New Delhi: In 2013 an American Motorcycle brand made its entry in the Indian market with a Big Bang, few years later most of the motorcycle enthusiasts could visualise themselves owning a big bike. Very recently as much joy and enthusiasm the brand got with itself, it took all of that and left the country in 2021, Leaving the control in the hands of The world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp.
You know which motorcycle brand I am talking about now? The most famous motorcycle brand, the cult that it has become, the Harley Davidson’s Softail Heritage Classic 1868 or now shall I say Hero’s Harley Davidson’s HERITAGE CLASSIC.
The Heritage 1868 is a Middle weight touring bike which looks very classic, retro and is a guaranteed head turner. The updated 2021 version gets all LED lighting front and back, the three round headlamps including the passing light makes sure that you are seen, even from a distance, which is a must for motorcycle riders specially in today time. The tourer is now equipped with comfortable floor boards, detachable wind screen and hard lock bags. I especially like the black theme running on the bike, less chrome, the panniers look nice earlier they had buckles and lot of bling, this is subtle and safer.. not like traditional Harley!
For information you get 5-inch analog speedometer on the tank with digital gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tachometer indication. There’s a petrol cap on the right and a dummy cap on the left just to make it look symmetrical there’s no utility purpose to this. Harley could have added some tech here, like a thermostat for temperature or turn by turn navigation, it’s a requirement of cruiser bikes now
It is a big motorcycle with long wheelbase, good for tall people, shorter people can get the handle bars adjusted and can bring them closer to themselves. Even the mudguards are huge which take all the dirt away. The seat height is 680mm and its comfortable for the rider but small and slippery for pillion.
All the basic controls are on the handle bar with updated cruise control, what is confusing is that the indicators are on either side, the right hand particularly is the throttle hand so it becomes a distraction, it would have been convenient had it been on the left side like previous model. The clutch is clunky, not very smooth, I would expect the latest versions to be smoother since the technology is evolving at such a high speed. The mirrors are also nice and broad for unrestricted view.
Harley Davidsons are known across the Globe for the riding culture (HOG rides), brotherhood, so riding them on weekends and events is sort of essential, Heritage here is a tourer and does a pretty good job at doing what bigger as well as smaller Harley’s can do. Riding quality is good, stable and nimble.
It’s powered by 1868cc VTWIN Milwaukee-Eight engine which produces massive torque of 161 NM at 3000 RPM, it’s just amazing how the bike pulls up even on slow speed and slopes with great comfort and pulls away from traffic and overtakes with just a twist of wrist. You have to be careful on the downhill though because the bike weights 330kg and becomes difficult to manage all that weight, most of it is on the front so taking U Turns and manoeuvring in traffic could be tricky.
Rides best in the range of 2000-3000RPM and rides the corner with enough confidence and stability, handles great on curves as much as on straight roads. Heritage is just effortless to ride! Having said that, you still can’t expect absolute performance from this bike and have the same confidence at speeds above 100kmph. Taller riders will have enough wind on their shoulder to slow them down but for me it was an absolute bliss.
Brakes are your lifeline on any bike and Heritage is equipped with single disc 4-piston fixed in the front and single disc 2-piston floating at the rear, not the best, with all this weight the bike needs to stop sooner and Dunlop tyres on 16inch wheelbase are also not as supportive, In dry they are fine but not so much in wet weather conditions. Heritage is equipped with 6-speed gear box and gear shifts could be smoother, competition gives better options as compared to Harley.
The motorcycle is fun to ride and is a Guaranteed Head Turner! A Harley Pedigree.
The suspension on the bike is great with 49 mm telescopic with aluminium fork triple clamps in the front and 56mm stroke hydraulic preload adjustment as rear shocks. You obviously cannot off-road on the bike, the ground clearance is just 120mm, the suspension is great according to international standards but for our Indian roads the bumps are just too high, I had to slow down completely and then pick it up back again every time. The fuel tank capacity is 18.9L making it a good companion for long rides.
I would like to talk about the Hero Harley partnership because it changes a lot of aspects about owning a Harley in India like spare parts availability, service, maintenance etc. I am not equipped to do that at the moment, will revisit this when we can talk to the officials, they can tell us directly what it means for us as consumers.
Although we do know that Hero now has an expanded network of 14 full-fledged dealerships and seven authorised service centres across the country, exclusively for Harley-Davidson customers and its India dealer network is now fully operational and their next objective is to resume the H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) events. That’s some relief, I guess.
Harley Davidson Softail Heritage is a gorgeous looking motorcycle and everybody can ride a Harley with as much confidence, I promise that. It is popular across the globe for inspiring riding culture And brotherhood, it’s a cult, it’s a tradition and the memories you make on every H.O.G Ride is just priceless. You buy this to be a part of the popular culture.
The price starts at INR 21,49,000 (ex-showroom) in India, slightly expensive than before but for some, it is still worth.