What is a Softail Motorcycle?

softtail motorcycle

Before we go into the details of Softail frame motorcycles, let’s begin with the fact that the brand, Harley Davidson introduced the world to the heritage Softail motorcycles, and therefore, they are the only motorcycle manufacturers who use this terminology for their product line.

In this article, we will discuss in detail what is a Softail motorcycle, what are the pros of a Softail frame motorcycle and what is the difference between Hardtail and Softail slim bikes.

What is a Softail Motorcycle?

A Softail motorcycle is characterized by its rear suspension. Harley Davidson Softail frame bikes have an oil-filled steel case hidden known as a swingarm. Harley Davidson Softail models have a differently shaped swingarm for each bike. One example is the triangular swingarm. The reason for this is that when the motorcycles are parked they look like regular bicycles with no parts sticking out from their backside. The rear tire and the rear suspension system vary for every different Harley Davidson Softail models.

There are plenty of Harley Davidson Softail bike models and all of them have shock absorbers with rear suspension. Some common Harley Davidson Softail frames include Springer Softail, Softail Deuce, FXST Softail and the Fat Boy. Motorcycle enthusiasts love spoked wheels bikes for better handling. Harley Davidson rigid frame bikes have Milwaukee eight engines.

Since there is no suspension visible on the backside, these types of motorcycles are called “Softail.”

What are the Pros of a Softail Motorcycle?

The biggest advantage of having a Softail motorcycle is that it gives you a classic chopper-type appearance while maintaining decent performance levels and comes at cheaper rates than most other Harley Davidson models.

However, keep one thing in mind here – although compared to regular Harleys, prices of Softails might seem higher because the materials used in manufacturing Softatils are of high quality which gives the motorcycles their desired endurance and longevity.

Also, the longer wheelbase of Softails adds to the factor of stability and smooth riding, especially at high speeds.

Harley Davidson Softail frame bikes have a direct view, turn signals, shield logo, detachable leather saddlebags, mini ape handlebars, and rear suspension system for a smoother ride.

Harley Davidson Softail bikes have shock absorbers to absorb bumps. All models have registered trademark and most parts are easily removable.

Cons of Softail Motorcycles

When it comes to Softails, the only drawbacks are that they are not that easy to handle because of the long wheelbase and these motorcycles are slightly on the heavier side.

What is a Hardtail Motorcycle?

A Hardtail motorcycle is a regular motorbike as opposed to a chopper.

In hardtail bikes, the rear suspension either uses springs or rubber bushings and therefore there is nothing hidden beneath the seat of the machine.

Now that you know what a Softail motorcycle is, let’s compare it with a Hardtail –

Pros of Hardtail Motorcycles

Most choppers are built on a Hardtail chassis and the biggest advantage of using a Hardtail frame is that it allows builders to create much shorter chainstays, which ultimately leads to higher maneuverability.

Since there’s no hidden suspension in a Hardtail motorcycle, they are lighter when compared with Softails.

Also, Hardtail motorcycles are easier to maintain than Softtails because they do not have springs, linkages, shocks, etc.

Cons of Hardtail Motorcycles

Since there are no rubber bushings or springs in a Hardtail frame, these motorcycles have less stability when compared with their Softail counterparts.

This means that handling can become quite tricky even for well-experienced riders because their weight balance tends to shift easily while riding at high speeds.

And finally, keep one thing in mind here – the prices of Hardtails are on the lower side compared to Softails because they are not as classy as Softails.

What’s the Difference Between a Hardtail and a Softail?

Although both motorcycles are designed to be similar, there are many differences between them that affect their performance and comfort level.

Hardtails do not have rear suspension but still, they come with shocks in the front forks while Softails have hidden suspensions which give Softail bikes more stability at top speeds.

Also, Hardtails are slightly lighter than Softails when it comes to the overall weight comparison of both models.

When it comes to handling, Hardtails tend to lose composure at higher speeds because of their low center of mass while Softails remain stable even at high speeds because of their shorter wheelbase.

When it comes to maintenance, Hardtails are easier when compared with Softails because they have fewer parts to take care of when compared with Softails.

The conclusion here is that both motorcycles have their own strengths and weaknesses but in the end, every rider has his own preference so therefore you should go for whatever bike you feel comfortable riding on.

Remember, Harley Davidson, designed the Softail motorcycles essentially to keep the brand’s signature aesthetic style in manufacturing bikes while at the same time, giving the riders the added advantage of modern specs and features, so that the brand can appeal to young riders.

With Softatils bikes you will definitely feel the difference when you are out on the road when it comes to the smoothness of the overall drive.


So let’s put it all together – Softail motorcycles are modern, classy, beautiful, stylish, and smooth while Hardtail bikes are easily maneuverable, easy to maintain, and have a rich history attached to them.

As a rider, you need to decide what kind of bike you prefer riding on because the choice is yours.

If you want a smooth ride on your two wheels, Softail bikes from Harley Davidson are what you should opt for. On the other hand, if you are someone to whom the classics and history appeal much, then you should settle for the more macho Hardtail models from the same trusted brand of Harley Davidson.

So, choose your own and ride happily!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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