If you asked me which motorcycle among Harley-Davidsons Big Twin models is the most popular with women riders, Id answer the Softail Deluxe FLSTN, judging by my own observations attending events and getting out there among the female motorcycling community. Ever since the motorcycles introduction in 2005, Ive seen more women riding that motorcycle than any of the other Softails, Dynas, and Touring model platforms, those considered the “Big Twins.”
The reason, I believe, for its popularity among the fairer sex is because up until this year it boasted the lowest seat height of any Harley at 24.5 inches. That alone is enough to pique womens interest. For the record, in 2007 the Rocker was introduced with the same seat height measurement as the Softail Deluxe. And now for 2010, the Fat Boy Lo, a new model, has bragging rights as the Harley with the lowest seat height at 24.25 inches, a quarter inch lower.
The Softail Deluxe gives shorter women an opportunity to ride a powerful motorcycle, a Harley no less, with a seat height that enables most of them to touch the ground flat footed. Throw in that the bike has attractive nostalgia styling with its wide white wall tires, spoke wheels, among other things, and wha-la!, you have a motorcycle that has many of the features women say are important to them.
I put more than 800 miles on a 2009 Deluxe, which except for two minor upgrades (explained later), is the same as the 2010 model. Indeed the low seat is the first thing I notice when I swing my leg over the saddle. Im 5 feet 6.5 inches with a 30-inch inseam (5-feet-7 with boots on).
What I also notice is the wide-ness of the bucket style saddle. Many shorter women have told me that while the bike is certainly low, the wide saddle forces them to lose leg-reaching inches so instead of being flatfoot, just their toes touch.
Danielle Martinico from Chandler, Arizona, tands 5 feet and rides a Softail Deluxe after making a few modifications. She took the seat to a boat re-upholstery shop and some foam out to narrow the nose of it bringing her legs closer so she had more length to touch the ground. The she added foam to the back of the seat to push her forward a bit more to better reach the brake and shifter.
Updated Info on 12/16/09: What Danielle used to Lower her Bike
Harley-Davidson Buell of Rocklin, in Rocklin, Calif., installed a Low Profile Front Suspension kit from Harley-Davidson Genuine Accessories that lowered the front of Danielles 2005 Softail Deluxe by 1 inch. Part number is: 54596-94, $109.95. The rear shock was lowered using a Harley-Davidson Genuine Accessories Rear Lowering Kit (with shock stud), part number 54001-04, $89.99. The shock was not replaced, rather a stud was installed to lower the existing shock. She replaced the stock handlebars with Harley aftermarket bars, part number 56557-95.
Harley-Davidson must have heard people were cutting up their seats because a couple of years ago it came out with its own of this re-upholstered seat as aftermarket item calling it the Reach Seat. It pushes the rider forward 1/2 inch and narrows the nose by 1 1/2 inch over the stock seat. The Harley part number for that Reach Seat for the Softail Deluxe is 51762-06.
Having ridden many of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the ergonomic triangle of the Softail Deluxe is very favorable to a wide size range of riders. While the seating position relative to the handlebars, and relative to the footboards was perfect for me, riders shorter and slightly taller should be able to fit on the bike comfortably, too. And for the women who are shorter than me, that Reach Seat is available. As for the stock seats “cush” factor, as Goldilocks observed about the three bears beds, “Not too hard and not too soft. Just right.”
I talk so much about seat height and ergonomics as that is the number one attribute cited by women when shopping for a motorcycle, according to a survey of 1000 female riders by Women Riders Now. And because the ergos are dialed in just right along with an industry leading low seat height measurement, the Softail Deluxe is a popular motorcycles among women.
The Softail Deluxe is powered by Harleys air-cooled Twin Cam 96B motor found in all the Softails. The 96 cubic inches translates to 1584 cubic centimeters (cc). The B means the rigid-mounted engine is counter balanced to the frame to reduce the vibration. The B is not found on the engine designation for the Dyna models, for example — its called Twin Cam 96, without the B—because the engine is rubber mounted to the frame, a feature inherent in the design of the Dyna frame.
If you havent ridden a Harley Big Twin the 1584cc is, in my opinion, is more than enough power for most riders. The motorcycle has a lot of get-up-and-go making the 724-pound machine — yes its that heavy — seem much lighter. And actually, seeing that the bike weighs that much shocks me. My Street Glide, a touring model, is just 60 pounds heavier and includes a fairing and hard sided saddlebags. The Deluxe, though, has many big bike features including FL front forks and fender. FL is the touring platforms frame designation.
The only time I really feel the weight of the Deluxe is lifting it off the side stand. Thanks goodness for the bike being so low as I’m able to use my legs and my arms to right the bike. I say this because beginners thinking because the seat is so low that they can handle this motorcycle, think again. Its a large bike with a wide profile relative to say, the Dyna models. Fortunately, that low seat makes for a very low center of gravity making it relatively easy to move the weight around.
I like that the Deluxe has floorboards that let me relax and move my feet up and back on the board. And the heel-toe shifter is a welcomed feature, something Ive gotten to used to using on my Street Glide. I find its easier to use my heel to kick the shifter into neutral than my toe.
The 6-speed engine is fuel injected so just the right amount of fuel is delivered to the engine no matter what temperature or altitude you find yourself in. Fuel injection has been standard equipment on all Harleys for a few years now and while Ill always love the quirkiness and character of a carbureted engine, just reading the word “carbureted” makes such engines seem ancient now. The 6th speed on Harley-Davidson transmissions is called a Cruise Drive, which means its more of an overdrive lowering RPMs when youre cruising at 70-75 mph.
A new feature on the 2010 model is a helical cut 5th gear, which means the edges or “teeth” of the gear are cut at an angle improving the sound and smoothness of the shifting.
I wasnt quite sure what to expect with the Deluxe in the twisties. Last time I spent any amount of time on a Softail was the Fat Boy and it sort of lumbered through the turns. The Deluxe glides effortlessly through the turns going right where I point it. The bike feels very solid and planted giving a rider not so used to its bigger size a lot of confidence. A rider skilled at canyon carving will soon find herself scraping the floorboards exclaiming “Wheeeee!” as she marvels at how this big bike can feel so zippy.
