Having never experienced the Kootenays in any season other than “cold,” waking up in Trail on a beautiful, sunny but crisp late summer morning with blue sky to infinity decorated with just the right amount of cloud, was
The landscape was the perfect backdrop for a ride on the 2012 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. The first impression of the Deluxe is its retro styling. As I loaded up the bike in the hotel parking lot, early morning travellers stopped
by, marvelled and peppered me with questions.
It is available in vivid black, big blue pearl, ember red sunglo, birch white/sunset red two-tone and the birch white/midnight pearl two-tone that I rode. Styling features include matching stretched old style fenders, luggage rack, spoked whitewall Dunlop tires, three front headlights, two straight exhaust pipes (one over the other) and a whole lot of chrome.
The leather seat (a solo and a removable passenger) with detailed stitching, slimming sides and positioned a mere
24 inches (61 cm) from the ground, sends your mind back through time.
But that all changes once you get on the bike and start it up. Even though the bike has that “old-school” look, it is very much a modern-day machine. Winding the twisted hill from Trail to Rossland, the Deluxe bends from side to side easily and hugs the curves with the well-balanced feel of a sport bike. The ergonomics of the slight forward reach of the handlebars paired with the support of the floor boards give the rider a firm position on the
bike. The forested surroundings keep a rider on alert for that early morning wildlife, and the ABS brakes on the Deluxe offer some mental comfort.
New for 2012 is the aircooled twin cam 103 cubic inch (1,690cc) Harley Davidson engine that provides plenty of
lower end torque as you shift through the 6-speed transmission.
When you need that power to climb a hill or to get past an RV doddler with a minimal
distance passing lane, the power is there.
Another early impression of the bike is that it doesn’t appear that the long haul is what you would be using it for. But as the trip meter clicked past 400 km, it became apparent that the bike is versatile for both city
and exploring distances. When heading out on the open road for an extended period of time, however, a windshield is strongly recommended. Harley-Davidson has a removable windshield accessory that allows the screen to be popped on for highway travel and removed for urban riding.
Without the windshield, rider fatigue is more prevalent, and on Highway 3 between Grand Forks and Rock Creek is a small little town called Greenwood with a coffee house named Deadwood Junction that was a required stop for revitalizing energy and they make great coffee.
The Deluxe is designed for the smaller rider. For the tall riders with a 34-inch (86 cm) inseam, stiffness in hip joints and knees became an issue after a few hours, but the spectacular scenery en route invited several stops to stretch the legs, including rounding the bend with the view of Christina Lake on the horizon. A smaller rider with shorter legs would not have any problem running the bike from full to empty without a break.
The on-board computer is easily scrolled through with the touch of your thumb. You can check outside temperature, odometer, trip, rpm and gears. And for the long haul there’s handy trip computer displaying how many kilometres you have left to travel before the 18-litre fuel tank hits empty. Certain stretches of highway don’t offer fuel stops frequently so if you miss the “next fuel” sign, you can at least monitor whether or not to turn back. In my case, turning onto Highway 33 at Rock Creek, such a sign was inadvertently missed, so being able to monitor fuel consumption was helpful.
If you’re in the market for a stylish, versatile bike that makes a statement, plan on dropping some coin as the MSRP for the Softtail Deluxe ranges between $18,819 for basic black to $19,779 for custom colours.