What is the Difference between Softail and Dyna: A Comprehensive Comparison

If you’re a fan of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, then you’re probably familiar with their iconic Softail and Dyna models. Both bikes have their own unique features that set them apart from one another, but what’s the real difference between these two classic rides? Let’s take a closer look.

For starters, the Softail and Dyna have very different suspension systems. The Softail utilizes an all-new hidden rear suspension system that gives the bike a more old-school look while still providing a smooth ride. The Dyna, on the other hand, has a more traditional exposed rear suspension that provides a stiffer ride but gives the bike a more aggressive look.

Another key difference between these two models is the riding position. The Softail features a lower seat height and a more laid-back riding position, perfect for long cruises down the open road. The Dyna, however, has a more upright seating position and a higher seat height, which makes it ideal for tackling twisty roads with ease. So whether you prefer a comfortable ride or a more aggressive stance, there’s a Harley model out there for everyone.

Softail vs Dyna: Overview

Harley-Davidson is a brand synonymous with big, burly motorcycles that command attention on the road. The two most popular series of Harley-Davidson motorcycles are the Softail and Dyna. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

  • The Softail series features a hidden rear suspension system, which gives the bike a classic, hardtail look while offering the comfort of a traditional suspension system.
  • The Dyna series, on the other hand, has an exposed rear suspension system that provides a more aggressive riding stance and a rougher, more responsive ride.
  • The Softail usually features a wider rear tire, while the Dyna typically has a narrower tire to improve handling and responsiveness.

Both series have their unique features that make them desirable to different types of riders. The Softail is ideal for those looking for a comfortable ride that still retains the classic style of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, while the Dyna is suited for the rider who wants a more responsive, nimble bike that can handle winding roads with ease.

One thing to keep in mind is that Softails generally have a higher price point than Dynas due to the extra components required for the hidden suspension system. However, both series offer a range of options to suit every budget and rider preference.

Softail Dyna
Hidden rear suspension Exposed rear suspension
Wider rear tire Narrower rear tire
Classic look Aggressive riding stance

In the end, the choice between a Softail and Dyna comes down to personal preference and riding style. Whether you opt for the Softail’s comfort or the Dyna’s agility, both series offer the power, style, and performance that are synonymous with Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Frame and Suspension Differences

When comparing the Softail and Dyna models in terms of frame and suspension differences, there are a few key things to consider. Both models come with unique features that offer distinct riding experiences, and choosing the right one for you will depend on your individual preferences and needs.

  • The Softail features a hidden mono-shock suspension system that gives it a sleek, custom look. This design allows the bike to provide a comfortable ride, even on bumpy roads, while maintaining a low profile and traditional look.
  • The Dyna, on the other hand, uses dual shocks mounted externally, giving it a classic chop-style appearance and offering a more rigid ride. However, the Dyna’s suspension system is adjustable, allowing for greater customization and the ability to fine-tune the ride to your preferred setting.
  • Another key frame difference between the two models is the Softail’s stiff, single-piece frame, which makes for a more stable ride. The Dyna, on the other hand, has a two-piece frame that allows for greater flexibility and more precise handling.

It’s important to keep in mind that each option has its own set of pros and cons. While the Softail’s mono-shock design offers a comfortable ride and sleek look, the Dyna’s dual-shock system allows for greater customization and handling. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your preferences and riding style.

It’s also worth noting that both models have a range of suspension and frame options available, making it possible to customize your ride even further. For instance, the Softail has the option to upgrade to a more advanced, adjustable mono-shock system, while the Dyna can be fitted with a stiffer frame for a more aggressive ride.

Softail Dyna
Hidden mono-shock suspension Dual shocks mounted externally
Stiff, single-piece frame Flexible two-piece frame
Lower, sleek profile Classic chop-style appearance

Choosing between a Softail and Dyna ultimately comes down to what you want in a bike. If you’re looking for a sleek, comfortable ride with stable handling, the Softail is a great option. If you prefer a classic, rigid look with greater customization and handling options, the Dyna might be the way to go. Whatever you choose, both models offer unique and exciting riding experiences that are sure to thrill any motorcycle enthusiast.

