As I reported HERE Harley-Davidson has drastically changed their cruiser platform for the 2018 model year. All Softail and Dyna models now share the same frame and basic suspension combining them into one model family, which Harley-Davidson has named the Softail line. The Motor Company went with the Softail name because they wanted to maintain the legacy the name carries and felt like it had a higher recognition value. This set in motion a surge of backlash from enthusiasts loyal to the Dyna platform. Outrage around the
“loss” of the Dyna line ran rampant on the internet and in social media. I understand where the outrage came from. Dynas were in their peak of their popularity as many riders have discovered they are a great handling bike. They have developed a cult like following.
I’m beginning to think this outrage is all for nothing however. After getting to put some miles on a few 2018 “Softails” I would say they ride, handle and feel more like a Dyna then a Softail. It makes sense, when you look at the chassis changes made for 2018 the first thing you see is the elimination of the original horizontal mount shocks
that used to sit under Softails. These shocks are replaced with a better performing, angle mounted, adjustable mono-shock. This shock acts and performs similar to Dyna model shocks. On my test rides this was noticeable immediately; the ride was stiffer and more responsive then any stock Softail I’ve ever ridden. It rode like a Dyna.
I also noticed the seating position on these Softails has changed. For years popularity around the line came from the fact that you sat low and “in” the seat more than “on” the seat. This seating position is also one of the reasons these bikes had a reputation for not being able to corner as well as other bikes in the same weight class. The new Softail Chassis moves the rider more upright and giving the bike a different center of gravity and higher ride height resulting in up to a 3 degrees more lean angle on some models. Again this change makes the bikes feel more like riding a Dyna.
After riding the bikes and thinking about it, I think Harley made a mistake calling the combined line Softails. Because the bikes perform so much like a Dyna they should have went with that name or better yet, came up with a new, original name. I think a unique name would have created more buzz and less discontent among riding circles.
To read my full test ride review CLICK HERE
I love getting feedback, so I would recommend you ride one and post a comment about what you think of the new models.