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Harley Davidson SOFTAIL Custom Motorbike Review

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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

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.


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 0

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.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

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.


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 0

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…

Harley-Davidson FLS Softail Slim (2012-current)

Detail Value
New price £14,795
Used price range View Harley Davidson SOFTAIL bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 1690 cc
Power 110 bhp
Top speed 112 mph
Insurance group 15 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 0
Engine rating is 3 rating is 0
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 0
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 0
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 0
Value rating is 3 rating is 0

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

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.


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 0

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

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Model History

2012: Model introduced

Other Versions



Top speed 112 mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 110 bhp
Max torque 97.4 ft-lb
Weight 305 kg
Seat height 650 mm
Fuel capacity 18.9 litres
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 172 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 15 of 17
Engine size 1690 cc
Engine specification Air-cooled, 45º V-twin, 6 gears
Frame Tubular steel double cradle
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload only
Front brakes 2 x discs, twin piston calipers
Rear brake Single disc
Front tyre size MT90 x 16
Rear tyre size MU85 x 16

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 0(0 reviews)

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