The All-New Harley-Davidson Softail Frame

You already know that the 2018 Harley-Davidson lineup includes 8 all-new Softail models that combine the hard-riding performance of the Dyna® line with the unique custom look of the Softail® line.

In a kind of “custom revolution” Harley-Davidson has reinvented a frame:

–  with a design reducing complexity with a 50 percent reduction in component parts and a 22 percent reduction in welds.

– lighter than before, and it has a 34% stiffer chassis overall.

– two unique swingarms, one for narrow and one for wide rear tires. The wide chassis is 15 percent lighter (13 pounds) and the narrow chassis is 20 percent (18 pounds) lighter than the 2017 Softail frame.

– built to harness the massive power of the Milwaukee 107 and 114 engines.

– featuring an all-new easily adjustable mono-shock rear suspension. The new mono-shock rear suspension preserves the classic hard tail look while revamped geometry improves ride quality, traction and control. This new easily mono-shock enables a 240 pound range of payload capacity for increased passenger comfort and enhanced dynamic handling compared to 2017 Softail models.

– equipped with Showa® SDBV® suspension technology provides the performance of a racing-style cartridge fork with linear damping characteristics

30 Responses to “The All-New Harley-Davidson Softail Frame”

  1. 1 Xenu Aug 31st, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Now this REALLY controversial!
    Harley is trimming weight while improving rear suspension. Looks like a much better swingarm geometry than the old fake hardtail.

  2. 2 Xenu Aug 31st, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Now this REALLY controversial!
    Harley is trimming weight while improving rear suspension. Looks like a much better swingarm geometry than the old fake hardtail.

  3. 3 Chief Waldo Aug 31st, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Wow. Reminds me of my 1981 Yamaha Virago.

  4. 4 Aug 31st, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    its a 1993 victory v92c frame

  5. 5 SIGFREED Aug 31st, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Lighter, stiffer, cheaper – who cares what it looks like (as in other brands).

    BTW – none of the previous (pretenders) could sport a 114ci MOFO of a motor. As such, I will take a new gen 114ci Fat Bob – at a fraction of the price (or the FB and likely two more 2018 HD’s for the same price), rather than the motorcycle previously known as ‘Confederate’ – and have as much fun.

    Dare I say the Polarindian is eating its peace pipe as we ‘speak’.

  6. 6 Gasbag Aug 31st, 2017 at 2:35 pm


  7. 7 Mdkuder Aug 31st, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Finally have 8 valves like a Roadliner and copied the monoshock as well. I also think they ripped off the Bolt as well for the 500 and 750 bikes. Hmmmm Yamaha engineers must be moonlighting at HD!

  8. 8 Seymour Aug 31st, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    I’m a believer. I would buy.

  9. 9 BobS Aug 31st, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I agree with Sigfreed, who cares if this has elements of a Victory, Yami, or other frame. What matters is it’s better. As for the 114 MOFO motor though, the M8 114 isn’t much of a MOFO, it’s basically right about the output of a ten year old Vic 106. Not that that’s bad! Indian and it’s 73 hp 111″ motor can suck it. If I was buying new today, give me the cheaper stock Fat Bob with the 107 and the new Fuel Moto 120 big bore kit. 140 hp 140 tq. NOW We’re talking MOFO!

  10. 10 Fzzzz Aug 31st, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    So whats it handle like when you open it up and scratch exhaust clamps? How long will the bearings and mono shock last? 20k? 50k? 100k? Much flex? Looks nice.

  11. 11 James just another crazy kiwi Sep 1st, 2017 at 12:55 am

    So cheaper to produce means cheaper MotorCycle prices….sorry that is just soooo funny
    doesn’t look like the rear of a hard tail frame to me …

    Earth to the Motor company , do you actually have a sales strategy that does not involve Peyote enema’s…
    Or Peace pipes 🙂

    I am a dedicated loyal HD customer….alienate folk like me and you could be in trouble ….

  12. 12 Matt W. Sep 1st, 2017 at 7:43 am

    James: Kinda reminds me of when HD came out with the blacked out RoadKing and actually charged more for it!

  13. 13 Calif Phil Sep 1st, 2017 at 8:18 am

    I think the frame redesign is great and it was a very good move in the right direction for Harley.

  14. 14 SoCalPhun Sep 1st, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I’m gonna miss the heck out of Dyna’s but moving to a lighter, stiffer, mono-shock frame is a step in the right direction.

    Hope they got it right and performs as well as they say. Time will tell.

  15. 15 Sharkey Sep 1st, 2017 at 9:06 am

    I’m mildly amused at all those who blather on about HD copying this or that when everyone else they refer too is a copy of HD’s V-Twin cruiser concept in the first place.
    A much improved Softail cruiser for sure; will still miss they Dyna line; glad I got mine already

  16. 16 Chief Waldo Sep 1st, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Actually, this is well played by HD. First, a mono-shock frame should improve handling and tracking, especially around bumpy turns. Second, if you want the dyna’s look, there’s the 500 and 750.
    Improving the big V’s handling, while offering the classic look to the younger riders who are buying R nine Ts and Bonnevilles. Thumbs up!

