Harley Davidson is well-known for making cruisers – motorcycles that focus more on comfort during long-distance rides. One of the most popular Harley motorcycles is the Softail Slim. In this Harley Davidson Softail Slim review, I’ll list all of its specs and features so you know if it’s the right motorbike for you.
The Harley Davidson Softail Slim is also a beautifully styled motorcycle. It can be described as a classic, souped-up bobber with a post-WW2-era look. Its minimal cruiser design, with the satisfying sound of the V-Twin engine, makes the Softail the most popular Harley model family.
Read on to learn more about the Harley Davidson Softail Slim and its specs.
About the Harley Davidson Softail Slim
The Softail Slim is a model that forms part of Harley Davidson’s cruiser motorcycle lineup. All the Softail motorbikes use the same basic Softail chassis design with a hidden mono-shock absorber. However, they do vary in ergonomics, amenities, and styling.
What makes the Softail Slim different from its brethren? For one, it has a relaxed rider triangle, making it comfortable even on long-distance rides. Coupled with an upright riding position and floorboards, it is the ideal machine for cruising around the town. Overall, it has a stripped-down vibe without too many bells and whistles.
The Harley Davidson Softail Slim uses a Milwaukee-Eight V-twin engine to power it. This engine is capable of producing a massive 110 ft-lbs of torque at just 3000 rpm. It has a classic style that Harley Davidson is famous for, with a hint of being a “bobber” without being one.
The Harley Softail Slim Engine
Most likely, the very first thing that you will notice when you walk up to the Harley Davidson Softail Slim is the beefy Milwaukee-8 engine. Ironically, this motorcycle is called “Slim” when it has a beefy engine with a 1,746-cc displacement.
The engine is typically under the square. It has a 100mm bore with a 111mm stroke. It is the reason why the Mil-8 engine can deliver massive torque at low RPMs; 110 ft-lbs @ 3,000rpm.
This solid hole shot performance is further backed with a strong roll-on. You can expect that regardless if you are in fifth or sixth gear, giving the Mil-8 enough reserve power to pass other vehicles.
The Milwaukee-8 is air-cooled and has electronic fuel injection. It can purportedly provide the motorcycle with an astounding 47 mpg fuel efficiency. However, this engine’s 10:1 compression ratio will require you to use high-octane fuel.
Longtime fans of Harley-Davidsons notice right away that the Softail Slim has very minimal engine vibration. There are quite a lot of fans who miss the engine shakes. The Mil-8 uses a balancer that absorbs and dissipates much of the engine vibrations inherent in V-twins.
Also, the 2-into-2 stock exhaust muffles the sound of the engine to a low rumble. It is not so loud that it sets off the neighborhood cars’ alarms, to the dismay of purists. However, the upside is that you will not get as many noise complaints from your neighbors.
Harley Softail Slim Aesthetics and Ergonomics
Undoubtedly, Harley Davidson hit the mark when it came to the overall design of the Softail Slim. This motorcycle has a classic look that never fails to make heads turn whenever it passes by. However, the Softail Slim is not just all looks. The design also takes ergonomics into account.
The swept-back handlebars give the rider a comfortable and relaxed reach. Meanwhile, the 26.4-inch seat height allows for a compact and ergonomic rider’s triangle. It also gives a lot of control, especially at low speeds. The Softail Slim’s design allows average-height riders a flat-footed stance when stopped. The floorboards add for a more relaxed ride.
Combine the ergonomic rider’s triangle and the neutral handling of the Softail chassis, and you will get a phenomenal ride quality. Tipping the scales at 671 pounds, the Harley Davidson Softail Slim is not lightweight. However, it does carry its weight rather well. Despite its measurements, the Slim’s steering is quite light. It makes it very maneuverable, allowing you to dart in and out of traffic with ease.
The actions of the telescopic fork and mono-shock suspensions are quite balanced, giving the rider a comfortable cruise down the road. However, the shocks sometimes struggle with the bigger bumps.
Softail Slim Stopping Power
Having all that power will all be for naught if you cannot effectively stop your motorcycle when needed. It is not a problem with the Softail Slim and its 4-piston caliper, 300mm front disc, and 2-piston caliper, 292mm rear disc rotors, which helps slow down the bike from 60 to 0 in just 138.4 feet.
Although the Harley Davidson Softail Slim comes with an ABS option for an additional $800, many users feel it is more nuisance. The reason is that it might hinder the motorbike’s stopping ability without smooth braking.
Softail Slim Chassis
Most motorcycle enthusiasts agree that it is the swingarm that gives the Softail Slim its iconic look. The Harley Davidson Softail frame pretty much remained unchanged since it first came out in the 80s. However, it received a total overhaul in 2018. Harley Davidson removed almost half of the frame members.
It resulted in an even more rigid and lighter frame. The swingarm remained, of course. However, instead of twin shocks, there is only one mono-shock hidden under the seat.
Although the Harley Davidson Softail Slim chassis is not as advanced as its competitors on the market, it still provides superior ride quality. The Softail motorbikes are not known for their agility, quite the opposite actually. The 2018 Softail Slim remodel made very significant improvements, though.
The new Softails, including the Slim, can now attack corners more aggressively. This is all thanks to the 30 degrees of rake, which keeps it stable even at moderate to high-speed curves.
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Is the Harley Davidson Softail Slim Ideal for Cross-country?
Is the Harley Davidson ideal for long-distance rides? Not really. The main reason is that it does not have any fairings or even a rudimentary windscreen. Windblast at highway speeds can be tiring after an hour or so. You can maybe install a couple of aftermarket accessories to make the ride more bearable.
