A Young Moto-Vlogger Rides An Iconic Harley
During my time with the 2020 Softail Standard, I was posed with many questions from some of my most loyal subscribers ranging from ergonomics and suspension, to performance specs & usability. While those are questions that I’ll most certainly answer, I liked one question in particular as I try my best give more than just your everyday motorcycle review:
“Why would I want to buy a 2020 Softail Standard when I could save so much money on an older Softail model that’s predominantly remained unchanged for such a long time?”
Now that is a GOOD question. That is a question that begs to be answered as it is one that knocks on the doors to hell. It’s one of those things that many H-D enthusiasts try to avoid talking about. For many years now, the iconic Harley-Davidson brand’s most significant competitor in the market has actually been themselves; their pre-owned inventory. Walk into any used motorcycle dealership and you’ll see what I mean. Rows on top of rows of every Harley known to man from Sportsters, to Dynas & Softails, to your fully dressed baggers being sold at a fraction of their MSRP cost. And before all you Harley-Davidson fanboys jump down my throat calling me a Harley hater, I’m here to tell you that I’m not and you certainly need to stick around for the rest of this article and give me a shot.
As a Moto-Vlogger and all-around motorcycle enthusiast, I live for the ride and strive to make the industry a better place by advocating for more competitively engineered and cost accessible motorcycles. And by the way, did I mention that I used to have a 2015 Sportster 48 & live just 5 minutes away from Harley-Davidson’s corporate headquarters on the famed Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?
But without further ado, let’s talk about it.
2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard. A pleasant surprise.
Going into this weeklong experience with the Softail Standard, I had low expectations. I said to myself, “It’s JUST a Softail Standard, I’ve ridden plenty of 114 powered Harleys before & I can’t imagine anything less than a 114 would appeal to my 22 year old, street fighter riding self.” Click here for a video review I did on a 114 Fatbob.
Boy was I sure wrong! Harley-Davidson… I’ll gladly take those keys back now.
Over the course of my week long demo, I fell in love with Harley-Davidson (again) as I was reminded of what it’s like to walk out to my garage and see my Sportster 48 sitting there in all its former glory. Coming from the dealership setting, I’ve ridden a lot of different bikes but there’s just something about riding a Harley that hits different. Specs and pricing aside, they just make you feel a certain type of way. No matter what bike you ride, motorcyclists will always portray a bad a** persona or vibe. But that vibe is seemingly intensified for me when riding a Harley. I went from that 22 year old guy riding his $2,500 Kawasaki Street Fighter from Facebook Marketplace to riding a bobbed out Harley and being a part of the HOG community. Whether I was pulling up to work, filling up at the gas station, or getting ice cream at the local ice cream shop, all eyes and attention seemed to be glued to myself & the bike.
Sunny skies, warm temps, cold ice cream, and a cool cruiser. Priceless.
Conveniently enough, after picking up the Softail at Harley’s corporate headquarters on Juneau, an old friend of mine, Mark, reached out to me offering up a test ride on his 1999 Softail Standard (Click here for a video of me picking up the bike at their headquarters!). Although the bike was heavily modified with a raked out front end, larger than stock apes, and extended controls to fit his 6 foot 4 self, I figured this would be a great comparison of new versus old in terms of the suspension and power that the new Softail line has to offer. Prior to me throwing a leg over, I asked Mark, who works for a local H-D dealer and wrenches on his own bike, what his gripes are with his ’99 in comparison to the 2020. His answer: reliability, comfort, & accessibility to original OEM parts. Mark stated that although he may have only spent a few grand on his ’99, he had to put several grand into it to make it semi reliable and even then, he mentioned he is hesitant doing anything more than a 100 mile day away from home. It’s the simple fact that when you look into older bikes, they often have their quirks and that’s something you definitely don’t have to worry about with any of the new Harleys. And most importantly, if you find yourself needing an OEM replacement part, you will surely find what you’re looking for at a moment’s notice through your local H-D dealer.
After taking Mark’s bike for a spin and riding alongside him on the 2020, the differentiation between the two became obviously apparent not only in terms of the comfortability that Mark spoke of but also the “get up and go” that the 2020 Milwaukee Eight 107 c.i. engine provides. Although his 1999 has lots of character, it simply can’t compete with the modernized amenities found in the 2020 such as the Showa front suspension, adjustable rear mono shock, and the smooth power delivery from that Milwaukee Eight 107 engine putting out 110 ft lbs of torque.
The old meets the new. 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard, and it’s 21 year old ancestor. Modern tech, old skool cool.
As I mentioned before, I worried that the 107 wouldn’t be enough power for my taste as I enjoy spirited rides throughout the greater Milwaukee area and do a great deal of highway commuting to work which is about 30 minutes away. When it comes to my spirited around town riding, I found that I had plenty of off the line power bopping from stop light to stop light. Given its mid controls, I also found the bike to be quite nimble when ripping through our local roundabouts and twisties; I really felt like I was able to toss the bike around putting pressure into those mids and squeezing the tank with my knees as if I were riding my Street Fighter. In speaking on behalf of highway riding, the 107 provides an ample amount of get up and go through out its 6 gears with 6th acting as a great overdrive to settle into and cruise anywhere between 75 mph and even triple digits if you’re in a hurry.
While the mid controls worked for me at just about 6 feet tall, doing mostly around town riding and 30 minute or less highway commutes, a taller individual may consider forward controls if they plan on doing any longer distance commuting or adventures. At 6 ft tall the rider triangle works well for myself but it is important to remember that you may experience a bit of a tingling sensation in your hands after 30 minutes or so if you’re wearing a backpack at highway speeds (as is with any apes).
So much to love about this bike. Perfect canvas for personalization, customization.
And yes, it’s a Harley-Davidson so customization is almost a given, and truthfully that’s the whole point of this bike! At $13,599 MSRP, the Softail Standard is definitely not going to be your cheapest option on the market but if you are looking for an introduction to the Softail lineup, this is the bike for you. This bike is a great option for many different walks of life. Some may upgrade to the Softail Standard from the Sportster line, others may be coming from the sport bike world looking for mid controls on a cruiser. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve ridden the streets and you want a comfortable ride but don’t want to drop $30k on a bagger, or maybe your like me and you just want a more affordable entry point into the Softail lineup with a factory warranty for peace of mind and a blank slate for customization.
So how would I make it my own? Well, I’m a big fan of versatility. I like a bike that allows me quick trips around town but I can also take on longer rides. More than likely, if I owned a Softail Standard you’d find it outfitted with a club style fairing, forward controls and cruise control for longer rides, a two-up seat and sissy bar for day trips with my lady, and tuned with a two into one pipe from SuperTrapp Industries. That said, if you’re looking for a more factory upgraded look and not interested in wrenching on the bike yourself, H-D does offer a wide variety of OEM upgrades. In fact they have 4 parts and accessories packages to make the bike your own and more suited to your specific needs such as a performance, coastal, day tripper, and touring package as seen below.
Some configuration packages, courtesy of Harley-Davidson.
Overall, I had a blast on the Softail Standard and hope it’s not too long before I throw a leg over my next Harley-Davidson! What do you think of the Softail Standard? Let me know what you think in the comments below and don’t forget to check me out on my personal YouTube channel & Instagram @GenZBiker where I post weekly Moto-Vlogs, bike reviews, industry news, and reviews on the latest moto gear!
Nathan “GenZ Biker” Baron
Click here for more information on the Softail Standard.
*Check out my riding footage and impressions in the YouTube video below!