2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider Review |
Fast, Low, and now Softail
The Harley-Davidson Low Rider has been a feather in the Milwaukee-based brand’s cap since the late 1970s. Although its run hasn’t been uninterrupted, the Low Rider has remained one of the most popular models since its introduction.
Regarded as a do-it-all cruiser, the Low Rider is widely appreciated for its accommodating nature. Also, builders have often employed the Low Rider as a starting point, launching it into stardom.
At the 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail press introduction, Senior Editor Nic de Sena spent some time with the reinvented Softail-based Low Rider in the twisty mountain roads surrounding Lake Arrowhead, Calif., while narrowly avoiding countless chipmunks, hell-bent on throwing themselves under his wheels.
1. It’s a bold new era for the Low Rider, but the styling pulls from Harley-Davidson’s deep history. At a glance, the new Low Rider holds a lot in common with previous generations, sans the Dyna’s twin shocks. A full rear fender, clocks on the tank and the quintessential round headlight are in line with what the Low Rider has always been.
Small additions like the fork sliders now having a machined ridge and the cast wheels with various highlights of CNC work are aspects I find appealing. Above all, I enjoy the AMF-era Harley-Davidson logo emblazoned on the five-gallon fuel tank.
2. Although no longer a Dyna, the 2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider is still low. Featuring a 27-inch seat height and mid controls that allow you to drive your weight through the pegs, the Low Rider is quite approachable for my 32-inch inseam. Thanks to slimmer profile of the Milwaukee-Eight engine—standard on all 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails—the Low Rider feels lean and svelte in comparison its Dyna iteration.
3. Harley-Davidson has tightened up the Low Rider’s ergos. Now equipped with aggressively swept handlebars, the Low Rider’s cockpit is on the snugger side of things. At 5’10’’, I’m more than comfortable and appreciated the Low Rider’s posture but taller riders could feel too cramped.
4. All 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails now feature a Milwaukee-Eight powerplant. The air-/oil-cooled, Milwaukee-Eight 107 is the smoothest big-inch V-twin that Harley has engineered yet, thanks to dual counter-balancing and wonderful fueling properties.
Providing a claimed 110 ft/lbs of torque at 3000 rpm, the 107ci allows you roar out of corners, pulling straight through the rev-range without a single hiccup along the way. Even with greater performance chops on hand, the Low Rider is a relatively docile creature when necessary, happily taking to the low-speed donkeywork that is commuter life. Although the six-speed transmission is hearty, it is not overly stiff and at no point did I stumble into any false neutrals.