First ride: Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

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Rounding off Harley’s all-new 2018 Softail range is the Softail Slim, which, despite what its retro looks suggest is actually one of the most recent additions to Harley’s line-up.

First introduced in 2012, it’s effectively a minimalist, fat-tyred Harley big twin that’s been give the blacked-out, ‘40s ‘bobber’ look reminiscent of the originals created by post-WW2 US soldiers from war-surplus Harleys.

'Slim' of the year highlights

• Post-war ‘bobber’ rounds off Harley’s new 2018 Softails

• Low, nimble stance much improved by new Softail chassis

• Also benefits from other range improvements – such as engine

• More ‘blacked-out’ than ever plus new LED lights

In this all-new 2018 incarnation, and despite broadly familiar looks, the Slim’s been improved significantly in every area. Firstly, of all the 2018 Softails, the Slim’s lost the most weight, which, considering its name, is probably appropriate – an impressive 35lbs. That new leaner, stronger Softail chassis also has more ground clearance than before while the Slim also benefits from the same, 10bhp punchier ‘Milwaukee-Eight’ 107 engine.

And the result of that health drive added to the Slim’s continuing low-slung stance is probably the most nimble and easy of all the 2018 Softails to throw around. In short, if you want a light (ish), low, easy handling Harley Big Twin, the Slim, more than ever, is the one.

It’s also the one that also, arguably, has the most convincing, post-WW2 ‘bobber’ look, thanks to its unique combination of fat tyres and black wires, single seat, low bars and minimal chrome. Sure, there are few frills and less luxury, but the Slim’s a doddle to ride, thanks to its footboards is surprisingly comfortable over distance and, overall, if you want a big twin Harley bobber that’s an unthreatening, brilliant ride, this is the one.

Harley's FLSL facts

Price: From £16,045

Engine: ‘Milwaukee-Eight 107’ 1745cc (100 x 111.1mm) air/oil-cooled, 4-valve V-twin

Power: 86bhp @ 5020rpm

Torque: 106.9ftlb @ 3500rpm

Frame: Tubular steel double cradle

Seat height: 660mm

Suspension: Showa telescopic forks

Rear: Monoshock, adjustable spring preload

Brakes: 275mm disc, four-piston caliper, 275mm two piston caliper

Weight: 291kg (dry) (304kg kerb)

Capacity: 18.9 litres

Colours: Gloss black (£16,045), Satin black, Satin grey, red or white (all £350 extra)

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Phil West

By Phil West

MCN Contributor and bike tester.