2018 Harley-Davidson Softail and Touring motorcycles alter their ride and look

To celebrate its 115th anniversary, Harley-Davidson threw away the incremental annual model update rule book. Dramatically altering the heart of its lineup, the 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail and Touring motorcycles changed the most.

“The new Softail models are the result of the most extensive research and development program in the company’s history,” Harley-Davidson product portfolio manager Paul James said in a statement. “Thousands of hours of research and testing were put into the complete ground-up design of these new cruisers.”

Dave Foley, the Harley-Davidson vice president of product planning and portfolio management, is no less enthusiastic about the 2018 Touring lineup. “Our new Touring motorcycles will be some of our most sought-after bikes in 2018,” Foley said. “For CVO, we’ve rebooted the styling tone of the overall lineup and added some exclusive performance enhancements. And our two new custom baggers are the most aggressive, on-trend Touring bikes in the market.”

We will break out the differentiating details between the eight Softail models and five Touring bikes in our upcoming 2018 Harley-Davidson lineup but here are the highlights of the major changes in the lines.

Eight new Harley-Davidson Softails

Harley calls the eight new Softails the biggest launch in the company’s history. The 2018 Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Low Rider, Softail Slim, Deluxe, Breakout, Fat Bob, and Street Bob are all in the Softail line. Previously the Low Rider, Fat Bob, and Street Bob were in the Dyna lineup, which is no more. Harley merged what it saw as the best features of the Dyna and Softail lines.

The 2018 Softails have a new chassis, new suspension, new powertrains, and new styling that blends heritage-based features with newer technology. Harley positions the Softails, each with its own distinctive look, as diverse bases to which customers can add their own personalization.

The Softail chassis is at once lighter and more rigid for 2018. It looks like a (hard-riding) hard tail, but the adjustable hidden mono-shock rear suspension is optimized for both comfort and performance. The new frame and swingarms are significantly stiffer than the 2017 model equivalent components with fewer component parts, less weight, and improved lean angles and response.

The new Softail front suspensions are dual-bending value components that are also supposed to improve performance and rider comfort. The net result of the new chassis and suspensions are up to 35 pounds less weight which translates to better acceleration, braking, and cornering. Harley claims these are the marque’s best handling cruisers.

The 2018 Softails are powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 107 and 114 engines introduced in the 2017 model year. All Softail now have the 107-cubic inch, 1,746cc engine standard. The Fat Bob 114, Fat Boy 114, Breakout 114, and Heritage Classic 114 have the 114-cubic inch/1,868cc 114 engine as an option.

Five new Harley-Davidson Touring bikes

Harley’s new top-of-the line touring motorcycles for 2018 include the Street Glide Special, Road Glide Special, CVO Limited, CVO Street Glide, and CVO Road Glide.

The three CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) bikes are factory-custom-configured limited editions and this year each comes with a new 117-cubic inch (1,923cc) Milwaukee-Eight engine rated at up to 124 pound-feet of torque. Also new for 2018 the CVO models have standard integrated Bluetooth communications and headsets.

The most noticeable change to the 2018 Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special models is the switch from chrome to black components and trim. As Harley-Davidson continues to add performance, style, and comfort to its touring motorcycles, the switch to black is an “on-trend custom styling statement that is sinister in design and dark in its finishes,” the company says in a release.

Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Cars

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased way ahead of its November debut

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is coming to the United States, eventually. The new compact BMW won't be unveiled until the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The Gran Coupe will be based on a front-wheel drive platform.
Cars

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.
Cars

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.
Cars

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.
Cars

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Cars

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.
Cars

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Cars

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.
Cars

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.
Cars

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.