Starting at $15,499, the new-for-2012 Softail Slim represents a sort of Harley-style spring cleaning, for which every bit of bling was removed to showcase the bike’s essentials.
The chassis, in a sense, is merely a black-and-chrome accessory to the star of the show: the engine, which is the same guttural and counterbalanced 103 cubic inch V-twin Harley rolled out for the 2012 model year and is standard equipment on all Softail and Touring models.
Designer Casey Ketterhagen intentionally left a peekaboo gap between the tip of the seat and the tail of the tank, so riders can see from the saddle the mule that’s making them move. And he left the fender struts uncovered to expose the steel and fasteners underneath and more distinctly draw the line between this modern-day production custom and its post-World War II inspiration.
The Softail Slim marks the return of Harley’s so-called Hollywood handlebar – a cross-braced accessory to Springer-fork Harleys that used the extra slab of metal to mount lights and bags. The “cat’s eye” console on top of the five-gallon tank is also a nod to the past, though its vintage-looking face is given away by its modern electronic speedo.
The Slim is, of course, a modern motorcycle, hard as it tries to look retro with its bobbed front and rear fenders and lack of overt glitz. In terms of suspension, that’s a distinct positive.