I once toyed with the idea of reaching retirement having never ridden a Harley- Davidson. But we all need to grow up sometime, and when I finally did conduct my first test review of a HD product I realised I had been missing out on a pleasure no other motorcycle brand can provide. These days, when a Harley-Davidson arrives at Gassit HQ I’m the first to grab the key, er, fob.
Understanding the structure of the Harley- Davidson range and its model codes requires a PhD in Harleyology, but in simple terms the Fat Bob is from the Dyna stables. Model-coding is even more of a black art, understood and memorised by the truest of Harley-Davidson fans. The Fat Bob carries the FXDB code: F = big V-twin motor; X = Sportster parts (Usually the fork); D = Dyna Glide series and the B = belt drive. The actually name tells you the rest. Fat means it’s Fat and Bob describes the one-up bobber style seat, which is a confusing one because the Fat Bob actually has a pillion seat.
New for 2014 are stylish logo stripes on the tank – replacing badges. The Twin-Cam 103 engine has been given the black-out treatment, as have the solid wheels which have the nice touch of being engraved with the brand name. The rear-end styling is also new; the cut back fender has lost the daggy bulbous red light – replaced by small, twinring LED tail-lights. It’s a futuristic look built into a bike with a lot of retro styling.
When you climb aboard the Fat Bob you realise it isn’t a small bike made to look big, it’s a big bike full stop. The reach to the flat handlebars is almost perfect and once your feet are on the pegs there’s no mistaking you’re on a Harley. It may get a little uncomfortable on longer trips, but this bike is about looks and attitude, not touring the countryside.
The big fat tyre up front looks intimidating, but once you're rolling the bike handles well, with pretty good feedback though the front end. There’s no sportsbike DNA in a Fat Bob and that makes it an enjoyable ride. Having huge grunt on tap from so low in the rev range means gear changes are almost optional.
One of the few downsides is having to live with the standard exhaust system. Stringent noise regulations have all but silenced the classic 45-degree, V-twin sound. Thank goodness for aftermarket options.
Cylinder head Twin-cam
Capacity 103.1 cu (1691cc)
Bore/stroke 98.3mm / 111mm
Compression ratio 9.6:1
Fueling Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection
Power Not provided
Torque 131Nm @ 3500rpm
Final drive Chain
Frame material Mild steel
Frame layout Tubular
Front 49 mm with polished aluminum fork triple
clamp and dual-rate springs
Rear Fully covered, coil-over shock
Wheels Machined Aluminum
Front 16 x 3 .0 Rear 16 x 5
Tyres NOT SUPPLIED
Front 130/90B16 67H
Rear 180/70B16 77H
Front twin 300mm disks with four-piston calipers
Rear single 292mm disk with a two-piston caliper
Weight 320kg (wet claimed)
Seat height 663mm
Max width 890mm
Max height Not provided
Fuel capacity 18.9 litres
Fuel consumption 5.6L/100km (claimed)
Top speed Not provided
Torque on tap
Brings out the cruiser within