The suspension is the standard Harley Softail suspension setup with a single horizontal mounted coil shock hidden in the rear and 41.3mm telescopic shocks in the front. My 116-pound weight is too light for the stock setting that’s dialed in for a 180-pound rider; I fly off the seat on big bumps but with the added weight of my 30 to 40-pound backrest bag, the bike glides over the bumps instead of jarring me out of the saddle. The preload on the rear shock can be adjusted but you need a special wrench; it’s not something I’d do myself. I’d have my dealer adjust it.
The 5-gallon fuel tank holds more than enough gas as I stop about every 100 miles or so to stretch my legs and rehydrate regardless of how much fuel I have left. Harley press notes state the bike gets 54 mpg on the highway.
Harley-Davidson has the styling down just right with the Deluxe leaning toward a nostalgia theme that resonates with female riders. Along with the whitewall tires and chrome spoke wheels mentioned earlier, the valanced fenders with chrome edges, the vintage styled tank badge, and tombstone taillight add to the old school cruiser look.
A light on the dash indicates you’re running low on fuel and an improved fuel tank sender feature for 2010 gives a more accurate reading of your fuel level. Also, a little numeral 6 lights up indicating when you’ve shifted into 6th gear.
Kudos to Harley for giving women an easy to ride, easy-to-reach-the-ground motorcycle in a big bike package. That, with the custom styling leaves little for a rider to tinker with that is, unless she doesn’t want her Deluxe to look like everyone else’s.
Specs At A Glance: 2009 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe
Seat Height: 24.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5 gallons
Weight: 724 pounds;
Price: Starts at 17,499; 2010 starts at 16,799 (price dropped in 2010)
Colors for 2009: Vivid Black; Flame Blue Pearl (New); Black Denim; Red Hot Sunglo (New); Two-Tone White Gold Pearl/Pewter Pearl; Two-Tone White Gold Pearl/Black Pearl; Two-Tone Deep Turquoise/Antique White; Two-Tone Red Hot Sunglo/Smokey Gold; Two-Tone Black Ice/Blue Ice
Colors for 2010: Vivid Black; Flame Blue Pearl; Red Hot Sunglo; Two-Tone Scarlet Red/Vivid Black; Two-Tone White Ice Pearl/Black Ice Pearl
Any woman wanting to enter the big leagues of motorcycling should consider this motorcycle unless she’s unusually tall, then she may feel cramped on the bike. The Softail platform is right below Harley’s big touring platform so if you don’t need all the storage of the touring bikes and don’t think you can handle the size, the Softails are a great place to start. The Deluxe with its low seat and great styling is a bike that can grow with you adding touring accessories as you wish.
The Lowest Of The Low
83 thoughts on MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: Why Women Love the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe
I started riding for the first time at age 53. I was considering the Softail Heritage until I saw the Deluxe. It was love at first sight! I’ve ridden it cross country once, with plans to do it again. I’ve made a few style changes to make it mine, and I really don’t care if it’s considered a girl’s bike or not.
Here are some pictures of my Softail Deluxe.
I have a 2007 Deluxe. All I hear is “that’s a girl bike.” Call it what you want, I love it. I have had a lot of bikes in my years—quite a few Harleys. This bike is fun and comfortable.When I first got the bike, the engine was blown up so I made it “Robert’s bike” and hopped it up but kept its sleeper-type stock Softail look. When the big talkers stop with there bull, I say, “put your money where your mouth is, it’s just a girls bike.” The Softail Deluxe is an awesome bike for men and women. It corners well and tight to the ground, I am 5 feet 10 inches tall. I say a woman on a Softail in chaps riding on a sunny day is sexy.
I have a beautiful 2009 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. I am 5 feet tall and started riding at 58! I love this bike—I was never intimidated because I didn’t know any better since it was my first bike. I had to modify the seat to slim down the sides and push me a little further forward. I had it lowered about .75 inches. I would recommend this bike to any first time rider or female. I wish the article would have stated what size handlebars she put on the bike because that is something I need to do! I have had it for almost two years and have put 14,000 miles on it!
This article was so helpful! Loved the information on the handlebars because I am looking to replace the handlebars I have on the 2005 Deluxe which came with buffalo handlebars. First ride was fantastic and the smoothness of this bike will want you going out for many rides. I’m 5 feet 4 inches and the weight of the Deluxe is no doubt intimidating coming off a Harley Sportster but once you get moving you feel as though this bike was meant for some great rides. I have had to purchase some boots with better traction when backing up to park since this bike is heavier but it’s an amazing ride! Again another great article WRN!
Great article and every statement is so true. I recently bought a Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. I am a male at 5 feet 9 inches, 160 pounds. This is my fourth Harley and best one at last. I have gone around the world solo on a 2006 Road King, but wish I had done it on a Deluxe. It is a great bike for all level of riders.
I bought my 2009 Deluxe in September 2014, which was before I knew how to ride. I learned to ride on this bike and although the size was a little intimidating at first, I quickly learned to ride. I got my license in November 2014 and I have been riding ever since. I don’t believe there is any better bike for styling and riding than the Deluxe!
Love the article. I read all 17 pages of comments and learned something from all of them. I just traded my ’08 1200 Sporty Low for a brand new ’14 Softail Deluxe in the hard candy colour Voodoo Purple. I’m so excited to do some mods to make it my own. I did get some very good tips such as “cool thighs,” types of Reach Seats, and that I can put Road King Hard bags on the Deluxe. I want to have a matched colour set put on — also change the pipes so that there is one on each side. I am an experienced rider at 47, 5 feet 1 inch and 120 pounds. The bike is an amazing fit — my first big bike.Thank you for the great article Genevieve
I traded my 2006 Sportster in on a 2014 Softail Deluxe a couple of weeks ago. It is like night and day the difference in the two bikes. I couldn’t believe how much easier and more comfortable the Softail Deluxe is to ride. I was afraid that a bigger bike might be more difficult to handle, but it is completely the opposite. I am so much more confident on my new bike. The Sportster felt like you were riding on top of the bike and the Softail feels like you are part of the bike itself. The low center of gravity makes for easier turning at slow speeds and the bike just feels so well balanced. I have no regrets and wish I had done it sooner! I appreciate all the comments here, which I read prior to my purchase. They were extremely helpful!