  17. 17 Matt W. Sep 1st, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Sharkey: I find the irony of Metrics resembling Harleys for years and now Harleys resembling Metrics to be amusing on both sides. Pretty soon it will be even harder to them apart. Minus the price tag of course ;).

  18. 18 Easygear Sep 1st, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    If they wanted to attract younger buyers, wouldn`t a true “form follows function”-monoshock swingarm have made more sense ?

    If they wanted to attract traditionalists / riders which care about looks, wouldn`t a true Softtail swingarm, one that follows the line of the frame not only at the upper line, BUT ON THE LOWER LINE AS WELL, have made more sense ?

    On the right side the huge exhaust has to remain, so it covers up where it lacks design, on the left side you will need to hang a huge leather bag. Except looks and lines is not in your book.

  19. 19 Chop Sep 1st, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    So they have finally gone with the design that Willie G. knocked back 42 years ago. Remember the original SOFTAIL post on here a while back.

  20. 20 Easygear Sep 1st, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    @ Chop – there is a nice write up on Hot Bike, named “In the Beginning, There Was a Biker…” ,
    that is the Softail Story from Bill Davis who had the idea and filed patent in 1976, then showed Willie G. what idea he had.
    They bought it a while later from him.
    Which design idea by Willie G. you mean ?

  21. 21 SIGREED Sep 2nd, 2017 at 8:07 am

    BobS – hope you read this.

    Indeed the HD 114 8 valve is a bit anemic off the shopfloor, but apparently it has been thoroughly throttled, to apease the EPA Gestapo. Those in the know says it is a MOFO of a sleeper. So unless you are in the Republic of Calif – prepare to unleash the beast…

  22. 22 BobS Sep 2nd, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Yes Sigfreed, that’s exactly where I was going. I was more kinda trying to plug the aftermarket. Harley will sell you, perhaps better stated ‘can only sell you’ comparatively weak upgrades. For what 2 or 3 grand you can go from a 107 to a 114 that only offers about a ten percent boost in power. Or you could put that 2-3k towards an aftermarket big bore to the 107 that is more like a 40% boost in power! This is why I think Polaris just got check mated. One can (I have) done this with the Victory motor. 130-140 hp AND torque out of a 116″ aftermarket big bore kit. You can’t get that with the limitations made to Indian’s design done in the name of pretending to be really old. Namely the two valve pushrod motor with the downdraft exhaust ports. You’re just not going to get the same level of power increase from that design as you are more modern designs like the M8 or Vic Freedom motors. At least in the case of Victory they had been around long enough that the aftermarket had been created. Indian hasn’t. At the volume of sales they’re at it takes years worth of selling to create a pool of customers that makes the aftermarket viable. So in one year there are lots of M8 options already available. The TS111 has been on the market for four years, what options do we have? Very few.

  23. 23 Jeff gundlach Sep 2nd, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Looks Really heavy…

  24. 24 Francesco Sep 2nd, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Ok tres tres beau cadre!!mais ça n’a rien a voir avec la ligne de l’ancien Street Bob!!

  25. 25 SYF Sep 3rd, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Guys are getting 112/115 easily with intake, exhaust, bolt in cam, and tuning. You can’t complain about numbers like that.

  26. 26 Zenaldo Sep 3rd, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Build one of these aftermarket in the 90s…. I’m hoping this flavor is better than that one…good luck HD..

  27. 27 Mike Johnson Sep 4th, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I will guess that a Dyna type bike will appear fairly soon. The biggest problem has been the rubber mounting which makes excellent handling very close to impossible to achieve in production and in use. If they engine is really bolted solidly into the frame the assembly will be much more rigid and at a lower weight and the rear wheel will follow the front wheel around more closely greatly reducing wobbles.

    I would like to see the new engine with the counterweighting set up to eliminate vibration as much as possible so higher RPMs are more easily supported. This could be done with a new Dyna model.

    If you are primarily interested in performance and handling that has to be the #1 priority. If Antiquity is your goal than build out a Shovelhead with points ignition. It will misfire enough to deliver that irregular running/idling and the Shovel had the heaviest flywheels – see Truett and Osborn for even mor fun 🙂

  28. 28 RM Sep 4th, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Just don’t see how this is “preserving the classic hard-tail look”.

  29. 29 Stony Crane Sep 4th, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Even though I’m a 2007 FXDSE, CVO Dyna owner, I’m really excited about this new direction, especially the Fat Boy.

    It looks really cool and with the 5 gallon tank and artfully modified rake and trail, it looks like everything a badass Harley should be. For my friends who say “if you want a real performance machine you should get the Fat Bob”, I say if I want a “real performance machine” I’ll get an Aprilia Tuono – 175 hp, 88 ft-lbs and 475 lbs. full of fuel.

    If I want to keep my license, look cool, cruise and have fun, I’ll take the Fat Boy. Oh hell, I’ll probably get both, but I won’t sell my Dyna!

  30. 30 JohnnySpeed Sep 7th, 2017 at 9:33 am

    So ugly. Might as well save some cash and buy an old Virago. I also don’t understand how anyone can say the words “light” or “performance” in reference to a 675lb motorcycle and not be struck by

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