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Featured Rental Bike: 2017 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail

Harley Heritage Softail

The Softail appeared in Harley-Davidson’s line-up as the FXST Softail in 1984.  Interestingly, the design was brought to the attention of the company by Bill Davis, a Harley enthusiast and engineer from St. Louis, MO.  He built a prototype based on his own 1972 Super Glide with a cantilever swingarm pivoted at the bottom and sprung at the top with the springs and shock absorber hidden under the seat.  Davis patented his design, contacted Willie G. Davidson and arranged a meeting in 1976.  Although Davidson was impressed with the design, no plans were made to incorporate it into the company’s line of motorcycles.  Davis continued to improve upon his initial design, moving the springs and shock absorber from under the seat to under the frame and the pivot point to the top of the triangular swingarm, allowing the oil tank to be placed under the seat.  Bypassing Harley-Davidson, Davis decided to produce the new design under the name Road Worx Sub-Shock, but his partnership fell through.  He was contacted by Harley soon after and sold his patents, prototype and tooling to the motorcycle manufacturer in early 1982.

In addition to Bill Davis’ design, Harley turned to Jim Haubert Engineering, a contractor that the company used to develop prototypes and custom bikes.  Haubert soon developed his own version that closely followed the look of the rigid frame bikes of Harley’s past.   The “Softail” was thus born and offered riders a hard-looking bike but with hidden rear suspension for more comfort.

Coinciding with the Softail’s introduction was Harley’s development of the Evolution engine, a lighter, tighter engine than the iron Shovelhead.  Harley had fallen into a state of resting on its laurels before this point, but with their sales dramatically down due to Japanese bikes flooding the U.S. market and the company’s limited resources for design development under the AMF ownership, it was time to step it up or risk falling into bankruptcy.

The Heritage Softail came out in 1986 and, along with the FXST, boosted the company’s sales and turned the company back in the right direction.  The staying power of the Softail is in no small part due to providing the riding population with a rigid-looking frame in tune with the choppers of the past, but taking the pain out of the ride with hidden rear suspension.

Since its inception, the Softail has had relatively few changes, but some important improvements such as the Evo engine being replaced with the Twin Cam, which resulted in less bone-shaking vibration, took place in 2000.  Providing fatter tires and replacing the chains with belts have also helped keep it one of Harley’s top-selling models for over thirty years.

  • 1690cc engine
  • 6-speed
  • Standard ABS
  • 27-inch seat height
  • 5-gallon capacity fuel tank
  • 755-lb. wet

OC Motorcycle has a beautiful Heritage Softail Classic in its rental fleet.  With studded leather saddle bags, a full windshield, Fat Bob fuel tank, wide floorboards and a very low seat height of just 25.5”, this bike is perfectly suited to long, relaxing weekend rides.  The wide, comfortable seat pairs nicely with the backrest and passenger seat for two-up riding.  Call or stop by to reserve this motorcycle now.  The Southern California weather is perfect for coastal or inland rides.

OC Motorcycle is your premiere source for rentals, service and sales in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Corona Del Mar, Huntington Beach and all of Orange County! OC Motorcycle is an authorized Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Triumph and Vespa/Piaggio dealership in addition to already offering the most diverse line of used motorcycles including Harley-Davidson, Indian, BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Honda, Kawasaki and more.

L.V. Sage, Author, Red, White & Blues: Book One Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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