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Thread: Harley Davidson buying advice (softail)

  1. #1

    Harley Davidson buying advice (softail)

    After seeing the gorgeous 1200 Sportster for sale on here, I thought I would pop down to my local HD dealer, have a test ride to see if I was right at 6" 2" it was too small. I am sorry to say it is.

    I then got talked into a test ride and went out in a Softail lowrider S. Now I only have ever had sport or naked bikes, from Aprilla RSV Factory, Suzuki 750, and KTM Superduke R and the one thing I realise is I love a V twin.

    Now this is what surprised me the most, I have been anti HD all my rider time, but I bloody loved it, grin from ear to ear.

    I have narrowed it down to 2 models Softail low ride S or Street Bob. Both are blacked out (not a massive chrome fan) I have seen the difference spec to know the difference, but I feel I like I prefer the street bob look.

    I am interested (after watch so many youtube clips) if any one has experience of both bikes and which they preferred and why.

    My head says Low ride S, my heart says Street Bob.

    Many thanks


    Rich

  2. #2
    Master Chinnock's Avatar
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    Go with your heart.

  3. #3
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    Lots of people change their mind about Harleys after riding one. I can't help you with the current softail Street Bob, but can tell you I had an '07 1600cc Dyna Street Bob, and always had a smile on my face while I was riding it.

    No you couldn't lean it over far and lots of bikes were quicker. But that isn't what they are about, you can't compare them to sports bikes or modern naked bikes. Torque was pretty good though!

    “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

  4. #4
    Master Tifa's Avatar
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    Harley Softail Buying Advice?

    Don't.
    It's likely they won't be around in a few years time.
    But that's not to say that someone will be along to bail them out again....

  5. #5
    Master pinpull's Avatar
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    Had a couple of HDs over the years. Bought in an attempt to slow down, having ridden Italian sports bikes for decades.

    It’s a case of horses for courses...

    It was a Superglide then an Electraglide (we’re talking 90s here) that filled the need.

    They were brilliant at what they did, but compared to what I was used to... the brakes didn’t work, the things ground out at the least
    hint of a lean and the top speed was, er conservative.

    Glad I tried them, and in different circumstances, or state of mind , I would have been happy to carry on with them, but... there wasn’t the excitement I needed!

    It would be my 2nd bike choice if I could afford it. Whatever floats your boat I guess...


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  6. #6
    Looled after a fat Bob for 6 weeks a few years back
    Quite a likeable thing to ride, not sure I’d buy one though, the road king looks quite appealing .
    Also quite like the Indian scout and flat tracker

  7. #7
    Master
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    You are doing this for pleasure such as a ride in the country on a summer evening. Therefore maximise your joy and go with your heart.

  8. #8
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tifa View Post
    Harley Softail Buying Advice?

    Don't.
    It's likely they won't be around in a few years time.
    But that's not to say that someone will be along to bail them out again....
    In this weeks MCN there is an article saying they are pulling out of India as they couldn't make it work financially. Im sure I read they were evaluating manufacturing in India for their smaller models , the water cooled 750?.

    Steve

  9. #9
    I tried a load of Harleys over the last couple of years before buying my Triumph, but of all of them (previous generation Fatboy S 110, current Fatboy 114, Fat Bob 114, Breakout 114 Stage II, Street Bob 107) the Street Bob was comfortably the nicest. It was in stock form except for forward controls which made it nice and relaxed.

    If I were to buy a Harley, I know it should a Street Bob in that spec. It doesn't stop me wanting a Breakout 117 Stage III or previous generation Softail Slim S 110 with paint tweaked to look like it's from M*A*S*H* 4077, but I know that I'd enjoy the Street Bob for longer.

  10. #10
    Journeyman
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    Wink

    Like others here I've owned lost of different types of bikes form learners to sports bikes and ridden for work and pleasure. I now only ride socially and in fair weather. Having said that once a year I go over to mainland Europe with a group of friend where we ride for about 1000 miles enjoying the area that we are visiting.

