Motorcycle: Overhead Valve Twins - Softails-FXSTS Springer Softail, 1988 - Prese
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:05:29 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
FXSTS Springer Softail, 1988 - Present
In late 1987, the motorcycle world took one look and pinched itself— twice. The Springer Softail unveiled for the 1988 model year looked like no new motorcycle of the previous 40 years. Gone were the telescopic front forks to which we had become accustomed. In their place was a trellis-work of bright-chromed steel members, linkages and springs. It was called "Springer", and was as audacious as it was surreal.
As Harley said at the time, the new front-end wasn't just reborn, it was re-invented. The Springer front end was styled along the lines of the girder forks seen on almost every make of motorcycle from before the 1920s until the late 1940s, but the technology and the detail were all-new. Using computer-aided design (CAD) and the latest materials, Milwaukee had created a system which not only afforded an acceptable level of wheel travel (around 4in/ 100 mm) and suspension control, but which freed its designers to make the styling statement of the year.
We now had Retro-Tech at both ends: Springer at the front to accompany Softail lines at the rear. The engine, naturally, was tlie doughty 80-inch Evo, styled for its new role and tilted with staggered shorty dual exhausts.
Like all "conventional" Softail models, the new Springer offered defiantly lazy steering geometry. In this case, a shallow 32-degree steering head gave a generous 5in (133mm) of trail, The wheelbase was a lanky 64.6in (1,640mm). Unlike standard Softails, Springers roll on slow-steering 21in (533mm) front wheels, with a 16in (406mm) hoop at the rear. Inevitably, the result isn't quite at the cutting edge of modern suspension performance. Any Softail rear end can be harsh, especially over freeway seams, and the latter-day girders lack the control of even Fat
Boy's massive telescopic forks. Such judgements miss the point, however. Of all the Milwaukee models, Springers are unashamedly machines for stately cruising - and are as far removed from a
Japanese "crotch rocket" as a 1959
If 1987 marked the Springer's debut, then 1997 marked what many regard as its finest hour. As well as offering practical accessories such as leather saddlebags as standard, the 1997
FLSTS Heritage Springer Softail went further down the classic road, combining even more vintage styling with today's retro-technology. "Loaded with chrome and leather," publicity material hailed at the time, "the Heritage Springer Softail screams nostalgia." And so it did, from its bright-chromed fishtail mufflers to its deeply-valanced mudguards and whitewall tyres. Even at first glance, the result is sublime, the level of detail extraordinary. Note the nostalgic front fender-tip light and the "retro-1940s tombstone tail-light once commonplace on Harley-Davidsons decades ago." Admire a seat with a leather fringed valance "embossed with a basket-weave pattern and accented with conchos".
The ultimate factory custom had come a long way from the original SuperGlide. As the man said: "Is it a motorcycle or is it art?"
Engine: air-cooled ohv V-twin
Capacity: 81.6cu in (1,340cc)
Power: 69 bhp
Weight: 6251bs (284kg)
Wheelbase: 64.6in (1,640mm)
Top speed: 100 mph (161kph)
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