THE ROARING ENGINE, THE BLACK GLOSS: THERE’S NO HIDING THIS BIG LAD’S LINEAGE
On the list of worst bike names, the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy is up near the top. Yes, I know I’ve put on a bit of weight over the summer, but I don’t need everyone to know it.
Apart from having a bad name, the Fat Boy is a pretty cool bike.
This year sees wild changes for the Fat Boy, with the introduction of the Fat Boy Lo S.
Channelling that iconic Harley silhouette there is no mistaking its lineage. The fuel tank is borrowed from the Fat Bob (another terrible name) with Fat Boy Lo tank medallion and gloss-black console. Chunky 17-inch tyres wrap the solid-looking wheels and the lines of the whole bike ooze with unmistakable Harley character.
One massive change, and the most important, is the 1801cc air-cooled, twin Cam Screamin’ Eagle engine. That’s up 111cc on the 1690cc on the regular Fat Boy and also includes slick high-performance Screamin’ Eagle parts.
Twist the throttle and the Screamin’ Eagle exhaust gives off a roar that, unlike most Harleys you tend to come across, isn’t overly loud and obnoxious.
The 110 engine, as Harley calls it, has an edge over the little ol’ 103. Its gloss-black finish and sparing use of chrome makes it look much more than the simple block of iron that is the 103. Pumping out 146 Nm at its 4000 rpm peak, it is a great engine for hammering down the throttle and enjoying the surge of torque. You’d think it would be a thirsty monster with an engine designed more for fun than economy, but the big 1.8-litre mill does well with a stated economy of 5.5L/100km.
Riders get an excellent saddle and footboards to relax your legs on the highway.
Pillion accommodation is by no means uncomfortable looking.
The one aspect where the Fat Boy S falls flat on its face is handling. Simply look at a corner and due to the low 25-degree lean angle the big foot-boards touch down. This is devilishly fun at times but the sound of metal on road can become wearisome.
Harley will sell you the kit to convert to foot pegs and gain much-needed ground clearance. Talking to the team at Harley-Davidson Auckland this will set you back just shy of $620 plus labour, but replacing the footboards when they become too scraped is a much cheaper exercise at $102.20 a side.
That said, the Fat Boy S isn’t a corner-carving hoon. It’s more the kind of bike you’d cruise up motorway to your favourite coastal establishment for a bacon-and-egg sammie. Adopt the mantra of ‘‘slow in, fast out’’ while riding through the twisties and it’s hilariously good fun to wind out the big motor and slam through the gears with the heel/toe shifter.
One place you’ll save a bit of coin on the Fat Boy S is in servicing costs. Take a quick glance at the service interval and you’ll get a nice surprise. The first time you’ll be back to the dealership is for the first scheduled service at 1600km, then every 8000km after that.
It’s priced at $33,995, so you get quite a lot of bike for your money, and I’m not just talking about the 322kg dry weight.
Equipped with Harley-Davidson’s Smart Security System2, the Fat Boy S comes with a proximity-based, hands-free security fob as standard. So there’s no key to speak of to clutter the dash up. No worries unless you go to move the bike without it, then the security system gives you a loud beep as a warning before going off full tilt if you proceed.
ABS also comes standard. A welcome aid when you have such a relatively heavy bike to pull to a halt with only a 300mm 4-piston front brake and a 292mm 2-piston unit at the rear.
Other additions include a hydraulic clutch, which makes controlling the clutch a breeze, and a refreshingly easy to use cruise control system.
With the annual Harley-Davidson Iron Run fast approaching, I’m definitely wondering if I can get my hands on this bike, or its Softail Slim S stablemate, for the long ride up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands.