Major changes in 2018 Harley-Davidson motorcycles confuse some fans, please most

New quick-change Harley-Davidson Sport Glide joins 2018 Softail family

Harley-Davidson celebrates its 115th anniversary with the 2018 model year. In addition to six motorcycle “family” groups with 32 distinct models, the Milwaukee company launched 10 distinctively styled 115th Anniversary editions. When you add four Softail models that available with one of two different engines, the 2018 model count jumps to 46.

Harley already promised to launch 100 new models in the next 10 years, including a full line of electric-powered motorcycles. According to Harley-Davidson Museum Vice President Bill Davidson in a conversation with Drive, the ebikes won’t have the distinctive 45-degree V-twin “potato-potato” sound. Instead, the electric motorcycles will produce a unique sound similar to a jet fighter.

2018 Harley-Davidson news and updates

Harley introduced a ninth member of the new Softail family, the Sport Glide, in early November 2017. The Sport Glide is based on the new Softail frame and uses the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. Quick release hard saddlebags and small fairing-based windshield equip the Sport Glide for city cruising and over-the-road touring.

The 2018 Harley-Davidson motorcycle model lineup drops eight models 2017, including the Superlow 1200T, Low Rider S, Wide Glide, Softail Slim S, Fat Boy S, V-Rod Muscle, Night Rod Special, and CVO Pro Street Breakout. Two models carried over with name changes, 2017’s Heritage Softail Classic is 2018’s Heritage Classic, and 2017’s Softail Deluxe, is the 2018 Deluxe. The one brand new model name for 2018 is the CVO Road Glide.

The biggest change for 2018, one that has some Harley purists unhappy, is the abandonment of the Dyna line in favor of a completely reworked Softail family. The new Softails merge model names previously associated with Softail and Dyna families. The eight Softail models look familiar at first glance, but from the tires to the suspensions, lights, and frames, the changes are significant.

Other than the Softails, the remaining Harley groups are largely unchanged in 2018 except for colors, but we’ll hit the highlights of each family and model below.

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Motorcycles

The three Harley Street models didn’t change from 2017. Equipped with different sizes and tunings of the liquid-cooled Revolution X engine, the entry-level bikes encourage motorcycle newbies with low seat height and wide handlebars for easier maneuverability. Harley built this bike line for scooting around narrow, congested city street. They share all-back exhaust systems, black front fork gaiter, and cafe-style speed screens or nacelles. Starting prices for this family range from $6,900 to $8,700.

Street 500 ($6,900+)

The Street 500 has a 494-cc motor and starts at $6,900, a $50 price increase from 2017.

Street 750 ($7,600+)

The 2018 Street 750 also had a $50 starting price bump to $7,600. The 750’s 749cc engine is the only difference between it and the Street 500. Otherwise, both bikes weigh the same and share identical components including 17-inch front and 15-inch rear wheels.

Street Rod ($8,700+)

The Street Rod also has a 749cc engine, but it’s high-output version of the Revolution X with more power and greater torque. Additional differentiators from the Street 750 include drag-style bars with bar-end mirrors, new 43mm inverted front forks and piggyback reservoir rear shocks, and 17-inch wheels front and rear. The Street Rod’s starting price is unchanged this year at $8,700.

Model Street 500 Street 750 Street Rod
Starting price $6,900 $7,600 $8,700
Engine type V-twin V-twin V-twin
Displacement 494cc / 30ci 749cc / 46ci 749cc / 46ci
Max torque (lb-ft) 29.5 at 3,500 RPM 44.5 at 4,000 RPM 47.9 at 4,000 RPM
Engine cooling Liquid Liquid Liquid
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed
ABS brakes Optional Optional Optional
Wheelbase (inches) 59.8 59.8 59.4
Seat height (inches, laden) 25.7 25.7 29.8
Wheels front/rear (inches) 17/15 17/15 17/17
Wet weight (pounds) 514 514 525

2018 Harley-Davidson Sportsters

The five 2018 Sportsters are unchanged from 2017; perhaps they will have wholesale changes at some future year. The only significant change Harley-Davidson calls out for the 2018 Sportster line is the 1200 Custom’s race stripe graphic and a mix of black and chrome finishes. Sporsters have either 883cc or 1200cc 45-degree Evolution V-twin engines and five-speed transmissions with belt drive. Sportster family starting prices range from the $8,700 SuperLow to the $11,300 identical prices for the Roadster and Forty-eight.

