In this week’s Quick Spin, we say hello to an old friend who’s as phat as ever.
Photography by Rennie Scaysbrook
It’s good when you meet an old mate and realize that, although time may have passed since your last encounter, you’re still as tight as ever.
For me, that warm, fuzzy feeling came after a two-week sojourn with my favorite of all Harley-Davidsons, the Fat Bob 114, a big, chunky bruiser of a bike that I loudly proclaimed was the best Harley ever made when I last tested it in 2017.
That may have been a tad over-enthusiastic, but I couldn’t help it. I’d finally found an H-D I loved. One I could actually imagine permanently in my garage one day. I gave it back to Harley’s press manager a sad man, until I got another quick fling with ol’ Bob a couple of weeks ago.
So many times, I’ve ridden bikes in the past, loved them, and got another go on them later only to find, well, maybe it wasn’t quite “love” after all. Not so with the Fat Bob. I love it just as much now as I did then.
The combination of that 114 cubic inch (1868cc) motor, the long, low wheelbase of 63.6 inches, and the hefty load of 676 pounds is one of pure American badassery. The Fat Bob isn’t a one-trick pony, either. It handles corners better than a machine of its size has any right to, the brakes offer good bite and feel, and the seat is supremely comfortable. Jeez, even typing that feels strange given that this is a cruiser and I hate most cruiser seats.
It’s also nice that there are no engine modes to screw with, no ABS to have to turn on or off (it’s always on), and unless they’re really, really keen for a ride, no passengers to carry.
The Fat Bob is utterly painful on pot-holed freeways. The low-ride position that has your butt close to the rear wheel means every bump from the road goes through the tire into the shock and then straight up your spine. The Bob isn’t really happy here, best to take it down a quiet mountain road or a cruise to the beach to show off its ’roided up looks.
Another factor that limits highway comfort is the footpegs. They are not fit to be on this bike, being too small and with rubber inserts that mean even the slightest bit of precipitation will have your feet sliding off too quickly.
I said back in 2017 that pegs two-inches back and a seat two-inches higher would make an almost perfect ride position, and I stand by that quote. Although I still love the stance from that massive black handlebar, even if the speedo is mounted on top of the tank and is damn near impossible to read at speed.
The Fat Bob 114 is the kind of motorcycle no one really needs, but it doesn’t stop you from wanting it. This is especially so given the fact that for me, it seems like the last bike I’d ever want in my garage. That is until you ride it, and the don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover adage comes ringing in your ears. This is an incredibly fun, surprising machine, and in reality, a bit of a softie—like a retired heavyweight boxer.
I loved ol’ Bob back in 2017 and I love him now. Some things never change. CN
2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Bob 114 Specifications
||Milwaukee-Eight 114, V-twin, liquid-cooled
||114 c.i (1868cc)
|Bore x stroke:
||102 x 114.3mm
||43mm Showa inverted fork
||Single Showa shock absorber, preload adjustable
||4-piston calipers, ABS as standard
||2-piston caliper, ABS as standard
||676 lbs. (wet, claimed).
||Performance Orange, Stiletto Red, River Rock Gray Denim, Barracuda Silver Denim, Black Denim, Vivid Black