With its classic style and air-cooled, 45-degree V-twin motor, the Harley-Davidson has served as the iconic American-made motorcycle for more than 110 years. In its current form, the motor displaces 1,690cc (103 cubic inches) and offers two valves per cylinder. In the Softail models, the engine is counterbalanced for smoothness. The model gets its name from the fact that it appears to have a classic “hardtail” design in which there is no rear suspension, but it in fact carries a pair of springs and shock absorbers hidden underneath, hence the “Softail” designation.
The Softail Deluxe is intended to accommodate smaller riders with its shorter rear suspension, thus lower seat height, and pullback handlebar. Still, its 26.4-inch seat height is comparable to that of the Indian and Victory, and at 733 pounds with a full tank of premium fuel it’s comparable in weight to the Victory and Moto Guzzi. In previous tests, this engine has generated 78.5 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, and 98.4 lb-ft of torque at 3,800. The Deluxe returned an impressive 46.7 mpg, the best in our test.
The seat has a comfortable, well-padded pocket, though it was designed to fit smaller riders and cramped my 6-foot frame. With less suspension travel than the other bikes here, the rear suspension bottomed over heavier bumps, and cornering clearance was compromised as its rubber-mounted floorboards rattled along the pavement in tighter turns.
A major feature is that the bike is equipped with standard anti-lock brakes, which are attached to a single disc front and rear. It is the only bike here with a luggage rack, and H-D suggests that the rear seat is easily removable for solo riding. That’s probably a good thing, as the rear pad is so minimal that it would not be comfortable for any sort of distance ride. The passing lights are also standard.
With its stock whitewalls and retro fenders in basic Black, the Deluxe starts at $18,099. However, in the Hard Candy Voodoo Purple Flake shown here, the bike will set you back $19,299. The Deluxe garnered a lot of attention on my rides, so if flash is function in your hierarchy of values it would be a good choice.
The Softail Deluxe is designed to accommodate shorter, smaller riders well, but other riders can still find happiness on other Harley Softail models. Personally, if you’re not a shorter individual, I would recommend a similar model with greater cornering clearance and suspension travel for greater comfort and safety.