    I had a 2010 HD Street Bob which I really enjoyed owning and a few of the group had HD's so we could ride according! I did find that every so often the ones who had sportier bikes pressed on and the Street Bob tended to tie itself in knots a bit on the twisty roads - but the HD riders stuck together and we all caught up at the next town! However with careful reading of the road and correct approach and positioning to the bends the Bob did OK! What I did find tedious was when we hit a motorway when the speeds crept up to over 80 - 90 mph the wind buffeting became tiring but better than a naked bike as I had a HD screen fitted. Quit a comfy seat. Good torque with a bit of vibrato which was never unpleasant as the engine was rubber mounted I think. I put on lower Dyna pull back bars and a Stage 1 pipe

    I swapped it for 2011 Heritage Classic Softail. This was more comfy to ride and the only change I made was Stage 1 pipes and Dyna handle bars for a bit more comfort on the wrists. Handling was not as good as the Bob and the foot boards touched down on corners with little lean. Nice torquey engine which has counter balancers which smooth the engine nicely. Loads of torque and if you wanted to was really quick from standing start if you want a laugh! Comfy up to 80 - 90 and whilst it would do more wasn't great IMO.

    My riding friends all moved to sportier bikes and I found it tedious to ride every day with them on the HD - and HD club groups don't appeal to me so I sold it and bough a BMW RT which suits my needs at the moment!

    If I had money/space I would buy another as a weekend/sunny day ride - especially as IMO they are not that well made and the finish will suffer in the bad weather. If you like that sort of thing that have soooo much character and history that I like. They are quick enough and handle ok and I loved them on a nice gently sweeping road through the country side but not in a spot role. They hold their money very well as do the shiny parts if you sell them on after you sell the bike. If you ride with similar machines they are great.

    I will have another.......................!

  11. #11
    Journeyman
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    When you did your test rides which did you prefer to ride?

    I took out a softail slim and a breakout demo, 7 years ago and they handle very differently. I liked the look of both bikes but preferred the way the Breakout handled. I still have/love it.

  12. #12
    Master stoneyloon's Avatar
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    I had a Street Bob and replaced it with a better Fat Bob.

    I then replaced the Fat Bob with a Triumph Bonneville which suited me much better.


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  13. #13
    The comment was made above that despite many common components, they not only look different, but they ride very differently.

    The same is true comparing the M8 softails with the previous TC bikes. The new ones are significantly more capable beasts.

    That doesn't mean that the prior generation doesn't have it's appeal, though they are somewhat brutal by comparison.

  14. #14
    Master Tifa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by higham5 View Post
    In this weeks MCN there is an article saying they are pulling out of India as they couldn't make it work financially. Im sure I read they were evaluating manufacturing in India for their smaller models , the water cooled 750?.

    Steve
    Not only that, their whole business model is seriously bolloxed.
    Their main customer base, the US baby boomers are now swapping bikes for zimmers..gone....they have nothing in the pipeline either. They're relocating stores to cheaper rental units, the electric bike is way behind the curve when compared to the likes of say Zero...shareprice is on the floor...the whole company is a mess....etc...etc...

    In the States the Harley brand tragics think anything the factory makes that isn't an air cooled V Twin is treason.
    The little liquid cooled V Twins sell to learners and women looking for love.
    Their dirt bike may have a market as bad jewelery for Saudi princes and Romanian oligarchs, but that's about it.
    Last edited by Tifa; 28th September 2020 at 01:50.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Tifa View Post
    Not only that, their whole business model is seriously bolloxed.
    Their main customer base, the US baby boomers are now swapping bikes for zimmers..gone....they have nothing in the pipeline either. They're relocating stores to cheaper rental units, the electric bike is way behind the curve when compared to the likes of say Zero...shareprice is on the floor...the whole company is a mess....etc...etc...

    In the States the Harley brand tragics think anything the factory makes that isn't an air cooled V Twin is treason.
    The little liquid cooled V Twins sell to learners and women looking for love.
    Their dirt bike may have a market as bad jewelery for Saudi princes and Romanian oligarchs, but that's about it.
    I can't disagree with any of that, and having read how they have manipulated the stock price/dividend by buying back shares to make the company look good, the business model doesn't look good at all.

    I do wonder if the problem isn't the product, but the customers? I've ridden the latest Softails and they are very good bikes; the Fat Bob 114 was remarkably similar to my R1200R BMW but with more torque and comfort. That's not a bad thing.

    As long as you look at the less-blingy models and don't go mad in the accessory catalogue, the value is still there; with the deals that were being offered to me when I was looking, a new Street Bob was going to cost the same out the door as a Triumph Bobber. And Triumph seem to be having no problem shifting the Bonneville range to not only the the zimmer-ready generation, but also the cash-rich hipster crowd.

    I suspect if more people considering a non-crotch-rocket tried a Harley Softail they'd actually be rather impressed and consider buying one.

