The 2018 Heritage Classic 114 looks as though it came from a world where the 1950s became obsessed with black rather than shiny chrome. Yes, this 1950s Panhead inspired “classic” gets a modern visual treatment that takes it to the dark side. Thank the existence of the very traditional shiny-chrome 2018 Softail Deluxe for the freedom to play with the new Heritage in this way.

This is the “traveling” Softail with its detachable windscreen and new locking hard-form leather-wrapped saddlebags that are said to maintain their shape much better than the previous leather bags.

Add in the blacked out 114ci Milwaukee-Eight V-twin and the bike seems even more appropriate for the open road. Like in the 107, dual counterbalancers cancel primary vibration and allow the engine to be solidly mounted in the frame. But Harley-Davidson claims the Milwaukee-Eight 114 launches the Heritage Classic from 0-60 mph 9 percent faster, and improves roll-on acceleration from 60-80 in fifth gear by 13 percent, than the 107ci version. So load up and hit the highway.

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic 114
2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic 114Harley-Davidson

The mild-steel tubular frame has also been redesigned and is 65 percent stiffer than the outgoing Softail frame. This new frame has 50 percent fewer component parts, 22 percent fewer welds and, with the solid-mount engine, makes for an overall 34 percent more rigid chassis. These and other changes help reduce the weight of the Heritage Classic by 32 pounds for 2018. Increased lean angle and more precise steering are also benefits of the new chassis.

The Showa Dual Bending Valve (SDBV) fork Harley-Davidson introduced to much praise on the FL touring line last year is now applied to 2018 Softail motorcycles. The Showa fork reduces weight and provides linear damping characteristics to provide a more comfortable, better controlled ride and improved handling.

At the rear, a single under-seat coil-over shock replaces the dual under-engine shocks used on previous Softails. In this new design, shock action is conventional--that is the rear wheel hits a bump and compresses the shock--whereas the old Softail design extended the shocks when the wheel hit a bump. Performance is improved by offering increased wheel travel, more controlled damping and a larger range of spring preload adjustment, while still maintaining the hardtail look brought about by the “shockless” rear frame triangle.

As with all the new 2018 Softail models, the Heritage Classic is now equipped with a Daymaker Signature LED headlamp and “winged” LED turn signals.

The 2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic 114 starts at $20,299 in vivid black. Solid colors are $20,699, while two-tones go for $21,049, and Anniversary two-tone paint schemes are $21,149. Keyless ignition, H-D Factory Security System, cruise control and ABS come standard.

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic 114
Engine: New Milwaukee-Eight 117
Displacement: 109 cu. in./1868cc
Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive
Torque: 119 lb.-ft. @ 3000 RPM
Fuel Economy: 47 mpg
Overall Length: 95.1 in.
Overall Width: 36.6 in.
Seat Height: 26.3 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.7 in.
Lean Angle (left/right): 27/28 deg.
Wheelbase: 64.2 in.
Wheel Size Front: 16 in.
Wheel Size Rear: 16 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal.
Running Weight: 728 lb.
GVWR: 1160 lb.