We can let the cat out of the bag right away—the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard is a Street Bob with different finishes. Chrome is apparently cheaper than black, as the Softail Standard’s base MSRP is a cool grand less than the Street Bob. We don’t have to go over what’s chrome and what’s black on each model—you can look at the photos. However, it has been two years since we tested the debut of the Street Bob in the Softail family, so that’s a good reason to revisit the platform in 2020.
- Everything centers around the Milwaukee-Eight 107 powerplant. Cranking out 110 ft-lbs of torque at just 3000 rpm means that you always have power on tap with the Softail Standard. It revs up as needed, though you’ll almost always shift the six-speed transmission before you hit the rev limiter. It is simply a fantastic motor that makes riding an absolute pleasure.
- The ergonomics are more about style than performance or comfort. The mini-ape put your hands up in the air, and the mid-controls mean your knees are pointed up. While most think of the Softail as a large motorcycle, the ergonomics are compact. The reach to the grips isn’t excessive, and unless your inseam is less than my 30.5 inches, you’re going to want a bit more legroom. For those growing out of the Sportster, performance-wise but not in size, the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail is an excellent bridge model.
- The Softail chassis is willing to handle if it is given the right accouterments, and the Softail Standard delivers. The Dunlop tires aren’t overly wide (100 front and 150 rear), so the handling of the Softail Standard is nicely light. Yes, it weighs 655 pounds with the 3.5-gallon fuel tank filled. However, the Softail chassis distributes the weight so that it’s not a liability. The Showa Dual Bending Valve fork has over five inches of travel, and the shock modulates a generous 3.4 inches of travel. That means you won’t be able to make time only when the pavement is smooth. The suspension keeps the Softail Standard composed, even on rougher urban canyon roads.
- Along with good suspension, the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard has substantial cornering clearance. As with any big cruiser, you can eventually touch things down—the heels of your boots are first to the pavement in this case. I prefer my heels as warning that I’m using up the cornering clearance, rather than grinding metal. Fortunately, my Harley-Davidson Tremont Performance shoes were not ground away, even as I worked my way at speed across the Hollywood Hills on Mulholland Drive. As is always the case with Harley-Davidsons, the Dunlop tires offer more than enough performance to handle the chassis and engine demands.
- Freeway rides are a bit tiring with mini-apes. It will pretty much come down to your mood on how you feel about the Softail Standard on the freeway. When you’re tired, you’ll feel like you’re fighting the wind the entire time. If you are fresh, the wind will be a reminder that you’re alive and riding a motorcycle at speed. The motor is good for as many mph as you dare.
- If you are hauling around town, you will learn to use the front brake. The rear brake has minimal deceleration power, so go with the right-hand lever when you need to slow down. It has excellent feel and the braking capability you need. ABS is optional, and definitely a good idea.
- With the cool look of the mini-apes, the Softail Standard is a fine in-town cruiser. The M8 motor and Showa suspension take care of the riding part, while the styling gives you the charisma you want while cruising in front of a crowd. With lots of chrome shining, day or night, no one has to know that you have the least expensive Softail. With wire-spoked wheels, a confident solo seat, abbreviated front fender, and tight round headlight, the Softail Standard is a cool motorcycle. Harley-Davidson positions the Softail Standard as a model especially suited to customization. However, you need not do a single thing to it—okay, maybe the air filter cover is a bit too plain.
- Harley-Davidson offers four Customizations Packages for riders looking for assistance in developing a cohesive style. The Performance package offers Screamin’ Eagle Stage II engine upgrades. The Coastal consists of a quarter-fairing, lower bars, two-up seat, and footpegs with BMX styling. The Day Tripper has a second seat and a sissybar, while the Touring has a long saddle that seats two (with a passenger lower backrest), plus saddlebags and a windshield (both quickly detachable).
- Riding the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard is distraction-free thanks to a tiny dash. The LED display is embedded in the handlebar clamp, with a small auxiliary housing containing the idiot lights just below it. Unless you want to look at them, they’re pretty much invisible when you are riding. This gives you that feeling of freedom, as if you don’t have to be concerned with your speed or anything else a dash might tell you is necessary to monitor. Don’t worry—if something goes wrong, a light will alert you.
- Unlike most Harley-Davidson models, it’s easy to pick the right color for the Softail Standard. You have a choice between Vivid Black, and some other motorcycle.
- Back to basics is especially appealing when it comes at an attractive price. It’s nice to be able to buy into the Softail platform from the mid-$13s. The 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard offers up all the great things about the current Softails, and it appeals to both customizers and those who like a bit of chrome in their lives.
Photography by Kelly Callan
- Helmet: Scorpion Exo-R1 Air
- Jacket: Olympia Hudson
- Gloves: Racer Kansas
- Jeans: Joe Rocket Accelerator
- Footwear: Harley-Davidson Tremont Performance
2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard Specs
- Type: Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-twin
- Displacement: 107ci
- Bore x stroke: 3.937 x 4.374”
- Maximum torque: 110 ft-lbs @ 3000 rpm
- Compression ratio: 10.0:1
- Valvetrain: Single cam; 4 vpc
- Exhaust: 2-into-2
- Cooling: Air and oil
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Primary drive: Chain
- Final drive: Belt
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable Showa Dual Bending Valve fork; 5.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Spring-preload adjustable shock; 3.4 inches
- Wheels: Wire-spoke w/ steel rim
- Tires: Dunlop D401 Harley-Davidson Series
- Front tire: 100/90 x 19
- Rear tire: 150/80 x 16
- Front brakes: 300mm disc w/ fixed 4-piston caliper
- Rear brake: 292mm disc w/ floating 2-piston caliper
- ABS: Optional ($795)
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 64.2 inches
- Rake: 30 degrees
- Trail: 6.2 inches
- Seat height: 26.8 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.5 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 47 mpg
- Curb weight: 655 pounds
- Color: Vivid Black
2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard Price: $13,599 MSRP
2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard Review Photo Gallery