HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM (2012 - on) Review
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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 qualityNext up: Value
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 rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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…
|Engine type||Air-cooled, 45º V-twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Tubular steel double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||18.9 litres|
|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||-|
|Used price||£9,900 - £14,300|
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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
2012: Model introduced
Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL (2012 - on)
No owners have yet reviewed the HARLEY-DAVIDSON SOFTAIL (2012 - on).