HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM (2012-on) Review

Published: 09 March 2012

Essentially a Fat Boy with an updated slimline rear end…

HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM (2012-on)

Essentially a Fat Boy with an updated slimline rear end…

  • At a glance
  • 1690cc  -  110 bhp
  • 41 mpg  -  172 miles range
  • Low seat height (650mm)
  • £14,795

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The Slim is essentially a standard Softail (ie a big twin with hidden rear shocks for that ‘hardtail’ look) but given (as seems to be repeatedly fashionable with cruisers from all manufacturers at the moment) the minimalist, ‘50s ‘bobber’/hot rod look. The difference here, though, is the ‘Slim’ bit. Harley’s view was that its existing Softails had become ever bigger and plusher, the result being that the engine ended up looking smaller and smaller. With the Slim, the idea is to reverse that trend by making the bike slimmer at the rear so the engine looks larger in the frame, thus achieving more of a hot rod style.
It works, too, as was strikingly evident when following a Slim alongside a Fat Boy and noting starkly how clunky, fat and, yes, crude, the long favourite Fat Boy seemed by comparison.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The riding position with low seat, classic ‘Fat Bob’ tank (complete with tank-mounted console), forward-ish footboards with heel-toe ‘change and wide/flat-ish bars, is natural and sufficiently comfy and rides pretty much as you’d expect: steady, pleasing, no major shockers or discomforts, lots of Harley ‘cool’ and the the usual sprinkling of Harley irritants, namely stoopid long sidestands, having to glance down to the tank to check the indicators have cancelled and those unique-to-H-D left/right bar indicator switches.

Engine 3 out of 5

Classic air-cooled, 45-degree Big Twin Harley (now up to 103ci) as now standard across the whole Softail and Touring families. Performance is adequate and familiar, character is all. A relic, maybe, buy a classic, definitive one.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Usual Harley high standards with deep paint and chrome and rugged build. No fears over reliability either. Instead main criticismis how plain and basic the Slim is. Best colour in the flesh, incidentally, is the cheapest  gloss black one.

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

The Slim is a worthy, neat and effective addition to the Softail range. It’s credible, attractive and a fine performer. But it still rankles that so little of it is actually new. Would it really have been that difficult to, say, give the Slim a unique tank and rear fender to make it truly more distinctive?
As it is, and despite Harley’s proclaimed aim of making the Slim ‘a more affordable Softail’, it’s pretty pricey. So, if tempted, go with the basic gloss (or ‘Vivid’) black version (at £14,695) rather than pay the heftier £14,995 for it in red or hackneyed denim (or satin) black. It’s the best looker anyway.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Minimal. The Slim may be a ‘new’ model but there’s nothing truly new about it in terms of engineering or specification. In other words, as Harley tend to do time and time again, the Slim is something of a ‘parts bin special’ and a pretty basic one at that.
Want it spelt out simpler? There’s only two – yes, TWO – unique components on the Slim: its ‘Hollywood’ handlebars and its ribbed solo seat. Everything else is a mish-mash of other bikes, and not a particularly sophisticated mish-mash at that. Gawd only knows what all those stylist chaps do in Milwaukee to fill their working week…

Owners' Reviews

No owners have yet reviewed the HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM (2012-on).

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2012
Year discontinued -
New price £14,795
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 110 bhp
Max torque 97.4 ft-lb
Top speed 112 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 172 miles
Specification
Engine size 1690cc
Engine type Air-cooled, 45º V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 18.9 litres
Seat height 650mm
Bike weight 305kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload only
Front brake 2 x discs, twin piston calipers
Rear brake Single disc
Front tyre size MT90 x 16
Rear tyre size MU85 x 16

History & Versions

Model history

2012: Model introduced

Other versions

None

Photo Gallery

  • HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM (2012-on)
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  • HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM (2012-on)
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