There are Harleys, and then there are Harleys. The 2012 FXDF Dyna Fat Bob is one classic bit of Yanky iron, and is a big bike in every way – including engine, as for 2012 it gets the Twin Cam 103 lump in place of the 96 cube 2011 model. The engine is rubber mounted and features Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection. There are also new colour options for 2012, as well as an optional security package bundling ABS and Harley’s Smart Security System.
Our testbike also features an optional rack and a set of Screaming Eagle exhausts, allowing the extra cubes to stretch their legs better, and make sure anybody within earshot knew there was a Harley coming.
I covered more than 850km on the big orange monster (my favourite of the colour options) on a quality road trip (see an upcoming issue for the whole story), and while my riding partner and myself had the choice of the Fat Bob or the V-Rod Muscle, it was Bob’s key that was the prime prize.
The stretched-out, comfortably cruising ride position lets you get right into Harley mode – feet kicked out on the forward controls, sitting deep in the bike, and feeling all Marlborough Country about yourself.
Ground clearance isn’t too bad given the type of machine it is, with the pegs touching first, then the undercarriage, but if that’s happening you’re not riding it with the right state of mind. Back off a bit, relax and guide the big unit through some long sweepers as cows and sheep scatter from the booming Screaming Eagles, and you’ll be more content.
It has a good touring range of around 250km, and the bar bend and seat mean you can do that in one hit without having to flog your butt with a garden hose to wake it up. It’s easy to keep track of speed, though the vibrations are the best way of telling you to slow down.
It’s actually a relatively refined ride, vibrationwise. The V-Rod is better, but misses out on the same character the Fat Bob oozes.
The best part of the whole ride while Fat Bob mounted was a series of wide-open sweepers, under a big sky and with plenty to look at as the bike tracked from left to right over the undulating bitumen (the extra torque helps here). There’s a real mood about this bike, if you’re open to such things, and it helps you overlook the negatives, such as front brakes that lack any substantial bite, and pillion accommodation that would make a hardened passenger weep after too many kilometres.
But people buy Harleys for many more reasons than just to ride them, and the Dyna Fat Bob has all the Harley charisma and looks you need to fulfil that side of the Harley ownership checklist. It has its own distinct look from the rest of the range as well. Want to enjoy the freedom of the road feeling with all the trimmings? A Fat Bob is a good choice.