After promising to roll-out 150 new models over the next five years, Harley-Davidson (H-D) has begun its onslaught into the cruiser motorcycle market with eight new models in its Softail range, including a brand new Fat Boy. Touted to be faster, lighter and better handling than the previous models, Harley’s new Softails come with its new Milwaukee Eight 107 and 114 V-twins.

As the centre-piece of the bike, H-D’s eight-valve Milwaukee Eight 107 V-twin, displacing 1,745 cc with oil-cooled cylinder heads, takes pride of place as standard equipment in all eight new Softails – Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Low Rider, Softail Slim, Deluxe and Breakout. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Eight 114 mill, at 1,868 cc and liquid-cooled cylinder heads, is available as an option on four models – the Fat Bob 114, Fat Boy 114, Breakout 114 and Heritage Classic 114.

Claiming to merge the riding performance if its Dyna range of big cruisers, along with the custom look of its Softail line, H-D’s new additions commemorate its 115th Anniversary. The frame used in the new Softails is lighter and stiffer, and is coupled with high-performance Showa SDBV dual-bending valve front fork and an adjustable rear monoshock.

This translates into increased lean angles for some Softail versions, sharper turn-in response, quicker acceleration, nimble flickability, lighter weight and easier side-stand lift off. The frame is 65% stiffer than the outgoing Softail design, which H-D says leads to a 34% increase in overall chassis stiffness.

There are two unique swingarms, one for narrow and one for wide rear tires. The wide chassis is 5.89 kg, or 15%, lighter, while the narrow chassis shaves 8.16 kg, a 20% weight-savings. H-D claims the new Softails are up to 17% lighter then their predecessors.

Updates common to all Softails is Daymaker Signature LED headlights, along with an improved electrical charging system, allowing for more accessories to be fitted without fear of battery drain. Also standard on all Softails is keyless ignition and security system, as well as a USB port mounted on the steering head and new design fuel tanks.

Faced with an ageing rider demographic, notably in its home market of the US, H-D is pursuing an aggressive campaign of expansion to draw in a younger rider, producing the Street-series of lower displacement bikes, such as the 2017 Street Rod 750, as well as opening plants nearer to Asian markets.

We were advised by H-D Asia-Pacific that the 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail models would have availability varying by market. H-D Malaysia was unable to be reached for comment as to which of the 2018 H-D Softail models would be coming to Malaysia.