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Harley's retro Softail Slim

2012-02-03 14:49

TRIMMING THE FAT: At 305kg the Softail Slim is a large bike though Harkey has managed to trim all the extras comtempory riders are used to.


Harley-Davidson's new-for-2012 Dyna Switchback is a new kind of motorcycle - its maker calls it "a convertible" because it has not only quickly-removable panniers but also an almost-instantly removable windscreen. Which, once you've ditched it , you'll probably want to leave off for ever.

Milwaukee, USA  – Strip down a softail Harley-Davidson to its bare essentials you have the Slim. From its narrow rear end to its trimmed front fender, there’s simply less of the Slim; fewer covers, a solo seat, smaller wheels and tyres, and minimal chrome.

What’s left is Harley's softail profile and a classic custom design of the 1950s.

Senior Designer Casey Ketterhagen said: “It’s time to once again make the engine the design focal point of a motorcycle, so we put a Softail on a diet to get the proportions back in check.

"Scale down the rear with a narrow tyre and chopped fender and the heart of the bike, the motor, becomes the focus. We left a gap between the nose of the seat and tank so the rider can see the top of the motor. I like to be able to look down and see what’s moving me."

To keep the rear simple the Slim has combination rear lights while the rear fender struts are exposed. A thin leather strap covers the fuel tank seam. The powertrain is finished with polished covers instead of chrome, and the black cylinders left unhighlighted. The FL front fender is trimmed to expose more of the tyre.


Ketterhagen said: “My personal street bike doesn’t even have a front fender, but unfortunately we can’t go that far on a production model. The Slim is intended to be a direct interpretation of home-built customs of the 1940s and 50s, and we used a number of components that evoke that era, beginning with a Hollywood handlebar.”

The Hollywood bar, identified by its wide bend and cross brace, was originally an accessory for pre-war Harley-Davidson models with a Springer fork. The name may have been coined because owners of that era who used the cross-brace to mount lights and bags had “gone Hollywood” with excessive acessorisation. 

The Slim features a cross-braced bar finished in gloss black, with matching controls and louvred headlight nacelle. Other period styling cues include a gloss black “cat eye” tank console with a retro speedometer, half-moon rider footboards and a oval air cleaner cove.

Powering the slim is a 1690cc Twin Cam 103B engine that produces 132Nm at 3250rpm.

With the combination of a 650mm seat height and rider foot boards, the Slim should fit a wide range of riders and offers light side-stand lift off.

The Softail Slim will be available in South Africa later in 2012 and is set to retail for R209 500.

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