In Harley-Davidson’s design strategy with the all-new 2018 Softail motorcycle lineup, it was the very traditional bright and shiny Softail Deluxe that has allowed the company to take the 2018 Softail Heritage Classic to a darker place. The bike retains its 1950s Panhead inspiration but gets a sinister, modern edge with loads of blacked-out features.
The Heritage Classic has also has traditionally been of Harley-Davidson’s best-selling motorcycles, now made even more functional and comfortable with increased power and improved handling. This is a Softail that’s not afraid hitting the road, thanks to the detachable windscreen and new locking, hard-form leather-wrapped bags. “No more saggy bags ever again,” says Harley-Davidson of these new side cases.
As with the rest of the new 2018 Softail model lineup, the Heritage Classic features a new version of the four-valve-per-cylinder Milwaukee-Eight 107ci V-twin with dual counterbalancers to cancel primary vibration. This allows the engine to be rigid mounted in the frame, which increases chassis stiffness for improved handling. Harley-Davidson claims the 107ci Milwaukee-Eight makes the new bikes 10 percent faster from 0-60 than the High Output Twin Cam 103 engine used previously.
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. This new frame (along with other changes) help reduce the weight of the Heritage Classic by 32 pounds for 2018.
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, Harley ditched the old Softail’s under-engine hidden twin shocks in favor of a single under-seat coil-over unit. The changes make shock action is conventional--that is the rear wheel hits a bump and compresses the shock--whereas the old design extended the shocks when the wheel hit a bump. The new design improves performance 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 starts at $18,999 in vivid black, jumps to $19,399 for solid color options, and $19,749 for the two-tone paint schemes. Keyless ignition, H-D Factory Security System, cruise control and ABS come standard.