SuperLow ($8,700+)

The SuperLow gets its name from its confidence-inspiring low seat and low center of gravity. This model has the 883cc Evolution engine and adjustable suspension. The SuperLow’s $8,700 starting price is $100 more than last year.

Iron 883 ($9,000+)

A pioneer of raw, blacked-out, stripped-down custom style. The Iron 883 is blacked-out from the exhaust system and engine right up to the headlight case. This model has bobbed fenders and works the whole bobber look in a “smaller” Harley. Last year’s Iron 883 started at $50 less than the 2018 Iron 883’s $9,000 base price.

1200 Custom ($11,000+)

The Sportster 1200 Custom’s black-and-chrome visual theme. The 1200c’s 1202cc Evolution V-Twin engine mixes black and chrome components and hooks up to a chrome exhaust. The black-rimmed laced wheels are new. Riders upright with the 1200c’s pull-back handlebar and mid-mount foot controls. The starting price for the 1200 Custom is unchanged this year at $11,000.

Roadster ($11,300+)

The Roadster’s $11,300 price stayed the same in 2018 for the performance-styled ride. Power by the 1202cc engine, the Roadster has 43mm inverted front forks, dual disc brakes, and an adjustable rear suspension. Riding on 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, the Roadster has a two-up seat, lowered handlebars, and mid-mount foot controls.

Forty-Eight ($11,300+)

Harley refers to the $11,300 unchanged starting price Forty-Eight’s look as a bulldog stance. Combine the 1202cc Evolution engine with large diameter 49mm front forks, an adjustable rear suspension, single seat, mid-rise bars, and fat tires on 16-inch cast aluminum wheels and the Forty-Eight gives an immediate impression of streetfighter readiness. The Forty-Eight is the only Sportster available in a 115th Anniversary edition for $12,000.

Model SuperLow Iron 883 1200 Custom Roadster Forty-Eight
Starting price $8,700 $9,000 $11,000 $11,300 $11,300
Engine type V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin
Displacement 53.9ci / 883cc 53.9ci / 883cc 73.4ci / 1202cc 73.4ci / 1202cc 73.4ci / 1202cc
Max torque (lb-ft) 55 at 3,750 RPM 53.8 at 3,750 RPM  73 at 3,750 RPM 76 at 3,750 RPM 73 at  3,500 RPM
Engine cooling Air Air Air Air Air
Transmission 5-speed 5-speed 5-speed 5-speed 5-speed
ABS brakes Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional
Wheelbase (inches) 59.1 59.6 60.2 59.3 58.9
Seat height (inches, laden) 25.5 25.7 26.6 29.5 26.2
Wheels front/rear (inches) 18/17 19/16 16/16 19/18 16/16
Wet weight (pounds) 569 564 591 571 556

2018 Harley-Davidson Softails

The nine new Softail models intentionally blend Dyna and previous generation Softail looks. The vision was to improve handling and performance as well as comfort. The Softails have a new, lighter but stiffer frame to hold the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and 114 engines. The Softails also use new Showa SDBV suspension technology with racing-style cartridge forks with linear damping characteristics. The adjustable monoshock rear suspension allows the Softails to look Dyna-hard but it rides softer and faster. At least, that’s the design goal. Softail price comparisons with last year’s models make no sense because except for their names and styling, they’re new bikes.

Street Bob ($14,500+)

With its mini-ape bars, laced wheels, and chopped fenders, the blacked-out Street Bob is a Harley take on cutback bobbers. Mid-mount controls mean your feet won’t be reaching forward while your arms are held high.

