The Softail Heritage Classic combines old school styling with modern power, chassis and electrics, to give reliable, fun touring and cruising. We check it out... Photos: Heather Ware
The 2022 Softail Heritage Classic is here, powered by the 114 M8 and with new colours. But you can still get hold of a 107 model if you hurry, with a small handful left in showrooms. Before Xmas we tested this example, in stunning Billiard Teal with the chrome package.
I called the bike Santa’s Sled, and my kids loved it. The chrome, so many shiny bits, the screen, bags, and general size and shape of the Heritage just entertained them no end as it sat glistening in our garage for a few short weeks. Being bearded and with a slight belly, I was more than happy to play Santa and spend as much time as possible on my 93-reindeer-powered Milwaukee made sled…
First of all, that 107 is a sweet, sweet engine. I’ve said it before, I really like it. Sure, the bigger motors have the grunt, but the 107 seems to make power fast and is smoother. It’s an easy to get along with mate, that still has some fight when it is called upon with a twist of the right wrist.
One of my favourite Harley models of all time is the Softail Standard, and the Heritage shares a lot in common with it, despite the appearance. The engine, gear ratios, primary and secondary gearing are the same, and the back wheel is the same size as is the tyre, so performance is similar but a tad more relaxed due to the extra 45-50kg. Acceleration is still brisk, overtaking in any gear not an issue.
Fuelling is smooth and the gearshift is also easy and silky, it’s a great set-up, the gearlever is in a natural spot, my foot sat under it and rotating to shift down was easy. On the other side, my toes had to sit under the rear brake pedal, I’d have liked a bit more room there. Clutch action is refined, if a little heavy as to be expected from a big cable clutch, but take-up is progressive and consistent.
Turning to the chassis, the steering angle and wheelbase are shared with the Standard, as is the seat height, but the smaller front wheel and reduced trail sharpen up the steering on the Heritage. It’s fun in the hills, and as long as the limited ground clearance is respected, punts along well in the corners.
The footboards will touch down to warn you you are on the limit. If you have bigger feet, take care, the boards are small and my feet were pulled off the boards a few times when my heel touched the road, and it hurt! Once you get used to remembering to keep your boots clear when leaned over, it’s all ok.
Where the Heritage is most enjoyable is rolling through medium speed curves, 80 to 100km/h, using the torque of the engine and the stability of the chassis. The big seat, wide, comfy bars and reasonable suspension travel make these flowing country roads a really nice experience. The fat 16in tyres also help soak up road irregularities and the suspension settings at both ends offer both support and comfort, it’s a good overall compromise. I’m 95kg and I didn’t touch any preload settings, I was happy.
In terms of braking, well, the job gets done well enough. It has a braking system that is appropriate for the job. A 300mm front rotor with a four-pot caliper and a 245mm rear rotor with a two-pot caliper, ABS equipped of course. I gave the brakes a hard time during the photoshoot, braking really hard with both brakes from around 90km/h to a stop, turning around and doing another pass, for at least 30-minutes on one of the locations, with no fade or drop in performance, which impressed me. The rear brake is fantastic alone around town, while both combined do the job out on the open road.
Overall the ride experience on the Heritage is nice and relaxed, vibe free and chilled out on the country roads, up in the hills or even around town. Strangely, the only area I felt the bike wasn’t as at home was out on the open highway. From 110km/h onwards, the wind buffeting I was getting from the windscreen was uncomfortable, enough to exit for the back roads.
I tried a few brands of helmet during the two weeks and still had the issue. The best I could handle was 20-minutes on open highway… I’m 187cm tall and I concluded that, well, it’s just really bad luck, I must be exactly the wrong height. I see these things out on highways all the time, smiling riders behind the screens, so they must work most of the time… Harley have been fitting windscreens for 60-years.
With a big fuel tank (just under 19L) the Classic has the potential to knock out 350km or more. I didn’t push it that far between fuel stops myself, but did reach just shy of 300km at one point before I filled it up and I didn’t have to, I just wanted a stretch and a cold drink… So decent range is there and with the cruise control, economy should be good. Again, tourer meets cruiser.
With classic styling and modern lighting, finishing techniques, ignition and fuelling, suspension and brakes, the Heritage Classic really is a great version of a modern classic. It gives the owner pride in the appearance, a bike to admire, without compromising performance or reliability in any way.
Now available (MY22 models are in dealership) with the 114 engine as standard (it was an option in 2021), the FLHC has even more grunt, and a bunch of nice new colours as well. Go and check them out for yourself and keep an eye out for our next review later in the year…
2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Heritage Classic Specifications
Price: From $30,250 Ride-Away
Warranty: two-years unlimited km
Colours: Vivid Black, Deadwood Green with Vivid Black, Midnight Crimson with Stone Washed White Pearl, Billiard Teal.
Claimed Power: N/A
Claimed Torque: 145Nm[107ft-lbs]@3250rpm
Wet Weight: 330kg
Fuel capacity: 18.9L
Consumption: 5.5 l/100km (claimed)
Service: First 1600km every 8000km thereafter
Engine: Milwauke-Eight 107 V-Twin, 1746cc, 100 x 111mm bore x stroke, 10.0:1 compression ratio, ESPFI, 2-into-2 shotgun; catalyst in muffler
Gearbox: Six-speed, Chain Primary 34/46, Final belt drive 32/66
Fuel Consumption: 5.5L/100km
Chassis: Mild steeltubular frame, rectangular section backbone, stamped – cast and forged junctions, Mild steel, tubular sections, stamped x-member, forged axle junctions; MIG welded; removable belt spacer.
Rake: 30° Trail: 140mm
Suspension: Dual-bending valve 49 mm telescopic with aluminum fork triple clamps; dual rate spring; “beer can” covers, 130mm travel, Hidden, free piston, coil-over monoshock; 56mm stroke; hydraulic preload adjustment, 112mm travel.
Brakes: Four-piston fixed front 300mm disc and two-piston floating 292mm rear disc
Wheels & Tyres: Chrome Steel Laced, 16in, Dunlop D401, 130/90 – 16, 150/80 – 16
Seat height: 680mm
Ground clearance: 120mm
Overall Length: 2415mm
Overall Width: 930mm
Overall Height: 1370mm
Lean angle: L, 27.3º R,28.5º
Instruments: 5-inch analog speedometer with digital gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tachometer indication
The Verdict | Review: 2021 Harley-Davidson FLHC Softail Heritage Classic 107