It’s may be hard for Dyna traditionalists to take “Softail” and “Low Rider” in the same model name, but that’s just what’s happened for 2018. While it is a big departure to drop the Dyna from the Harley-Davidson cruiser line up, the qualities that made the Low Rider a popular choice remain: It is still considered a blank canvas for customization. It also keeps the individualistic DNA of the 1970s chopper era that birthed the original Low Rider.
As with the rest of the new 2018 Softail model lineup, the Low Rider 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 new chassis also improves steering and increases available lean angle.
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, dropping the twin shocks is a big departure. But the new single under-seat coil-over unit improves performance by offering increased wheel travel, more controlled damping and a larger range of spring preload adjustment.
Styling is updated, of course, including a new 2-into-2 shotgun exhaust that replaces the previous model’s 2-into-1. Also, a 16-inch rear wheel replaces the outgoing model’s 17-incher.
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider starts at $14,999 in vivid black, and goes up to $15,399 for other paint schemes. ABS comes as a $795 addition.
|2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider|
|Engine:||New Milwaukee-Eight 107|
|Displacement:||107 cu. in./1746cc|
|Transmission:||6-Speed Cruise Drive|
|Torque:||110 lb.-ft. @ 3000 RPM|
|Fuel Economy:||47 mpg|
|Overall Length:||92.7 in.|
|Overall Width:||38 in.|
|Seat Height:||26.2 in.|
|Ground Clearance:||5.1 in.|
|Lean Angle (left/right):||29.6/29.6 deg.|
|Wheel Size Front:||19 in.|
|Wheel Size Rear:||16 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||5 gal.|
|Running Weight:||661 lb.|