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2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard First Look

A budget priced Big Twin Softail under $14,000

By Genevieve Schmitt, WRN Founder and Contributor
4/14/2020

The bobber style of motorcycle is still very much in demand among cruiser riders as well as folks getting into motorcycling for the first time. To capitalize on the interest, Harley-Davidson is rolling out a new model for 2020, the Softail Standard, and pricing it at an attainable entry point for a Harley-Davidson Big Twin at $13,599.

The Softail Standard is designed as a “minimalist” motorcycle encompassing elements that attract riders to the classically cool bobber style, including a shorter rear fender, mini-ape handlebars, solo seat, and an upright seating position with feet right below the knees.

2020 harley-davidson softail standard first look riding
The Softail Standard comes in one color, Vivid Black, with traditional shiny chrome alongside polished chrome finishes making the motorcycle the perfect basic platform for customization. Leave it stock (that’s what the woman is riding), or customize it with one of four packages from Harley, including the Coastal, which is what the man is riding.

Most women right off the bat want to know how tall the motorcycle is and if they can put their feet flat on the ground. The seat height on the new Softail Standard is 25.8 inches, which is one of the lowest in Harley-Davidson’s lineup. I can attest, having ridden hundreds of motorcycles, that this is a manageable seat height for most riders of average height.

And judging by the pictures below, the woman riding the Softail Standard appears to be quite comfortable on the motorcycle. Until I can test ride one, I can only judge the comfort of the riding position by the photos supplied by Harley-Davidson. Here’s my assessment, again without actually riding one. I highly recommend visiting a dealership as soon as you are able and sitting on or test riding one to get a good feel for how you actually fit on the motorcycle. 

2020 harley-davidson softail standard first look woman rider
The rider triangle on the Softail Standard appears to fit a woman rider just perfectly. The mid-mount controls put this rider’s legs at the ideal 90-degree riding position. You can see her legs are not crammed as it would be with a taller and/or bigger rider. And her arms have a gentle bend in them, which allows for a “cushioning” of the ride.

2020 harley-davidson softail standard first look man riding
The knee bend might be a little cramped for very tall riders but the reach to the grips looks pretty comfortable for this man.

The Softail Standard features all the same powertrain elements that are on most of the other Softails including the Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin engine (1746cc), with its counter-balancers that reduce vibration at idle speeds to improve rider comfort (essentially rubber pads that cushion the engine where its mounted to the frame). The Softail Standard is equipped with a 3.5-gallon fuel tank and averages 47 mph, providing plenty of juice to keep you riding before your body needs a break.

2020 harley-davidson softail standard first look mini apehangers
The mini “apehanger” handlebars are a manageable 9 inches. I added this size (actually two inches higher, 11 inches) to one of my Harley-Davidsons years ago, a Dyna Low Rider, and found them to be much more comfortable than the leaned over “back-breaking” straight drag-style bars. But to each her own. Everyone has their personal preference.

If you want more color options than black and a little more rebel styling, spend another $1,000 for the Street Bob and you’ll get essentially the same motorcycle, but with additional custom touches like blacked out and brushed-black chrome pieces. But if you’re like most riders, you likely can’t resist changing out parts on the motorcycle, so my recommendation is to get the lower priced Standard and switch out the parts from there.

2020 harley-davidson softail standard first look customization packages
Harley’s four Parts & Accessories Customization packages clockwise from the top left: Day Tripper, Coastal, Touring, and Performance.

My favorite is the Touring because once you buy a motorcycle you’ll love it so much that inevitably you’ll end up wanting to go longer distances and need those extra pieces.

2020 harley-davidson softail standard first look touring package
The Touring package includes a quick-release windshield for wind and bug protection, a comfy two-up seat and sissy bar so you can strap a bag to the back, and detachable saddlebags to haul your stuff. In my 30 years of riding experience, the large majority of us come to love these touring touches so we’re comfortable on longer rides.

Take a look at this video from Harley-Davidson on the custom packages. There are four: the Day Tripper, add $1,049.95; the Coastal, add $1,599.95; the Touring, add $1,699.95; and the Performance, add $1,299.95.

The Softail Standard is in motorcycle dealerships now. I don’t recommend this as a beginner motorcycle, mostly because of the powerful engine. Start on Harley’s Street models, the 500 or 750, or a used Sportster, so you can gain confidence before trading up to the bigger Softails.

Now tell us your initial thoughts on the Softail Standard in the comments below. We want to hear from you!

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Review: 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails
Review: 2018 Indian Scout Bobber
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