A New Spin On An Old Classic

Harley-Davidson’s lineup has recently undergone a major shakeup with lots of what you might call the ’low hanging fruit’ that fell by the wayside — like the entire Dyna family line, for example — but not the venerable Heritage Softail Classic. Oh no. It moves into the 2018 model year with a dark edge to its paint packages, and a choice of either the 107- or 114-inch Milwaukee-Eight engine that brings solid, 100 pound-feet-plus performance to the table no matter which you choose. Though the underpinnings are all radically different than the originals, the overall classic looks remain largely unchanged for the requisite historical tie-in. Harley has put a new emphasis on the Softail lineup with plenty of performance-driven custom designs for the fiery-eyed pegdraggers out there, but for someone looking for an old-school cruiser and tour bike, the Heritage is your Huckleberry.

Continue reading for my reviw of the harley-Davidson Heritage Classic.

  • 2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Milwaukee-Eight 107
  • Displacement:
    107 cubic inches
  • Price:
    18999
  • Price:

Design

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
- image 728569
Harley definitely took the usually chrome-tastic Heritage to a dark place with liberal blackout treatment scattered throughout the machine.

Harley definitely took the usually chrome-tastic Heritage to a dark place with liberal blackout treatment scattered throughout the machine to include rims, front forks and shrouds, light cans and engine components. Classic from the start, the Heritage rolls on laced rims with a chrome hub cover on the non-brake side that is set off nicely by the surrounding darkness. The front fender carries a full shape with high-cut sides for an unimpeded view of the front wheel and chrome trim at both ends that tastefully represent the old-style skirt-and-piping in an understated sort of way.

Typical of the FL family, the Heritage sports large-diameter, wide-set forks that lend a definite beefiness to the look, and this is compounded by the whisker-mount passing lamps and turn signals that ride ahead of the barn-door windscreen. The lower half of the shield comes blacked out for even more visual weight up front and a look not unlike the old windshield protectors from back in the day. The screen itself is of the detachable sort for quick conversion depending on the weather, your mood, or whatever.

Blackout mini-apes raise the hands to something approaching shoulder height for a comfortable and commanding riding position. Unlike a few of the new Softails that bundle all of the instrumentation into the handlebar-riser cap, the Heritage carries an analog clock for the speedo and an array of idiot lights set in the classic split-tank console, but in blackout instead of chrome. I am glad to see that ’cause I hate a bunch of useless chrome in a position where reflected light can assault my eyes with every passing streetlight or sunbeam.

The deep-scoop seat slings the rider’s butt at 26.3 inches off the ground (laden with at least 180 pounds o’ rider) for a confidence-inspiring position with plenty of leverage when its time to put your feet down. A pillion pad and flip-out footpegs are all the passenger gets, so if you plan on carrying someone you like, perhaps a short passenger backrest is in order.

A set of black, top-load saddlebags completes the gear in the rear, and though the bags are cut down a bit to 1.5 cubic-feet of storage, they still manage to obscure just enough of the swingarm to ruin the illusion of the Softail rear end. Oh well, at least they look better than the old studded and fringed bags from back in the day, I suppose.

Chassis

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
- image 741182
The steering is set with an eye to stability, which makes it less than ideal for cornering but the new frame handles a lot better than the old one did, so don't be put off by the numbers until you try it.

It’s not exactly apparent at a glance, but the Softail frame saw a complete rework for 2018. The result is 50 percent of the frame components cut away and the engineering improved so that it is stiffer in spite of the lighter construction style. One thing that didn’t change was that classic Softail look the triangular swingarm and under-seat shock delivers.

The steering is set with an eye to stability with a 30-degree rake and 5.5-inch trail on a 64.2-inch wheelbase. Sure, this makes it less than ideal for cornering, but the new frame handles a lot better than the old one did, so don’t be put off by the numbers until you try it. Harley still isn’t on board with adjustable front suspension, but at least the factory has started to use Showa’s Dual Bending Valve front forks that deliver a stroke-speed sensitive, variable-damping response to jolts from the road.

Out back, the rear monoshock comes with a hand-adjustable preload feature that provides quick, tool-less adjustments for changing passenger and cargo loads. ABS protection is part of the standard equipment package, and that’s good news since the Heritage weighs in at 723-pounds (wet) and only comes with a single brake up front. Could it use dual front brakes? Sure, but at least the ABS will let you use what you’ve got with confidence.

Model: Heritage Classic 107 Heritage Classic 114
Rake (steering head) (deg): 30 30
Trail: 5.5 in. 5.5 in.
Lean Angle, Right (deg.): 27.3 27.3
Lean Angle, Left (deg.): 28.5 28.5
Brakes, Caliper Type: 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear
Tires, Front Specification: 130/90B16,53H,BW 130/90B16,53H,BW
Tires, Rear Specification: 150/80B16,77H,BW 150/80B16,77H,BW
Wheels, Front Type: Gloss Black, Steel Laced Gloss Black, Steel Laced
Wheels, Rear Type: Gloss Black, Steel Laced Gloss Black, Steel Laced

Drivetrain

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
- image 741188
Not only do these Milwaukee-Eight plants give you ample power out of the hole, but they also have the strongest fifth- and sixth-gear roll-ons of any production Harley engine to date, so the top-end performance is definitely more thrilling, as well.

