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Hardtail vs Softail: Which Motorcycle is Right for You?

The Harley-Davidson company has been around for a long time and has made many advancements in the motorcycle industry. One area where they have made significant improvements is in the design of Softail frames.

The difference between a hardtail and a Softail frame on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is the presence of a rear shock absorber. A hardtail motorcycle has a rigid frame with no rear shock absorber, while a Softail motorcycle has a rear shock absorber to absorb bumps on the road. The main advantage of a Softail frame is the increased comfort it provides for the rider.

So, which is right for you? The main difference between a Softail frame and a hardtail frame is that a Softail frame is designed to provide a smoother ride, while a hardtail frame is designed to maintain the brand’s signature aesthetic.

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In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of these types of motorbikes, compare their performance, and determine which bike is right for who.

I want to warn you right away that there is no answer to the question: “which is better?”. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Some people like a hardtail, some Softail. It depends on many factors. So let’s figure it out together.

What Is a Hardtail Motorcycle?


A hardtail motorcycle is a motorbike that has a rigid frame with no rear suspension. The term “hardtail” refers to the lack of rear suspension, not the front. Hardtails are typically lighter and easier to maneuver than their Softail counterparts. However, the lack of rear suspension can make for a jarring ride, particularly over rough terrain. For this reason, hardtails are often reserved for experienced riders.

Hardtail motorcycles were popular in the early 20th century. They had a stiff frame and no rear suspension, which made the ride more fun for short trips. However, for longer trips, riders faced discomfort from the lack of padding and springs. Two-passenger hardtail motorcycles had even less comfortable with just padding instead of springs.

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Hardtails also tend to be less expensive than Softail. Because the rear wheel is attached directly to the frame, hardtails typically have a harsher ride. However, many riders prefer the simplicity and light weight of a hardtail.

The Main Feature of Hardtail

Hardtails are easier to build because they only require one piece, and fewer parts in general. Many motorcycle customizers start with hardtails before moving on to more difficult projects like Softails.

Since there’s no rear suspension, riding a hard-tail will be significantly more uncomfortable than riding a bike with suspension. As such, it’s not ideal for long rides.

What Is a Softail Motorcycle?


A Softail motorcycle is a type of motorbike that has a suspension system that is mounted below the seat, rather than at the back of the bike. This makes for a smoother ride, as the bumps in the road are absorbed by the suspension, rather than transferred to the rider. The main advantage of a Softail motorcycle is that it is more comfortable to ride, as the bumps in the road are not felt as much.

The term “Softail motorcycle” is a term used to describe a type of motorcycle created by Harley-Davidson. These motorcycles were designed to offer a more comfortable riding experience and were first released in 1984. The name comes from the addition of an A-frame rear swingarm and shock absorbers that are mounted horizontally under the frame. These features give the motorcycle a look similar to a hardtail motorcycle while still providing stability and comfort.

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The downside is that the bike is not as stable as a hardtail motorcycle, as the weight is not evenly distributed. If you are looking for a comfortable ride, then a Softail bike is the way to go. However, if you are looking for a bike that is more stable and can handle rougher terrain, then a hardtail motorcycle is the better option.

The Main Feature of Softail

The main advantage of this motorbike is that it is much more comfortable than a regular motorcycle because it has a rear suspension. If you want to take a long trip without hurting your back, this is the best type of bike to get. Most people won’t even be able to tell that it has suspension since it is hidden.

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Fitting rear suspension may make for a more comfortable ride, but it also comes at a cost – both financially and in terms of the difficulty of assembly. More parts are required, including shock absorbers, a swingarm, and additional shocks, which all drive up the cost of construction. Therefore, while a Softtail frame may provide a smoother ride, it comes at a significant price premium.

Hardtail vs Softail: Detailed Comparison

Now we will consider the factors that distinguish these models from each other. After this article, you will be able to choose the motorcycle that you need with confidence.

Body Type

The Softail body was introduced by Harley-Davidson in 1984. It is a motorcycle body that has a separate mini frame for the rear suspension. This innovation allows for a much smoother ride overall.

Since the Harley-Davidson Softail was introduced in 1984, it and the hardtail have been the most popular motorcycle designs among buyers and manufacturers. Softails are made of two separate pieces welded together, while hardtails are a single piece. Because they’re more complex, Softail costs more for manufacturers to produce, but this hasn’t stopped customers from preferring Softails.


