased passenger and cargo capacity
  • 32-pound weight reduction
  • ABS as standard
  • Cruise control as standard
  • 114” M-8 option


Low Rider
“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.”

  • 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


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.”

  • 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

“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.”

  • “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
  • ABS as standard

“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.”

  • New smooth-top 3.5-gallon fuel tank
  • 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
  • Low profile, riser-mounted digital instrument screen
  • 35-pound weight reduction
  • ABS as standard
  • 114” M-8 option

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

  • 2-1-2 upswept performance exhausts 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
  • Inverted 43 mm cartridge style front forks
  • 114” M-8 option

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.”

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

Five new Tourers
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Touring line-up “introduces the most robust array of custom Touring bikes the company has ever produced, boasting show-stopping style and plush comfort ready to attack rough city streets or winding country roads.
“Three new completely restyled Touring models enter the limited edition Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) family with the largest-ever stock engine from Harley-Davidson, while new Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special models get sinister, blacked-out styling,” says the Motor Company’s press release.
“Our new Touring motorcycles will be some of our most sought-after bikes in 2018,” said Harley-Davidson Vice President of Product Planning and Portfolio Management, Dave Foley. “For CVO, we’ve rebooted the styling tone of the overall line-up and added some exclusive performance enhancements. And our two new custom baggers are the most aggressive, on-trend Touring bikes in the market. I can’t wait for riders to throw a leg over and experience the new rides for themselves.”
The three new top-end Harley models for 2018 are the CVO Limited, the CVO Street Glide and the CVO Road Glide – “each offering its owners a fully customized, limited edition motorcycle straight from the factory with a two-year unlimited warranty.”
All three have upgraded Screamin’ Eagle 117” M-8s rated at up to 125 ft. lbs. of torque – the largest stock engine displacement ever offered by the Motor Company.
Also new for all three CVO models is an advanced integrated communication technology that features a wireless headset interface module. Customers can use the included Bluetooth headset to communicate with the motorcycle Infotainment system, their passenger and other riders. CVO models are limited in number and this year “feature some of the most distinctively crafted paint offerings the company has ever designed and produced.”
“The level of fit, finish and performance of CVO has never been higher,” added Foley. “CVO owners will appreciate the intricate details like the new color trim on the rocker box lowers that marks the CVO engine’s exclusivity. It features a deep orange finish specially developed for placement on the engine that is unique in the motorcycle industry.”
“The new direction our styling department took with the design formula on the bikes is truly seismic,” added Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling and Design, Brad Richards. “Take a look at the level of finish on any of the nine CVO paint sets, but especially the Fade on the CVO Limited, the depth of the paint layers and how it glows in the sunlight is just stunning.”

CVO Street Glide
“Custom touring loaded up with Harley-Davidson’s most powerful engine and sound system ever offered straight from the factory.”

  • Twin-Cooled 117” (1923cc) M-8
  • Showa Dual Bending Valve front suspension
  • ‘Talon’ wheels and rotors
  • 6.5 BOOM! Box Infotainment System with Stage II speakers (900 watt, three 4-channel amplifiers, six bi-amped speakers in the fairing, fairing lower and saddlebag lids

CVO Road Glide
“Sinister bagger with swagger that epitomizes CVO’s new look and performance”

  • Twin-cooled 117” (1923cc) M-8
  • Showa Dual Bending Valve front suspension
  • Aggressive shark-nose fairing
  • Factory-installed new 21-inch ‘Knockout’ front wheel
  • 600-watt BOOM! Box 6.5GT Infotainment System
  • Stage II speakers in saddlebag lids and fairing

CVO Limited
“A premium touring machine loaded with best-in-class power, infotainment, show-winning paint and premium rider and passenger comfort.”

  • Twin-cooled 117” (1923cc) M-8
  • Showa Dual Bending Valve front suspension
  • Emulsion rear suspension with hand-adjustable pre-load
  • The two-up suspended and heated seat with custom cover, insert and stitching
  • Matching adjustable rider and passenger backrests.
  • Power-locking key fob
  • ‘Reflex’ linked Brembo brakes with ABS
  • Smart Security System

Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special
“Harley-Davidson takes the wildly popular Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special models in a new design direction for 2018, swapping chrome for black. The two new hot rod baggers take the base level models and elevate them with an on-trend custom styling statement that is sinister in design and dark in its finishes.”

  • All-black 107” (1746cc) M-8
  • New 19-inch (483 mm) front and 18-inch (457 mm) rear ‘Talon’ wheels
  • Hand-adjustable emulsion-technology rear shock absorbers (said to offer 15 percent more pre-load adjustment than previous low-profile touring shocks)
  • Showa Dual-Bending Valve front suspension technology “that delivers the damping performance of a racing-style cartridge fork with linear damping characteristics and reduced weight.”
  • ‘Reflex’ linked Brembo brakes with ABS
  • Smart Security System
  • New, slimmer primary drive cover and low-profile air cleaner cover
  • Assist and slip clutch with improved hydraulic actuation and 7 percent less clutch lever effort
  • BOOM! Box 6.5GT touchscreen Infotainment System