One seriously big and bad Harley |
There’s no question in any rider’s mind as to whether the 2014 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob is mistakable for anything but a Harley product. It may be because the Harley-Davidson name is (and I counted!) branded onto this bike in at least 15 places. It might also be that the Fat Bob and the Dyna series in general epitomize the typical American cruiser. This bike provides a low seating position, handlebars, and a huge engine. What you do with that combination is completely up to you. For me though, the big question is, what do I get for the as-tested price of $19,249?
The 1690cc engine provides lots of torque in any and all gears and allows the rider to ride around town in the utmost comfort. This by no means is a sporty engine, although I never felt as though I needed more power – it’s all in the tuning. The gearing took a little getting used to at first, but once I found the sweet spots (a bit higher up in the revs), the Fat Bob was more than willing to engage at any speed. If I were to own one of these though, my first upgrade would be the exhaust. While the stock unit sounds good, it left me wanting a bit more sound and rumble. The throttle is responsive and the bike picks up quickly, but there isn’t much resistance there. This does help with the overall sound, but cornering at low speeds requires a considerable amount of throttle modulation, which in turn can become a bit jerky if not used to the setup. The engine overall provides the typical Harley-Davidson thump, which creates vibration at idle. There have been some complaints about vibration at idle, which is typical for this motor, but this goes away when the Fat Bob is taken into the higher revs. Some additional isolation in the foot pegs could help with this as well.
The foot-forward riding position takes some getting used to, especially for those used to sport bikes. As I rode on though, the seat on the Fat Bob became more and more comfortable. The hand controls are well laid out and easily accessible. The seat remained impeccably comfortable over a couple of hour-long rides as well. The speedometer and fuel gauge are mounted on the gas tank, along with the inset analog screen containing the trip, fuel gauge, and range information, all of which will require occasional lookdowns. Moving along at highway speeds, the trip display and fuel range information are almost impossible to read. While these may sound like complaints, it’s important to know that the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob is not about ergonomics nor is it about ease of use. This bad boy is all about the looks.
The Fat Bob I was handed was given the appropriately-named paint scheme of “Amber Whiskey”. No matter where I went or parked the bike, passerby young and old would pass compliments. The bobber look is so evident in this bike that it seems to have a universal perception of pure “badass”. Riding it actually gives you the impression that people are looking at you, and you tend to take a relaxed approach. It’s filled with exquisite details like thick fork covers, twin headlights, and fat tires. All of these give the Fat Bob the Fat Boy look but maintain the uniqueness of being its own model. My only nitpick here would be the tail and inserted LED taillight, which looks a tad like a pair of eyes looking backward. There is no questioning that the lines on this motorcycle are handsome, and I personally love it.
The Harley-Davidson Fat Bob caters to the niche market that goes for looks and presentation over the everyday function of a touring bike, and even more towards the market that goes for Harley-Davidson over all else. I really enjoyed riding this motorcycle more than I initially presumed I would. It has the perfect mix of grunt and attitude to serve as a daily commuter and an occasional weekend road-tripper. As it comes from the factory, it lacks the protection for sustained riding on the highway, but this isn’t exactly a problem. After all, Harley-Davidson and specifically the Dynas are all about customization. HD themselves offer at least five exhausts without even going near the aftermarket. The Fat Bob is a pretty good bike, and it’s a stylish and compelling competitor to the likes of the Suzuki C90 and the Yamaha Raider.
2014 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob Gallery