Harley launches its 2018 Softail Street Bob with some updates and improvements.
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Street Bob is one of The Motor Company’s most stripped down bikes, which, for many, also makes it one of its best. Dropping the Dyna rubber engine mounts and twin shocks, of course, may give current Street Bob fans a moment of pause, but Harley-Davidson is betting that the new design’s improved performance will sway the faithful in 2018. It’s also the lowest priced and lightest bike in the Softail line.
Harley-Davidson maintained 1960s DNA that’s always inspired the Street Bob, but pared it down even more to express the “fists in the wind attitude, with nothing extra to weigh it down” feel the company was after. Mini-apes in black, a minimalist front fender and unadorned fork couple with the compact fuel tank and blacked-out staggered dual exhaust for a light and lithe look.
Like the rest of the overhauled Dyna-turned-Softail models, the Street Bob features a new version of the four-valve-per-cylinder Milwaukee-Eight 107ci V-twin with dual counterbalancers to cancel primary vibration. This allows the engine to be rigid mounted in the frame, which increases chassis stiffness for improved handling. Harley-Davidson claims the 107ci Milwaukee-Eight makes the new bikes 10 percent faster from 0-60 than the High Output Twin Cam 103 engine used previously.
The mild-steel tubular frame has been redesigned and is 65 percent stiffer than the outgoing Softail frame. This new frame has 50 percent fewer component parts, 22 percent fewer welds and, with the solid-mount engine, makes for an overall 34 percent more rigid chassis. This new frame (along with other changes) help reduce the weight of the Street Bob by 17 pounds for 2018. The new chassis also improves steering and increases available lean angle.
The Showa Dual Bending Valve (SDBV) fork Harley-Davidson introduced to much praise on the FL touring line last year is now applied to 2018 Softail motorcycles. The Showa fork reduces weight and provides linear damping characteristics to provide a more comfortable, better controlled ride and improved handling.
At the rear, dropping the twin shocks is a big departure. But the new single under-seat coil-over unit improves performance by offering increased wheel travel, more controlled damping and a larger range of spring preload adjustment.
In search of that stripped-down look, the Street Bob’s reshaped fuel tank has capacity reduced from 4.7 gallons to 3.5, which should be offset somewhat by the bike’s claimed 47 mpg fuel consumption. Also paring down the visual signature is the analog, tank-mounted speedometer ditched in favor of a semi-hidden digital one.
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob 107 starts at $14,499 in vivid black and goes up to $15,249 for two-tone paint schemes. ABS costs $795 addition.