HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM (2012 - on) Review

At a glance

Power: 110 bhp
Seat height: Low (25.6 in / 650 mm)
Weight: High (673 lbs / 305 kg)

Prices

New £14,795
Used £11,500 - £14,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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 vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

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…

Specs

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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost -
New price £14,795
Used price £11,500 - £14,000
Insurance group 15 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 110 bhp
Max torque 97.4 ft-lb
Top speed 112 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 172 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2012: Model introduced

Other versions

None

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