There was a time when motorbikes with hardtail frames ruled the streets. Then came the Softail ones – a new, more comfortable option for easy, long-distance driving.

While it’s true that both these frame types are crucial for specific purposes, they have a good lot of differences between them. So, what is the difference between Softail and hardtail motorcycles?

In general, Softail frames come with two pieces instead of one piece of hardtail frame. Moreover, hardtail frames don’t have any rear suspension, unlike Softail frames. There are a lot more significant differences between the two trendsetter frames – time for you to explore them!

What Is a Hardtail Frame?

Hardtail motorbikes are made for people who can withstand rough rides. The fact that they don’t have any rear suspension systems alongside this rigid frame gives you a hint about it.

Also, the frame does have a telescopic suspended front fork, but that’s really not enough to provide the amount of suspension required in a modern-day bike.

Moreover, the two up-seats of this bike don’t have any springs, only the single-seat has them. The up-seats do have adequate padding that works as a cushion while riding, but it’s safe to say that hardtail bikes aren’t really a comfortable option for long drives.

Make no mistake, you get to drive fast like there’s no tomorrow on a hardtail bike – but the comfort might be missing.

What Is a Softail Frame?

Back in the ’80s, motorbike riders, especially those who traveled long distances with bikes, wanted a more comfortable frame than the traditional ‘Hardtail’ one.

Harley-Davidson came with a remedy in the name of ‘Softail’ motorcycles. This was a brilliant option for long-distance riding as the frame provided adequate comfort to the riders.

The Softail frame came with an effective suspension system alongside horizontally mounted shock absorbers just underneath the frame. The positioning of the absorbers made sure the shocks weren’t visible in plain sight. It also gave Softail frames the classic ‘hardtail’ look – only with a bit more comfort.

Hardtail Vs Softail: What’s the Main Difference?

As we’ve stated earlier, hardtail and Softail frames look quite similar. The key difference between them is that one has an effective suspension system, and the other doesn’t. Apart from that, the riders can understand their differences while riding these two types of motorbikes.

A Softail bike is blessed with a smooth rear suspension which enables the rider a more comfortable ride with better handling. The hardtail, on the other hand, doesn’t have the suspension but has a rigid frame that might assist riders a bit better when it comes to cornering.

However, the shock absorbers and the swing arm in the Softail make it a much smoother ride over the hardtail. The additional feature comes at a cost, though, as Softail bikes tend to be a bit more expensive than hardtail ones.

Finally, Softail bikes are great for long journeys, whereas hardtail bikes are good for people who prefer speed over comfort!

Softail Vs Hardtail: The Difference in Design

The hardtail frame design was once the most popular design in the world, but with time, Softail gradually took the spotlight upon itself. Before Softail, most bikes were built with a single frame and a suspension only for the back and front wheels. With the inclusion of Softail bikes, the design took a different turn.

Bikes were made with a rear-wheel suspension on an extra mini-frame on the back of the motorcycle. The additional frame and a full suspension system worked well for impact resistance.

Instead of the simple design of the hardtail, where all the components were in a single frame, people started manufacturing more Softail bikes.

Interestingly enough, it would be difficult for you to differentiate between the two frames at first glance. The additional mini frame is tactfully hidden in Softail bikes, and you would only find it when you’re on the street.

Pros and Cons of Hardtail

The best thing about hardtail bikes is their simplicity. No additional parts, no complications, just plain, simple motorbikes that can run at the speed of light! The hardtail frames are quite lightweight and very easy to build. On top of that, it costs at least 30% less than the softail ones.

Veteran riders still opt for hardtail bikes because the frame doesn’t require as much maintenance as Softail bikes. The speed and the lightweight nature made it a fan favorite among many.

That being said, the handling of most hardtail bikes is quite bizarre. You might have fun with this bike if you get a grip on the handling, but most people find it quite uncomfortable to control the motorbike.

Another issue with hardtail bikes is that it’s very difficult to ride the bike for a long time – you’ll feel very uncomfortable if you do so.

Pros and Cons of Softtail

If we consider comfort, then Softail bikes are totally the opposite of Hardtail bikes. They give you a luxurious ride – doesn’t matter how long you’re riding the bike!

The suspension on these bikes minimizes most of the vibrations and bounces on the road. The first few batches of Softail frames had a few issues, like handling difficulties, but modern technology has fixed most of them now.

As expected, Softail bikes are a bit expensive as it requires more component to build. These bikes do require adequate maintenance since the movable parts can be susceptible to damage with time. Moreover, the suspension system on Softails makes it a bit heavier and slower than the Hardtails.

Are Softail Frames More Famous Than Hardtails?

It’s difficult to pick one single motorbike frame over another, considering their popularity. Back in the day, hardtail bikes were the fan-favorite. But with the introduction of Softail frames, it’s safe to say that Softails are gaining a tad bit more fame because of the comfort they offer.

Hardtails are cheaper to produce and certainly faster than Softail bikes. They do have a nostalgic value to many old-school bike riders, but if we look closely- Softails are the future.

As of now, most of the Harley-Davidson bikes have a Softail frame as they focus on stability and comfort over speed. Most people are also finding Softail motorbikes to be a great option because of their easy handling and great shock absorption abilities.

Final Words

Softail bikes are fantastic options for people who frequently travel long distances. Similarly, Hardtail bikes are amazing for people who need their ride as fast as possible.

We didn’t want to pick a winner among them – we just wanted to differentiate between the two famous bike frames. Hopefully, the article was of help to you!

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