Ride On: 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard

BLACK and chrome. Sometimes certain combinations are just classic, a fact never more obvious than when you gaze upon the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard. It’s a look that never dates. It simply works.

Essentially a bare bones Bobber, we last saw the Softail Standard in dealerships back in 2015. At that point, it was a favourite with customers who wanted to customise their ride. Although back then, it looked a little different.

It was long and had a nice rake, and a chunky 200mm tyre peeking out from under the rear fender. It shared its stance with the legendary Harley-Davidson Night Train. But the new model is a different bike, with a different stance to the previous model.

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Priced as an entry level Softail at $21,495 ride away, the Standard is $1,000 cheaper than the Street Bob. It’s an important factor in defining the market Harley-Davidson have aimed their new bike at, which is clearly focused on younger and first time buyers.

It also offers Harley-Davidson a chance to broaden their arsenal in the battle against rivals like the Indian Scout Bobber. In essence though the Street Bob and the Softail Standard are two sides of the same coin.

The new Standard is finished in black and chrome, while its sibling comes in five colours, and replaces the chrome finishes with a blacked out look. Both feature mini-ape handlebars with digital speedo, spoked wheels, and chopped fenders.

More importantly though, both are an absolute ball to ride. The no-nonsense Bobber stance of the Softail Standard delivers a bare knuckled riding experience, in a compact and nimble fashion, especially compared to the much larger Breakout and Fat Boy.

For a six foot tall gent like yours truly, the mini-ape hangers are sensational, and while the mid-mount foot controls are enjoyable, they could make things a little cramped over longer rides. We’d add forward controls, without a doubt.

Handling is great and the Softail Standard utilises its new frame well. With a dry weight of just 291kg and the Milwaukee 107 providing 145Nm of torque, the smaller frame and reduced weight is noticeable when throwing the bike through the corners.

Braking performance upfront is very good as well, but we felt the rear was a little spongy, and not quite as good as the front. Suspension was up to task though, and the single seat height of 680mm made it easy to reach the ground when pulling up to stop.

Fuel economy is also good from the 13.2-litre tank, with Harley-Davidson claiming 5.5-litres/100km. In testing, those figures weren’t far off the money, and you should see a ride range of between 250 and 300km.

Customisation is king with the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard, with four factory packages available including the Day Tripper, Coast, Touring and Performance. Each one is designed adds additional components for riders wanting to tweak their ride.

The Day Tripper adds a pillion seat and a detachable sissy bar, passenger foot pegs and mounts, forward foot controls, and a black leather single-sided swing-arm bag, designed to hold essentials.

Coast includes a Softail quarter fairing, black anodised aluminium moto bar handlebars, and a matching 5.5-inch tall riser, a bevel two-up seat and passenger foot pegs, and BMX-style foot pegs from the rugged 80GRIT collection.

Touring adds a comfortable Sundowner two-up seat and passenger foot pegs, a 14-inch light smoke quick-release windshield, classic black detachable saddlebags, and a 14.5-inch detachable sissy bar and backrest pad.

The Performance package amplifies throttle response and mid-range acceleration with a Screaming’ Eagle Stage II torque kit and a Screaming’ Eagle Pro Street tuner to dial it in. A heavy breather performance air cleaner and cannon mufflers complete the offering.

Whether this is your first big bike, or your first step into the Harley-Davidson universe, the new 2020 Softail Standard is cool ride at an excellent price. It’s a lot of fun on the road, and is not over-complicated to control.

Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer. Pictures courtesy of Cameron Cooke Photography.


Ride experience
Style and comfort
Braking and handling
Technology and connectivity
Overall bike performance


Pros - feels nimble and compact; entry level price point; comfortable for taller riders.
Cons - only available in black, mid-mount foot controls could limit comfort on long rides.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> feels nimble and compact; entry level price point; comfortable for taller riders.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> only available in black, mid-mount foot controls could limit comfort on long rides.Ride On: 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Standard