Harley-Davidson’s Impressive Line Up Just Got Better
Everyone has heard of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The name is iconic not only in the industry but in American culture in general. Not only that, the image of a roaring, throbbing Harley is firmly established throughout most of the world as an image of raw American power. The new 2016 Softail Slim S more than lives up to that image.
The first thing one notices about the Softail Slim S is it’s impressive lines. This is not a delicate racing bike or a full bodied cruiser. It will never be as comfortable as a BMW K 1600 GTL, nor will it ever have the power of a Vyrus but what it does have is a classic simplicity to its design that recalls a earlier time, if an earlier time had better designers.
At just over seven and a half feet long the Softail Slim S seems like so much more. It’s not how the bike feels, but how it looks. The design is imposing, it’s impressive, it screams of power and strength and when seen pulled up at the curb the bike doesn’t so much look like it’s sitting as it looks like it’s waiting.
The Softail Slim S has a presence about it. It draws the eye from the front wheel, through the tank and motor, and down along the black dual exhausts. Everything about it’s design is aggressive. Approach one of these lean bikes from any angle and it doesn’t seem like a bike. Rather, it begins to feel like one is trying to sneak up on a predatory cat, all teeth and violence. It is an amazing experience. And then the ride.
From the first twist of the throttle and the jump off the line as the engine transfers 100 puns feet of torque the bike is a dream to ride. It’s comfortable, too. Surprisingly comfortable, actually. While it may never win any awards for long distance travel the bike is much more comfortable than would normally be expected from something designed along similar lines and with similar power.
About that power, this is the lightest bike ever to have Harley’s twin cam Screaming Eagle. And that’s a fact the bike isn’t soon to let anyone forget. With a 0-60 time of 5 seconds and 81 brake horse power the bike can move. Move better, as it turns out, then several other popular Harley-Davidson models. Hopefully, this will see the introduction of the Screaming Eagle into more bikes as a stock feature.
There are, of course, a number of customizations available for the bike. Some are more useful than others. One added feature that is a necessity is the available saddle bags.
The bike is quick to respond to steering inputs and quick to accelerate which, at just over seven hundred pounds when fueled, is no mean feat. Other nice improvements over other Harley models include an improved gear box, gear shifts are easier to accomplish and lock into place faster and smoother. There’s no grinding or hesitation which is common on some other models. These improvements in the gear box, which is a six speed, make for a much more enjoyable ride. When riding this bike the rider almost forgets that he’s not on a superbike. From the moment one triggers the ignition all the way till the end of the ride hours later the rider forgets just how long he’s been riding. The hours and the miles fall away beneath the wheels.
Currently, the Softail Slim S is offered in black or in Olive Gold Denim. The olive gold variant sports a traditionally styled US army star on the tank and, if anything, is even more fun to ride. Sitting on the olive gold bike is eerily reminiscent of Steve McQueen racing for Switzerland at the end of The Great Escape.
The true power of this bike is exactly that. Yes, its powerful, yes it looks good, and yes, it’s even comfortable but the true force behind it, the true spark that catches the eye and holds even the most cold hearted passerby in a momentary flare of beauty is the idea of history behind it. This isn’t some speed demon built on a skeleton, it’s not a carbon fiber super bike, it won’t ever be seen on the racing circuit or in the winner’s circle. But none of that matters.
The bike looks like a bike should look. Not in any technical sense, not in a sense where the eyes of someone who doesn’t ride glaze over with boredom as specifics are explained. No, what makes everything work so well with the Softail Slim S is that it looks the way a bike is expected to look.
There’s nothing heavy or plodding about it, it doesn’t resemble heavy cruisers or skeletal racers and with the popularity of three wheeled trikes growing every year this bike stands as hope for a better future.
This is what Steve McQueen’s bike in The Great Escape should have looked like. This is the bike James Dean should have been sitting on when that famous picture was taken. This, in other words, is the bike that everyone has always been waiting for without realizing it.
Certain bikes tend to stay in one’s mind over the years. Some become classics of function and design. This could be one of those bikes. One couldn’t imagine a full bodied touring bike looking anything but silly beside something like the Vincent Black Shadow. Yet, this bike looks like it would be great friends with the Shadow, the two of them sitting around swapping war time stories late into the evening.
That is what makes this bike so special. There’s something truly magical about it. There are other bikes that go faster, handle better, and are more comfortable to ride but none of them are as iconic as this one is. This bike captures the image of the American movie star, the daring rouge who does what he wants and looks good doing it. This is a true piece of art and for that is one of the best bikes on the market today.