Hardtail vs. Softail Motorcycles: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, one question that often arises is the difference between hardtail and softail frames. With a long-standing presence in the motorcycle industry, Harley-Davidson has continuously pushed the boundaries of innovation. One area where they have left an indelible mark is the introduction of the softail frame.

The hardtail vs softtail difference is rather subtle but becomes apparent while on the road.

Understanding the Hardtail and Softail Distinction

At first glance, the difference between a softail frame and a hardtail frame may not be immediately apparent. However, it becomes evident when you take the bikes out on the road. The softail body was ingeniously designed to maintain the brand’s iconic aesthetic while appealing to modern riders who seek a smoother ride.

Softail Frames and Rear Suspension

In contrast to the classic hardtail body that incorporates both front and rear suspension systems in a single frame, the softail body features a separate mini frame for the rear suspension. This innovative design results in an overall smoother ride. Since its introduction in 1984, the softail body has become the preferred choice for both buyers and manufacturers, surpassing the hardtail frame in popularity.

Softail bodies are made up of two separate pieces, while hardtail bodies consist of one single piece. The more intricate design of softail bodies does lead to slightly higher production costs for manufacturers. However, this does not deter customers, as softail motorcycles continue to reign supreme.

The rear suspension system in softtail Harley Davidson bikes offers a smooth ride.

A Smooth Ride with Rear Suspension

The key advantage that softails hold over their rigid hardtail counterparts is the rear suspension system. This system significantly reduces the impact of road debris and bumps, resulting in a much smoother ride. In the case of traditional hardtails, these impacts can be so extreme that they may cause riders to crash. Softails offer a solution that ensures a safer and more comfortable experience on the road.

The Rise of Softails: Increased Comfort and Stability

Harley-Davidson introduced softail frames in 1984, and since then, they have surpassed hardtail frames in popularity. This increased preference for softails is justified despite their higher production costs compared to hardtails. Softails have become the go-to choice for beginners, offering enhanced comfort and stability. Meanwhile, hardtail bikes hold a nostalgic appeal for Harley-Davidson collectors, leading to their scarcity over time.

The most popular softtail models currently available from Harley-Davidson are the 2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim and the 2021 Harley-Davidson Softtail Standard.

Popular Softail Models: A Suitable Ride for Every Rider

Among the most popular softail models currently available from Harley-Davidson are the 2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim and the 2021 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard. These models offer similar performance but feature slight differences in length and seat height to accommodate riders of varying sizes. Regardless of your body size, either of these softail models can be an outstanding choice for beginner riders.

Hardtail vs. Softail: Pros and Appeal

The advantages of softail frames have rendered hardtail motorcycles less popular on the market. However, hardtail Harley-Davidsons still hold their charm for buyers seeking unique features and historical value. While newer softail frames provide a smoother ride and better control, hardtail bodies offer a distinct feel. The absence of rear suspension creates a different riding experience that some riders find appealing.

Find both softtail and hardtail models at Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands.

Explore the World of Harley-Davidson at The Woodlands

Softail frames have emerged as the dominant choice, but hardtails are still available for purchase. Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands showcases the latest models, from 2021 softails to classic hardtails, ensuring a wide range of options for enthusiasts. Whether you’re a fan of softails or prefer the allure of hardtails, we’ve got you covered. Discover your dream ride at Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands, where we proudly stand on Team Harley-Davidson.

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