I enjoyed this article and the posts from other riders. I started on a 250 in March 2012. I moved to a 750 in June 2012. In September 2012 I test rode a Deluxe. I had been riding six months, but that bike made me feel like I had been riding for 20 years. It is so well balanced. It seems to anticipate your inputs; it responds so quickly. I put $500 down to take possession of the bike in the spring of 2013 (which gave me all winter to think of modifications/additions, see below). I signed the papers on my Deluxe one year to the day from when I bought the 250. She is ember red sunglow and looks like a slammed Road King. Chrome forks, windshield, heated grips, extended turn signals, ABS, security, tubeless tires, stage 1 air, Bassani 2-into-1 road rage pipes, Road King bags that match, LED lights front and back, oil bud oil cooler, “live to ride” derby cover, engine guard, luggage guard, heel guard, HD thigh shields along with some leather ones that sit back further, sissy bar (to strap luggage on).
I just purchased and brought home an 2007 Softail Deluxe, and OMG, this bike rides like a dream! I had no idea that a bike could handle or respond as nice as this one does. I have been riding an 2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883L for the last two years, and although it is a nice intro bike, it’s not very comfortable, the fuel tank is small and my slim 5-foot 7-inch frame always felt cramped on it. I made the decision to move into the Softail Deluxe and now I can’t believe I waited as long as I did. With the Sportster, I never really wanted to go for long rides because I always had to “control” the bike at top speeds, but with the Deluxe I can sit back and enjoy the ride. I can’t wait to hit the open road with it. My advice, if you’re considering buying a Deluxe, just do it. You won’t regret it for one minute!
Thanks for the great article. Considering moving up to a bigger bike and this helped give me some insight.
I have been riding since 2000. My first bike was a Harley-Davidson Night Train. It was a tough bike for me since I stand 5 feet and even though it was lowered, it was very top heavy. When the Deluxe came out I fell in love with the look. Very classic. I also lowered it, added Vance and Hines pipes, had some tribal engraved on the derby cover, horn cover, and intake plate. It was Black Cherry when I bought it in 2005, but I have painted it Black Pearl. It’s absolutely beautiful. My boyfriend and I rode 2100 miles in August as we rode to Salt Lake City, Utah, going through the north end of the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce canyons. It was my first long trip and at 61 years old. I did great.Riding changed my life by giving me freedom, new acquaintances and dear friends. I have arthritis in my hands and I worry all the time I won’t be able to ride for long. Riding has given me a whole new world.
I am the proud owner of a 2011 Softail Deluxe. I love it. So comfy; I sit low and put my feet up on the highway pegs that I have installed on the engine bars. This is a great way to stretch out. I have it set up with a single seat, as I don’t plan on taking anyone on board with me (my hubbie has two rides, a 2007 Street Bob, and a 2011 Road King Classic), although if traveling over distance I do put on my rear seat, sissy bar, and carry rack to tie my bags down to.
Thank you for a great article! I have been researching and looking at bikes for my first purchase. I tried a Low Rider and it did not fit me right. I have been on a Sportster and also do not like the way it feels. I was so happy to find this article that talks about the Deluxe. I went and sat on it at the dealer and love the way it felt so I am looking in this direction. I am open to any and all feedback/comments.
I absolutely love my ’09 Deluxe. As soon as I took one for a ride during a demo day, I knew I had to have one. The way the bike handles is amazing, and it is so comfortable to ride you can go for miles and miles, hours and hours. My only regret is that I didn’t get one sooner!
I too love my 07′ Deluxe! Purchased her this past summer. I only have one problem — the handlebars are to much of a reach. I have been considering replacing with Road Glide bars. Has anyone else replaced their bars with another, but did not have to replace all the cables?
Shirley,Consider posting your question on the WRN Forum as well under the appropriate topic. You may get more responses.
I did not ride for about 18 years and missed it every day (and that was dirt bikes). A friend bought a 883 Sportster and everyone said it was the perfect ladies starter bike. I hated it the three times I tried it out, just not comfy and it seemed to want to jump start. I have a Street Bob now and the weight of it gets me in trouble at times. Strange fear of the weight in really tight turns I did not have years ago with the lighter bikes. The Heritage my dad has seems to be easier for me to move around even being a bigger bike. I am 5 feet 4” inches with the history of broken hip, ripped knee and crushed foot and need comfort and something I can move in lots or tight spaces. The dealer told me to put Deluxe shocks on it to make it the perfect height for me. Has anyone tried that or a Heritage?
Fantastic article! You covered pretty much everything one could think of. My riding experience started out on a 1998 Sprotster XL. After four years of riding, I upgraded to the Softail Deluxe. What a difference. I refer to her as my Cadillac. I was very apprehensive to go big – but longed for the comfort for more enjoyable long distance riding. I have know regrets. I am 5 feet 3 inches and this bike fit the bill. I do find that the seat is a little wide toward the front and am glad to hear the HD has acknowledged and embraced the idea and made modifications. I believe they will continue to find more female riders buying their bikes by making bikes suited for smaller stature.
I will be 25 years old in August and since I was a little girl I’ve wanted a bike. No one in my family rides or has much interest in riding (besides my mom who lives in Florida) so it’s been on the back burner for a while but I’m making it a goal of mine to make it to BikeWweek next year in Laconia on my own Harley. I’ve been searching around the Internet and haven’t found too much but this article just got me really excited to start! I’m planning on taking a course at Seacoast Harley but my question is where do I start? Is it worth reading motorcycling for dummies or watching beginner videos before I take the course? Should I try and purchase a bike before I start the course so I have something to practice on when it’s done? Thank you so much for the article!
Erica,There is a lot of information on this site on where to start. Check out the Beginner’s Guide section. You do not need to read or know anything about motorcycling before taking the training class. In fact, it’s discouraged to try to learn on your own as you’ll pick up bad habits. Spend some time on this site and you’ll learn a lot. And then keep us posted.
