cruiser motorcycles

Hardtail Vs. Softail Motorcycles: Differences, Pros, and Cons

Hardtail Vs. Softail Motorcycles: Differences, Pros, and Cons

Harley Davidson is a famous American motorcycle manufacturer producing top-quality motorcycles with traditional looks and innovative designs. Despite their traditional aesthetics, Harley Davidson motorbikes also include modern features and impeccable engineering to help them stand out.


The introduction of the Softail series was a milestone in Harley Davidson’s history. Though Softail motorcycles have not completely replaced hardtail motorbikes, they make up a good portion of the motorcycle market. Riders who love the styling and feel of classic motorcycles prefer hardtail motorbikes as they are easier to maintain and have a less complex structure. This article explains the differences, pros, and cons of hardtail and Softail motorcycles.

1. Hardtail Vs. Softail Motorcycles: Differences

Differences between Hardtail Vs. Softail Motorcycles
Hardtail Motorcycles Softail Motorcycles
Single-piece frame Separate mini frame
Only comes with front telescopic fork suspension Comes with front and rear suspensions
Old and less common More popular and common
Less expensive More expensive
Easy to build Complex design
Requires less parts and resources Requires more parts and resources

2. Hardtail Vs. Softail Motorcycles

2.1 Hardtail Motorcycles

Hardtail motorcycles feature a single-piece frame with traditional front fork suspension. Hardtails do not have a rear suspension assembly attached to their frames. There are only small springs underneath the seat for shock absorption while riding. Though hardtail motorcycles are rarer nowadays and only exist as customized classic choppers, they have ruled the motorcycle market for decades since the beginning of the 20th century. Hardtail motorcycles were easy to produce and more affordable.

2.2 Softail Motorcycles

The first Softail motorcycle was introduced in 1983 by Harley Davidson, revolutionizing the motorcycle industry and motorcycle riding experience. It ensures better comfort on longer trips over paved and unpaved roads. Softail motorcycles are built with a separate mini frame that includes a rear suspension to absorb bumps on the roads and ensure your back and buttocks are comfortable. Softails are more expensive than hardtails due to having a more complex design and requiring extra parts.

3. Hardtail Vs. Softail Motorcycles: Differences

3.1 Hardtail Motorcycles Pros

  • Cheaper
  • Easy to build and require less resources
  • Require less maintenance
  • Have a classic look
  • Good for short trips

3.2 Hardtail Motorcycles Cons

  • More turbulence
  • Uncomfortable
  • Discomfort in back
  • Not suited for two-up riding
  • Not suited for bumpy and damaged roads
  • Less common
  • Low demand
  • Muscles and joints start aching after an hour
  • No modern features
  • Lacks comfort features
  • Often loses traction
  • Bounce over bumps

4. Softail Motorcycles Pros and Cons

4.1 Softail Motorcycles Pros

  • More comfortable
  • Modern technology
  • Good for long-distance and continuous rides
  • Ideal for cruising and touring
  • Good for two-up riding
  • Provides back support
  • More advanced
  • Includes ride-assist features
  • Can carry more weight
  • Quieter ride
  • Less vibrations
  • Smooth riding experience
  • Can handle hitting a bump or a pothole
  • Better control
  • More stable
  • Easy to handle
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Easy to turn corners
  • Good for beginners and older riders
  • More upgrades available

4.2 Softail Motorcycle Cons

  • More expensive
  • Heavyweight
  • Complex design and construction
  • Requires more parts and resources
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Difficult to customize
  • Slower 

5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

5.1 What Are the Most Popular Softail Models?

What Are the Most Popular Softail Models?
Photo Credit: @Harley Davidson

Several Harley Davidson Softail models are quite popular and ensure smooth and comfortable rides over long distances. They are also easy to handle and maneuver while turning corners. These include:

  • Harley Davidson Softail Heritage Classic
  • Harley Davidson Softail Slim
  • Harley Davidson Softail Fat Boy
  • Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe
  • Harley Davidson Softail CVO Convertible

5.2 Why Have Softails Become More Popular Than Hardtails?

Hardtails are built with older technology and are not as common nowadays. Meanwhile, Softail motorcycles are considered a milestone and a great innovation. Softails are capable of providing a smooth and comfortable riding experience and can handle two-up riding. They have more rider comfort features and ensure better handling, control, and maneuverability. Most importantly, Softail models allow riders to go on long-distance and continuous motorcycle trips without becoming fatigued.

6. Final Words

Hardtail motorcycles are outdated and uncomfortable vehicles due to their lack of rear suspensions. However, they are easier to build as they are designed with a single-piece frame and require fewer parts.


Meanwhile, Softail motorcycles are more popular and common due to their being built with rear suspensions that ensure a comfortable and smooth riding experience. Softail motorcycles are popular modes of transportation for tours and long-distance rides. They perform well on paved and bumpy roads and are capable of two-up riding.


If you have a Softail motorcycle and you want to make it more suitable for long-distance rides, Viking Bags has several modification options available, including sissy bars, fairings, crash bars, and handlebars. There are also different luggage options available, including sissy bar bags, touring packs, tank bags, and saddlebags for a better touring experience.

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