ROAD TEST: 2012 Harley-Davidson Softail Slim Review

Low In Calories, High In Octane:

2012 Harley-Davidson Slim

Story: Gary Koz Mraz, Photos: Ron Sinoy

Jenny Craig put Softail on a diet and called it “Slim”. With a scaled down narrow rear tire, chopped fender and simple combination stop/turn/tail lights and a side-mounted license plate, Slim deserves its name. From its trimmed front fender to its narrow rear end, Slim is a no-nonsense, back-to-basics motorcycle that recalls classic custom bobbers of the 1950’s.

We saw this bike unveiled along with the Sporty 72 (see last month’s issue of Quick Throttle). Paul James, Director of Consumer Influence and Product Communication at Harley-Davidson (and according to our Editor, CD, one hell of a rider) stated “There are a lot of people who don’t have long inseams, but they want to feel comfortable on a bike. They want to be able to feel their feet on the ground, feel in control. At the same time, that ‘slammed’ look is hot.”  James said that both bikes have a unique look, riding position and feel because of the way that the parts and pieces have been put together. “Timing is important, too. The last two years, we’ve introduced mid-year-model bikes,” said James. “We introduced the Forty Eight about this time two years ago. And last year, we introduced the Blackline.”

The Slim is intended to be a direct interpretation of home-built customs of the 1940’s and 50’s, and Harley used a number of components that evoke that era, beginning with a Hollywood handlebar. The Hollywood bar, identified by its wide bend and cross brace, was originally an accessory for Harley-Davidson models with a Springer fork. The name may have been coined because owners of that era who used the cross-brace to mount lights and bags had “gone Hollywood” with excessive accessorization. For the Slim, the cross-braced bar and louvered headlight nacelle is finished in gloss black. Other period styling cues include a gloss black “cat’s eye” tank console with a retro speedometer face, half-moon rider footboards, a round air cleaner cover, and gloss black wheel rims and hubs. The cover of the solo seat is stitched in a tuck-and-roll pattern.

The rear fender struts are left uncovered, exposing the forged steel and fasteners. A thin formed-leather strap covers the fuel tank seam. The powertrain is finished with polished covers instead of chrome and the black cylinders are left un-highlighted. The FL front fender is trimmed to expose more of the tire. A counter-balanced Twin Cam 103B ™ engine is rigid-mounted within the frame.  The Softailchassis mimics the clean lines of a vintage hardtail frame utilizing coil-over shock absorbers mounted horizontally and out of sight.  With the combination of a 23.8- inch seat height and rider floorboards, the Slim does accommodate a wide range of riders comfortably.

I have always loved Softails; who doesn’t dig the Fatboy or a Heritage Softail Classic? Personally, I would opt for HD’s optional pull-back riser which moves the handlebar back two inches without changing control cables and lines.

Claimed dry weight is 671 pounds. Of current Softails, only the 638- pound Blackline weighs less. And the 103B is a real kick in the pants. All in all, besides wearing Fat Bob’s fuel tanks, the Slim makes me look younger and thinner.

MSRP for the Slim in Vivid Black is $15,499, making it Harley’s least- expensive Softail. Black Denim or Ember Red Sunglo lists for $15,884. Options include a sprung solo seat and a gloss-black primary cover and finned derby cover.


• Rigid-mounted, air-cooled, 1690 cc Twin Cam 103B™ counter-balanced engine with Automatic Compression Release (ACR) rated at 98.7 ft. lbs. peak torque at 3000 rpm.
• Powertrain is finished in Black powdercoat with polished covers.
• 6-Speed Cruise Drive® Transmission.
• Chrome, over/under shotgun exhaust with slash-cut mufflers.
• Gloss Black round air cleaner cover.
• Classic 5.0-gallon Fat Bob® fuel tank.
• Black “cat’s eye” console holds electronic speedometer with retro-style face.
• Dunlop® 16-inch (MT90B16) front and rear (MU85B16) tires.
• Black, Steel Laced wheels.
• Hollywood handlebar with cross-brace
• Gloss black headlamp with chrome trim ring.
• Gloss black nacelle with punched louvers.
• Half-moon footboards with retro-style foot control pads.
• Chopped rear fender exposes rear tire.
• Trimmed FL front fender.
• Side-mounted license plate bracket.
• Combination stop/tail/turn tail lights.
• Solo seat with black tuck-and-roll vinyl cover.
• Forged rear fender supports are finished in Gloss Black powdercoat.
• Gloss black “horseshoe” oil tank.
• Paint color choices include Vivid Black, Black Denim, and Ember Red Sunglo.

Security Package Option (factory-installed option) includes: Harley-Davidson® Smart Security System with proximity- based, hands-free security fob and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

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