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A Softail is a motorcycle which has the rear suspension tucked under the rider's seat. Wondering why I am telling you this?
Well, we have just ridden the the all-new 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob which is categorised under the 2018 Softail product line.
The very first Softail from Harley Davidson was the FXST which was introduced back in 1984. Back then, these models soon became the backbone of the company and sales shot up.
Over the years, Harley-Davidson regularly updated the Softail models and the 2018 Street Bob is now here. We took the motorcycle out for a spin and here's what we have to say about it.
Design and Features
At first glance, one might mistake it to be a custom-built motorcycle because of the stripped-down Bobber motorcycle design. The mini-ape handlebar on the bike makes it look even more badass than it already is.
The Street Bob sports an all-new Softail tubular frame, which is now stronger and lighter than the previous Softail and Dyna models. On the whole, the bike is long and looks stretched because of the swing arm design. This makes it a head turner.
The Street Bob is suspended by all-new Showa forks up front with Dual Bending Valves. The mechanically adjustable monoshock at the rear is neatly tucked under the seat, making it invisible at first glance.
The motorcycle features an all new LED headlight cluster with daytime running lights which sits flush between the front forks. Harley-Davidson has integrated a small LCD screen into the bar clamp which is user-friendly and is also readable in bright sunlight.
The screen primarily displays speed, fuel levels and the gear position. As one scrolls through the menu using the buttons on the left side of the handlebar, it displays the odometer, trip meter, and a tachometer. The motorcycle also features keyless ignition and a USB charging port.
The teardrop tank, especially in the Olive Gold colour we reviewed looks magnificent, especially under low-light conditions. The tank blends and the single seat blend in very well, further accentuating the motorcycle's looks. The chopped front and rear fenders further sweetens the deal.
Sadly, the motorcycle comes with only one seat. While that does affect praciticality, it is the defining element of a Bobber! One can always opt for an aftermarket pillion seat from Harley's accessory center.
Power and Handling
Powering the Street Bob is the dual-counterbalanced Milwaukee 8, 1,750cc V-twin engine. As usual, the power output of the engine has not been disclosed by Harley-Davidson, but, the motorcycle has a staggering 144Nm of peak torque output.
That much torque starts kicking in at as low as 1900rpm. The engine comes mated to a six-speed gearbox which shifts pretty smoothly.
The motor has a redline of 5500 rpm but that does not limit the rider in any way. Irrespective of what gear or speed one is at, just yanking open the throttle catapults the motorcycle to its top speed of 200 km/h.
At that speed, the rider literally has to hold on to the handlebar, as the brisk acceleration along with the windblast pushes you behind.
With considerable power and torque, one would assume that the motorcycle has a loads of electronic assistance. But Harley-Davidson has only equipped it with ABS.
It is known that the company does not equip its bikes with traction control (TC), but these new models should have had at least TC to begin with in the electronics department. Its absence is felt because, the motorcycle just starts to fishtail if one gets on the gas a little harder than they should.
The Harley-Davidson Street Bob weighs in at around 300kgs. That weight though is well-managed and one can maneuver the motorcycle perfectly in heavy traffic as well. For its weight, it is pretty agile and can be flicked into corners easily, that is until the pegs start scraping the road, which happens pretty early on. A bike this long (2,320 mm), doing all of this is commendable.
To help put down the power well and keep the grip levels in the corners as well as on highways, Harley-Davidson has fitted the motorcycle with grippy tyres. A 100/90B19, 57H, BW tyre at the front and a 150/80B16, 77H, BW tyre at the rear, both from Dunlop do a pleasing job in grip levels.
Braking duties are handled by a single discs at the front and rear. However, the braking has improved on this model, thanks to the new suspension setup. The feel of the brakes have increased.
The bike does vibrate as expected, but the large vibrations creep in only at high speed. There are no vibrations around the 120km/h mark, which is also the sweet spot for cruising.
The single saddle sadly lacks cushioning and one can expect a sore posterior after a long run. One can opt for an aftermarket rider seat with a backrest, which would be perfect for long cruises.
When looked at from a small bike point-of-view, the clutch lever is a bit on the stiffer side, but for an engine that big it comparatively feels light. Stop-and-go traffic though will make your fingers hurt. To overtake one really doesn't need to downshift. Just give it some gas in any gear and the torquey engine takes charge.
The Street Bob returned a mileage of around 15 km/l in the city and 21 km/l on the highway. It has a fuel tank capacity of 14-litres and this equals a range of around 225kms when brimmed up.
Promeet Ghosh Thinks!
The new Softail models, especially the Street Bob seems to be a game-changer for Harley-Davidson. It looks beautiful and badass at the same time. But, all of this comes with a price tag of Rs 12 lakh ex-showroom (Delhi), is a little too on the expensive side.
So, for people who are more of a solo rider, love to power cruise on the highway and have a little more than Rs 12 lakh to spare, the 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob will be the perfect motorcycle in your garage.