The focus of the new Softail family is the all-new Softail frame (so-called as it hides the rear suspension giving a classic hardtail ‘look’) which now uses an inclined single shock, Yamaha LC style, in place of dual shorter units previously mounted beneath the transmission. The new tubular steel double cradle is also claimed to be substantially lighter, stiffer and comprise far fewer components. Three different head angles, two shock lengths and two widths of swing arm are also employed in a modular approach to create the eight different models.
In Heritage form the ride itself is comfortable and the handling is surprisingly light and nimble.
As with three other members of Harley’s new Softail family, the new Heritage Classic now uses the four-valve, partially oil-cooled ‘Milwaukee Eight’ 107ci V-twin, as introduced in its 2017 touring range, with the option also of the 114ci version. Both are modified for Softail use via a new oil cooler subtly positioned between the downtubes and, as they’re rigidly mounted in the new Softail frames (in the tourers they’re rubber mounted) come with two, not one, balancer shafts.
Along with the new frame, uprated engine and cycle parts and new equipment such as lights and clocks, the build quality of the new Heritage Classic, and indeed all the 2018 Softail family, has been noticeably improved.This powertrainis based on that of the proven ‘Project Rushmore’ touring family and quality seemingly raised throughout, we’ve little cause for concern with regards to reliability.
Harley ownership never comes cheap. On the positive side, the Heritage Classic, of all the 2018 Softails, best delivers that elusive blend of style and practicality. It might not be as much of a crowd-stopper as the new Fat Boy, or as punchy as the Fat Bob, but the new Heritage goes and handles well, looks good and is impressively practical as well.
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Engine and chassis apart, the biggest news with the new Heritage is a complete styling makeover. Where the old Heritage was a ‘50s-style chrome ‘n’ tassles cruiser complete with plexi-screen and studded panniers, the new goes for a more ‘40s, WWII, look where black replaces chrome and a military vibe takes the place of a Wurlitzer one. So, along with the new frame and uprated engine are a new screen, revised panniers, new LED headlights, stylish new clocks and more. OK, there’s still no electronics and little by way of luxury but it is a classy machine and Harley have noticeably raised their game.