    But is it the image of the current owners that puts off the potential new owners? They are either considered "Hell's Angels" or "elderly middle managers", neither of which are groups that the Instagram generation of potential buyers necessarily want to be associated with.

    It's a real shame as, as I said earlier, the M8 Softail is a really good product.

    Oh, and the other bit that's missed is that the Sportster line is going from all European markets from the end of this year.

  16. #16
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tifa View Post
    Not only that, their whole business model is seriously bolloxed.
    Their main customer base, the US baby boomers are now swapping bikes for zimmers..gone....they have nothing in the pipeline either. They're relocating stores to cheaper rental units, the electric bike is way behind the curve when compared to the likes of say Zero...shareprice is on the floor...the whole company is a mess....etc...etc...

    In the States the Harley brand tragics think anything the factory makes that isn't an air cooled V Twin is treason.
    The little liquid cooled V Twins sell to learners and women looking for love.
    Their dirt bike may have a market as bad jewelery for Saudi princes and Romanian oligarchs, but that's about it.
    I think the OP is interested in buying a bike not the company.

  17. #17
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tifa View Post
    Not only that, their whole business model is seriously bolloxed.
    Their main customer base, the US baby boomers are now swapping bikes for zimmers..gone....
    This is a worldwide problem. I have had a British bike for over 50 years, everything from a 175cc BSA Bantam to a 1000cc Ariel Square Four. Also I was a member of the Vintage Motorcycle Club (VMCC) for more years than I can care to remember and the membership number is in constant decline.

    I am probably typical that last year I tripped over and took a heavy fall where I hurt myself quite badly and dislocated a shoulder. I simply lost my bottle, if a simple fall could crock me up for 9 months, what would a tumble off a motorcycle do. Also kick starting it was a worrying chore (old knees) and I dreaded getting it on and off its stand. so I sold my 650cc BSA twin to a guy in his sixties.

    The older boomers are now getting old and once the younger boomers become old boomers the market is dead. You also have the "going away from petrol" problem and the new generations will either find motorcycling laws too restrictive or petrol engines anti social.

    I would certainly not buy shares in any motorcycle company.

  18. #18
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maris View Post
    I think the OP is interested in buying a bike not the company.
    No company = reduced level of customer support.

  19. #19
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    This is a worldwide problem. I have had a British bike for over 50 years, everything from a 175cc BSA Bantam to a 1000cc Ariel Square Four. Also I was a member of the Vintage Motorcycle Club (VMCC) for more years than I can care to remember and the membership number is in constant decline.

    I am probably typical that last year I tripped over and took a heavy fall where I hurt myself quite badly and dislocated a shoulder. I simply lost my bottle, if a simple fall could crock me up for 9 months, what would a tumble off a motorcycle do. Also kick starting it was a worrying chore (old knees) and I dreaded getting it on and off its stand. so I sold my 650cc BSA twin to a guy in his sixties.

    The older boomers are now getting old and once the younger boomers become old boomers the market is dead. You also have the "going away from petrol" problem and the new generations will either find motorcycling laws too restrictive or petrol engines anti social.

    I would certainly not buy shares in any motorcycle company.
    Spot on for the classics Mick, you only have to look at the sea of grey hair at the Classic Bike Show at Stafford to see the demographic. As to the whole bike scene , Im not sure, the popularity of E bikes ( bicycles) has shown folk are not too anti two wheels. Wheras in the past shift worker bought step thrus for getting to work, now they are on cheap E bikes.

    Possibly bikes like the Zero will broaden the appeal and create a crossover. However saying all that, the market will certainly be smaller. Thats one of the reasons I reduced my classics from 5 Bikes to 2 last year.

    Steve

  20. #20
    Thanks for the response guys. I am trying to get a test ride of the softail custom bob so I can compare to the low rider S.

    Half of me is thinking to wait to March omce we are over winter, but I think it maybe worth trying out some other makes as well

  21. #21
    Grand Master 100thmonkey's Avatar
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    There is a saying in the HD world with real riders and that is ‘Everyone ends up on a Road King’
    "When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
    For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

  22. #22
    Craftsman
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    I’d have to say Fat Boy.






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  23. #23
    I like the fat boy, but I am more into the slimmer profile.

    After much to and fro, I know tomorrow if I get the right deal on a street bob. It’s a 2019 un registered and no change to 2020 but in industrial great which is a Matt colour and looks great.