Fat Bob ($17,000+)

You can have the Fat Bob two ways. Powered by the 107 cubic-inch (1,746cc) Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, the Fat Bob starts at $17,000, while the Fat Bob 114 begins at $18,700 with its 114 cubic-inch (1,868cc) Milwaukee-Eight 114. Almost 22 pounds lighter than the 2017 model of the same name, the Fat Bob’s distinctive exhaust system, inverted forks, and fat tires on cast wheels set it up for cruising.

Low Rider ($15,000+)

The Low Rider’s mild performance chopper look rides on the new lighter and stiffer Softail frame. With its lighter weight and new suspension, the Low Rider’s increased lean angles allow improved curve and canyon carving.

Breakout ($19,000+)

The 2018 Breakout Softail starts at $19,000 with the 107-cubic inch engine. For $1,300 more, you can opt for the Breakout 114. The fat (240mm) rear tire, improved suspension, and 35-pound weight loss increase handling and notch up the bike’s score on the badass meter. The Breakout 114 is also available in a 115th Anniversary edition in Anniversary Denim for $21,200.

Softail Slim ($15,900+)

The new Softail Slim adds a Daymaker Signature LED headlamp, Hollywood-style bars, and a tuck and roll style seat for a second take on a Softail bobber, joining the Street Bob.

Fat Boy ($19,000+)

The 2018 Fat Boy, starting at $19,000, is unique in Harley-Davidson’s lineup because it’s the only bike available in four distinct versions. The new Fat Boy model, a buyer favorite since Arnold Schwarzenegger stole one in Terminator 2, has a 34 percent stiffer chassis, 29 pounds less weight, improved front suspension, and a high-performance rear monoshock. The other versions are the Fat Boy 114 starting at $20,300, and two Fat Boy 114 115th Anniversary editions in Anniversary Denim or Anniversary Two-tone for $21,200 each.

Deluxe ($18,000+)

Anyone could be excused for thinking the 2018 Deluxe is a much older model. With its full fenders, whitewall tires, and chrome-heavy styling the Deluxe covers up all the new tech and even its 31 pound weight loss for a better handling, more powerful ride with a classic look.

Heritage Classic ($19,000+)

The 2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic starts at $19,000 but if you want even more power, you can opt for the Heritage Classic 114 starting at $20,300 or the 115th Anniversary Heritage Classic 114 for $21,200. All three versions have blacked-out engines with chrome pipes, windshield, and hard case saddlebags. At 723 pounds ready-to-ride weight, the Heritage Classic is a touring bike that is 100 to 200 pounds lighter than the big 10 members of Harley’s official Touring family.

Sport Glide ($18,600+)

The 2018 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide, $18,600 starting price, is an easy choice for riders who like to cruise and tour. Powered by a Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, the Sport Glide’s quick release saddlebags and 1.5 windscreen mounted on a small batwing-style fairing add versatility unlike any other Harley model. In addition to standard Vivid Black, the Sport Glide is available in Twisted Cherry and Silver Fortune for $19,000.


Model Street Bob Fat Bob Low Rider Breakout Softail Slim Fat Boy Deluxe Heritage Classic Sport Glide
Starting price $14,500  $17,000  $15,000 $19,000 $15,900 $19,000 $18,000 $19,000 $18,600
Engine type V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin  V-twin V-twin
Displacement 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc
Max torque (lb-ft) 110 at 3,000 RPM 107 at 3,000 RPM  110 at 3,000 RPM 109 at 3,000 RPM 110 at 3,000 RPM 109 at 3,000 RPM 109 at 3,000 RPM  109 at 3,000 RPM 108 at 3,000 RPM
Engine cooling Air Air Air Air Air Air Air Air Air
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed
ABS brakes Optional Optional Optional Standard Optional Standard Standard Standard Standard
Wheelbase (inches) 64,2 63.6 64.2 66.7 64.2 65.6 64.2 64.2 64
Seat height (inches, laden) 25.8 27.7 26.2 25.6 25.5 25.9 25.9  26.3 25.7
Wheels front/rear (inches) 17/17 19/16 19/16 21/18 16/16 18/18 16/16 16/16 18/16
Wet weight (pounds) 653 673 661 672 671 699 697 723 670

2018 Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles

The 10 big Touring bikes comprise Harley’s largest motorcycle family. True to their name, the touring bikes are built for comfort on long roads with fairings and windscreens, seats designed for all-day comfort for rider and passenger, saddlebags, six-gallon gas tanks, electronic cruise control, and linked front and rear brakes. Some of the long-haulers have infotainment systems so you can keep in touch and have entertainment on the road.

