The Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic is a retro-style motorcycle with plenty of chrome and ornamentation but little of the amenities found on touring bikes designed for long-distance travel. The motorcycle appeals to Harley-Davidson purists who prefer the hefty power generated by the Heritage Softail’s twin cam engine and a six-speed transmission that allows for a comfortable ride at low RPMs.
The Heritage Softail is part of the FL series of Harley-Davidson motorcycles dating back to 1941 that included the famed “knucklehead” and “panhead” engines. The Softtail chassis was introduced in 1984 to capture the styling of 1940's bikes that was beginning to emerge in response to the influx of Japanese motorcycles. The FLST Heritage Softail debuted in 1986 with large telescopic forks, and the Heritage Softail Classic followed two years later with an emphasis on retro-styling. The Heritage Softail not only paid homage to the 1940's styling but also proved to be good marketing by capturing the baby boomer generation’s eagerness for nostalgia. Although boomers were not quite old enough to ride the 1940's vintage motorcycles, they lusted after them nonetheless.
The Heritage Softail features plenty of chrome from nose to rear, studded saddle bags and a low profile with high handlebars. The basic look of the Heritage Softail remained virtually unchanged until 2009 when Harley-Davidson took elements from its sibling, the FL Sotftail Cross Bones, which gave it a slightly darker, if not menacing, look. For 2009, the Heritage Softail featured an oval brake pedal, cat-eye dashboard and half-moon floorboards. Wide whitewalls were featured on the Softail Deluxe model. The wheels are steel-laced but can be ordered in laced aluminum as an option. The speedometer is mounted on the gas tank and is equipped with an odometer, trip meter, fuel gauge, low oil pressure light and engine diagnostic readout.
The 2010 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic sits on a 64.5-inch wheelbase and measures 94.5 inches long. It stands 5.1 inches above the ground and weighs 730 lbs. without fluids. It sits 27.1 inches tall unladen. Fuel capacity in the tank is 5 gallons. Oil capacity is 3.5 quarts.
The engine is a fuel-injected, air-cooled, chain-driven twin cam displacing 96 cubic inches (1584cc). Its bore measures 3.75 inches, and the stroke is 4.38 inches. The compression ratio is 9.2:1, and torque is rated at 92.2 foot-pounds. Power is transmitted via a six-speed manual transmission.
The Heritage Softail Classic doesn’t feature standard GPS, cruise control or ABS braking found on competitors’ touring bikes (GPS can be ordered as an option), but it handles well over the long haul. With the higher handlebars and wider spaced floorboards introduced in 2009, the bike’s ergonomics have improved over previous models, and the rider’s posture is improved. The motorcycle gets 35 MPG in the city and 54 on the highway. The 2010 Heritage Softail starts at about $17,000.
- Photo Credit William Thomas Cain/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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