The Harley-Davison Softail Standard has gone back. Simon enjoyed his change of pace over the past three months. He reflects on his time with the cruiser... Photos: Heather Ware.

Our BikeReview Harley-Davidson Softail Standard has gone back to H-D and left a pretty big hole in the garage where its black, alloy and chrome chassis once resided. Over the time I’ve had it, it has definitely left a positive impression on me for a variety of reasons…

The idea behind the Softail Standard is a bike that only comes with the necessary equipment, allowing riders to modify it to their liking.

IT took a while for Simon to get used to cruiser life but in the end he got it and he enjoyed living with the Softail…


Check out all of Simon’s Softail updates here…


The simplicity of the machine is refreshing. No myriad of adjustments or confusing electronic settings to endlessly contemplate, fiddle with and divert your attention from the ride. It’s really a case of heave her off the side stand, boot up those big, cranking pistons, engage the gearbox and set sail.



The “Softie” is quintessentially about the joy of riding, which is so appealing in a world gone crazy over technology and its often unnecessary application. The engine smoothness is soothing, even though the reciprocating masses are so hefty, and the throttle control is totally sublime.

"The "Softie" is quintessentially about the joy of riding, which is so appealing in a world gone crazy over technology and its often unnecessary application."

“The “Softie” is quintessentially about the joy of riding, which is so appealing in a world gone crazy over technology and its often unnecessary application.”

Taming such a torquey motor as the Milwaukee-Eight cannot be easy, but H-D have done a spanking job of that, even referring to this model as entry level. Not sure about that classification myself… but the power delivery is well suited to both experienced and novice riders alike – what you dial in, you get. Of course, with the mammoth torque at your fingertips, you can also be sloppy and the motor will comply without complaint or restraint.



Still, I would appreciate a few small creature comforts, like span adjustable levers and a bit more visible dash. You know, little things that can make a big difference to your general sense of comfort. Other than that, the Softail Standard is super easy to get along with and rewarding in a perhaps somewhat peculiar way to other marques.



Attitude, style and flair are essential elements for Harleys, and although the appeal at times might be considered niche, the Softail Standard is a great machine that seamlessly transcends some of the boundaries or even prejudices that some of us dyed in the wool types may suffer from.

"The Softail Standard is a great machine that seamlessly transcends some of the boundaries or even prejudices that some of us dyed in the wool types may suffer from."

“The Softail Standard is a great machine that seamlessly transcends some of the boundaries or even prejudices that some of us dyed in the wool types may suffer from.”

Maybe more time with the Softail Standard would convince me otherwise, but I prefer, for the moment at least, to remain a fence-sitter on this one. Perhaps a big and heavy cruiser is not quite my sled.



Yet… I have to say that I remain pretty averse to forward controls, although the Softie is less extreme than some other H-D cruisers, and this is a bugbear. I fully dig the heavy metal construction as part of the traditional iron horse stylisation and devil may care attitude, but in some ways, this feels a bit excessive in terms of outright weight.

Harley-Davidson's are a bit out of Simon's comfort zone, being used to the lightweight and high manoeuvrability of sports machines.

Harley-Davidson’s are a bit out of Simon’s comfort zone, being used to the lightweight and high manoeuvrability of sports machines. Still, he can appreciate the importance of something like the Softail Standard…

The true cost of ownership is something that I am unfamiliar with, however, it is likely less than many high-tech, highly strung offerings on the market. It must be said that the sheer volume of Harleys on our roads certainly indicates not only growing popularity but reliability also.

"A 40 year model lifespan speaks loudly to getting things right and having a broad spectrum of appeal to traditionalists and newcomers and, of course, opportunistic customizers via an extensive official factory accessory catalogue."

“A 40 year model lifespan speaks loudly to getting things right and having a broad spectrum of appeal to traditionalists and newcomers and, of course, opportunistic customizers via an extensive official factory accessory catalogue.”

A 40 year model lifespan speaks loudly to getting things right and having a broad spectrum of appeal to traditionalists and newcomers and, of course, opportunistic customizers via an extensive official factory accessory catalogue and a vast array of non-official accessories and performance enhancers. When you have engineered a platform that offers a lot to a lot of riders, there is no compelling need to alter the formula bar the occasional modernisation.

We are sad to see the Softail Standard go back to Harley, but we sure enjoyed the time spent with it.

We are sad to see the Softail Standard go back to Harley, but we sure enjoyed the time spent with it.

