Bike India - - FIRST RIDE HARLEY-DAVID­SON 2018 SOF­T­AIL LINE -

oF THe FOUr

up­dated Sof­tails we rode, it was the Street Bob — the least ex­pen­sive and in many ways the en­try model to the fam­ily — that was ar­guably the most im­pres­sive. It looks very much like a tra­di­tional Harley cruiser, back­ing up that big, pushrod V-twin en­gine with ape­hanger bars, a low sin­gle sad­dle and kicked-out front forks hold­ing a nar­row, large-di­am­e­ter laced wheel.

It looks un­de­ni­ably cool but not ex­actly like a bike that you’d ex­pect to shine when be­ing rid­den hard on a twisty moun­tain road. Yet here I was, crank­ing the Street Rod up a steep, hair­pin-strewn climb north of Barcelona in the wake of a rapid lead rider, and be­ing al­most shocked by how quick, sweet-han­dling and en­joy­able it was.

On the straight sec­tions the Harley

was re­spectably rapid and ef­fort­lessly con­trol­lable, its solidly-mounted V-twin im­press­ing whether it was pulling crisply from very low revs or stay­ing pretty smooth when spin­ning harder. And in the turns it was ev­ery bit as good, steer­ing with ad­mirable ease and neu­tral­ity, and even cor­ner­ing re­spectably hard be­fore its mid-mounted footrests touched down.

The Street Rod was the only one of the four Sof­tails we rode with the smaller Mil­wau­keeEight 107 en­gine, which is stan­dard across the fam­ily. Partly be­cause it’s also the light­est of the bunch at 286 kg dry, it barely seemed slower than the others de­spite pro­duc­ing 145 Nm of torque to the big­ger unit’s 155 Nm, at an un­changed 3,000 rpm. It al­ways felt that it had suf­fi­cient grunt, even when ac­cel­er­at­ing with barely 1,500 rpm show­ing on the small dig­i­tal dis­play set into the han­dle­bar clamp.

I’d have pre­ferred a sharper front brake, be­cause slow­ing hard re­quired a firm squeeze of the lever and, bet­ter still, some help from the rear pedal to gen­er­ate strong bite from the sin­gle front disc. But the Street Rod steered with ad­mirable ease for a large-front-wheeled cruiser with 30 de­grees of rake and had no trou­ble keep­ing up with the other bikes, es­pe­cially af­ter I’d un­bolted its seat to in­crease shock preload to­wards its max­i­mum.

This is a bike that at first glance looks like some­thing straight out of a 1970s film, but which goes, han­dles and looks af­ter its rider as a mod­ern mo­tor­bike should. I even found the wind-blown rid­ing po­si­tion rea­son­ably com­fort­able, helped by the com­pli­ant sus­pen­sion. If you’ve ever fan­cied a Harley-David­son cruiser but thought it would be too dif­fer­ent from a “nor­mal” bike, a ride on the 2018 Street Rod might well prove a rev­e­la­tion.

Sim­plis­tic looks over new tech­nol­ogy is a good way to go

107-inch (1,745 cc) V-twin pumps out 145 Nm of peak torque; out­put is a big step-up from its pre­de­ces­sor

Min­i­mal info on a small dig­i­tal dash looks neat

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