Road King ($19,000+)

There are no major changes in the 2018 Road King, the least costly of Harley’s touring full-size bikes.

Road King Special ($22,000+)

The new model year brings a menu of updates to the Road King Special, which accounts for its $22,000 starting price, $3,000 more than the non-Special version. Among the changes are blacked-out styling, gloss black turbine wheels, stretched saddlebags, new mini-ape bars, and new front and rear suspensions.

Street Glide ($21,000+)

The 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide starts at $21,000, a 115th Anniversary Edition starts at $22,000. In both cases, the touring bikes gain Reflex-linked Brembo brakes with anti-lock braking system, front suspensions with racing-style cartridge forks, and hand-adjustable rear shocks. Additional new features include stretched saddlebags, dark engine and body components, and new 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Talon wheels.

Street Glide Special ($26,000+)

The Street Glide Special for 2018 starts at $26,000, with a $1,000 bump for the 115th Anniversary Edition at $27,000. The Special version of this bike is blacked out from front to back plus it has reshaped primary drive and air cleaner covers for improved leg room.

Electra Glide Ultra Classic ($24,250+)

The 2018 Electra Glide Ultra Classic starts $100 more than last year’s model at $24,250 but has no significant changes. In addition to this touring bike’s traditional look, it is set up for two with a wide passenger area with back and armrests.

Ultra Limited ($27,000+)

A premium luggage carriers and one-touch saddlebags, batwing fairing for improved airflow, and a premium infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and navigation top the Ultra Limited’s feature list, unchanged from 2017. This bike starts at $27,000 and a 115th Anniversary Edition starts at $28,000.

Ultra Limited Low ($26,900+)

Everything about the Ultra Limited is the same on the Ultra Limited Low except for its lower, 26.5-inch high seat, extended-reach side stand, and smaller diameter hand grips, features that accommodate shorter and smaller riders. The starting price for the 2018 Ultra Limited Low is also lower by $100, at $26,900.

Road Glide ($21,300+)

Dual Daymaker LED headlamps and its shark-nose fairing differentiate the Road Glide from Harley’s other big touring bikes. The 2018 Road Glide starts at $21,300 and is unchanged from 2017.

Road Glide Special ($26,300+)

The 2018 Road Glide Special, starting at $26,300 is replete with new features and styling changes. The blacked-out special Road Glide has 19-inch front and 18-inch rear Talon wheels, stretched saddlebags, a premium infotainment system, and improved brakes and front and rear suspension.

Road Glide Ultra ($26,400+)

The Road Glide Ultra remains the same for 2018 with a $100 increase in its $26,400 starting price. The Ultra doesn’t have the Special’s stretched bags and blacked-out look, but it adds a large passenger seat and a Tour-Pack luggage carrier.

Model Road King Road King Special Street Glide Street Glide Special Electra Glide Ultra Classic Ultra Limited Ultra Limited Low Road Glide Road Glide Special Road Glide Ultra
Starting price $19,000 $21,000 $21,000 $26,000 $24,250 $27,000  $26,900 $21,300 $26,300 $26,400
Engine type V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin  V-twin V-twin V-twin V-twin
Displacement 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc 107ci / 1,746cc
Max torque (lb-ft)  111 at 3,250 RPM 111 at 3,250 RPM 111 at 3,250 RPM 111 at 3,250 RPM 111 at 3,250 RPM 114 at 3,250 RPM 114 at 3,250 RPM 111 at 3,250 RPM 111 at 3,250 RPM 114 at 3,250 RPM
Engine cooling  Air  Air  Air Air Air Air Air Air Air Air
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed
ABS brakes Optional Standard Optional Standard Standard Standard  Standard Optional Standard Standard
Wheelbase (inches) 64 64 64 64 65.7 64 64 64 64 64
Seat height (inches, laden) 26.3 26.4 26.1 26.1 26 27.5 25.6 25.9 25.9 27.2
Wheels front/rear (inches) 17/16 19/18 19/16 19/18 19/16 17/16  17/16 19/16 19/18 17/16
Dry weight (pounds) 836 820 829 836 904 910 908 855 855 937

