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Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Review

  • Published On: 16 January 2018
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Harley-Davidson’s popular cruiser has been updated and has just gotten better.

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy in action.
Updated LED lighting on the entire new Softail range.
The famous Fat Boy stance.
Digi-Analogue instrument cluster on the tank.
The new engine is considerably more refined.
Switchgear quality has increased for 2018.
Comfortable rider seat but unforgiving rear seat.
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy in action.
Updated LED lighting on the entire new Softail range.
The famous Fat Boy stance.
Digi-Analogue instrument cluster on the tank.
The new engine is considerably more refined.
Switchgear quality has increased for 2018.
Comfortable rider seat but unforgiving rear seat.

The Fat Boy instantly became iconic after its showcase 28 years ago in the movie Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It became the cinematic answer to Steve McQueen’s Great Escape, which was on a period-incorrect Triumph. This positive appearance has resulted to an image that stayed with the Fat Boy ever since. Luckily, the motorcycle continued evolving.

On the outside

The silhouette on the Fat Boy remains unchanged from its predecessor. However, once you get close, the differences begin to emerge. The famous Fat Boy bits, like the Lakester wheels and aggressive stance, remain unchanged. For 2018, the bike loses its chrome for a satin-metal finish. The motorcycle’s new LED headlight looks neat and lights up the road ahead very well. The quality levels on the new Harleys have increased dramatically including the quality of welds. The Fat Boy still lacks in some areas, but it is a step up nonetheless.

In the Softail family, the Fat Boy is the second-most expensive motorcycle. It has a lot of attitude, and hoping on to the bike only strengthens this fact. The bike has a large seat and a wide handlebar. The instrumentation on the Fat Boy consists of a digi-analogue gauge that is placed on the tank.

Lifting the motorcycle of its side stand is easy and the 320kg kerb weight is not obvious. Interestingly, the motorcycle has lost 14kg over its predecessor. Helping the bike feel approachable is its low centre of gravity and 670mm seat height. One does also not need a key anymore for any of the functions on the motorcycle except for the handle lock. This however, makes the keyless function pointless because you will never leave a Fat Boy with its handlebar unlocked. Furthermore, the motion-sensing security system isn’t very useful for a country like India, since it sets off a minute-long alarm every time someone touches it.

The engine

This Harley isn’t the kind of bike one would want to leave parked for too long. Its 1,745cc, V-Twin Milwaukee Eight engine is perfect if you are a cruiser motorcycle fan. The motor comes to life to an impressive rumble and the gearshift is mechanical but not as aggressive as older Harleys. The new motor does manage to keep some of the nice bits from the older bike like the V-Twin vibrations which were admired. The clutch on the Fat Boy is quite heavy but easy to use.

The ride

This new cruiser from Harley is friendlier but it isn’t docile. The big heavy bike has a 0-100kph time of just 4.7seconds. The new Fat Boy is grunty but cannot be compared to the XDiavel, but it’s impressive nonetheless. While riding through traffic, the new motor has impressive low-speed rideability but the gear ratios are lacking in this environment. The engine started to dislike speeds below 40kph in third and 70kph in sixth.

Nobody expects the Fat Boy to be an impressive handler but it is surprisingly decent. The reworked frame on the 2018 bike is 65 percent stiffer and also allows for better lean angles. One does still end up scraping the footboards but the revised handling makes this fun. The Fat Boy has wide rubber, the widest front the manufacturer has ever used.

Adding to this bike’s niceness is the suspension. For 2018, the Softail line-up uses Showa Dual Bending Valve fork previously seen on the Touring range. Not only is the fork lighter but also provides a more comfortable ride. One of the coolest features however, is how the manufacturer has retained the hardtail appearance.

Should I buy one?

Is this the ultimate cruiser money can buy? Yes, as long as you don’t have a pillion that is part of your dreams. Riding pillion becomes extremely uncomfortable within 10 minutes. The security system would also have to be disabled otherwise the battery would get drained constantly. The Fat Boy is priced at ₹17.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and offers a lot of bike for that price while being cool and fun to ride as well.

Author: Droom

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