Engine Variations between Softail and Dyna

Harley-Davidson Softail and Dyna are two equally impressive motorcycle series. But, there are subtle differences between them, particularly when it comes to their engines, which bring out a unique riding experience. Here are the engine variations between Softail and Dyna that you should know:

  • Engine Location: One of the most fundamental differences between Softail and Dyna is the location of the engine. Softail features a hidden rear suspension that offers the appearance of a hardtail frame, i.e., the seat, fender, and rear wheel looks like a solid piece. On the other hand, Dyna has visible rear shocks that allow it to sit lower and hug the road better. For this reason, Softail engines need to fit within a tight space, while Dyna engines can take advantage of the bike’s longer frame.
  • Engine Capacity: The engine capacity of Softail and Dyna can vary significantly. Dyna models equipped with a Twin Cam 103 engine provide 1690cc, while Softail’s Twin Cam 103 engine offers 1690cc or 103 cubic inches depending on the model. However, some Softails, like the Softail Slim, have a smaller engine capacity, while some Dynas, such as the Dyna Low Rider, offer an even more substantial engine capacity such as the 110 cubic inches Twin Cam.
  • Engine Vibration: Softail and Dyna engines vibrate differently and produce unique sensations during operation. Dyna’s engine is solid mounted to the frame which, in turn, transfers more engine vibration to the rider. Softail utilizes a rubber-mounted system that dampens engine vibrations, producing a smoother, more comfortable ride. That being said, some riders prefer the increased feeling of power and torque provided by the solid mounting of the Dyna engine.


In general, both Softail and Dyna offer powerful and robust engines that provide riders with exceptional handling and control. However, the minimal differences between the engines can result in a completely different riding experience. If you’re looking for a smoother ride, you may want to go for a Softail, while a Dyna can be the perfect fit for you if you’re looking for an intense, vibrating sensation. Ultimately, it’s your own personal preference that will determine which of these two Harley-Davidson models will be the right choice for you.

Engine Details Softail Dyna
Engine Capacity 103 cubic inches or 1690cc, depending on the model 103 cubic inches or 1690cc, or 110 cubic inches Twin Cam, depending on the model
Engine Location Within a tight space because of the hidden rear suspension Can take advantage of the bike’s longer frame
Engine Vibration Rubber-mounted system that dampens engine vibrations, producing a smoother, more comfortable ride Solid mounted engine that transfers more vibration to the rider, offering a livelier—although rougher—feel

Whichever engine you choose, being able to understand the variations between Softail and Dyna engines can help you make an informed decision that fits your preference and riding style.

Ride and Handling Experience Comparison

When it comes to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, its ride and handling experience can make or break a rider’s decision. Softails and Dynas are both cruisers with their own distinct advantages in terms of handling and ride experience, and it is important for riders to understand these differences to make an informed decision.

  • Softails are known for their smoother ride due to their hidden rear suspension systems. This unique feature provides a more comfortable ride that absorbs the bumps on the road better than Dynas, making Softails perfect for long hauls.
  • Dynas, on the other hand, have a more responsive handling, thanks to their exposed rear suspension. Dynas are designed to handle corners better, giving riders a more exciting and responsive experience.
  • Both Softails and Dynas offer excellent stability, whether you’re cruising long stretches of the open road or navigating through busy urban streets.

Here’s a comparison table outlining the differences between Softails and Dynas in terms of ride and handling experience:

Softails Dynas
Comfortable Ride
Responsive Handling

Overall, both Softails and Dynas offer unique riding experiences, and it ultimately depends on the rider’s preference. If you’re looking for a more comfortable ride, then Softails are the way to go. But if you prefer more responsive handling, then Dynas are the better option. Whichever Harley-Davidson motorcycle you choose, you’re sure to have an unforgettable ride.

Design and Aesthetics Comparison

When it comes to design and aesthetics, there are some clear differences between Softail and Dyna models. Here are some of the key things to keep in mind:

  • Softail models have a smoother, more retro design that harkens back to classic Harley styling. They have hidden rear suspensions that give them a sleeker appearance and a slightly lower ride height.
  • Dyna models have a more rugged, utilitarian look that is better suited for long-distance touring and adventurous riding. They tend to have more exposed mechanical components and a slightly higher ride height.
  • While both Softail and Dyna models come in a range of colors and finishes, Softail models tend to have more diverse and eye-catching paint schemes that emphasize their retro styling, while Dyna models typically feature more subdued color choices that emphasize their ruggedness and durability.

