Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic
Unfortunately when I hopped onto the Heritage Classic I had only minutes earlier climbed off a Street Glide Special and the initial feeling was one of disappointment… as the two bikes are so different, even as I rode down Grayston Avenue towards the M1, I kept thinking “Oh No, who would buy a Heritage?”, but fortunately my office is roughly 35 clicks away from the Johannesburg Harley-Davidson dealership (where I had handed back the Street Glide in place of the Heritage) and 35 clicks was all that was needed for me to realise that although the two Harleys are indeed very different, the Heritage was actually quite nice.
Early next morning I hit the open road on the modern-day Classic and wow - discovered exactly where the Heritage Classic fits best… on the long road. It’s very smooth, very comfortable and offers that raw riding experience. Raw as in no music (except for the rumbling 103 V-Twin between my legs), no cluttered handlebars with gauges for everything and no fancy cruise-control, what the Heritage does have is a beaut of an engine, a nice, optically-correct (as near as dammit) protective screen - which is easily detachable in mere minuets, an absolutely great seating position that would allow me to ride all day long… and the bonus was, my better half said she would gladly ride all day long with her back on the rest of the Heritage Classic.
Okay, so it’s not fast, it’s not mean and it’s not the most exciting thing I’ve ever ridden, but that’s not what this machine is about, it’s not about robot to robot racing, but about consistency - being able to ride all day long, it’s about comfort and it’s definitely about being functional as an open-road tourer. By day two I found myself planning to ride the 600kms to Durban just for breakfast and a goof in the ocean (but that’s another story). Seriously, the Heritage lends itself to riding, riding and some more riding. Every one of us petrol-heads has a perfect garage in our head - mine has at least seven bikes parked inside – you know – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… and as I write this, the Heritage would feature in my garage, next to a flashy RSV4, a camouflage GS Adventure, my charcoal K 1300 GT, a green ZZR-1400, a blue FZ-1Fazer and a fire-engine-red Panigale (and a few pucker “ready to race” 450 MX bikes).
The Heritage Softail Classic drips with nostalgia of yesteryear, but that’s only half the story. The hidden suspension gives you the authentic look without the bone-shaking ride of an old Hardtail. You get redesigned seats and redesigned leather saddlebags, but best of all, the new High-Output Twin Cam 103 engine. Harley did not re-invent the authentic dresser looks, but did re-inventing the superb Classic ride.
The Harley Classic blazes from the past, fully equipped with original dresser spirit and modern touring capabilities. Smooth performance, a low seat height, ample luggage space, wind protection, and passenger accommodations make the Heritage a true custom touring bike - one that quickly converts to a boulevard cruiser when the windshield is detached.
Words and pics by Kenn Slater
Thanks to Greater Than, Johannesburg H-D and Harley-Davidson SA for the ride.
The Heritage is a great, modern, old school classic!