Although I am not quite convinced or ready (or is it worthy?) to commit blood or allegiance to the big American cruiser lifestyle, I must extend huge gratitude to Harley-Davidson Australia and the big Ed, Jeff, for this wonderful opportunity to live a short but sweet lifestyle change with the Softail Standard.

"It's surprising how fast you build up a bit of speed without actually realising it."

TECH TALK, Harley-Davidson Softail Standard
Retaining the classic 45-degree V-Twin cylinder angle, the Milwaukee-Eight engine produces 10 percent more torque (varies per model) than previous model and features four-valve cylinder heads that offer 50 percent more intake and exhaust flow capacity. The Milwaukee-Eight engine is counter-balanced to cancel 75 percent of primary vibration at idle, retaining the classic feel of a Harley V-Twin while being very smooth at highway speeds.

Heat management and power were high on the list when Harley took the Milwaukee Eight to the drawing board.

Heat management and power were high on the list when Harley took the Milwaukee Eight to the drawing board.

Using the 107ci version of the Milkwaukee Eight, the Softail Standard makes a thumping 145Nm[107ft-lbs]@3000rpm. Maintaining that Harley-Davidson signature grunt. A new heat management strategy for all Milwaukee-Eight engines also improves rider and passenger comfort.



A high stiffness carbon steel tubular frame forms the core of the Softail Standard and combined with the swingarm significantly increases the rigidity of the chassis. The frame went through a major update in 2021, the design itself is 65 per cent stiffer than the previous Softail Standard, which leads to a 34 per cent increase in overall chassis stiffness. Its design also achieves reduced complexity with a 50 per cent reduction in component parts and 22 per cent reduction in welds.

A high stiffness carbon steel tubular frame forms the core of the Softail Standard and combined with the swingarm significantly increases the rigidity of the chassis.

A high stiffness carbon steel tubular frame forms the core of the Softail Standard and combined with the swingarm significantly increases the rigidity of the chassis.

The dual-bending valve front suspension  delivers damping performance that’s similar to a cartridge fork but with improved, more responsive damping characteristics. Harley say it has been optimised for both comfortable cruising and spirited riding with 130mm of travel. Revised rake and trail also enhance handling ability.



The mono-shock that rear suspension preserves the classic hardtail look while revamped geometry improves ride quality, traction and control. Easily adjustable for spring preload it enables a 217kg range of payload capacity for an updated handling feel that Harley say has been improved

A single four piston caliper with fixed front 300mm disc sorts out the braking at the front, the single disc keeps things simple and clean at the front of the bike! The rear sees a two-piston caliper with a floating 292mm disc…



The Softail standard is the “blank canvas” of the Softail range. Harley-Davidson market the bike to be transformed into something unique, therefore it sits on the low end in terms of pricing! Cast wheels, bar essentials and simple design allow H-D fans to start out with something cheap rather than paying for expensive parts they’re going to pull off anyway!



Harley have kept things relatively simple when it comes to the electronics side of the Softail Standard. They have gone with a 5-inch analog cluster that has been topped off with a digital gear notifier, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tachometer.  The Softail Standard comes with ABS but that’s about the extent of their assists package.


2023 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard Specifications

www.harley-davidson.com/au/

Price: From $22,995 Ride-Away
Warranty: two-years unlimited km
Colours: Vivid Black
Claimed Power: N/A
Claimed Torque: 145Nm[107ft-lbs]@3000rpm
Wet Weight: 297kg
Fuel capacity: 13.2L
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 exhaust; catalyst in muffler
Gearbox: Six-speed, Chain Primary 34/46
Fuel Consumption: 5.5L/100km


Chassis: Mild steeltubular frame, rectangular section backbone, stamped – cast and forged junctions, MiG welded, alloy fender supports.
Rake: 30° Trail: 157mm
Suspension: Non-adjustable Showa Dual Bending 49mm Valve fork, 130mm travel, Spring-preload adjustable shock 43mm stroke, 86mm travel.
Brakes: Four-piston fixed front 300mm disc and two-piston floating 292mm rear disc
Wheels & Tyres: Silver, Annihilator cast aluminium, 100/90 – 19, 150/80 – 16


Dimensions:
Wheelbase: 1630mm
Seat height: 680mm
Ground clearance: 125mm
Overall Length: 2320mm
Overall Width: 865mm
Overall Height: 1160mm
Lean angle: 28.5º


Instruments: 2.14in viewable area LCD display with speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tachometer indication.


Editor’s Note: If you are reading this article on any website other than BikeReview.com.au, please report it to BikeReview via our contact page, as it has been stolen or re-published without authority.


McLeods
 

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