Here is a table that summarizes some of the key design differences between Softail and Dyna models:

Softail Dyna
Smoother, retro design Rugged, utilitarian look
Hidden rear suspension Exposed mechanical components
Slightly lower ride height Slightly higher ride height
Diverse and eye-catching paint schemes Subdued color choices

Ultimately, the choice between Softail and Dyna models will depend largely on personal preference and the specific riding needs of the individual rider. Whether you prefer the smoother, classic styling of a Softail or the rugged durability of a Dyna, both options offer unique benefits and advantages that make them stand out from other Harley models.

Price and Value for Money Comparison

When it comes to purchasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, there are a few factors to consider, and one of the most important is price. Comparing the prices between the Softail and the Dyna is essential for figuring out which bike provides the best value for your money. Here are some insights and factors to help you make an informed decision:

  • The price range for a Softail is generally higher than that of a Dyna. This is due to the Softail’s more iconic look and feel, with its classic frame and suspension setup.
  • The Dyna has a more straightforward and stripped-down design, which naturally suits a lower price range.
  • Both models have their fair share of optional add-ons, such as custom paint jobs, exhaust systems, and performance upgrades, which will add to the final price of your motorcycle.

While it’s easy to get lost in the bells and whistles of performance upgrades and aesthetic features, the real question is whether the price of each bike is worth it. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the value for money you’ll get from each model:

The Softail’s higher price range is not only reflective of its iconic style but also its powerful engine. The Softail usually comes with a larger engine, ranging from 103 to 114 cubic inches, which gives you more power and torque on the road. The Softail’s suspension setup is also more advanced, with a hidden rear shock that enhances its smooth ride.

Harley-Davidson Model Price Range (2021)
Softail $12,999 – $21,699
Dyna $8,399 – $14,299

While the Dyna might look more simplistic on the outside, it provides a value-for-money option in terms of its price range and engine power. The Dyna usually comes with a 103 cubic inch engine, which still packs a punch when it comes to performance and speed. It also features a more traditional dual-shock rear suspension system, so if you prefer a more classic feel, the Dyna may be the better option for you.

Ultimately, the value for money you get from either motorcycle depends on your individual needs and budget. Consider your preferences when it comes to engine power, suspension setup, and aesthetic features. With these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision about which model offers the best value for money for your Harley-Davidson ownership journey.

Target Audience for Softail and Dyna

When it comes to choosing between a Softail and a Dyna, it’s important to understand who the target audience is for each type of bike. Here’s a dive into the demographics of riders who prefer Softail and Dyna motorcycles:

  • Softail: Softail motorcycles are favored by riders who prioritize a smooth ride and classic styling. These motorcycles are often chosen by older riders who want a bike that not only performs well but looks good too. Softail riders often seek the thrill of cruising on the open road rather than aggressive cornering or high-speed maneuvers.
  • Dyna: Dyna motorcycles are popular among riders who like to ride aggressively and seek the thrill of speed and power. These bikes are favored by younger riders who prioritize performance over style. Dyna riders often prefer winding roads with sharp turns to the straight open highway.

While this is a generalization, it can give you an idea of the type of rider each motorcycle is designed for. The Softail is for those who want a comfortable and classic ride, while the Dyna is for those who love the adrenaline rush of speed and power.

What is the Difference Between Softail and Dyna?


1. What is a Softail?
A Softail is a type of motorcycle that has a rear suspension system that is hidden, giving it a more classic and traditional look.

2. What is a Dyna?
A Dyna is a type of motorcycle that has a more modern and progressive look with a rear suspension system that is visible.

3. What is the main difference between Softail and Dyna?
The main difference between Softail and Dyna is their rear suspension system. Softail has a hidden rear suspension system, while Dyna has a visible rear suspension system.

4. Which one is better – Softail or Dyna?
It ultimately depends on what style and look the rider is going for. Softail is more classic and traditional, while Dyna is more modern and progressive.

5. Are Softail and Dyna manufactured by the same company?
Yes, both Softail and Dyna are manufactured by Harley-Davidson.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you know the differences between Softail and Dyna motorcycles, you can make a more informed decision based on your personal preferences and riding style. Whether you choose a classic Softail or a modern Dyna, both bikes are sure to provide an exciting and thrilling riding experience. Thank you for reading and visit us again for more motorcycle knowledge. Ride safe!