I love your reviews on the Softail! I actually just bought my very first bike and it’s a Heritage Softail. I am nervous and excited all at the same time. I will start practicing with it tomorrow. The size looks a bit intimidating to me sometimes when I see it sitting in my garage, but I keep telling myself I can do this. I took my rider’s course one month ago but had nothing to practice on. I am 5 feet 2 inches and had the seat lowered and am having the seat now tailored so it is not so wide. I keep reading and hearing how much easier it is to learn on a bike like this one instead of a Sportster. I sat on so many Sportsters and was just not comfortable on them so here I am, with my new 2011 Heritage Softail! Thank you for the reviews.
Fantastic review and love reading the comments below. I am looking to get my endorsement this year or latest next so I can have it by my 30th birthday. I am tired of relying on riding with a man so I thought I am going to do this myself. Question to anyone who reads though, should I get experience riding a smaller bike before moving to a Deluxe? I was actually thinking of eventually ending with the Softail Heritage Classic but this review is helping me change my mind perhaps. Thanks for the article!
Two weeks after I turned 65 I got my riding license. I rode a 1200 Harley Sportster Low for about a year and then got my dream bike, a 2006 Softail Deluxe. I love this motorcycle. I am 5 feet 5 inches and have no trouble having both feet flat on the ground when stopped. It’s easy to handle and I have put many wonderful hours and miles on this little baby with a smile all the while!
I would like to add a comment on the Deluxe after having written my last one a week ago on how I purchased this Softail model solely on Genevieve’s positive review and comments shared by other fans. I’m 52 years old, rode a Yamaha DT 125 in my high school years and haven’t been on a motorized two-wheeler since those bygone days. Pretty much out of the blue my dormant passion for motorbikes came back alive a little over a year ago, and to be on the safe side, partook in a course at Honda and another at BMW. I was rather ashamed of having had lost courage and confidence over the years, as I clumsily got back on the saddle. But the ambition was there, no doubt, and my target was to get an Enduro 650, the ultimate dream machine of my youth. Got the BMW XCountry and trained for weeks on empty roads at the wee hours of the morning until I eventually mixed in with regular traffic.Months later, I came across Genevieve’s review on the Sportster SuperLow, loved the look and feel of it and how easily it handled. I was elated that I could manage a nearly 900cc engine so easily and soon changed it for a Street Bob, almost equally easy to handle. I was a bit suspicious that Genevieve hadn’t written a review on the latter, but for lack of choice at our dealer’s I couldn’t be picky. I rode it for two months until a Deluxe was available, just freshly imported. That was last week, I changed it for my Dyna, plus adding the hefty difference in cash.Now the Softail Deluxe is a much bigger challenge than I had anticipated, as the change to the Street Bob from the SuperLow had been relatively insignificant. But I’m ready for that. What I’m thrilled about is the great comfort. No more back or hip pains which I had been getting more and more on those two previous bikes. I feel like sitting in a La-Z-Boy armchair, floorboards the right distance away to keep spine and legs in an optimal position. I got rid of the heel lever on the gears, seeing it rather as an obstacle during my “getting-used-to” phase. The front part of the bike (handlebar, triple lights, front wheel and fender) seems so much heavier than what I was used to and taking slow sharp turns still freaks me out a little. Apart from this minor insecurity, riding the Deluxe is immense fun and I’m especially grateful to Genevieve for being so inspirational and helping me climb the ladder in the motorcycle world.
Genevieve’s superb review has done it again! Went to the dealer yesterday and signed the contract for a beautiful black Softail Deluxe – without even test riding it. Same thing happened when I read her marvelous article on the Sportster SuperLow which turned out to be everything she had promised. After three months I felt I needed something bigger. Wished there had been a Deluxe in the showroom then. So I chose a Dyna Street Bob instead, had the tank re-sprayed into something more exiting, changed the seat, fitted a sissy bar and had a mighty jolly time dodging heavy traffic jams in the city. Then I saw the Deluxe. It had just got in the showroom, just this one. I knew I had to make a quick choice, or else it would be snatched away by another customer. Give me 24 hours, I told the dealer, went home, read Genevieve’s review plus all the 13 pages of comments by other readers and voila signed the deal. I’ve traded in my Street Bob, sad to let it go, but thrilled in anticipation to get my new ride. (Registration takes two days.) I will not do any changes, shiny black just suits this gorgeous princess.
Glad to hear my review helped in you choosing your new Deluxe. Thanks for the feedback.
I read this article over all of the others because I am the proud owner of a 2005 Softail Deluxe. I got my endorsement in March of 2010 and did not want to start on a Harley (I didn’t want to be more worried about the bike than me). My husband and I found a Honda ACE750. I put 4,000 miles on that bike in three months. My husband said I ride like I have been riding all my life so he surprised me with my Deluxe in June 2010. I love it! 7,000 miles later, I still love it! I love the nostalgic look. I love how easy it is to ride! I tell everyone that all I have to do is think what I want to do and it reads my mind!
Loved the article. I am a fortunate owner of a 2010 Softail. This is my second Harley-Davidson; the first was a Sportster Roadster, which had a mind of its own. In August 2010 I test rode the Deluxe. I loved it, the bike was easy to handle, comfortable and beautiful. I am 5-feet-6 with a 30-inch inseam; with my boots (2 inches) I am flat footed. I would recommend this bike to intermediate riders just because if its size. I have put on 10,000 km or 6000 miles in three months with a smile on my face..
I enjoyed this article. A trip down memory lane. I’ve had two Deluxes and had good luck with both. Put a Stage 1, hi-flow air cleaner, race turner and python mufflers on it. Ran flawlessly and sounded great. Took one to Key West (2600 miles round trip). I had the stock seat, saddle bags, fork bag and windshield. Packed light and had room for trinckets! Great bikes.
This was a great article. I loved the readers input. I am riding a 883L for the past two years I have wanted to move up to a bigger bike. My issue is I am 4-feet-10. I get all the modifications I can make to lower the bike and handlebars. My biggest concern is the weight, parking and backing it up. Someone said I can put a reverse gear in?