Another issue is the lack of storage. A couple of boxes or even saddlebags would have been nice additions to the Softail Slim to make it viable for cross-country rides.
The Harley Davidson Softail Slim is primarily for cruising across town or for rides no longer than an hour both ways. However, it is exactly why Harley Davidson provided six other models in the Softail line, including the Softail Sport Glide. This motorcycle already comes equipped and ready for long-haul rides. However, if you are thinking of even bigger miles, the touring models are better.
Is the Harley Davidson Softail Slim a Good Beginner Bike?
Although other Harley Davidson bikes are better for beginners, the Softail Slim is still a good contender. The saddle height is not that high. A person around 5’5” will not have trouble standing flat-footed when the bike is stopped.
Also, the Softail S has a comfortable rider’s triangle and half-moon floorboards, making every ride a treat. The hidden rear mono-shock also ensures that you will always have a smooth ride regardless of the road condition.
Steering and handling are also much better in the Softail S. This are especially true if you compare it with the classic Hardtails that Harley Davidson became famous for. Even a beginner will be able to weave through heavy traffic with this bike.
If you are a beginner when it comes to cruiser bikes, the Harley Davidson Softail Slim is worth checking out.
Harley Davidson Softail Slim Vs. Softail Deluxe Vs. Softail S
How does the Harley Davidson Softail Slim compare with some of the other models in its category, namely the Softail Deluxe and the Softail S?
Original Softail Vs. the Softail Slim
Regarding the style and design of the bikes, the Softail Deluxe has the classic Harley Davidson cruiser design. It has wrap-around fenders, chrome accents, chrome headlamp housing, whitewall tires, and a chrome sissy bar. It is the quintessential design for Harley upscale bikes.
The Harley Davidson Softail Slim, on the other hand, has an entirely different style attitude. The Slim’s design is reminiscent of post-WWII bobbers. It has minimal styling, chopped fenders, an almost entirely black paint job (an alternative paint option for an additional charge), spoke wheels, and black tires. The Softail Slim is a classic-looking motorcycle with modern trimmings.
In terms of engine and powertrain, the Softail Deluxe and the Slim use the same engine. It is the Milwaukee-8 High-output Twin Cam. Both also use the same 6-speed Cruise Drive tranny. However, due to its design, the Deluxe is a bit heavier than the slim. The additional weight does not do much in terms of performance, though.
When it comes to pricing, the Deluxe is the pricier of the two, starting at $18,550. Meanwhile, the Slim starts at $14,900 for the base model. Now, for an additional $400, you can get color options. For $750, you can get 2-tone paint jobs. The difference here is that the Deluxe comes with custom colors. The Slim only comes with a minimal number of colors you can choose from.
Feature-wise, the Slim barely has any, which is in the spirit of bobber bikes. Unlike the Deluxe, it does not have cruise control, anti-lock brakes, or even an optional wheel upgrade. The Slim also has an option for ABS, but you need to pay $750 more.
Softail Slim Vs. Softail Slim S
The Harley Davidson Softail Slim and Softail Slim S are nearly identical in style and design, aside from small tweaks. One difference is that with the Softail Slim S, the ABS comes standard and not just an option.
The biggest difference between the two is that the Softail Slim S has a beefier engine. The Softail Slim S sits on top of a Screamin’ Eagle V-twin 110 engine. It is one of the biggest and most powerful engines that Harley Davidson produces. However, even though the Slim S has more power because it is almost perfectly balanced, you will still not feel bone-jarring vibrations while riding.
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Brief History of the Harley Davidson Softail Slim
Early 80s – Softail Design
Harley Davidson first came up with the Softail design in the early 80s. It all started with a concept design by mechanical engineer Bill Davis. Davis has been playing around with a design for hidden shock absorbers for large-framed motorcycles with V-twin engines.
In 1982, Harley Davidson bought Davis’s design patents. They also brought him on board with the engineering team to perfect his design.
The original Harley Davidson hardtail did not have a rear suspension, making long-distance rides a bone-jarring experience. It was common back in the day for bike builders to customize the frames of their motorcycles. It is also why many aftermarket parts manufacturers tried to solve the problem by providing traditional “plunger” suspension systems.
Nostalgic Styling Plus Modern Technology
However, Davis’ design is superior compared to the aftermarket shocks. It is not just because it performed well but also because it preserved the classic look of the Harley Davidson cruiser. It combined nostalgic styling with modern technology.
Davis designed a motorcycle that looked like a traditional hardtail, but it has a triangular swingarm underneath the seat. A swingarm is a part that holds the rear axle. It pivots so that the suspension can absorb the bumps and dips on the road.
Dual Shock Absorbers
Also, there are dual shock absorbers that help dampen the rear suspension. The shock absorbers keep the motor stable because they keep the rear tires always in contact with the road surface. They do so even if the bike hits a bump a bit too hard. The genius thing about Softail Slim’s design is that all seven design innovations were tucked underneath the transmission that hides them from view.
Conclusion – Harley Davidson Slim Review
The Harley Davidson Softail Slim comes with a beefy Milwaukee-8 V-twin powerplant with 110 ft-lbs of torque at only 3,000 rpm. This means that it can go screaming right out of the gate if it wants to. The Softail Slim uses the classic Harley Davidson design aesthetics but with a minimalist, bobber-like styling.
The Harley Davidson Softail Slim is an excellent street machine. Even though it has a couple of issues, it is still a worthwhile investment if you are into motorbikes.