Hardtails have a simple construction that makes them unique. they don’t have rear suspension, so riders get a more “raw” feel of the road. while some people like this, others prefer a smoother ride. since there’s no need for suspension, hardtails are also typically less expensive to buy and maintain.

Shock absorbers help to stabilize Softail bikes by reducing vibration. Softails are equipped with active suspension, which makes them handle better overall. Hydraulic shocks, air shocks, and coil-over shocks are all possible configurations.

Style And Comfort

A hardtail motorcycle is made up of only a few parts and doesn’t have any moving parts. They’re easy to put together, which is why novices like them. They usually cost up to 30 percent less than Softails. However, they’re not as comfortable and you can’t ride them for more than an hour without a break.

It’s more comfortable to ride on a Softail for a long time because the suspension prevents the bike from vibrating and bouncing around on the road. However, they are more expensive to make and there are more parts that can break them. The hardtail is more durable overall because it has fewer moving parts.


Most motorcycles in the early 20th century were Hardtails because they were made with old-school rigid frames. However, Hardtails are unsuitable for long-distance riding because they lack suspension.

The Softail bikes have a swingarm with an “A-frame design” to provide active suspension. Harley-Davidson introduced the term “Softail” in 1984 to appeal to a broader range of consumers.


Hardtail frames have been present in the chopper world for a while now. They are liked by many chopper builders because of how uncomplicated they are to construct. The majority of older, more experienced builders think that hardtails better show what choppers are really all about. This is because choppers were traditionally meant to be low-cost, quick, and lightweight motorcycles with few extras and only the bare necessities for safety.

The term “Softail” refers to a motorcycle frame that uses active suspension. This type of frame is preferred by those who want a smoother ride.

Why Has Softail Become More Popular Than Hardtail?

There are a few reasons why Softails have become more popular than hardtails:

  1. Firstly, they offer a smoother ride thanks to their suspension. This makes them ideal for longer rides, or for riding on rougher terrain.
  2. Secondly, they tend to be more comfortable than hardtails, as the suspension absorbs some of the bumps and vibrations from the road.
  3. Finally, they tend to be lighter and easier to maneuver than hardtails, making them a better choice for some riders.

What Are the Most Popular Softail Models?

The most popular Softail models include the Heritage Softail Classic, the Fat Boy, and the Deluxe. These models are popular because they provide a comfortable ride and a classic look.

The Heritage Softail Classic is a favorite among riders who want a bike that is both comfortable and stylish. The Fat Boy is a popular choice for riders who want a bike that is big and beefy. The Deluxe is a popular choice for riders who want a bike that is both comfortable and luxurious.

Which is Better for Beginners?

That really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a bike that’s more affordable, then a hardtail bike might be a better option. If you’re looking for a bike that’s more comfortable to ride, then a Softail bike might be a better choice.

Ultimately, the best type of bike for you is the one that you’re going to enjoy riding the most. So, if you have the opportunity to test ride both types of bikes, that’s probably the best way to decide which one is right for you.


Why is a Harley called a Softail?

The Softail is a motorcycle with rear wheel suspension hidden away underbody panels that are held in place with a swingarm. The name of the motorcycle comes from the fact that the suspension is soft, which makes it more comfortable for the rider. The Softail was first produced in 1984, and models made between 1984 and 2017 have to shock absorbers along the bike’s axis.

Why would you want a hardtail motorcycle?

Some people think that hardtail motorcycles are better because you can feel everything through the bike. They say that this is the true essence of riding a motorcycle. Others think that hardtails are less comfortable, but they are also less expensive.

What Can I Use a Hardtail for?

If you want a bike for jumping, messing around, riding a fun street trail, or just enjoying the trails you always ride, a hardtail is a good choice. Hardtails have a little more friction, but it makes you feel more powerful, no matter how fast you’re going.

The Bottom Line: What to Choose?

The main reason people choose hardtail motorcycles is that they are cheaper than Harley-Davidson Softail models. Hardtail models are also simpler in design and lighter, making them more affordable. However, hardtails lack some key functional features that Softails have. This can be a problem for riders, who may need to take frequent breaks during a ride to relieve their aching muscles and joints.

A Softail motorcycle is a good choice for someone who wants a more relaxing ride. They are more durable and handle better than other motorcycles, and they don’t bounce or vibrate as much.

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