Harley-Davidson Softail: details and history

Harley-Davidson Softail

Harley-Davidson Softail: details and history

Harley-Davidson Softail models are among the most appreciated motorcycles in the world: good performances and breathtaking designs make these motorcycles incredible.

Since their first appearance in 1984, Harley-Davidson Softail models have been a loyal road trip companion for a lot of bikers, a role that granted Softails the status of icon in the motorcycle univers.

Where does the name come from and what is the history of softails? Let’s see it together.

Harley-Davidson Softail: origins

In 1974, Bill Davis – engineer and biker – in love with his Super Glide looks but annoyed by the backaches that his hardtailed motorcycle was giving him, decides to design the embryonal version of a softail. At the time, he was not the only one suffering from hardtails vibrations, matter of fact, there were a lot of customizers crating kits to add plunger suspensions to the rear axle. Davis was not a fan of this solution; therefore, he went to work on his ’72 Super Glide in order to find a solution.

Davis, inspired by the design of Vincent Black Shadow, started working and the result was simply staggering. His Super Glide now had 10-inch over forks, customized trees and a huge improvement: the hardtail is not and hardtail anymore, it now rocks a triangular “swingarm” and has twin springs and a snowmobile shock hidden under the seat.

Harley Riders of the era loved Davis project that much that he decided to patent it in 1976. The patent allowed him to build frames and sell them. Better yet, he decided to pay a visit to Harley-Davidson and show his project to the company. After watching Bill’s bike, Willie G. and his team were not overall impressed with it, or at least not enough to fully commit. The first Harley-Davidson Softail had to a wait a bit longer to see the light.

Davis got promptly to work as soon as he got back home in Missouri and – with a person whose name is not knowns to anybody to this day – creates Road Worx. The tweaks to perfectionate their “Softail” kept going and, when Davis finally figure out the suspension issue, business began to skyrocket.

Unfortunately, Davis and his business partner had their differences who let to a split. Davis – guided by his attorney – decides to sell his project… Harley Davidson purchases it on January the 6th 1982 and in 1983 unveils the whole new Harley-Davidson Softail: the FXST, and amazing motorcycle with the classic Harley Davidson look and a handling never seen before on a motorcycle thanks to rear suspensions. Everything that came after it, is history.

In 1986 the company presents the Harley-Davidson Softail Heritage FLST to the world. The bike was a big success thanks to its looks inspired by the iconic Hydra-Glide.

In 1988, the year of the company 85th anniversary, the world sees a Harley-Davidson Softail Springer FXSTS for the first time. Beside the incredible 85th anniversary paintjob and decal, what impressed the most was the “springer” front fork.

1990 is the year of the project born from Willie G. biker notes taken during a Sturgis event. It is the year of the Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy FLSTF debut. Willie really followed bikers’ directions, delivering an iconic motorcycle. The Fat Bob was even featured in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, an appearance that made it even more iconic to young bikers.

In 2000, Harley-Davison decided to start the new millennium with the bang introducing the Softail Deuce FXSTD.

Years go by and in 2010 the company decides to put out some updates, especially for the Harley-Davidson Softail Heritage that is finally equipped with the Twin-Cam 96B and a six-speed transmission.

In 2012 the world in introduced to the Harley-Davidson Softail Slim. The model is inspired by the bobber models created after World War II.

This incredible history, filled with great accomplishments takes us to 2017, year in which Harley-Davidson decides to completely revolutionize the Softail line. It is the largest product development process in Harley-Davidson history. The intent was to completely improve and innovate the Softail line in order to offer a package of great handling, comfort and technology. I got to say, they made it!

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