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Future meets the past in Softail Springer Classic

February 28, 2005|by ARV VOSS/Motor Matters

The Bar and Shield guys (and gals, too) have done it again - come up with another winner. Actually, a couple of winners, and both in the Softail lineup: the FLSTN/I Softail Deluxe; and the FLSTSC/I Softail Springer Classic.

Both bikes manage to reach into the motor company's rich past for styling cues while providing up-to-date technology for enhanced riding enjoyment and greater dependability. Both bikes also display their own specific features and points that draw different admirers. The Deluxe blends the design and styling cues of legendary H-D iron from more than one period. The Springer Classic at first glance, strongly resembles a 1948 Panhead. A closer look however, gives notice that it is in reality, a totally up-to-date Harley.

Power for the Springer Classic comes from the same 1450cc (88 ci) air-cooled, Twin Cam 88B pushrod-operated OHV, V-Twin with electronic sequential port fuel injection, that drives the Softail Deluxe, except that the Springer's exhaust is a crossover dual affair (which I prefer) rather than the single side dual staggered setup with shorty duals found on the Deluxe. At 3,000 rpm, the motor delivers a satisfying 85 lbs.-ft. of torque - tweaking will, of course, yield even more.

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The suspension features the updated Springer front end, with the traditional swing arm rear setup. The seat height is 25.9 inches - 1.4 inches taller than the Deluxe saddle. The seat is accompanied by a removable, low profile passenger pillion for when the solo mood strikes.

The front "Springer-style" leading link forks are black powder-coated with chrome, exposed springs. The lighting provides better illumination this year and looks better too, with clear outer lenses sporting a centered H-D bar and shield logo. The headlight is a singular unit with no standard auxiliary passing lamps.

The beach-style handlebars are wide, providing excellent leverage. With a low seat wearing embossed nameplates and a texture that matches that of the center console panel and the elongated, tapered floorboards, the bike serves up a comfortable, long-haul riding position. The nostalgic Tombstone taillight stands alone on the rear fender, with the bullet directional lamps mounted on the fender support trim for an uncluttered look. Wheels are standard 16-inch chrome lace types, with optional chrome aluminum profile lace wheels available. Fat blackwall tires are 16-inch Harley-Davidson Series by Dunlop (the rear tire is fatter than up front). The Harley-Davidson tank badge is an aluminum teardrop-shaped affair mounted over a wrap-around, stamped-metal tank surround trim strip.

The Softail Springer Classic comes in both solid paint schemes, as well as two-tone combinations. My test bike was finished in Lava Red Sunglo over Vivid Black. The "horseshoe" oil tank was done in black, sporting the company's vintage patent label for nostalgic emphasis. The bike's base sticker was $18,070 while the "out-the-door" total came to $21,356.58.

SUMMARY: The Softail Springer Classic is a beauty that shows pride in its rich past, but without the traditional inconveniences. The bike is well balanced and feels lighter than its 731-pound dry weight. Throw your leg over and settle in for cruising comfort with agility thrown in for good measure.

Acceleration is certainly adequate and the ride quality is both smooth and comfortable. If you plan on hitting the pavement for long periods of time, logging heavy-duty miles, you'll want to note that Springer Classic doesn't come with a standard windshield, saddlebags or passenger backrest. All of these items may be easily retrofitted.

Both the Softail Deluxe and the Softail Springer Classic are highly desirable cruisers. I tend to lean toward the Deluxe for its light treatment, seat style and height, handlebar setup and the tombstone taillight. I favor the Springer Classic for its greater appeal to tradition, the crossover dual exhaust, uncluttered rear fender treatment and the Springer front end, which provides a different, but not unpleasant road feel. Add fishtail exhaust tips, swap out the seat for the Deluxe saddle and you're on your way back to the future. Now, if there were a way to add retooled heads to resemble the '48 Panhead that served as the bike's inspiration, and a floating single seat, it would suit me even more.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Harley-Davidson FLSTSC/I Softail Springer Classic

Base Price: $18,070.

Price as Tested: $21,356.58

Engine Type and Size: 1450 cc (88 ci) air-cooled, Twin Cam 88B pushrod-operated OHV, V-Twin with electronic sequential port fuel injection and chrome crossover dual exhaust.

Torque (lbs./ft.): 85 at 3,000 rpm

Transmission: Five-speed sequential manual.

Drive Train: Primary drive - Chain/Final drive - Belt

Suspension: Front - Black powdercoat and chrome, leading link Springer

style. Rear - Swingarm.

Brakes: Cross-drilled 11.5x20-inch disc front and 11.5x23 disc rear.

Tires: Dunlop Harley-Davidson Series blackwall MT90-B16 72H front/

150/80-B-16 71H rear mounted on chrome steel-laced wheels.

Wheelbase: 64.5 inches

Length Overall: 94.5 inches

Steering angle: 32.0 degrees

Curb Weight dry: 731 pounds.

Fuel Capacity: 5 gallons (includes 0.5 reserve)

Seat height: 25.9 inches

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2005

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