Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023)


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Harley Davidson Heritage Classic (2023)

When it comes to iconic motorcycles, few names carry as much weight as Harley-Davidson. And in the world of touring bikes, the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic is an undeniable legend. With its timeless design, powerful performance, and unmatched comfort, this model has been a staple in the Harley lineup for years. But now, with the release of the 2023 edition, the Heritage Classic has undergone some exciting updates and enhancements, ensuring that it continues to captivate riders and enthusiasts alike. In this article, we’ll delve into every aspect of the all-new Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic, from its stunning design to its state-of-the-art features and exhilarating ride experience. So, fasten your helmet, rev up your curiosity, and join us on this thrilling journey into the world of the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023).

Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023) – A complete cruiser for the ages

Harley-Davidson is a brand synonymous with cruisers but there is something different about the Heritage Classic 2023. Choosing the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023) will be like choosing the good life. Complete with everything that a Harley-Davidson bike should have – style, muscular power, and highway-ready design, the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023) is made to take you wherever the open road beckons. As a seasoned rider, I can attest that this is one bike that I cannot seem to get enough of. Even if I drive it for hours, it feels like it has only been mere minutes.

2023 Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic Review

The quintessential American motorcycle brand has made its name by recycling and tinkering the styles of previous generations or at least it did so until the launch of the new Milwaukee-Eight Softail models in 2018. The company then took a major decision and gave the models a facelift. However, the one bike that escaped with a quick nip and tuck was the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic, formerly known as the FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic. This one demonstrated how effective a treatment can be, especially when combined with a new heart and hips. In this review blog, you will get to read an in-depth review of the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023).

Harley Davidson Heritage Classic (2023)

Engine and performance

One of the big deals about the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023) is the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin engine, which features the long stroke power characteristic, making Milwaukee famous, although not in an old song of the name – that was Schlitz beer.

It was released in 107-inch FLHC and 114-inch FLHCS forms but the writing was on the wall quite early for the almost identical smaller capacity model. You shouldn’t be put off by the fins of its air-cooled barrels and heads as there is a lot of advanced technology lurking within the motor, which continues to get it through ever-tightening emissions regulations in states where a summer’s day would lead to a hosepipe ban over here. The four valves per head combined with the twin spark plugs allow for a more efficient and cleaner burning, a bigger bang than previously, and the resulting power stroke is truly addictive.

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The monstrous bike is surprisingly mechanically quiet for something with a pair of four-inch pistons racing up and down 4½-inch bores at high speed courtesy of hydraulic tappets keeping the valve clearances tight. There were concerns over the cam chain tensioners on the Twin Cam motor but they are now a distant memory. While the transmission still looks a bit agricultural and rewards first gear selection at the lights with a clunk, it has evolved over the years and any unpleasantness can be attributed to unnecessary rushing. It is a different experience to a turbine but so is the power characteristic, which is more akin to a big, lazy diesel than a smaller and no less powerful than the highly-stressed petrol engine.

To get the best out of the motor, you can use it as it was always intended to be used. This means you shouldn’t spin it up until you bounce off the red line, around 5,500 RPM as there is no benefit to going beyond 3,500 RPM. The peak horsepower is generated at 5,000 but there is no sense chasing a modest 94 HP when you have 161 Nm of torque at 3000 RPM. It makes the entire experience exciting enough and surprisingly quick if not fast.

Model NameSoftail® Heritage Classic
Engine Size1868 cc (114 ci)
Engine TypeMilwaukee-Eight™ 114 V Twin
HorsepowerNot provided
Torque161 Nm @ 3000 RPM
Dry Weight697 lbs (316 kg)
Wet Weight728 lbs (330 kg)
Length95.1 in (2415 mm)
Wheelbase64.2 in (1630 mm)
Ground Clearance4.7 in (120 mm)
Fuel Capacity5 gallons (18.9 liters)
Fuel Efficiency47 US MPG (5 L/100km)
Seat Height26.8 in (680 mm)
PriceMSRP: $21,199
Valve ConfigurationOHV – Pushrod
Compression Ratio10.5:1
Fuel TypeGas
Fuel RequirementsPremium
Fuel InjectorYes
Transmission TypeManual
Number Of Speeds6
Primary Drive (Rear Wheel)Belt
Front Suspension TypeTelescopic Fork
Rear Suspension TypeTwin Sided Swing Arm
Front Brake TypeHydraulic Disc
Rear Brake TypeHydraulic Disc
Anti-Lock BrakesStandard
Seat TypeTwo-Piece
Number Of Seats2

Handling and suspension

The other great deal of the Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic 2023 is the new Softail Chassis, which is a significant improvement over the previous generation. It is 34% stiffer and up to 20% lighter while it also simplifies the rear suspension action, albeit at the cost of the hardtail style.

Switching from twin underslung shock to a more conventionally positioned mono-shock, opened up a whole host of opportunities, including moving the oil tank to a sit underneath the gearbox and a range of new shock absorbers suited for specific roles. The Harley-Davidson Heritage Classic (2023) got the mid-range option of the three, with a socked-adjustable preload adjustment, accessed by removing the dual seat. The other improvements included raising the gearbox itself, hence adjusting the angle of a narrowed primary drive chaincase, combined to greatly improve cornering clearing of the left-hand side, which is helped by raising the height of the footboards.

