Softail Frame

Introduction to Softail Frame

A Softail Frame is a motorcycle frame that mimics the clean lines and styling of a traditional hardtail frame but offers the comfort and performance of rear suspension. The term “Softail” was first introduced by Harley-Davidson in 1984 and has since become synonymous with bikes that blend classic and modern design elements.

Understanding the Softail Frame

The Softail Frame design incorporates a pair of shock absorbers, hidden away under the transmission. This allows the bike to maintain the classic hardtail look – a design that features a straight line from the steering head to the rear axle – without sacrificing rider comfort.

When compared to the visibly sprung rear end of most motorcycles, a Softail Frame offers a sleeker, cleaner appearance. However, the hidden shock absorbers allow the rear wheel to travel up and down over bumps, providing a smoother ride than a traditional hardtail frame.

Importance of Softail Frame in Motorcycles

The primary advantages of a Softail Frame include:

  • Aesthetics: The Softail Frame maintains the classic, streamlined look of a hardtail frame, a style that is particularly popular among cruiser and custom bike enthusiasts.
  • Comfort: Unlike a hardtail frame, a Softail Frame features rear suspension, which significantly improves rider comfort, especially over long distances or rough surfaces.
  • Handling: The rear suspension also contributes to better handling and performance, as it allows the rear tire to maintain better contact with the road surface.

Evolution of Softail Frames

Since its introduction in the 1980s, the Softail Frame design has evolved. Early models featured a cantilever design for the rear suspension, with the shocks arranged along the axis of the bike. More recent designs have moved to a triangular swingarm setup, with the shocks arranged perpendicularly to the axis of the bike. These changes have improved both the performance and reliability of Softail Frame motorcycles.

Maintenance of Softail Frames

As with any motorcycle frame, regular inspection and maintenance of a Softail Frame is important. This includes regular checks of the frame for cracks or damage, as well as maintenance of the hidden shock absorbers. Over time, these shocks may need to be adjusted, serviced, or replaced to maintain ride comfort and performance.


In conclusion, the Softail Frame is a unique design that combines the aesthetics of a classic hardtail frame with the performance and comfort of rear suspension. This makes it a popular choice among riders who value both style and comfort. As with any motorcycle component, regular maintenance of a Softail Frame is key to ensuring a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable ride.