2018 Harley-Davidson Softail New Model Overview

One brand-new platform to rule them all

Harley-Davidson’s most extensive R&D program in its 115-year history has resulted in eight new Softail models—Fat Bob, Fat Boy, Street Bob, Low Rider, Softail Slim, Deluxe, Breakout, and Heritage Classic—all of which share the same frame, suspension, and Milwaukee-Eight powertrain. This new platform is intended to combine the hard-riding performance of the discontinued Dyna series with the custom looks of the Softail line.

“Thousands of hours of research and testing were put into the complete ground-up design of these new cruisers,” Paul James, H-D product manager said. “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.”

The Fat Bob, Street Bob, and Low Rider are of arguably greatest interest and thus scrutiny because they replace Harley’s utility knife, the Dyna. The first Dyna appeared in 1991 with the limited-production FXDB Sturgis. Since then, the platform has been updated and fine-tuned, culminating with the 2017 Low Rider S.


The all-new frame is stiffer, lighter and specifically designed to house new dual-counterbalanced Milwaukee-Eight 107 and 114 cubic-inch V-twins. The underseat monoshock design offers higher-performance control while maintaining the classic looks of a hardtail. Benefits include increased lean angles, sharper turn-in response, quicker acceleration, and easier sidestand liftoff over the preceding Dyna and Softail models.


The all-new frame and swingarm of the 2018 Softail Chassis.


In fact, the frame is 65 percent stiffer than that used for the 2017 Softail. It also features reduced complexity with a 50 percent reduction in component parts and 22 percent reduction in welds. There are two swingarms, one for narrow tires and one for wider tires. Compared to the previous package, the “wide” chassis is 13 pounds lighter while the “narrow” chassis weighs an additional five pounds less. All this streamlining adds up to a 35-pound reduction in overall bike weight for some models.

Along with the latest chassis come all-new front and rear suspension. Every model uses Showa’s dual-bending-valve front end, which is similar to a cartridge fork but with more responsive damping characteristics. This design was introduced on the 2017 Touring models and vastly improved the handling capabilities of those machines. Easily adjusted, the Showa shock is said to offer improved ride quality, traction, braking, and control with up to 450 pounds of preload capacity.


All 2018 Softail models come standard with the Milwaukee-Eight 107; the 114 cubic-inch engine is offered on select.



All 2018 Softail models use Milwaukee-Eight engines. All come standard with the 107 engine; the 114 is available on four models—Fat Bob 114, Fat Boy 114, Breakout 114, and Heritage Classic 114. All engines are rigid-mounted with dual counter-balancers canceling primary vibrations. Rigid mounting enables a tight, clean-looking fit and better overall stiffness for enhanced handling.

Harley claims the Milwaukee-Eight 107 (1746cc) is 10 percent quicker in acceleration from 0-60 mph and 16 percent faster in fifth-gear 60-80-mph roll-on acceleration than the previous-generation Twin Cam 103. The Milwaukee-Eight 114 (1868cc), meanwhile, is another nine percent quicker from 0-60 mph and 13 percent faster in roll-ons than the Milwaukee-Eight 107.

Styling & Design

“The authenticity of Harley-Davidson design comes by sweating the details from start to finish—hard to do and hard to copy,” said Brad Richards, VP of styling and design. “Harley-Davidson motorcycles are not a commodity; they are handed down from generation to generation. 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; 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.”

Key Features of The Eight New Softail Models

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

The 2018 Fat Boy retains the model’s iconic looks with some fresher styling cues.

Brian J. Nelson

Fat Boy

The legendary motorcycle that defined contemporary custom style for decades delivers a bold, muscular styling statement showing off its powerful engine and improved ride and handling.

  • Aggressive, steamroller stance and front-end design with a modern-day interpretation of the classic headlight nacelle; a 160mm front tire, the widest-ever on a Harley-Davidson production model, wraps the solid Lakester front wheel
  • 31-pound weight reduction from previous model
  • ABS standard
  • 240mm rear tire with solid Lakester rear wheel
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine
2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic

The 2018 Heritage mixes classic looks with modern handling and power.

Brian J. Nelson

Heritage Classic

Design cues evoke the blacked-out styling of vintage 1950s Harley-Davidsons updated with a modern edge.

  • New detachable windscreen
  • New rigid, lockable, sealed, water-resistant saddlebags
  • Taller suspension with increased passenger and cargo payload capacity
  • 32-pound weight reduction from previous model
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine
  • Standard cruise control and ABS
2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider

The 2018 Low Rider combines the performance of the Dyna line with the sleek look of the Softail line.

Brian J. Nelson

Low Rider

Inspired by the individualism of the 1970’s custom-chopper era that gave birth to the original Low Rider, this new machine 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
2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

The 2018 Softail Slim combines the best aspects of timeless styling and modern engineering.


Softail Slim

Stripped to its essential elements, the Slim pays homage to post-World War II 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
  • Low-slung tuck-and-roll seat
  • Bold and smooth new front nacelle and fork cover
  • 35-pound weight reduction from previous model
2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe

The 2018 Deluxe looks of yesteryear, but rides like today.

Brian J. Nelson


A classic high-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
  • Signature pull-back handlebar
  • 33-pound weight reduction from previous model
  • Standard ABS
2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout 114

The 2018 Breakout with Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine strikes a lean, mean stance.

Brian J. Nelson


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

  • New smooth-top 3.5-gallon fuel tank
  • Low-slung, raked-out 49mm fork
  • 18-inch rear (240mm tire) and 21-inch front (130mm tire) with Gasser-style, gloss-black-powdercoated cast aluminum wheels
  • Distinctive Daymaker LED headlamp
  • Low-profile riser-mounted digital instrument screen
  • 35-pound weight reduction from previous model
  • Standard ABS
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine
2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob

The 2018 Fat Bob is ready for anything and everything.

Brian J. Nelson

Fat Bob

Asphalt-eating traction, pothole-devouring suspension, agile cornering, and a blacked-out take-no-prisoners look give the Fat Bob a groundbreaking appearance.

  • 2-into-1-into-2 upswept exhaust with a custom finish
  • Largest aggressively treaded tires: 150mm front and 180mm rear
  • Dual front disc brakes
  • 3.6-gallon fuel tank
  • 33-pound weight reduction from previous model
  • Inverted 43mm cartridge-style fork
  • Optional: Milwaukee-Eight 114 Engine
2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob

The 2018 Street Bob is stripped down and ready to get your knees in the breeze.

Brian J. Nelson

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-spoked wheels with chopped fenders
  • Low-profile riser-mounted digital instrument screen
  • 17-pound weight reduction from previous model
  • Lowest MSRP in Softail line

New Technology Features on Every Softail Model

  • Daymaker LED headlights
  • Improved electrical system charging, more than doubled at idle speeds
  • Adjustable shock preload: wrench (Softail Slim, Street Bob, Low Rider); hand-adjustment knob (Fat Bob, Fat Boy, Breakout); socket (Deluxe, Heritage Classic)
  • Instrumentation
  • Keyless ignition/security system standard
  • Steering-head-mounted USB charge port
  • Fuel tanks