Fat Bob

ROAD TEST: 2008 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob Review – Livin’ Large with Fat Bob

By Koz Mraz

Harley Davidson is a living legend, larger than life. It’s big, and it just got bigger. I love just saying the words Fat Boy, and who is Fat Bob any way? Well the name comes from the twin fat gas tanks and the bobbed rear fender. The re-introduction of the Fat Bob FXDF in 2008 is a welcome return to the Dyna line. And I might add a very comfortable H-D for my 6’ 2”, 220-pound frame that is sadly, also getting bigger. Now I understand why my leather vest has that funny side lacing. But let’s get back to Fat Bob – I like this bigger philosophy. A super comfy wide seat protecting my assets, forward controls and 5 inch handle bar risers give me lots of room to stretch out. Beefy 49mm forks and meaty 130/90/16 front tire ribbed with their “Big Block” treads really bite the road. It’s the only ‘08 Dyna with dual front disc brakes, and the damn things got two headlights! Bob’s got a lot of attitude with aluminum slotted rims, double-barrel tommy gun pipes, and hand-adjustable full metal jacket rear shocks. They ran the wiring through the handlebars for a cleaner look plus added a sleeker air cleaner, and I like Denim Black. Officially released August 2007, James Clark (general manager of Westminster Harley Davidson) said he’s only received four to sell and they’re gone immediately. That’s why you don’t see many around. In fact he figures there are only 16 or so rolling around O.C. I told James how impressed I was with the handling on Fat Bob. He agreed and showed me a prototype bike he is building that’s basically a Fat Bob style 130/dual disc front end married to a Sportster named the Fatster. It will be a production bike only available at Westminster Harley but that’s a whole other story!

So I rolled the Fat Bob over to Walkers Café in San Pedro for a serious bacon and egg breakfast. I tagged every pothole and rut I came across and Fat Bob took each punch with nary a whimper. The Fat Bob is nimble yet solid, confidence inspiring. I think H-D got it dead on with this Dyna. I love this front end! The 130 front and 180 rear tires mashed over those rain grooves on the 405 fwy that tend to push around standard bike tread patterns. Cruising over the Vincent Thomas Bridge I usually hit those metal grids with trepidation but this bike rolls over anything. It’s downright amazing.

Overlooking the ocean across from Point Fermin Park, Walkers Café’s been a biker hang for decades. Opened by Bessie Walker in 1942, its been featured in movies like China Town and Black Dahlia. They’re Famous for their two fisted BLTA – Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Avocado sandwiches and the BessieBurger.

On the Park property is Historic Point Fermin Lighthouse built in 1874. Also a must see is the massive and intricately decorated Korean Friendship Bell Pavilion just a stones throw from Walkers. The people of the Republic of Korea donated it in 1976 to Los Angeles to honor veterans of the Korean War.

With breakfast devoured lunch became my next priority. The day was young and riding Fat Bob fast and far was on my menu. Hell’s Kitchen was the perfect proposition and it’s an ideal road to toss Fat Bob into some twisties. I headed down to San Juan Capistrano opting for the Corona Del Mar Freeway (Route 73-toll road). The Harley 1584cc Twin Cam 96 engine pulled aggressively in all 6 gears. At San Juan Capistrano take Hwy 74 (The Ortega Highway) towards Lake Elsinore. It’s a great ride and always brimming with bikers. Be aware that Ortega Hwy is closed every night from 2:30 to 4:30 am 7 days a week until 2010 for much needed repairs.

Hell’s kitchen was opened in 2004 by a Willow Springs sport bike racer and is the ultimate motor sports restaurant. Location, location, location. Just like its famous N.Y. namesake it’s a melting pot of biker culture. On any given day the parking lot is filled with sport bikes, choppers, trikes and cruisers with their owners sharing tales of the road.

After eating my bacon cheeseburger (with fries) stacked with tomatoes, lettuce, onions sweet and sour relish, chilies and sauces galore from the condiment coffin I needed to relax and reflect. This is truly the Harley-Davidson I would buy. It shares its badass blacked out look from older brother Street Bob but distinctly different with that aggressive front end. Looks cool at the local pub and with a few options like saddlebags, bobtail fender rack and a windshield Fat Bob would be comfortable for a long haul. A 5.1-gallon gas tank and 50ish-mpg provides a respectable 250+ miles in the saddle. Its no Electra Glide but I always travel alone so passenger comfort is of no concern. Rattled back to reality by the roar of Harleys, I head back down the mountain.

Remember the roadwork mentioned earlier? It’s a blessing and a curse. The curse is for several miles it’s a one-way trip. Than means that traffic is stopped at one end while the opposing traffic gets let though. The blessing is that motorcyclists move to the front and when the highway opens its all you baby, not a car in sight the entire ride down! Sitting behind Beamers, Kawai’s and Ninjas I could run the voodoo down on Fat Bob. I’ve never leaned as aggressively into corners on a Harley in my life. The drag-style handlebars, dual discs and 130 front end inspire confidence and control. No I’m not a sport biker, yes they left me behind but the other Harleys disappeared behind me. Many a ticket could have been given that day.

It was beautiful. Now what’s for dinner? Fat Bob caught a lot of attention and I asked everyone their opinion on the dual headlamp look (they really light up the road). A 50/50 response but I think one rider summed it up perfectly. With such a dramatic an aggressive front end Fat Bob screams, “Look at me!” And you should. He is definitely worth the test ride if you are considering purchasing a Harley-Davidson. I let all my rider friends take Bob for a spin and consensus was that without a doubt it’s a gutsy, maneuverable, well-balanced, cool looking Dyna.

Whether your 5 ft 4 or 6 ft 2 (get the forward controls) its just right. In this going-green eco-sensitive social atmosphere I applaud Fat Bob, Bigger is Better. I know I’m not counting calories and this Dyna gets a big fat thumbs up.

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About Koz Mraz

Koz Mraz has published over 200 tour stories and articles for Quick Throttle Magazine, Baggers Magazine, American Iron, Cruiser and Bikernet. His book, Piers of the West Coast, explores piers from Mexico to Canada. In Motorcycle Mysteries, Koz travels to fascinating and unique destinations. His popular Tales of the Midnight Rider series: Midnight Rider on a Graveyard Run, Thundertaker, Hoka Hey and Neptune’s Net are available on AMAZON. “I’ve spent much of my life exploring the roads less traveled. Whether journeys are well planned or impromptu it’s always the unexpected that casts the spell of adventure.” Koz Mraz