Harley Softail Slim S Quick Spin

Quick Spin on the 2016 Harley Softail Slim S

I spent two weeks living with a 2016 Softail Slim S test bike and the adjectives that I did come up with to describe the experience were mostly ‘excellent’ and ‘fantastic’.

The bike is powered by the 110B (1,801cc) Screaming Eagle high performance engine. Its 111.1mm stroke is the same as the familiar 103B motor, but has been bored out to 101.6mm (from 94.4mm).

It means the solid mounted, counterbalanced unit is quite simply the best powerplant of any stock Softail I’ve tested. It’s a torque monster - it’s smooth, compliant, pleasant and oh-so strong. It tends to pulse more than vibrate and is equally at home on the freeway, town or country roads.

The Slim had over 5,000km on the clock when I picked it up and it tapped out better than most press bikes I’ve encountered, probably due to being further run-in than most and also down to the fact that this is a very well sorted motorcycle.

Harley claims maximum torque of 145nm @ 4000rpm and although I didn’t get it near a Dyno, but there are plenty of online reports claiming somewhere in the 80 ponies range.

The engine is fitted with a selection of Screaming Eagle fruit as standard - including a Stage 1 air filter. It had excellent fuelling and the overall performance of the engine put a huge grin on my dial every time I rode it. It is fitted with a modern-compliance-quiet exhaust system - but a quick trip to the accessory catalogue would see that easily sorted.

The cruise drive six speed gearbox shifted very positively, reliably and neutral was easy to find even when stationary.

It’s also fitted with an easy to use cruise control and overall the switchgear is top notch. The self-cancelling indicators are still the best system on a motorcycle.

On the road the fame is the same reliable Softail we’re familiar with – featuring the hidden rear suspension look and solid, planted, predictable manners.

The rear end is minimalist and doesn’t look as ‘phat’ as some of the other wide arse softails, but the big difference is that it does go around corners better – or more accurately it takes a whole lot less effort to negotiate them.

It has 16”x3” laced steel wheels on both front and rear. Combined with the narrow rear, the fat front tyre and upgraded forks (41.3mm) do to the Softail’s handling and stability exactly what the wide Fat Bob front end does to a Dyna – it turns it into the best tipper-in in the range - it really does win the overall Softail handling and cornering plaudits easily - although lean angle isn’t a big feature of the bike. It is easy to get the wide and very comfortable footboards on the deck. But then it IS a cruiser styled bike. Lean angles notwithstanding, it’s one of the best handling and most capable in the cruiser class – be it town, country or freeway conditions.

The upgraded single 300mm front and 292mm rear disc brakes (with ABS) on the Slim continue the trend of Softails having some of the best brakes ever fitted on a Harley. They match the upgraded power output perfectly. They are quite effortless, one-finger stoppers.

I liked the riding position and the ‘Hollywood’ handlebars are very comfortable. Although the seat wore out its welcome pretty quickly and really is only about as comfortable as it looks.

But then the bike is also about how everything does look overall. It has some great lines and angles.

The paint is what you’d expect from H-D: excellent. It has a denim finish and I thought the military theme and blacked out extras were very attractive - a great looking bike.

It features the Softail-typical tank mounted analogue Speedo and an LCD display for other functions or retro-tech - as Harley calls it.

With a starting price $28,995 the Softail Slim S is a cruiser from the top shelf. I’d add some pipes, a taller saddle and some pillion accommodation … and then ride the wheels off it every chance I could.