My 2010 Softail Deluxe was my first bike ever I bought it on June 8, 2010 and learned to ride for the first time the weekend before. I was a bit intimidated at first but I figured why not start big. The balance is incredible on this bike I pulled the handlebars in, added an engine guard and detachable windshield. I love it. Taking my time and getting my skills smooth. It is a great bike, a bit much for first starting out but I’m doing really well and I am glad that I started out big, and soft.
I love reading about this bike. I am convinced it is my next bike. I presently am riding a 1200 XLC Sportster. While I love it, can handle it, and feel comfortable on it, I got on my husband’s Softail and bit my lip and went for a 80 mile ride alone. It was like night and day. The bigger bike offered so much more smooth comfort on the road. I love the look of the Deluxe and hope to purchase one soon. You can ride a heavier bike. I was nervous but it isn’t that much different.
I bought my 08 Deluxe in August 2009 and I love, love, love it! I have ridden a Sportster since 2001. I still have it. Love it too but this Deluxe is like having a Cadillac. I can’t wait for my first road trip as I feel I can ride for miles on this beauty. My only problem, I too am a shorty (5 feet) and I want very badly to be flat foot as I can’t move this bike around at all. I know it’s very heavy (my boyfriend doesn’t move it easily) but I still think it would be easier flat foot. I read about a lot of women changing their seat. Took several to find the right one but they didn’t say…which seat did they end up with? Please,please, do tell as I don’t know which one to get.I read a couple got the Reach seat, what about the others? Thanks in advance for any replies!
Marguerite, Had same problem with reaching the rear brake pedal (I’m 4 feet 11 inches). My Harley dealer found a shorter version that fit my 2009 Deluxe (sorry, I don’t know what Harley model it came from). Really brought it in closer and another plus, it allowed me to use the soft canvas lowers on my highway bars in cold weather. These can’t be used with the stock rear brake pedal because it’s too close to the highway bar. Hope this helps! Only problem I haven’t solved is burning my legs from the heat when I’m at a stop. (Need longer legs LOL!) I love my Deluxe!
I too like Deborah purchased an 09 Softail Deluxe as my first bike. I have always been attracted to the Deluxe but decided to test ride the Sportster as well. I will admit I was very nervous to ride the Deluxe as it is such a big bike, but during my test ride I was attracted to the comfort and ease of the Deluxe as well as its low center of gravity. I was convinced by my rider friends that if I was comfortable on the Deluxe to go for it, as I would quickly outgrow a smaller bike. I purchased by Deluxe last fall, so didn’t get much riding practice in due to the horrible Michigan weather. I am a little nervous still to be on a big bike, but plan on taking my time practicing and getting comfortable this summer with the help of my experienced husband. If anyone has any advice for me being a new rider on a Deluxe, I would greatly appreciate it.
I am a new Harley owner. I have a Softail Deluxe and totally love it! I’m 5 feet 3 inches, 120 pounds and having saddle issues. Sounds like the Reach is not the way to go on long rides. Has anyone tried the Badlander? Seems like a lot of people tend to like the Sundowner. Is it the deep bucket made for the Deluxe? How does it compare to the original saddle? Looks very similar. I’m looking for something not too wide, would like support and a little closer. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.
My first two bikes were V Stars. I had always wanted a Harley Deluxe. In Feb. of 2008 I was able to get the Deluxe I wanted. I stand 5 feet 3 inches. The bike had already been lowered in the back. I had it lowered in the front. It took me awhile to find the right seat that would give me more leg room. I’m trying to find the right handle bars, as I have short arms and tight turns are a problem. The only time I notice the weight is when I’m in the hills and it’s parked on a slant. I truly enjoying taking Snoppy — he’s black and white — out for a ride. He has more than9,000 miles. Thanks HD for coming up with a bike to fit lady riders.
I just bought a 2010 Softail Deluxe. She's my first Harley and I named her Lady Harley. I'm not surprised all the ladies love this bike. At 5 feet 6 inches this is the perfect bike for me. I reached the ground just fine in the showroom, but on the road I found it a little difficult backing up because of the wide stance. So I switched to a Reach seat, but also found that seat to get a little uncomfortable on long rides, so here we go again with a Sundowner seat, and problem solved.
This seat is a bit wider for my butt, but not as wide as the stock seat and has a deep bucket feel so my feet are right there. Best of both worlds. I've had this bike five weeks and have racked up 1600 miles. The handlebars are a perfect fit and for those of you with a passenger, the Sundowner seat boasts a 12 1/2 inch width.
Loved the article. Just bought a 2010 Deluxe in black. I traded in a 2008 Nightster. I loved it, but the ride was a little rough. My husband was cruising along on his Ultra Classic, and I decided I wanted a smoother riding bike with a bigger gas tank. I fell in love with the Deluxe the moment I saw it. I am 5 feet 2 inches. Had to put a different seat on it, and get shoes with thicker soles to be able to reach the ground. Everything else is great, except the rear brake pedal. It's a stretch for me. Can't find anything on the Internet to change it. I thought about getting someone to make a spacer to put under the pedal to push it a little closer to me. Anybody have any suggestions?
I purchashed my 2009 Deluxe Jan 31. I have already put 1200 miles on. I love it. It is perfect for me — 5-feet-6 and 120 pounds. I had a 2005 Dyna for a couple years and a 1996 1200 Sportser that I put 40,000 miles on. I love everything about my new bike. I put saddlebags on last weekend that match the seat. They look sharp. Would recommend this bike to anyone. I can't wait to put more miles on.
The very first pic on here with the Deluxe with the tour pack and saddlebags I love those for that bike. Can anyone tell what make they are and where to get them cannot find them anywhere. I like the nice big side bags and everything that I found are a lot smaller those in that picture. If you can please let me know. Thanks
The saddlebags and tour pak are aftermarket from Harley-Davidson Genunie Accessories. Ask your dealer.
Whoa, imagine my delight in finding this Web site! Here I am googling “how to remove the gas tank from a H-D Softail” and this Web site is listed. Guess it’s not too late to post something!
