Hardtail vs Softail: Design
The hardtail design ruled the road for many decades until the pros at Harley Davidson changed the game. Before the softail made its debut, motorcycles were made with one frame with a suspension for the front and back wheels. This is what’s known as a hardtail.
The softail houses the rear wheel suspension in a mini frame towards the back of the bike. This creates an entirely separate suspension system for more impact resistance.
The hardtail features a relatively simple design, considering everything is housed in the same frame. This makes it easy for manufacturers to produce. The softail is inherently more complicated by design and requires more parts and resources to produce.
You may not notice the difference between the two when looking at them side by side. The added mini frame doesn’t bring attention to itself until you get on the road.
Hardtail Pros and Cons
Now that you understand the difference between these two styles, let’s take a look at why riders prefer one over the other.
Hardtail motorcycles are becoming less common as more riders gravitate towards the softail design. This has given them the distinction of being vintage. But plenty of riders still love driving hardtail motorcycles.
Many feel that the hardtail captures the true essence of the road. You will feel every bump and crack in the road, which some say is the point of riding a motorcycle in the first place. If you want to be comfortable, you could always drive a hummer instead.
Hardtails are also less expensive than softails. There are fewer parts to manufacture and replace, which can help you save money over time.
Of course, more turbulence can also be off-putting to some riders. Your legs or bum may get sore after a few hours of driving. You may also have trouble traversing rough or unpaved roads. This can increase your risk of getting into an accident if you’re not accustomed to handling rough terrain.
If your passengers prefer a smoother ride, good luck convincing them to get on the back of a hardtail.
Hardtails aren’t nearly as common as they once were. Some auto shops and stores may not carry replacement parts.
Softail Pros and Cons
The softail reduces turbulence to keep you comfortable behind the wheel. The added suspension system absorbs more of the bumps and cracks for a quieter ride. You will still experience some bumps, but not nearly as much as you would if you were riding a hardtail.
You will be able to go for longer rides without getting vibration fatigue. Your friends and loved ones may also be more willing to go along for a ride if the road is smooth.
Less turbulence will also help you focus on the road. You can relax instead of worrying about losing control of your bike when you hit a bump in the road.
However, softails are more expensive to produce and repair than hardtails.
You may also miss the rough and tumble of a hardtail motorcycle. If you love to feel every rock and hole moving underneath you, a softail might leave you wanting more.
The softail vs. hardtail debate isn’t going away anytime soon. Keep this information in mind to choose the right style based on your riding preferences. Regardless of which one you choose, use the proper motorcycle riding gear to stay safe in every situation.
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