WE'VE been in Barcelona on the launch of Harley-Davidson's 2018 Softail range. Here's what Visordown's Laura Thomson thinks of the Heritage Classic 114.
'I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told not to judge a book by its cover – and yet I still do.
'My first impression of Harley-Davidson’s Heritage Classic 114 was that of a large, ungainly tourer, and certainly not one capable of providing any sort of engaging ride.
'One hundred miles later and I’ll gladly hold my hands up and admit I was wrong. While it retains some of the classic looks of its forbearers, the ride has evolved tenfold – even since its last incarnation, I’m told.
'A redesigned version of Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight engine – first seen in the 2017 tourer range – sits under the tank, producing 114 ft-lb of torque. This unit’s namesake capacity is also, coincidentally, 114 cubic inches.
'The engine is unmistakeably Harley, despite the solid mounting to minimalise vibrations. Peak torque is reached at 3,000 revs, while the engine tops out just shy of 6,000.
'Power is plentiful, and you can leave the bike in third or fourth as you throw it around bends, happy in the knowledge that you’ll be able to accelerate out the other side.'
'For a heavyweight tourer, the Heritage Classic is surprisingly agile, and thanks to raised footboards has a one per cent increase in lean angle on its predecessor. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it makes a significant difference on tighter turns. Nonetheless, the boards still scrape easily. Suspension is ample up front, and rear preload will prove invaluable to owners who ride two up with luggage.
'The Heritage Classic falls short on stopping power. The rear brake is useful and progressive, but ultimately not that powerful, while the front could be a lot sharper. With 316kg of bike, plus potentially another 250kg of rider, pillion and luggage, another disc wouldn’t go amiss.
'Back at a standstill and the bike feels far heavier than it did on the move. The mid-height bars require a decent shove to stand the bike upright, and wheeling it around could soon become exhausting.
'The looks could be a dissuading factor to many riders, but Harley-Davidson has accounted for this, by making that huge screen, and the solid, studded panniers easily removable. Take those off and you have an entirely different-looking bike.'