2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic – Motorcycle Review
Credit: Freddy Sherman
It’s a new Softail edition, the Heritage Classic.
The Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic is a new edition for the 2018 Softail line, bringing a retro, rodded out style to the popular cruiser bike. You get a windshield and saddlebags, making it a bike you can take on long road trips, but both are easily removable for a more stripped down look. You also get a bike that comes standard with modern technology like ABS, keyless ignition, LED running lights, EFI and cruise control.
My Road Trips
To properly test out the Heritage Classic, I rode it about 1,000 miles all over Southern California. I rode back and forth between LA and Palm Springs a few times, on the freeway, without much traffic. I rode it in the annual West Coast Thunder Memorial Day ride with 8,000 other bikers. After that ride, I took a 100-mile luxury road trip into Beverly Hills for a lunch at the iconic Polo Lounge and a visit to The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Later that afternoon, I had to ride from Beverly Hills to Carson, on the 405 freeway, in rush hour. My final road trip was from Palm Desert over the CA 74 (one of the state’s best driving roads) to Idyllwild. It’s 50 miles of curving mountain roads rising from the desert to an alpine town 5,000 feet above sea level.
The Heritage Classic is big and comfortable with wide handlebars. Even as a shorter rider, I found it easily manageable in parking lots and when walking it backwards. On the freeway, it just glides, rock steady even at near triple-digit speeds. It was a little wobbly in the extreme wind outside Palm Springs but fine once I slowed down to around 70.
On the mountain roads going to and from Idyllwild, it was very easy to take through the curves and really lean into it.There’s a lot of chrome hardware attaching the handlebars in the center and there can be some glare in direct sunlight. You can also get some optical distortion with the windshield and a full-face helmet visor. The EFI makes the engine very smooth with a strong power band at all rpms. There is super strong low-end torque for quick starts at traffic lights and seemingly endless high gears for high-speed freeway riding.
With either engine choice, the 107 or 114 Milwuakee Eight motors, you have seemingly endless power. My test bike had the massive 114 cubic inch engine (1,868 cc) which gives you 109 lb-ft of torque.
The bike weighs 723 pounds with fuel, so it’s not light, but with a low, 26.3 inch seat height it’s easy to control, even for shorter riders. The bike feels very solid and just explodes off the line at traffic lights with careful clutch and throttle control. At freeway speeds, it’s rock steady with a large power reserve always available regardless of your speed. The ride is smooth and the bike is good on all surfaces. Turning is also easy with a good lean angle, even with the saddlebags. It’s very good in the canyons and also at slow-speed maneuvers in a parking lot.
The Heritage Classic features Harley’s latest Milwaukee Eight V-Twin engine design, with EFI. You also get keyless ignition and the safety of standard ABS. Up front you have LED running lights and a high performance front suspension with reduced weight from previous models. In the rear you also have a high performance suspension that retains the classic Hardtail look. There’s an adjustable mono-shock under the seat to change the ride height.
When reviewing cars, I usually talk about luxury here, but on motorcycles I like to go over the convenience. The bike is a nice large size for long freeway cruising and is great when you have a passenger on the back. While big and solid, it’s nice and low and easy to throw around the canyons. Up front you have a removable windshield (it snaps on and off in seconds). The Harley also comes standard with two saddlebags. They’re hard plastic, covered in leather and sealed from the elements. They open and close easily and are lockable. And speaking of locks, the bike has a keyless ignition system, there’s a circular black fob you keep in your pocket. The Heritage Classic has a five gallon fuel tank and is rated at 47 mpg.
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic starts at $18,999 for a bike with the 107 motor, with basic paint. Two-tone and custom anniversary colors are more. The bike with the 114 motor is $20,299, again for the basic paint colors. For that price you get a really nice looking Harley cruiser with a windshield and bags. It’s great for long road trips or just going out on a Saturday night. As far as alternatives, the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT ($8,999) mimics some of the styling, with saddlebags and a windshield, but the engine is almost half the size. Kawasaki makes 1700 cc Vaquero Vulcan models (about $17,000), but one is streamlined like a CVO Street Glide and the other is fully dressed for touring like a Road King. The Indian Springfield is has a 111 cubic inch engine and similar styling, for a starting price of $20,999. Their Chief Vintage model is also similar, priced at $19,999. I recently rode the Ducati XDiavelS ($23,995), their “technocruiser” and it’s an interesting option if you don’t want that classic cruiser look. It’s a cruiser (low seat, forward controls, strong low-end torque) that can become a sportbike very quickly.
Photo by Freddy Sherman
By Freddy Sherman
Freddy is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels. To follow Freddy directly, you can find more of his content at luxuryfred.com and here:
YouTube – Freddy Sherman channel
Twitter – @luxuryfred
Instagram – @luxuryfred
Facebook – Luxury Fred