Last year, Harley introduced the Milwaukee-Eight powerplant to its tourbike customers. It seems the replacement for the aging Twin Cam design was a success, and so it made the jump down into the newly-revised cruiser bracket to power all the Softail models. The engine’s lineage is apparent in the 45-degree V-Twin configuration, and the return to a single-cam valvetrain puts the pushrod geometry and nosecone shape back where they belong for that classic Harley look.

No matter which of the two mills you choose, you’re going to get an air-cooled pushrod engine that runs with a fairly basic electronics suite. Harley still shuns any sort of traction control or variable power-delivery gadgets, but who knows; since those are hang-on systems and don’t have to necessarily be integrated during the design phase, maybe we’ll still see something like that on this engine family eventually.

The 107-inch Mil-8 engine runs a 99 mm bore with a 111 mm stroke for a 1,746 cc displacement and 10-to-1 compression ratio. It cranks out a respectable 109 pound-feet of torque at a low 3,000 rpm, and that’s plenty for low-stress cruising, especially after you filter it through the six-speed transmission. The 114 cubic-inch version has a 102 mm bore with a 114.3 mm stroke and slightly warmer 10.5-to-1 compression ratio and 119 pound-foot output at three grand.

Both mills come with a 47 mpg fuel-economy rating, so the five-gallon fuel tanks should have plenty of range for touring, more than my butt can take at a spell, no doubt. Not only do these plants give you ample power out of the hole, but they also have the strongest fifth- and sixth-gear roll-ons of any production Harley engine to date, so the top-end performance is definitely more thrilling as well.

Model: Heritage Classic 107 Heritage Classic 114
Engine: Milwaukee-Eight® 107 Milwaukee-Eight® 114
Bore & Stroke: 3.937 in. x 4.374 in. 4.016 in. x 4.5 in.
Displacement: 107 cu in. (1,746 cc) 114 cu in. (1,868 cc)
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1 10.5:1
Engine Torque: 109 ft-lb @ 3,000 rpm 119 ft-lb @ 3,000 rpm
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)

Price

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
- image 741180
MSRP on the Heritage Classic starts at $18,999 and goes up to $21,199 for the elegant 115th Anniversary model.

The King of Paint follows SoP with a tiered pricing schedule that breaks down along paint-package lines. In Vivid Black, the 107 goes for $18,999 and the 114 bumps that on up to $20,299 for the same color. The next tier up is simply called “Color,” and it raises the price to $19,399 and $20,699, respectively. At the top, the luxe two-tone packages are priced at $19,749 and $21,049, and the 114-inch model adds to the mix with a 115th Anniversary package for $21,199 that boasts a sexy new blue paint with an asymmetrical eagle bar-and-shield graphic on the tank. Really elegant and snazzy, but in an understated kind of way.

Model: Heritage Classic 107 Heritage Classic 114
Color: Twisted Cherry, Silver Fortune, Olive Gold/Black Tempest, Industrial Gray Denim/Black Denim Vivid Black, Twisted Cherry, Silver Fortune, Olive Gold/Black Tempest, Industrial Gray Denim/Black Denim, Red Iron Denim; 115th Anniversary: Legend Blue / Vivid Black
Pricing:
Vivid Black: $18,999 $20,299
Color: $19,399 $20,699
Two-Tone: $19,749 $21,049
115th Anniversary Edition: NA $21,199

Competitor

2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic
- image 741179
2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / 900 Classic LT / 900 Custom
- image 741169

It should come as no surprise that a model as old and storied as the Heritage would have its share of admirers on the market. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all; but none are quite as flattering as the Vulcan 900 Classic LT from Kawasaki. What about the engine size? Yeah, it’s got a smaller powerplant than the Heritage to be sure, but the initial visual impact is going to be the main selling point here, so the Vulcan is likely to appeal to the same sort of buyer.

Admittedly, Kawasaki did a good job in capturing the feel and flavor of the FLSTC family. It starts right up front with a full-length but high-sided front fender that goes with the whisker-bar turn signals, windshield and beer-can fork shrouds like peas-and-carrots. The similarities continue into the fuel tank where the Vulcan carries its instrumentation in a console ahead of a very deeply scooped, studded saddle, and the Kawasaki comes more second-rider friendly off the floor with a passenger backrest but has even less storage space in the bags.

The 41 mm stems on the Kawasaki are straight-up vanilla while Harley’s are kinda vanilla with sprinkles on top due to the DBV technology, and it looks like Harley wins out in the brakes as well with the only ABS between the two. Now for the engines. Kawasaki runs with a 55-degree V-twin for a similar look to the Harley plant, but the liquid cooling ruins the effort they spent, at least from a head-on perspective. The Vulcan mill measures out at 903 cc with an 88 mm bore and 74.2 mm stroke, and it runs a bit cooler as well with a 9.5-to-1 compression ratio. Power output is a bit over half that of the Mil-8 107 with 58.2 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm, but honestly, how much power do you really need to putt-putt around town or do a little casual touring?