I purchased my 2009, red-hot sunglow, Softail on September 24th, and put 2,650 miles on her before putting her up for a long mid-western winter’s nap!
I had spent almost two years trying to find a new bike that would fit me, I had been all over the place. When I went into the Harley dealership, I had every intent to buy a Dyna Low Rider. Todd, the sales manager, said I could demo the Low Rider, but “hey, why don’t you just try sitting on this Softail?” Just to humor Todd, I sat on it and thought, “Hey this aint too bad”!” Why don’t you demo ride the Softail too then, Todd offered.
I took them both out for a demo ride, and couldn’t get over the difference between the two bikes! I really thought that the Softail was going to be way too big for me as I am only 5 feet 4 inches and about 120 pounds. Was I glad Todd had suggested I take that Softail out, as that was the bike I ended up buying!
My only “issues” with the bike are the handlebars, they’re a bit too wide for me, and the floorboards! My old bike was a Suzuki Intruder that I could race through most any curve, and only occasionally scrape the pegs. Seems like I’m scraping the Softail’s floorboards almost all the time, which drives me crazy, since I’m not used to that sound!
I absolutely love this bike and can’t wait for spring to get here! I am also glad I happened upon this Web site!
My '08 Softail Deluxe (Lucy) survived a 60mph crash with me in August 2008. Since then, we have travelled more than 16,000 miles together, including round trip from SW Florida to Sturgis in 2009.
I am 5 feet 1 inch tall and not much over 100 pounds and the only size-related modifications I have made to this bike are the Reach seat and slightly pulled back handlebars. I did add the recommended saddle bags and use an additional seat-mounted piece of luggage when travelling.
I do, indeed scrape the floorboards frequently, as this bike handles the curves with ease. I can't imagine myself on any other bike, and I have owned several in the 33 years I have been riding.
I test rode this bike at the AMA in Colorado this year and immediatley fell in love with it. It was easy to handle, a joy and comfort to ride as well! The Fat Boy low was an easy second choice and it looks just as great and is just as easy to handle. I'm 5-feet-1 and was wondering if iIcould handle a big bike like this and now I know I can! Thanks to Harley's road crew for doing such a great job with all the women riders and for listening to women. Big love to H-D!
I have an '07 Deluxe and couldn't be happier. Mine is the white pearl gold and cobalt blue and the nostalgic look is what drew me to her. I took my MSR class in May '07 and got the bike in July, the only bike I've ridden outside of class. I'm 5 feet 4 inches and only added a windshield and engine guard. My husband gave me saddlebags the first Christmas with it. We do a lot of riding and I needed the storage. We went to Milwaukee and Florida in '08 and did the Tail of the Dragon this year with no problems. Thanks to the comments here. I'm going to look into the “cool thighs” guards for summer riding as my jeans get a little toasty. I've put about 20k miles and am looking forward to many more.
I have a 2007 Softail Deluxe which I love. I have more than 9,000 miles on it, added the Reach seat and saddlebags, but also changed the front fender to a much smaller Fat Boy fender custom painted by HD.Makes the bike look lighter in the front and more graceful I think.
I have ridden many different types and styles of Harleys. I started with Panheads, Shovels, Softails, Ultras, Road Kings… but the bike I currently ride is a 2006 Deluxe. What a bike.
It is cobalt blue and snowbank white. When stripped down it looks like an old police bike.
I have almost 30,000 miles on the bike.
I ordered it with the Stage II kit which is quick on the start. The girls I ride with…we do not drive 75.
Everyone comments that I do not move on this bike. Once I get into position I can ride 600 to 700 miles a day or however far we go before we end the day. It is so comfortable. My feet never move on the floorboards. It is a well balanced bike. Its center of gravity is perfect.
I have many beginners sit on this bike when they really didn't think that they could ride it, but once they sit on the bike you should see the confidence build within them. I may get another bike, but I will never get rid of this one.
I bought a new 2009 white/turquoise Deluxe this summer, having traded my 2007 883L. The Sportster was my first Harley; I've been riding on and off since 1970, always “ricers” of various sorts. I bought the Sportster because the bigger Harleys were intimidating to me, expensive and, at 5 feet 2.5 inches, too tall in saddle height.
But after a couple years with the 883 I began to think about “something with foot boards” (as the salesman put it). I loved the looks of the Deluxe, but the size still freaked me out — much more weight, etc. Then I took one on a test ride and was astonished at how well it handled, how manageable is the engine power and how comfortable the ride is compared with my 883.
The Deluxe is like riding a Dairy Queen — sweet, real smooth and pretty to look at. I get compliments on the bike's looks (thanks, H-D, for the beautiful turquoise/white, which really looks beautiful and is quite eye-catching) everywhere I go. And yes, it's a pricey piece of machinery for sure but the aesthetic pleasures of riding and just plain looking at it make it pretty well worth the cost.
I have an 05 Deluxe – Black Cherry and love it. I have no plans on trading it in and will ride it until it will go no more. I bought the bike, slightly used, with some added features, Vance & Hines pipes, windshield and bags. I've chromed it out, changed my rims and have started putting it in shows. I average between 6-8K miles per riding season.
To beat the heat from the pipes – I purchased “Cool Thighs,” made right here in Wisconsin. I saw several posts – it's a must have. Just google “cool thighs” and I believe they are made around Lake Geneva. Worth the investment!
I am only 5 feet tall and the bike already had a lowering kit. I went aftermarket for a different suspension kit and was able to lower another 1+ inches. Flat footed and knees are bent. I also changed my handlebars so my elbows have a bend, as I was having difficulty extending my arms during u-bangers. I also changed my seat – it only took 3 seats to find the perfect fit.
Since I began riding I've made many friends on the road and through HOG chapters.
I have just purchased a 2010 softail Deluxe. It attracted my attention when I first saw it. Mine is red and black and I love polishing and waxing it because it brings the colors to a beautiful deep shine. I like the balance of the bike and the old style looks that almost looks like the old Indian cycles. I think Harley as a company pays attention to what its riders like and the produce the product. Not like most other cycles — Harley makes a product for every choice a rider may like.
