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Harley Davidson Softail - What is it?
A softail is the description given to a Harley Davidson motorcycle which has shock absorbers or springs in the rear suspension. The suspension on a soft tail is hidden out of view so it cannot be seen. This way, a more comfortable ride is achieved for the driver or passenger when riding over bumpy ground or uneven surfaces, yet the bike still looks like a traditional hardtail chopper (a popular design in the 1960s and 1970s).
Harley Davidson Softail - The Beginning
The name ‘softail’ is a trademark of the Harley Davidson Company. It was Bill Davis of St Louis, Missouri that originally designed the softail during the early 1970s (which he later filed patent for in 1976). There were flaws with the original softail design, but throughout the late 1970s the design was tweaked and a prototype eventually sold to Harley Davidson in the early 1980s. By 1983/4 a revised version of Bill Davis’ softail design was produced in the form of the Harley Davidson FXST softail.
Harley Davidson Softail - Models
Since 1984, there have been numerous Harley Davidson softail motorcycles manufactured and the softail remains a popular choice of bike today. These Harley Davidson models include the softail Custom, softail Standard, Springer softail, Heritage softail, Deuce, Fat Boy, Night Train and Deluxe. All of these models, bar the Deuce, are said to possess the same frame, engine (non rubber mounted) and transmissions yet all vary in their choice of wheels, forks and accessories.
Harley Davidson Softail - Forks Available
The are four different forks available for the Harley Davidson softail and these can be identified by the softail model’s abbreviated codes. The bikes that have small diameter telescopic forks are represented with ‘FXST’ such as the Springer (FXSTS), the Deuce (FXSTD) and the Night Train (FXSTB). Those softail models that have large diameter telescopic forks are represented with ‘FLST’ such as the Deluxe (FLSTN), the Fat Boy (FLSTF) and the Heritage Classic (FLSTC). The bikes which have the Springer forks for a 21 inch wheel are represented with ‘FXSTS’ such as the Bad Boy (FXSTSB) and the Springer (FXSTSS). Lastly, the softails that have Springer forks for a 16 inch wheel are represented with ‘FLSTS’ such as the Cross Bones (FLSTSB) and the Springer Classic (FLSTSC).