Pricing is where the Vulcan really shines. At $8,999 Kawasaki kicks the crap out of Harley at the checkout counter and it’s largely the difference in engine size that does that. The buyer will have to decide if the Harley is worth the higher price or if the look alone is what you love.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Personally, I’d rather have the performance of the larger engine, but if I were on a budget that made the Vulcan a contender, I’d be looking at another type of bike, myself. That said, I like what the factory did with the Heritage as far as the blackout treatment is concerned, but wonder why they don’t also offer a chrome version more like the classic. Oh well, can’t have everything, and I do like what they have.”

She Said

"It is a move away from the classic with less bling, but really bling is on its way out. Dark and snarly is the new cool. The Heritage Classic is the only Softail in the lineup to come with a windscreen, though it is detachable if you want to nix it. It’s also the only model that comes with bags, and even though they’re molded hard-cases, they look like leather so that heritage look isn’t spoiled. This bike is really comfortable. I can see myself using this as a tourer and not just an around-town cruiser. I’ve always been a fan of the no-fairing-with-a-windscreen look and cyclops headlight with the pimp lights, so yeah, this is my favorite Softail in the new lineup."

Specifications

Model: Heritage Classic 107 Heritage Classic 114
Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Milwaukee-Eight® 107 Milwaukee-Eight® 114
Bore: 3.937 in. 4.016 in.
Stroke: 4.374 in. 4.5 in.
Displacement: 107 cu in. (1,736 cc) 114 cu in. (1,868 cc)
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1 10.5:1
Engine Torque Testing Method: J1349 J1349
Engine Torque: 109 ft-lb 119 ft-lb
Engine Torque (rpm): 3,000 3,000
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Exhaust: 2-into-2 shorty dual; catalyst in muffler 2-into-2 shorty dual; catalyst in muffler
Primary Drive: Chain, 34/46 ratio Chain, 34/46 ratio
Gear Ratios (overall) 1st: 9.311 9.311
Gear Ratios (overall) 2nd: 6.454 6.454
Gear Ratios (overall) 3rd: 4.793 4.793
Gear Ratios (overall) 4th: 3.882 3.882
Gear Ratios (overall) 5th: 3.307 3.307
Gear Ratios (overall) 6th: 2.79 2.79
Chassis:
Rake (steering head) (deg): 30 30
Trail: 5.5 in. 5.5 in.
Lean Angle, Right (deg.): 27.3 27.3
Lean Angle, Left (deg.): 28.5 28.5
Brakes, Caliper Type: 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear
Tires, Front Specification: 130/90B16,53H,BW 130/90B16,53H,BW
Tires, Rear Specification: 150/80B16,77H,BW 150/80B16,77H,BW
Wheels, Front Type: Gloss Black, Steel Laced Gloss Black, Steel Laced
Wheels, Rear Type: Gloss Black, Steel Laced Gloss Black, Steel Laced
Dimensions &Capacities:
Length: 95.1 in. 95.1 in.
Seat Height, Laden: 26.3 in. 26.3 in.
Seat Height, Unladen: 26.8 in. 26.8 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.7 in. 4.7 in.
Wheelbase: 64.2 in. 64.2 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5 gal. 5 gal.
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 5 qt. 5 qt.
Weight, As Shipped: 697 lb. 697 lb.
Weight, In Running Order: 723 lb. 728 lb.
Luggage Capacity -Volume: 1.5 cu ft 1.5 cu ft
Electric:
Lights (as per country regulation), Indicator Lamps: High beam, turn signals, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, auxiliary lighting, cruise, ABS, security, low battery voltage, low fuel High beam, turn signals, neutral, low oil pressure, engine diagnostics, auxiliary lighting, cruise, ABS, security, low battery voltage, low fuel
Gauges: 5-inch analog speedometer with digital gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tachometer indication 5-inch analog speedometer with digital gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tachometer indication
Details:
Fuel Economy: Estimated City/Hwy: 47 mpg 47 mpg
Equipment: ABS, Security System, Cruise Control ABS, Security System, Cruise Control
Color: Twisted Cherry, Silver Fortune, Olive Gold/Black Tempest, Industrial Gray Denim/Black Denim Vivid Black, Twisted Cherry, Silver Fortune, Olive Gold/Black Tempest, Industrial Gray Denim/Black Denim, Red Iron Denim; 115th Anniversary: Legend Blue / Vivid Black
Pricing:
Vivid Black: $18,999 $20,299
Color: $19,399 $20,699
Two-Tone: $19,749 $21,049
115th Anniversary Edition: NA $21,199

References

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / 900 Classic LT / 900 Custom
- image 741170

See our review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 900.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: harley-davidson.com, kawasaki.com

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