Two years ago I dropped a friend off at my local HD dealership and I was instantly drawn to the 2007 Pearl White and Cobalt Blue Deluxe. I was riding a 1998 BMW Cruiser at the time; I had had the BMW for 8 years.
I always felt a little uneasy just before my ride with the BMW. With the Deluxe I am too comfortable; I ride that bike like it's a part of me. This Deluxe is my fifth motorcycle. I always wondered what the allure of the Harleys was; now I know. I just love it.
I also love my 2009 Deluxe! My first bike was a 650 Yamaha, I traded up to an 06 Sportster Low. I loved the bike but my legs always felt cramped – I am 5 feet 7 inches with a 32/33 inseam. My husband encouraged me to try the Deluxe on for size at the NYC motorcycle show last January and I fell in love with the turquoise/antique white! I have only gotten in 3500 miles so far this season since we have had so much rain but bring on the fall. I will have more time to ride now with my husband on his 2010 Street Glide!
I got my '09 Root Beer Deluxe the end of April and I have 8300 miles on. I love it. I am 5 feet 6 inches and added bags and windshield. I had a 883 Sportster and did not like that bike. It is a great bike and I definitely feel as one with my bike.
I have had my '05 Softail Deluxe for just about a year. I absolutley love this bike! I am just 5 feet 1 inch so foot placement has always been a concern. I have been thinking about swapping the seat out for the Reach seat. It will get me just that much more of a flat foot. Though I am not quite flat footed I find that this bike over others I have ridden (a Kawasaki 800 and Yamaha 1100), this is the most comfortable ride yet.
The only downfall I have about this bike is that the right side pipes seem to be quite high and the heat that is omitted heats up my right thigh. In the summer in Orlando it gets quite warm. I have installed heat shields just under the seat and believe it or not it does seem to help.
When I bought my first bike, it was a 2004 Sportster 1200 Custom, which I still love. Within nine months I knew I wanted a bigger bike, since I'm tall, 5-feet-10, the seat height was not really a concern, what I thought I wanted was a Softail Custom, since I knew that I would want to make a few changes to make it may own. I was pretty stuck on that model, until one day I went to look at a few bikes at a local dealer, keep in mind, that the Deluxe never came into the picture. I really never thought I would like the retro style. I sat on the bike and it was love at first sight! Whitewalls and all! Soooo comfortable is the ride! Corners great.
I get compliments all the time from men and women; some think it is my husband's bike, and are a little suprised to find that I am the owner. The bike is no light weight, a little over 700 pounds, but so far I have had no real problems. I highly advise anyone looking to get a Softail to try this bike. It is a great choice!
HD Softails rock! I own 07 Softail Classic with 32K miles and love the way it handles. I've been riding for 35+ years and this is the best bike for women who want to travel without owning a big bike. I have been everywhere on mine including the Tail of the Dragon (twice), and Milwalkee last year. I just recently came back from doing the Trail of Tears Ride with nine other women. Can't wait for my next long trip.
To Cecil Moore,
If you love your bike but just cannot get comfortable, please change your seat! I was miserable on my bike after 15 minutes of riding my new bike. My back, neck arms and legs hurt to the point I could not ride. I knew my seat needed to be changed. I searched out other riders that had Deluxe motorcycles and asked all of them what they thought about their ride. Every one I talked to said they had to change their seat and they love their bikes now. Once I finally bought a new seat I was in heaven. I ride as one with my bike and I love it. I will not be looking to by another bike for many years to come. Possibly never.
This is a great article. I'm a new rider, this is my first bike, and I have the '09 Deep Turquoise and Antique white. It's so beautiful.
Growing up I always admired the Heritage, but it was too large. I'm 5 feet 5 inches, but my inseam is 33 inches, so my feet are extremely well-placed on the foot boards as well as the ground, while I can still feel at ease with the handle bars.
I still have some trepidation about leaning into turns, because my perception was that the bike was too low (and also being new to the ride) . But after reading this by someone so experienced as Genevieve, I am now going to trust the bike and myself more, and see what it can do. As always, thank you for your informative articles geared towards women riders.
I recently traded for a 06 Softail Deluxe and I just love it. The one and only complaint I have is the back of my right thigh gets pretty warm when my feet are down on the foot boards for a long period of time. I have since put foot pegs on the engine guard. I am only 5 feet 3 inches.
Wow! I have been wanting this bike. The cost is holding me back. I ride a Honda Shadow Aero, and I love my bike. It also has the spoke wheels, and wide fenders.
I can't believe this article was just posted. I went to Delmarva Bike Week in OC, Maryland, just this past weekend, and I had so many Deluxe cycles that ended up parked beside me all weekend.
I was thinking that this is a sign, and now your article too! Maybe some day I'll get my Deluxe.
I will print your article and hang onto it. Thank you for all the great info about my future cycle.
I too own a Deluxe. I love the bike. It is everything you said it is. With a few adjustments such as the seat I can ride comfortablly for hours. The bike handles like a dream. I don't know what it is but when I started riding the bike it felt like we were made for each other.
My other bikes which were a Yamaha 650 and 1100 were great bikes. They were stylish and you never had to change anything to be comfortable, but I did not feel as one on those bikes. There was all ways something missing. I was all ways looking for the next bike. Not with my Deluxe Harley. I will always look but I am done with buying for years to come. I love this bike and your readers will too. Thanks for the article on the Deluxe Motorcycle.
I have a 2005 Deluxe. Got it the first year it came out and I will never ride another Harley. I am 5 feet 9 inches but the comfort and safe feeling is unmatched. This was my first Harley so all of you women who feel they need a “lighter” bike, just have to test ride it and you will see. It rocks!
I traded in my 07 Sporty for an 09 Deluxe and I love it! It handles like a dream on the road and is balanced so well, except it's really heavy on slow turns and backing. Love the look of it; mine is turquoise and off white. Looking forward to many miles!
Love my 2009 Deluxe!