2018 Harley-Davidson CVOs

Harley-Davidson limited edition CVO models are exercises in design and embellishment for owners seeking the best components available without going to a custom house. The lineups change from year to year, but each CVO model focuses on factory-installed performance enhancement, innovation, and styling. This year’s factory customs are the CVO Limited, the CVO Street Glide and two CVO Road Glide models.

CVO Street Glide ($39,950+)

The 2018 CVO Street Glide fits the big touring model with the Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine, premium paint and wheels, custom controls, wireless headset, an advanced audio setup with three 75-watt amplifiers and six bi-amped speakers for a total of 900 watts of rolling audio.

CVO Limited ($42,950+)

Hit the road with the 2018 CVO Limited and you will find Harley used the full parts and accessories list, including premium heated seats with backrests for rider and passenger, remote locking luggage, and dual wireless headsets. You also get custom LED lighting, a Tour-Pack luggage carrier, tire air pressure monitoring and a remote fob for the security system. Starting at $42,950, for $1,000 more you can buy the 115th Anniversary Edition CVO Limited. At this price level, why not go all in?

CVO Road Glide ($41,400+)

The CVO Road Glide is the sole new model in Harley’s 2018 lineup. With its $41,400 starting price, this fully-loaded Road Glide has a custom 21-inch front wheel and fender, a unique exhaust system, and a suspension specially set up for the larger front wheel.

Model CVO Street Glide CVO Limited CVO Road Glide
Starting price $39,950 $42,950 $41,400
Engine type V-twin V-twin V-twin
Displacement 117ci /1,923cc 117ci /1,923cc 117ci /1,923cc
Max torque (lb-ft) 124 at 3,500 RPM 125 at 3,500 RPM 124 at 3,500 RPM
Engine cooling Air Twin-cooled Air
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed
ABS brakes Standard Standard Standard
Wheelbase (inches) 64 64 64
Seat height (inches, laden) 26.1 27.7 25.9
Wheels front/rear (inches) 19/18 17/16 21/18
Dry weight (pounds) 877 944 884

2018 Harley-Davidson Trikes

No changes show up in the Trikes for 2018, other than the Tri Glide Ultra’s 115th Anniversary edition. The two Harley three-wheelers are built for long-haul comfort and handling. The Trikes have liquid or twin-cooled 1746cc V-Twins with electronic throttle control, hydraulically linked brakes with ABS, and LED Daymaker headlights to show the way.

Freewheeler ($26,450+)

If you lose the Tri Glide Ultra’s fairing and windshield, passenger-friendly seating and luggage box, and don’t need an infotainment system, the Freewheeler, starting at $26,450 is focused more on cruising than touring for about $8,000 less.

Tri Glide Ultra ($34,500+)

This year’s Tri Glide Ultra, starting at $34,500 is joined by a 115th Anniversary Edition that starts at $36,250. Harley equips the Tri Glide Ultra for comfortable long-haul touring for two on three wheels. You have room for most everything but family pets in this bikes 6.8 cubic feet of storage.

Model Freewheeler Tri Glide Ultra
Starting price $26,450 $34,500
Engine type V-twin V-twin
Displacement 107ci /1746cc 107ci /1746cc
Max torque (lb-ft) 111 at 3,500 RPM 114 at 3,500 RPM
Engine cooling Liquid Twin-Cooled
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed
ABS brakes Standard Standard
Wheelbase (inches) 65.7 65.7
Seat height (inches, laden) 26.2 27.1
Wheels front/rear (inches) 19/15 16/15
Dry weight (pounds) 1118 1243

Update: We’ve included details about the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide in the Softail family.

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