A Softail Harley is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a hidden rear suspension. It looks like it has a rigid or hard-tail frame but has shock absorbers in the rear, according to Harley-Davidson. The first Softail was introduced in the 1980s.
The FXST 1340 Softail Custom was the first Softail, combining a hard-tail look with a comfortable ride. The bike was introduced in 1984 and had an air-cooled, 1,337 cc, 64 horsepower engine with a four-speed transmission. In 1987, Harley produced a Softail Custom with a five-speed transmission, according to Topspeed.com.
In the 2000s, Harley began using fuel injection in engines. The 2007 Softail Custom had an electronic sequential port fuel injection (ESPFI) system with a 1,584 cc, six-speed engine. In 2008, Harley introduced the Softail Cross Bones, which had a retro design, including a chopped front fender and a sprung seat.
While all Softail models feature standard ESPFI, six-speed transmission and rear shock absorbers under the powertrain, the line is notable for its diverse styles. For example, the Heritage Softail Classic has a retro look with tall handlebars, the Fat Boy has a broader frame and the Rocker has an edgy, radical design.