Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe Review: First Ride

By Jared Solomon | on March 21, 2018

Harley-Davidson has added the Deluxe to its 2018 Softail range, and it’s probably one of the most beautiful bikes in its segment. We ride it in Jaipur to feel its awesomeness.

The entire Softail range has gotten a wonderful makeover. If you read our earlier reviews of the Street Bob, Fat Bob, Fat Boy, and Heritage Classic, then you will know that we really like the new line and we welcome the changes. The entire range of Softails has been redeveloped with a new chassis, new design, but more importantly, they all come with the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine.

The newest addition to the Softail range here in India is the Deluxe and the Low Rider. The Deluxe is the more beautiful and classy of the two, and within the entire range is it certainly the most impressive in terms of road presence.

I got to ride the Deluxe around Jaipur for a day and once again I am mighty impressed with the American bike maker. The current Deluxe pays homage to the design changes that were implemented in Harley-Davidson back in 1949, when the company first mounted hydraulic front forks to replace the springer front-ends on the rigid FL frames. The fender on the new Deluxe looks similar to those old FL frames and so, the new Deluxe looks like an old hardtail. It’s also got those beautiful white-wall tyres and enough chrome in all the right places. The entire look of the new Deluxe surely makes a strong statement in terms of old-school design being implemented in the most modern power cruisers.

2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe Side View

The new Deluxe is also very comfortable to ride. While you can get a dual seat, the standard Deluxe comes with a single seat that is positioned low, cushioned well, and is big enough to allow you to sink into it very nicely. The floor boards are also placed in front of you and together with the low and wide pull-back handlebars, the riding position is perfect for all-day cruising. What adds to the comfort of the bike is the super smooth Milwaukee-Eight. The massive 1,745cc V-Twin is not only incredibly powerful, but it's also very smooth to run. There are no vibrations felt at all, and the engine always feels calm no matter how you ride the motorcycle. This is because the Milwaukee-Eight gets dual counterbalancers to cancel primary vibration. This also allows the engine to be rigid mounted in the frame, which increases chassis stiffness for improved handling.

The best thing about all the new Softails is of course this beautiful new engine. It produces 144Nm of torque, which is guaranteed to set the tarmac on fire and offer you an exhilarating acceleration feel. It’s a beautiful unit and power is available instantaneously whenever you twist the throttle. Even in the Deluxe, the roll-on in much stronger. It doesn't matter if you're in fifth or sixth gear, because all you have to do is grab a fistful and twist the throttle and the engine will deliver. Even the 6-speed transmission is crisp and shifting gears is effortless and always on point.  

2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe Engine

Just like the entire Softail range the new 2018 Deluxe also has improved handling. The bike gets the same chassis and it’s also got better lean angle so its easily flickable, and you can bend into turns with more speed. However, in the Deluxe, the floorboards do come in the way, so you won’t want to bend down too much or take on corners as aggressively as you could, say, on the Street Bob or Fat Bob. Handling is still easy on this big bike, and its easily flickable, but what’s even better is that with the new suspension setup it behaves very well even in urban conditions. You do feel the bumps, but it’s not as bad as you may think. The front gets a set of Showa’s Dual Bending Valve forks that offers a self-adjusting damping feature that changes the damping values depending on fork speed. The rear gets coil-over monoshock, which is hidden just beneath the seat, and it comes with the obligatory spring-preload adjustment.

The new Deluxe is a beautiful piece of art, that just so happens to come with a phenomenal V-Twin engine and wheels. It’s the perfect cruiser if you want eyeballs on you, or if you want to be comfortable, or if you want both. You can munch on miles for days and never get bored of it.

Tags: Harley Davidson Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe

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