View Full Version : Hardtail or Soft???

02-18-2014, 3:18 PM
I love the way that a hardtail frame looks on a bike. My Sportster is a softtail and Im not sure if I want to hardtail it or not. I've never ridden a Hardtailed bike before and with some back problems I'm not sure if its right for me or not. Whats your oppinon on them both?

02-18-2014, 3:47 PM
ergonimics are the key. It's all about riding position and the way that your tailbone contacts the seat. At one point my collection hit several. Only one had a swingarm. Some were better than others. I will always visually prefer a hardtailed bike. That will never change. However I am down to four left and one of them is the cushy road king.

02-18-2014, 3:55 PM
I've gone from apes to drag bars on a hardtail and the change in postition was night and day for my back. I ride hunched forward a little, seems to take the impact out of my back some.
Everyone is differant though, With 12"+ apes on a softtail I'd be ready to get off it in a couple hours, but with drag bars and a hardtail I can go all day. Same goes with the seat. Put something good under your ass, add some memory foam or something, and you may never miss having a shock.

02-18-2014, 3:56 PM
My Sportster is a softtail...
In the picture you posted of it you have the normal Sportster suspension which is a swing arm with shocks. When people say "softtail" they usually refer to something like the "Softtail Slim" which has the look of a hardtail but actually has an articulated rear frame and a hidden monoshock. I mention this because if you decide that a hardtail isn't right for you then this style of frame may be the best compromise for getting the cleaner look without killing your back.

... with some back problems I'm not sure if its right for me or not.
Only you can decide what your comfort level is, and some of it depends on the roads you ride and how long you plan to ride in a day. You could try getting a sprung seat and replace your shocks with solid struts just to see if the ride is okay for you or not. The handling won't be the same as a true hardtail but it'll at least give your back a taste of what it will be in for. If it doesn't work out you can sell the parts and go in a different direction.

Also, if you have back issues then you might want to think about the position of your footpegs whether you go with a rigid frame or not. Forward controls mean that your spine is dealing with every bump along the way but with mids you can lift your ass off the seat when going over a rough patch and let your legs deal with the bumps.

02-18-2014, 4:11 PM
nothing wrong with a rigid frame for comfort
all 5 of my bikes are rigids and they are all comfortable
like mentioned before riding position is key and so is foot position and a good seat goes a long way.
Nevermind those solo spring seats they suck

a rigid mounted seat custom made to fit the frame and a good pad underneath the covering is the way to go .

If your going to hardtail your sporster check out the hardtails from 47 Industries in Raritan, NJ
they are among the best made and best looking hardtails out there on the market right now.
Very high quality great fitting and great looking pieces.

02-18-2014, 7:40 PM
Do you know anyone with a hardtail you can take for a rip?
Normally I would say to hardtail it cause that's my preference,but to play's devil advocate here,
you can make your bike look pretty good without hardtailing it.

02-18-2014, 9:05 PM
Thanks everyone a lot of good advice.

02-18-2014, 9:12 PM
It's all about riding position and weight distribution. I have a swinger Evo Sporty with a Biltwell banana seat, low bars and mids. I also have a hardtail Ironhead with a sprung solo seat, super skinny low bars, and mids. I can go all day on the rigid and my ass hurts after an hour on the Swingarm bike. Hartails aren't bad at all if you set it up right. You will have to adjust your riding style a bit, or the bike will adjust it for you !

02-18-2014, 10:49 PM
I can't make it from Tampa to Daytona on my wife's swingarm bike with pullbacks and forward controls but I rode to nc last summer on my hardtail with mids and clip ons(mounted above the top tree) with little discomfort and I'm 6'1 285 go figure

02-19-2014, 2:31 AM
Psh......you only YOLO once.

02-19-2014, 8:21 PM
I've got forward controls and I know I already want to move them to mids. eventually I want to add some narrow Z's or window bars. But I'll have to move shit around and see what I like best. Thanks.

02-19-2014, 8:30 PM
I've mostly riden a rigid. went around town on a swingarm shovel a few years ago, then built my rigid with a sprung seat first go around. It sucked, and was always bobbing around on the spring seat. Now its a rigid mount seat on a hardtail and its no where near as bad as I thought it would be. Wish i had some softer foam in the seat, and maybe a "taller" tire to have some give, but is not as bad as I heard from dudes when i would tell them i was in the process of building a rigid. Heard all sorts of shit how your back will be killing you , gonna have to wear a kidney belt, every bump is straight your spine... its not big deal.