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Harley-Davidson Softail Standard review

Harley-Davidson FXST Softail Standard

The 2020 Harley-Davison FXST Softail Standard is not only an entry model for their 107-cube Milwaukee Eight big twin, but also the perfect donor bike or “blank canvas” for customising.

It comes with a solo seat, mini-ape bars, shotgun exhausts, 19-inch chromed steel front rim with classic spokes and not much else.

At $A21,495 ($NZ22,750) ride away you can set aside some cash for custom parts and factory accessories.

Most will probably start with forward controls for a more relaxed riding position as well as better cornering clearance. Shorter folk will probably leave it as it is with its ultra-low 680mm seat.

Standard raisedHarley-Davidson FXST Softail Standard

The Softail Standard makes a welcome return to the stable as it was one of the Milwaukee’s company’s best-selling bikes in Australia for many years.

Obviously, there are a lot of riders like me who enjoy the simplicity of the bike and the scope for customisation.

However, the 2020 Softail Standard is a long way from the 1984 Evo original or the last model five years ago, thanks to the last major overhaul in 2017.

The main change is the more powerful air-cooled 107 (1746cc) Milwaukee Eight V-twin engine.Harley-Davidson FXST Softail Standard

It’s also a more refined unit which you will notice the moment you hit the ignition switch. There is no longer an awkward jolt, but a delicious thump of big-twin vibe.

Harley doesn’t discuss or reveal power output figures, but the Milwaukee Eight has 149Nm of arm-wrenching torque and with that much grunt, there is little need to work the gears.

If you do, those familiar with Harleys will be pleasantly surprised by the slicker, positive and quieter gearshift. And you can find neutral relatively easily!

Handling and rideHarley-Davidson FXST Softail Standard

The other big update in 2017 was the improved ride and handling, thanks to shedding about 17kg in weight, a 17% stiffer frame, emulsion rear shock and Showa dual-bending-valve forks.

It now feels more solid, rides smoother over the bumps, holds its line better through corners and provides confidence in cornering.

The Showa forks not only provide positive steering, but also delete that jackhammer effect through the grips, although I did find the thick rubber grips hurt my arthritic hands after a couple of hours of riding.

I don’t mind the mini ape hanger bars that bring my fists up to chest height. They provide some hand-eye co-ordination which helps with tight manoeuvres, but can be uncomfortable on long highway stints where your body forms a windsock position against the wind blast.

However, the Softail Standard isn’t a highway tourer. It’s a cruiser designed for blasts through the hills.

Yet the solo seat is extremely comfortable with no complaints by the time the fuel light came on after about 200km.Harley-Davidson FXST Softail Standard

Despite the single 300m disc brake up front, I am impressed with its ability to bring 297kg of heft to a prompt stop with minimal fork dive even though the rear brake feels lifeless.


While Harley has gone for a traditional style, there are some mod-cons such as digital instruments and an LED headlight with a good spread of even light.

Those minimalist instruments are an absolute delight.

The main screen is discretely incorporated into the handlebar with a smaller screen tucked underneath. Nothing to spoil the look of the front end.Harley-Davidson FXST Softail Standard

Despite being small and minimal, they are easy to see in all light conditions and include quite a bit of information.

The main screen displays the fuel gauge, speedometer and gear position all the time and you can toggle through the clock, fuel range, odometer, two trip meters and rev counter via a handy toggle switch on the left switchblock.

The bottom screen displays the warning lights and indicators.

While some Softail Standard owners will enjoy slicing and dicing this blank canvas into their dream bike, Harley has also made it easier with a choice of four accessory packages:

  • Day Tripper Custom Package: Pillion seat and a 21-inch detachable sissy bar with pad, passenger foot pegs and mounts, forward foot controls and a black leather Single-Sided Swingarm Bag.
  • Coast Custom Package: Softail Quarter Fairing, black anodised aluminium Moto Bar handlebar and 5.5-inch riser, a Bevel two-up seat and passenger foot pegs, and BMX-style foot pegs from the 80GRIT Collection.
  • Touring Custom Package: Sundowner two-up seat and passenger foot pegs, a 14-inch-high light smoke quick-release windshield, classic black detachable saddlebags and a 14.5-inch detachable sissy bar and backrest pad.
  • Performance Custom Package: Throttle response and mid-range acceleration is improved with a Screamin’ Eagle Stage II Torque kit for the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, Screamin’ Eagle Pro Street Tuner, Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather Performance Air Cleaner and Screamin’ Eagle Street Cannon mufflers. This factory-engineered performance upgrade retains the original equipment factory warranty when installed by an authorised Harley-Davidson dealer.

2020 Harley-Davison FXST Softail Standard tech specsHarley-Davidson FXST Softail Standard


$A21,495 ($NZ22,750) ride away


1746cc, 45-degree Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-twin; 4 valves/cyl.

Bore x Stroke

99 x 111mm




6-speed, belt drive


149Nm @ 3000rpm

Suspension (front)

49mm telescopic fork w/ dual bending valve; 38mm travel

Suspension (rear)

Coilover monoshock, adjustable for preload; 86mm travel

Brakes (front)

4-piston fixed caliper, 300mm disc

Brake (rear)

2-piston floating caliper, 292mm disc

Wheels (front/rear)

Chrome, steel-laced; 19 x 2.5 in / 16 x 3.0 in.

Tyres (front/rear)

Dunlop bias blackwall 110/90B-19 / 150/80B-16







Wet weight


Fuel tank

13.2 litres