This is Harley-Davidson’s 115th year of existence and the iconic company launched the largest product revision it has ever undergone. The line-up involved is the all-new Softail range, which will combine the Dyna and Softail range into one going forward. Four brand new bikes have been launched in the new Softail range—Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Fat Bob and Street Bob. Harley-Davidson has given the bikes an all-new frame, engine and suspension setup, to make them lighter, faster and better handlers, too. And we are reviewing the meanest of them all—Fat Bob.
The previous Fat Bob was a good looking machine but it missed something (maybe the aggression). Harley-Davidson, too, seem to have similar thoughts as the new 2018 Fat Bob looks to have dropped straight from the post-apocalyptic films that we have come to enjoy. The design and colour scheme of the bike can make it straight to the next Mad Max film, without looking out of place (just add a couple of horns). The rectangular LED headlamp design is something we haven’t seen in Harleys before ever and that sets the scene for other things.
Right below the headlamp, you notice another first for the Fat Bob—the upside down forks, fat 150/80 section tyres on 16-inch wheel (180/70 for the rear), straight handle bar and the new 2-1-2 upswept performance exhaust all assist the Fat Bob in its mean profile.
The new Softail chassis gets a new high stiffness carbon steel tubular frame and along with a new swingarm gets increased rigidity. The frame is 65 per cent stiffer than the outgoing Softail design and a 34 per cent increase in overall chassis stiffness. The next big thing is the all-new Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-Twin engine. The Milwaukee-Eight engine gets the iconic 45-degree V-Twin cylinder angle and features a broad-shouldered top end highlighted by a single camshaft design.
The engine is the best yet twin to have come out of HD stable and the power delivery is strong and linear. The 1,745 cc engine makes a healthy 145 Nm of torque at 3,250 rpm. While the power may have dropped a bit, the performance has only progressed thanks to the loss of weight. Harley has given the dual internally counter-balanced system that reduces the vibrations. And truthfully so as the vibrations are controlled nicely. Power delivery is uniform and won’t surprise you with any sudden surges. The oil-cooled exhaust valves control the heat emitted by the engine well. The 2-1-2 exhaust has a meaty sound track, which you wouldn’t mistake for any other bike than a Harley.
The new Fat Bob also features new high-performance dual-bending valve front suspension and the inverted forks replace the old traditional fork. 43 mm Showa forks to the front and a new mono shock to the rear setup have been tuned for better damping. The front suspension has lots of travel enhancing the ride quality while the rear mono shock gets revamped geometry for better traction and control. The clutch is heavy typical of the big bikes but the Fat Bob feels light once it gets going. The weight reduction is further assisted by shorter wheelbase and better lean angle for improved handling. Foot pegs are set for a more cruising comfortable position but also assists in sporty riding. The dual disc brake and single disc to the front and rear have good bite to them with the fat tyres too help in getting the bike to a stop with control.
With a new chassis, Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine and upgrade suspension, Harley-Davidson has given the Softail range a makeover that rewards both the bike and the rider. And the Fat Bob will get you the meanest looking HD that you can take to your next zombie fight.