2019 Heritage Classic
Dave racks up the K’s on the new Heritage.
Brum said, “OK, we have run something on the Heritage Classic in Heavy Duty previously, but what I’d really like to see is you get the Bike for a decent loan period and thoroughly cover the way the bike is a real ‘do-it-all’ Harley.”
Now and Then
I always thought appreciating the earlier generations of Heritage Softails was a mindset. I enjoyed the connection with the brand’s history and aesthetic and I didn’t mind them dragging the footboards or moderate lean angles when hooking in. I was always too busy feeling good about riding them and the way they purred along the boulevard to worry about going ten-tenths.
Three weeks with this new model has modified my thinking somewhat.
As Brum alluded, the 2019 model, equipped with the latest 114cube engine, new Softail Chassis, upgraded suspension, better lean angles and improved comfort has repositioned the Heritage even further up my bikes that do-it-all hierarchy without the need to compromise on sportier riding.
I was pleasantly surprised by just how comfortable the new model is for a big guy. The Gel seat was good for a 350km non-stop stretch and the legroom is really good too. I could stretch out on the big footboards the mini-ape handlebars work to complement it all very well. Lounge chair comfort. My daughter’s first comment after watching me pull into her driveway for a quick visit was “That looks really comfortable”.
Conversely, shorter inseams will have no trouble flat-footing with its 680mm saddle height and they should be even more luxuriated by the ergos.
The only thing I’d change to suit the taller gent is get a slightly taller – or shorter windscreen. Normal heights should fit nicely in the bubble and as with previous Heritage screens it only takes seconds to put it on or take it off. In blustery conditions there was a little skittishness from the screen in crosswinds, but only minor.
The big difference is the new bike’s overall performance.
I used to be able to bottom out the suspension on a 103cube with trying too hard, even after going through the rigmarole of beefing up the preload.
On the new model Harley says it has used “sophisticated suspension technology … racing-style cartridge forks and a high performance mono-shock rear for dynamic cornering capability”.
I’m saying the suspension is very good - and matched with the new chassis and torque-ey engine, this is a tight handling, pleasure to chuck round. I didn’t bottom it out once – even on some terrible roads.
The back road from Woodenbong to Killarney is a mixed bag. Some of it is the worst tarmac I’ve ridden on, rough, potholed and eroded – and some of it is newly made and repaired and has super-sweet, long, sweeping bends and smooth open straights. The Heritage’s suspension was more than capable of dealing with the varied conditions and added a great deal of enjoyment to the run.
The preload adjustment isn’t as easy as other new Softails with their dial adjuster locater below the side cover. The seat has to be removed to access the shock on the Classic, but it’s still a lot easier than climbing under the bike on previous incarnations.
The lean angles are 27.3 and 28.5 degrees respectively. If you ride it anywhere near its handling capability on a typical suburban roundabout the footboards will hit the deck. In that regard it’s still a Heritage. But the sweetest-riding one I’ve yet encountered.
That was really evident on the Mt Lindsay Road and crossing the Qld/NSW border. In parts it’s a tight, twisty and bumpy section and some of my favourite tarmac. I punted the Classic over the climb and descent at a pretty good pace and came away with a huge grin.
Spooling the 114 Cube motor up, leaving it in fourth gear and hammering across the top of the mountain was seriously good fun. Yes, the boards did scrape a bit but the new suspension package dealt with the undulating surface admirably and the way the 150 section rear and 130 section front tyres allow the bike to be thrown into the corners and the ease with which it side-to-sides added to the enjoyment greatly.
The climb up to Mt Glorious from the west of Brisbane is also tight and twisty and similarly proved very enjoyable. On the 30kph signed corners the footboards had the gentlest of kisses on the tarmac at 60kph and the 20kph’s s were fine at 40.
The 4-piston single disc brakes are also really good. The last bike I rode that had this close to a genuine one-finger lever action was a sportsbike. They aren’t ‘brutal’ stoppers but they are very good, controlled and require minimal effort.
On numerous trips around town in late-Summer Brisbane heat the bike didn’t stumble or fart once and this 114cube example was very smooth. It had none of the vibes that were evident on the 114 Breakouts I tested. Just gobfuls of screw-it-on, torquey-smooth sweetness.
On the Freeway the cruise control was also faultless. It’s very easy to engage, has sensible increments with the flick of a thumb and makes rolling away the super-slab all that much more enjoyable. Helped by the way the bike feels very planted and stable on the at 110kph.
The gearbox is excellent too – sure and confidence inspiring, in fact the whole package is inspires a level of confidence – not surprising that it shares many of the components from the latest sportier Softails as well.
Style-wise it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Lot’s of people told me they liked the colour and Harley’s marketing blub claims the styling is from the ‘dark side of the street’ but the finishes are a little inconsistent: the triple trees are polished, the handlebars are black, the rims are black and the spokes are steel, the motor is black and the exhaust is chrome. That said It’s still a good-looking modern bike.
The other niceties are quite well executed. The lockable, leather-clad hard bags are handy without being capacious and some sort of rear carrier would be needed for longer touring runs, but they work well enough for weekend riding and cruising.
The unusual looking Signature headlight array casts an impressively wide and brilliant beam, the Speedo is legible and the usual H-D trip computer and info-tech is displayed via an inset LCD panel.
It comes standard with a high flow air filter that delivers some healthy sounding induction noise. I’d add some stage one pipes (the stock are compliance restricted) and a tuner - and there wouldn’t be a lot more I’d need to do to it.
The 2019 Classic completely re-writes the book on what a Heritage can do. It goes beyond the boulevard to a well-rounded package that can deal with a variety of riding conditions and challenges admirably.
As per the Brum’s brief I racked up around 1,800km on this test. It included a mix of city traffic, freeways, country roads, back roads, valley ways, sports riding, cruising and even a few squirts up a dirt road - and sure enough, the bike performed admirably. It was pleasurable, reliable, good-looking and remarkably sure-footed over all of it.
With excellent comfort, big screen, luggage and a range of around 400km from its 19-litre tank it’s a viable tourer. It’s handsome enough to perform good cruiser duties and it’s engine and chassis package mean it’s still quite rewarding when the going gets a bit tighter and sportier.
It’s something I’ve not said about any previous Heritages models: “It’s versatile”.
ENGINE Milwaukee-Eight® 114
BORE 102 mm
STROKE 114 mm
DISPLACEMENT 1,868 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.5:1
FUEL SYSTEM Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
EXHAUST 2-into-2 shorty dual;
LENGTH 2,415 mm
SEAT HEIGHT, UNLADEN 680 mm
TRAIL 140 mm
WHEELBASE 1,630 mm
TYRES, FRONT 130/90B16,53H,BW
TYRES, REAR 150/80B16,77H,BW
FUEL CAPACITY 18.9 l
WEIGHT, AS SHIPPED 316 kg
WEIGHT, IN RUNNING ORDER 330 kg
LUGGAGE CAPACITY -VOLUME 0.043 m3
ENGINE TORQUE3 155 Nm
ENGINE TORQUE (RPM) 3,000
LEAN ANGLE, RIGHT (DEG.) 27.3
LEAN ANGLE, LEFT (DEG.) 28.5
PRIMARY DRIVE Chain, 34/46 ratio
WHEELS, FRONT TYPE7 Gloss Black, Steel Laced
WHEELS, REAR TYPE Gloss Black, Steel Laced
BRAKES, CALIPER TYPE 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear