Stubby rear fender, deep-dish seat, steep (for a cruiser) inverted fork, chunky tires, upswept exhaust and that sci-fi cyclops headlight giving you the classic Clint Eastwood squint (“go ahead punk, make my day”)…the Fat Bob is a mash-up of dark biker attitude, futuristic muscle and stoplight-to-stoplight performance, which is why we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one for a review.
Outfitted with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 that delivered more than 107 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel when we last tested it (December 2017), the Fat Bob has a muscle bike’s get-up-and-go and fairly generous lean angles considering its forward controls (the better to show off the admittedly pretty—I mean handsome—exhaust).
We took it on a weekend trip to the Mojave Desert, featuring some of the best twisty roads in the area and even a little dirt, mere weeks after returning the Heritage Classic that so impressed us, so we were prepared to be wowed. Maybe the Fat Bob’s bark is louder than its bite—or maybe the Heritage is just that good—but we were left a little unfulfilled.
Sure, the Bob’s inverted fork, stiff chassis and strong ABS-equipped dual front disc brakes worked well as we flung the 668-pound machine through corner after corner…but it seemed to lack the composure of the Heritage, as though it was an assembly of parts rather than a cohesive package. Instead of responding intuitively to the rider, the Fat Bob demands a heavier hand.
Perhaps this is by design; it’s a raw, muscular bike—when I asked one female friend what she thought, her response was, “it’s masculine.” It’s also undeniably cool, and drew appreciative looks at every gas stop. At its core, the 2018 Fat Bob is all muscle and makes no apologies for it.
2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
Base Price: $16,999
Price as Tested: $19,099 (114ci engine, Red Iron Denim paint)
Engine Type: Air-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-twin, SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 63.6 in.
Rake/Trail: 28 degrees/5.2 in.
Seat Height: 28 in.
Wet Weight: 668 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 3.6 gals.
MPG: 91 PON min. (low/avg/high) 34.4/49.6/61.5