I love my 09 Softail Deluxe. It's not very comfortable though to ride. I don't like the seat. It hurts my rear and my back on long rides. I have 3000 miles on it and have considered trading it on something else. This is my third new Harley and I think I dislike it the most because of the seat. I know I could just order a new seat but I have already added a windshield and bags. Guess I should have just got something that already had it.
You shouldn't let something as simple as a seat ruin your ride. Spring for the better seat. It will make all the difference in the world. This is a great bike all around. There are few stock bikes that work for all riders. Most things need to be changed out.
I ride a Black Cherry '05 Softail Deluxe (carbureted). I love it. If I had been more warmly dressed the first time I test road the bike, they would have had to send a search party for me! I added a windshield, Vans & Hines Long Shots exhaust pipes, and a moustache bar to stretch out my legs. I also stand 5 feet 6 inches. I have more than 22,000 miles on my bike. It has carried me through rain, hail, high altitude and low octane with no problem. I would add a back rest for long, 500-mile a day rides and maybe change the handlebars.
I've got more than 30,000 on my Deluxe. It's an 06. I ride all over the country by myself and have never had any trouble. Have added a few upgrades so my mileage is in the mid 40s now, but all things considered it's just been a great bike. People are always quick to say that they think it's too big but like your article says, it goes where you aim it and like most big bikes, gravel parking lots? Well just take it easy and everthing's cool.
I upgraded from a Sportster to a 2009 Softail Deluxe this year and it has made a world of difference in my riding confidence. I was just commenting to my husband yesterday about how much more I enjoy riding this year compared to the last two years because of the Deluxe. It is definitely more balanced and it is just plain fun to ride.
Thank you so much for reviewing this wonderful bike. I fully believe that anyone who is on a smaller bike right now and still not feeling very confident in their riding abilities should give the Deluxe a ride. She will have so much fun and she will definitely have more confidence in herself and her riding ability.
Great review Genevieve! I am a new rider and purchased the 2008 Anniversary edition of the Softail Deluxe. It truly is an incredible ride!
Your review was right on the money! I had to put the Reach seat on my bike as I'm just shy of 5 feet 4 inches. With the Reach seat I can easily sit on the bike with my feet flat on the ground. If I wouldn't have done this, I most likely would have had to put the swing back handlebars on and possibly lower the suspension.
I love my bike and hope to be putting on a lot more miles on it this fall.
As always, your newsletter is great!
I agree with your comments about the Softail Deluxe. I know a lot of women who ride it and love it. I ride a 2009 Fat Boy and just want to say that it takes the twisties just fine in my opinion! I am scraping floorboards and loving every minute of it! After riding a Deuce, I find the Fat Boy much easier to handle, especially in tight turns. I am 5 feet 6 inches and had my Fat Boy lowered one inch. I also bought an aftermarket seat that is narrower in front and has more lumbar support than the original.
I am so glad that you mentioned weight as a factor for new riders. I never would have felt comfortable on a Fat Boy when I first started riding. Women and men, need to take more than just “touching bottom” into consideration when picking a bike. You are absoulutely right that they should be thinking about things like being able to pick it up off the stand, turning it around in tight places, and backing it up.
I have 4,850 miles on my 09 Deluxe and have loved every mile. This was an upgrade from my 1200 Low Sportster by my husband for finishing cancer treatments. I am 5 feet 2 inches tall.
Everyone loved that I rode the Sportster in between chemo treatments to clear the chemo fog and then to radiation and the day before I was done, I received my 09 Deluxe. As you wrote, it is a confidence inspiring bike. Although I was good on the Sportster and had many compliments on my handling, my husband said I'm even better rider on the Deluxe.
I haven't scraped the floorboards yet but that day is coming soon. Riding is the best head therapy for any ailment!
I agree with the whole article! I have a 2005 Deluxe and am so comfortable on this bike. I'm 5 feet 7 inches. I did 7739 miles in July on a cross country trip. I did rig a back rest with a travel bag, but I never had a sore butt through the whole trip. I love my Deluxe and wouldn't consider any other bike. I am glad to hear they have improved the fuel gauge! I never trust mine! I feel blessed to have found this used bike on Craigslist this spring. The guy I bought it from said riding just wasn't as much fun as he thought it would be. Ha! what's wrong with him?
Side note: I rode passenger on the bike once, and I will say, that is no fun on the stock seat. It feels like a two-by-four for the passenger. I only lasted about seven miles and asked hubby to take me home. I'd say this is definitely a solo bike! Thanks Gen. Love your stuff!
Thanks for showing Danielle at 5 feet handling this bike. Im too, have an '05 Deluxe with modifications that Danielle did. The exception of mods for me was to put on dual pipes (one on each side), as the bike gets very hot. Our shorter frame makes our legs touch the pipes. This was an easier way for me not to get burned. I knew that this bike was the only bike in the Harley line-up that would fit my 4-feet 11-inch frame so I made the modifications and made the bike work for me, as Danielle did.
Just a note: As far as I know, the only saddlebags a stock-piped Deluxe can take are the ones Danielle has showing. They are quite small, but they lock. With changing my pipes I also changed my bags to the Road King saddlebags — wonderful luggage room. I no longer have to pack a duffle or carry the extra weight. The only thing now is, I have done so much to my '05 I can't move into the '10 without losing money on it. In any case, it's a great bike for me.
Love the article, love my FLSTN. I am 5 feet 7 inches and I had to put a new seat on to move me a bit further back, and I got rid of the pullback risers and put apes on. Rode it to Milwaukee last summer. There are now many changes that one can make to fit a bike to you, both HD OEM and aftermarket. I like the Deluxe better than the Street Glide I had.
Good write up. Just spent first day on new Deluxe. Outstanding. I'm a fair bit shorter than you and don't get flat footed, but it's still very low and easy.
My husband and I had a great time at the conference. H admitted to me that he wants to go to the next Women's Conference. Coming from him means in not so many words, he loved it! The reason I am writing — what about the new Softail Convertible that Harley just came out with for 2010? I am only 5 feet and it looks pretty low, too. Could you check it out? Thanks.
You are referring to the new CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) Screamin' Eagle Softail Convertible. We will try and get some seat time on it as our goal is to test all the new models.