In my 24 years of road testing motorcycles, I can count on one hand (with fingers left over) the number of bikes I’ve tested that I genuinely disliked, and in the case of the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard, the list has grown by one. Take an otherwise solid motorcycle, give it an abysmal riding position, and it is possible to create a machine that sucks all the joy out of riding, which is saying something since the Softail platform, updated in 2018, is typically quite amenable.
The sad truth is that there is a lot to like about the Softail Standard, starting with the Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin engine. From the first time I rode the new Softail line in 2017, I was impressed with the smoothness provided by the two counterbalancers mounted on either side of the crankshaft, which is absolutely necessary for an engine that is solid-mounted to the frame. Although Harley is selling Milwaukee-Eights with significantly larger displacement than the 107 cu. in. here, the Standard’s power output is ample for a cruiser in this price range and would easily leave behind any similar model with the erstwhile Twin Cam engine of just three model years ago.
From the bobber styling to the solo seat, the Softail Standard is about elemental motorcycling. The Milwaukee-Eight 107 may be the smallest one available, but it still has plenty of power for this price range.
With a bore and stroke of 3.9 in. x 4.4 in. (100mm x 111.1mm) breathing through a four-valve head, the Standard’s 107 has spot-on fueling with immediate response to throttle inputs that are just this side of abrupt, meaning it feels like some other ride-by-wire bikes in sport mode. Shifting is a seamless affair, as it is with all Milwaukee-Eights. I like this engine a lot.
The …read more