Unique Bikes: Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail + Honda Auction

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars mag

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Harley-Davidson's Heritage Softail series has come a long way since the eighties; Plus we look at an astonishing auction result

To the casual bystander, seeing the Harley roll into frame is a compelling sight. The big V-twin has ‘114 cubic inches’ emblazoned on the air cleaner, which amounts to 1870cc – enough to make an impression. In case you’re wondering, the full title of this monster is Heritage Classic Softail, aka FLHCS.

Intended to look like a traditional hardtail bike (i.e. no rear suspension) the Softail series was launched in 1983 for the 1984 model year. Move up to 1988 and we got to glimpse the FLST, the first of the heritage series, and a visual throwback to what you might have bought from the Motor Company as far back as the 1940s.

Back in the mid-1980s, the big twin was 80ci (1340cc) and produced around 60 horses. Now it’s fuel-injected, is running double the number of valves (eight) and spark plugs (four) and claiming more like 94hp (70kW).


1989 Softail Heritage. While the overall set-up is similar, the dynamics have improved

Getting power to the ground is a pretty accurate six-speed transmission and belt drive.

Those of you who might have ridden the early Softails and not updated since are in for a bit of a shock. Aside from having a lot more oomph, they’re much smoother and more responsive. Plus the handling has been tidied up in a big way.

At around 330kg ready for the road we’re still talking heavy cruiser rather than sports bike performance, however, there’s plenty there to keep most people amused.

Handling is benign, with good control from the suspension and reasonably light steering that points accurately enough. In fact, you’d give it a pretty big tick for being user-friendly.


Braking is a single disc at both ends, with a four-spot caliper up front and two-spot on the rear. The single front, rather than a dual, is there for ‘traditional’ looks and seems to do the job well enough.

Our example ran cruise control, windscreen and locking panniers, plus rider footboards, which gave the thing some solid touring credentials. Like all big H-D twins, it’s remarkably light on fuel, with 20km/lt in reach at a steady 100km/h. That means the 18.9lt fuel tank offers decent range.

Claimed rider seat height is a very low 680mm, which is a dual-edged feature. It means the bike suits small to medium-height riders very well and they’re likely to be delighted to encounter a big machine that’s easy to handle. Taller riders however may be more comfortable on something like a Road King.


Maintenance is pretty straightforward, as it’s running hydraulic tappets which take care of themselves. There are three oil checkpoints (engine, transmission and primary drive), while belt final drives generally prove to be fairly low-stress.

Pricing in this, the marque’s 120th year, starts at $37,995 on the road, which is substantial. Harley has done a lot civilise this series over the decades, while extracting considerably more performance. Based on our experience, that’s a pretty enjoyable package.

More at AllMoto.com

Auction Block


We’ll confess to being a little stunned by the price fetched by this 1995 Honda VFR750F (aka RC36), dressed up in the warpaint used for that era’s Honda Australia superbike crew. It was sold through Shannons in late 2022.

The changes from stock were cosmetic only and some 16 were dressed up like this and sold through the dealer network.

With zero miles on the odometer, this one fetched a staggering $35,500, or around three to four times what a clean ‘normal’ RC36 would be worth.

From Unique Cars #475, Feb 2023

More Unique Bikes:

Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail + auction news

Triumph T160 + auction news

Suzuki Hayabusa + auction news



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