Although it dates back to just 2005, the Harley-Davidson Deluxe arguably captures the look and feel of an authentically vintage motorcycle better than anything else in The Motor Company’s lineup.The good news is that the 2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe is, by far, the most luxe Deluxe to date.
1. As part of the 2018 Softail line, the Harley-Davidson Deluxe is part of the all-new Softail line. Under the stylish skin, the Deluxe is an all-new machine. That means the Deluxe gets the Milwaukee-Eight 107 motor, the new stiffer Softail frame, and new suspension. These are not minor changes—they are game changers.2. This is the kind of motorcycle that invites cruising down the most populated venue available and enjoying the attention. The 2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe is a massive attention grabber, starting with the white-walled tires on wire-spoked wheels, deeply valanced front fender, triple headlights (now LEDs), and massive chrome covers over the fork. From there, the Milwaukee-Eight motor, staggered dual mufflers, and oil tank add reflective chrome bling. Finally, a solo seat presents an attitude that the Deluxe is not for everyone—it’s for you alone. If you are shy, be aware that this motorcycle is noticed wherever you ride it.3. The 2018 Deluxe’s ergonomics are casually relaxed. Roomy floorboards and a wide swept-back handlebar make the Deluxe the most powerful beach cruiser you’ll find. You don’t have to ride it at the beach, but there’s nothing like it on Pacific Coast Highway or tooling down Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.4. The Milwaukee-Eight 107 is a willing accomplice for stress-free cruising or adrenaline-filled launches when the light turns green. The Milwaukee-Eight 107 is a huge step up from the High Output Twin Cam 103B it replaces. The push it provides is fully determined by your desire to turn the right handgrip toward you. Twist it to the stop, and hold on—this is a big, fast motorcycle. When you’re just tooling down the road, the 2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe is happy to accommodate a less-aggressive pace. With 109 ft/lbs of torque on tap at just 3000 rpm, don’t worry about what gear you’re in—acceleration is at your beck and call.5. The smoothness of the balanced Milwaukee-Eight 107 far exceeds that of the old 103B. It’s not even close, and the Milwaukee-Eight motor instantly makes the Twin Cam motor obsolete. The 103B could be hard on the hands at higher rpm on longer rides—that’s not an issue with the Milwaukee-Eight mill. This is exactly how progress should be.6. Handling is greatly improved on the 2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe. This 700-pound motorcycle is no canyon carver, yet it is perfectly enjoyable in the twisties. With less flex, the Deluxe goes where you point it, although it does take a bit of manhandling. Pick a good line and the Deluxe will do its best to help you stick with it. The Deluxe is not about mid-corner corrections or cut-and-thrust attacks on turns. Don’t worry about traction—the Dunlop D402s have all you’ll need.7. Not only does the new suspension absorb the inventible road imperfections in the hinterlands, it also keeps the Deluxe higher in the suspension stroke. While it doesn’t have measurably more cornering clearance than before, it does in real world riding. Still, aggressive riders will quickly be grinding the floorboards into the asphalt, so focus on enjoying the ride rather than making time.8. The suspension also makes urban riding much more enjoyable. The fork has been decent for a while on the Deluxe. The big change is the drastic improvement of the new single-shock rear end. The difference is gigantic, and impossible to miss. Other than shock spring-preload, there are no suspension adjustments and none are needed.9. Style and functionality come together on the 2018 Harley-Davidson Deluxe. I was a huge fan of the old Softail Deluxe, yet the 2018 Deluxe takes the form to an entirely new level. It still presents itself as imposing yet friendly, and now it has the power, handling, and long-distance comfort to make riding the Deluxe more enjoyable than ever before.Photography by Brian J. Nelson and Kevin WingRIDING STYLE
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!