    Fingers crossed if not I will wait to next year colours


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  24. #24
    Master
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    Try the Fat Bob 114. A lot of fun.

    maseman

  25. #25
    I had a test ride on a Fat Bob last summer and loved it (pic below), I also tried a Sport glide which was nice and could have ridden a long distance on that quite easily, I then tried a Street Bob as I loved the look but couldn't get on with the riding position, it felt completely unnatural.


  26. #26
    Master
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    If you live anywhere that will involve travelling on "gravelly" roads, beware of the Harley belt shredding scenario. Gravel is picked up between the drive and the belt and the sharp bits of gravel pierce the belt which goes on to fail. It happens all the time here in Norfolk where the "spray and scatter toppings" road repairs are common. I've picked up several stranded riders (ex biker myself) and taken them to a local garage (or hostelry) awaiting rescue!

  27. #27
    Journeyman
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    I come from almost exactly the same previous bikes and I also took the same HD models for a test ride. I'm not often insistent with advice but I urge you to go and try an Indian Scout.

    I tried the Harley then the scout and if your like me and come from a history of bikes with great handling you will love the Scout! Throw on a V&H pipe and I promise you will fall in love!

    https://images.app.goo.gl/D1U68RSzTpRVJwAo9

  28. #28
    Journeyman
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_0787 View Post
    I come from almost exactly the same previous bikes and I also took the same HD models for a test ride. I'm not often insistent with advice but I urge you to go and try an Indian Scout.

    I tried the Harley then the scout and if your like me and come from a history of bikes with great handling you will love the Scout! Throw on a V&H pipe and I promise you will fall in love!

    https://images.app.goo.gl/D1U68RSzTpRVJwAo9
    This will also avoid all the Middle life Crisis comments that come when a Brit buys an HD.

    I was able to compare them side my side an the quality of the Scout eclipsed the HD....

  29. #29
    Thanks guys, well made the choice and the heart won, softail steet Bob with V&H, forward controls, low bars and stage one ordered.

    Only a week to go.

    Rich


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  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Cavham View Post
    Thanks guys, well made the choice and the heart won, softail steet Bob with V&H, forward controls, low bars and stage one ordered.

    Only a week to go.

    Rich


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    Nice.

    Is that the grey one?

  31. #31
    Master Chinnock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavham View Post
    Thanks guys, well made the choice and the heart won, softail steet Bob with V&H, forward controls, low bars and stage one ordered.

    Only a week to go.

    Rich


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Never been disappointment when it comes to bikes and heart!

    Enjoy!

  32. #32
    Yep its the industrial grey one and will be picking up in the next few hours. Time will tell if it is the right one

  33. #33
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavham View Post
    Yep its the industrial grey one and will be picking up in the next few hours. Time will tell if it is the right one
    Reckon you'll love it. Harleys are a different way of thinking when it comes to bikes.
    “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

  34. #34
    I rode an R18 today.

    Made me realise how nice the current Harleys are.

  35. #35
    I surprised at the R18, seen a few reviews, but that exhausts, man its ugly.

    I did not collect the bike, when I arrived they have put the loweride riser on the streetbob as well as the bars. I wanted just the bars and the risers looked wrong.

    Do they need to order new cables so another week, gutted when the weather yesterday morning and today looks great.

    These things happen but another week.........

  36. #36
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavham View Post
    I surprised at the R18, seen a few reviews, but that exhausts, man its ugly.

    I did not collect the bike, when I arrived they have put the loweride riser on the streetbob as well as the bars. I wanted just the bars and the risers looked wrong.

    Do they need to order new cables so another week, gutted when the weather yesterday morning and today looks great.

    These things happen but another week.........
    Thats a shame, but can't wait to see what it looks like with those bars on. When I had mine I always wanted different bars, like a high drag bar perhaps but never got around to it!
    “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by oldoakknives View Post
    Thats a shame, but can't wait to see what it looks like with those bars on. When I had mine I always wanted different bars, like a high drag bar perhaps but never got around to it!
    When I was last looking, I was considering a change to Hollywood/beach bars and felt ok when the dealer said the bars were about £250. But then there was about £300 for cables and hoses and another £300 or so for labour...

    Nah!

  38. #38
    Grand Master oldoakknives's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gyp View Post
    When I was last looking, I was considering a change to Hollywood/beach bars and felt ok when the dealer said the bars were about £250. But then there was about £300 for cables and hoses and another £300 or so for labour...

    Nah!
    I was looking at Paughco who do some bars prewired just before deciding to sell the bike for something a bit lighter.

    These were the ones the T bars.

    “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

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