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Helped by Showa dual-bending disc front forks, a technology from racing, it is both lighter and livelier than most previous Softail models and its predecessor but it retails its traditional styling. As such, it is seen by many riders as being the most improved of the new Softails while also being the most easily identifiable.

The combination of a 114-inch V-Twin motor and livelier handling causes you to look at the single front disc with suspicion. This will only mean you’ll run into difficulties if you are riding hard with a lot of heavy late braking due to the only headache of the single disc will be its ability to absorb and get rid of heat.

A heavy rider and passenger touring in the mountains will give it a bit of work to do but alongside learning the merits of using the back brake of a bike with a rear wheel weight bias, they would be better off looking for a used Road King Classic, which is physically bigger, leaving others to enjoy the reflections in the mirror finish of the chrome hubcap.

Comfort and economy

With one foot in the late 1940s and no attempt at sacrificing function for form, the big rider’s saddle is ideal for a bike where you carry your entire weight on your backside and perfectly suited to the footboards, allowing your feet to roam compared to a pair of footpegs.

Typically for the current Harley stable, a carryover from the Twin Cam and suited to the overall style, the pillion seat is a decent size as well, and well padded, which is amazing if you’ve got a regular pillion. The bike doesn’t have the luxury of footboards as standard but this is less of an issue than the lack of a useful passenger backrest – a standard fitting of Heritage Softail for almost 30 years.

As a result, you will likely have to stop for more comfort breaks than you’d otherwise have to, which is a waste of the fuel tank’s 200-mile range. At least, you will still be talking when you reach your accommodation. Even if you are fitted with an accessory backrest, there will be a wide range of options.

Harley Davidson Heritage Classic (2023)

Equipment and other features

The original FLSTC Heritage Softail Classic was based on Harley-Davidson’s Heritage Softail, a FL model, with the “F” standing for engine and “L” standing for big wheels, for conjuring up the first telescoping fork models of the late 1940s Hydra Glide using the Softail frame to allude to the rigid frame of the time.

Similar to the original model, the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail was stripped-back but the Heritage Classic remains the bike that is dressed for two-up touring. Previously, it was an owner’s choice but Harley-Davidson was more than happy to supply a whole host of accessories to fit the bill.

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Reflecting a time before anyone was utilizing fiberglass for fairings or any kind of bodywork, weather protection is provided by a huge and practical clear windshield. It couldn’t be described as aerodynamic but it keeps most of the atmospheric elements at bay while the deep valance of the front mudguard works well with the footboards to protect you from wet roads.

Smaller than previously, its bottom section is blacked out on the dark finish models, which joins the laced wheel rims in alluding to 1940s austerity when chrome was an option but the chrome option owes more to the aspirational fifties.

Meanwhile, the saddlebags are leather as leather-fronted hard bags became common on the Heritage Classic models after 2018. This change meant that they are secured by a push button keylock as it is hard to lock a buckle and harder still when the buckle hides a QD clip and holds their shape much better than thick leather that either develops a righteous patina or looks tired and saggy depending upon your point of view. Sadly, they did not take the opportunity to make them quickly detachable, like the screen, which makes the already versatile motorcycle even more flexible.

You can feel free to go and look for signs of advanced technology but you shouldn’t expect to find much. The bottom of the five-inch speedometer mounted on top of the Fat Boy fuel tank is a digital read-out, giving you more information to make touring much easier without being a distraction. The odometer, clock, twin trips, digital techno, and the remaining fuel range go well beyond the essentials but it is a bike for forgetting the external world.

The useful addition is a cruise control that protects your license from the motorcycle’s effortless ability to cover the ground quickly, maintaining a good average speed. You will not be scanning the horizon or your mirrors for blue flashing lights as you have the needle deeper into three figures but 80 will feel like 60.

Price and availability

With prices starting at $21,199 and slightly more for the higher-status 120th anniversary model with two-tone leather and premium paint, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that American Heritage doesn’t come cheap. However, it is the residual value of a well-kept Harley-Davidson that truly explains why you see so many on the road. This and a very different riding experience, which you will either get or you won’t.

To mark the 120th anniversary of the company, Harley-Davidson released a limited edition of Heritage Classic Boy, with only 1700 copies being released. Here is what Jochen Zeitz, the President, Chairman, and CEO of Harley-Davidson had to say upon the launch –

“Since 1903, Harley-Davidson has pioneered American motorcycle design, technology, and performance, and today marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of Harley-Davidson’s 120th Anniversary. We’re excited to share the first release of 2023 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, with more to come later in the year. 2023 is going to be an unforgettable milestone for the Company, celebrating the history, culture and community of Harley-Davidson – we hope you can join us.”

If you want to spread the load, you can also choose from a couple of options depending on whether you wish to borrow or buy the bike. Harley-Davidson has an arrangement that allows you to ride out of the showroom with no money down and a certain price per month for the next three years and a high final payment. If you have looked after the motorcycle and haven’t exceeded the agreed mileage, you’ll have the minimum guaranteed value should you wish to hand it back. Harley Purchase is another alternative, which raises to a monthly payment with a final repayment equivalent to a regular month, at which point you would have owned a three-year-old bike already.

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White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.

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