ROAD TEST: 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Review

Remaking an American Icon

By Koz Mraz • Photos by Brian Nelson

You can’t say the word “Fat Boy” without also referencing one of the most iconic action movies ever made and it’s no coincidence that the Fat Boy has become one of the Motor Company’s most popular models. Harley-Davidson even acquired the original 1990 Fat Boy FLSTF that was used in the movie Terminator 2 for their museum. So when Harley-Davidson decided to completely redesign this iconic motorcycle it was a task not taken lightly. The bold chrome nacelle, wide muscular tires and solid aluminum rims of the original incarnation all had to translate. And translate it does.

The most visually defining characteristic for both the Fat Boy 107ci and 114ci are its “Lakester” solid disc wheels. The 18-inch rims and 160mm tire boast H-D’s widest front tire ever offered. The new LED headlight is what Harley calls a “modern interpretation” of the classic nacelle with a design reminiscent of an Atomic Age TV.
Just like its older brother, the new incarnation is still unmistakably Fat Boy, but definitely kicks the bad boy attitude up a notch. With the addition of a massive 240mm rear tire, Fat Boy demands attention.

The Fat Boy was always part of the Softail Line so unlike some of the other new Softails that were migrated from the hasta la vista’d Dyna line, Fat Boy’s lineage remains true. The entire 2018 Softail lineup has a steel tubular frame that’s been redesigned and is now 65 percent stiffer than the outgoing Softail frame. The new frame uses 50 percent fewer components, requires 22 percent fewer welds, sports a solid-mount engine, the end result is a 34 percent more rigid chassis. These and other changes help reduce the weight of the Fat Boy by 29 pounds for 2018.

What’s it like riding this terminator? You are piloting a front tire that’s ostensibly a rear tire on most motorcycles. Married to the fat rear 240, this Fat Boy steamrolls in with a vengeance.
I felt the Fat Boy was well mannered in mountainous terrain. With only 25.6 degree left and right lean angles you’ll scrape floorboards in tight turns but they pivot upward so don’t panic. The new hand-adjustable suspension allows riders to tailor the ride to their needs on the fly. I firmly believe that owners could easily turn a Fat Boy into a Long John and make this a viable distance cruiser no problem. It’s a very comfortable ride and with the addition of optional passenger pillion, backrest, luggage rack, detachable saddlebags and detachable windscreen, I would happily tour with this bad boy.
The Fat Boy is available as a 115th Anniversary edition in classic Harley-Davidson Legend Blue and Vivid Black two-tone paint set, which features a triple pinstripe that follows the motorcycle’s contours from front to back. The tank badging reveals a detailed, multi-metal cloisonné medallion featuring an eagle holding the Bar & Shield in its talons. Of course, it sports the 114 cui Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin engine and is hand-numbered at the factory.

I have ridden all the new Softails and I can tell you that you should get into a dealer and sit on these. Each and every one of these bikes has its own personality and you will undoubtedly find the one that fits yours.
Starting at $18,999. Available in Vivid Black, Black Tempest, Industrial Gray, Bonneville Salt Pearl, Wicked Red / Twisted Cherry (as tested). 115th Anniversary Edition in Legend Blue and Vivid Black only at $21,199.
I’ll be back…