The bobbers of the ‘40’s have always fascinated me in some sort of way. I’ve always loved the style and the look about them. Yes, some may argue the fact that they look rather military and yet again you would be correct. The original bobber term came from army troops who “bobbed off” parts from ex Harley-Davidson military bikes to add to their own, and thus the term just stuck.
The Softail-Slim, which is a 2012.5, bike falls in that bobber category. Just look at it; does it not remind you of those pan and shovelhead bikes from the 50’s? Undoubtedly, if you aren’t a Harley fan-boy like myself, you would have no idea what I am talking about.
The Slim, a minimalistic motorcycle, fitted with big 106cu, 45degree v-twin engine, means there is torque almost available everywhere and in every gear. At about 1800rpm the power starts to surface its curious little head and it comes though pretty good with a nice spread all the way to the top. While the Slim is not the fastest in the world, it will do 160kph pretty easily to a point where you really need to hold on. I do think that you should cancel your gym membership, because this will most definitely give you the upper body you need simply by just holding on.
Riding the slim around is pretty easy due to its low seat height; the lowest of all Harley Davidson’s until the recent launch of the new breakout model. The California bars, which run wide, gives you that old-school feeling and makes you feel like you are back in the 40’s. Our bike was fitted with an optional springer seat and, while the bike seems like it sports a ridged frame, it actually does have a rear shock. The suspension was setup pretty firmly, but this had its benefits and I must admit that I would never have believed how this would handle down a mountain pass such as Franschhoek Pass. The long wheelbase and fat tires, 140 up front and 160 at the rear, just kept it planted through the bends.
The ABS brakes on this bike were impressive and offered great response riding on demanding roads. Whenever there was a problem, you could just stomp on the brakes and the Slim would slow down without much of a fuss.
However, and let’s be honest here, the slim is not a touring bike. It’s a boulevard cruiser and in that sense it excels very well. The 18.9l fuel tank has a decent range after we averaged about 18km/l. but if you insist on touring and you are really hard-core, I would strongly suggest a windscreen.
The hand controls are pretty straight forward to use and the tank-mounted speedometer has most of the info you need. A digital fuel range, RPM and odometer is switchable from the left handlebars and you also have a hazard switch on the right side, as opposed to the usual left/right indicator activation to activate the hazards.
The slim is basically just a fatboy, which went to gym and lost a couple of kaygees’ and boy is it ready to get to the beach and impress the ladies.
Our bike was fitted with Screaming Eagle slip-ons, Harley Davidson accessory Floor boards, Mirrors and also a leather bag, kitting this ride out just enough to turn heads and for us to enjoy the attention.
A bone stock FLS Softail Slim will cost you R209 500 in vivid black, which is also the colour it looks the best in. For more info, check out Harley-Davidson.co.za