The big, bad boy

K Shivraj
Saturday, 31 March 2018

The most aggressive makeover yet among the Softail family, the 2018 Harley Davidson Fat Bob can make the rider feel menacingly fast

Harley Davidson has overhauled a good deal of its big bike portfolio — the Softail family of big, bad bikes. After the Fat Boy it’s the Fat Bob’s turn. While the word Bob relates to bikes with chopped rear fenders in the 1930s to achieve a ‘bobbed’ look, the 2018 Fat Bob signals the most aggressive makeover yet among the Softail family. Catching up on a lot of attitude, the new bike, at front, flaunts a very aggressive looking rectangular LED headlight. It has a wild look about it, and sets the tone for the rest of the design. If the retro tear-drop sharped turn indicators do not seem to gel well with the rest of the design, attention is drawn by the 16-inch dia front alloy wheel. The fat forks add to the low, ‘bobber’ look whereas the 14-litre tank with the lone instrument pod and the fuel filler adds to it. A lockable fuel cap costs extra. Opt for the engine guard, and it will cost roughly Rs 20,000 more. The nicely finished Milwaukee-Eight V-twin engine occupies a place of pride under the fuel tank. It is air (and oil) cooled, and displaces 1745cc. 

Leaps ahead
Equipped with keyless start as standard, the Fat Bob looks premium with those twin exhausts, stepped seat and the chopped rear fender. The rear wheel is also of 16-inch dia, and the finish is as good as the front. The aggressive styling of the bike reflects in its performance. A strong flow of torque has it leaping ahead. In what could be described as a true American might, the Fat Bob can make the rider feel menacingly fast.

Weighing 309kg, the bike simply feels like it is always in abundance of power. A torque output of 145Nm at 3250rpm should provide a good indication of what and how the Fat Bob can deliver. 

Be light and steady on the throttle, and the bike will cruise at good speeds. Out on the highway, there’s some indication of stress as the revs climb past 5000rpm. Twin balancer shafts however keep vibrations in check. In the city, the Fat Bob, with its heavy clutch, can make for an amount of task. The ability to be cranky at low speed in higher gears, like the Fat Boy, would mean an amount of cog swapping. A 28-degree steering rake has the Fat Bob displaying a sharp steering. A relatively short wheelbase in comparison to the other Softail family bikes, has the Fat Bob feeling eager. The 150-section tyres on 16-inch dia wheels does not make it as agile as one would think. 

The front-end demands an amount of muscle power to get the bike to toe the line, or to turn in and out. Apply the muscle power and the bike will respond. It will eagerly lean into corners with the forward-set foot pegs starting to scrape the tarmac. Its stability is very good, as you’d expect from a motorcycle that weighs 309kg, and the Fat Bob is remarkably good when the road begins to twist. Braking performance is strong too. If the near-flat handle-bar makes for a touch forward-leaning posture, and encourages an aggressive ride, the suspension, comprising new forks, comes across as well calibrated. It soaks a variety of irregularities, however, care is necessary to negotiate the seemingly tall speed humps. The ground clearance of the bike is 120mm.  

Verdict
Unlike the Fat Boy or the Heritage Classic in the Softail family, the Fat Bob is a machine to be ridden aggressively. It has a touch of sport to it and is powerful and costlier (Rs 14 lakh ex-showroom Delhi approximately) than the Indian Scout Bobber and the Triumph Bonneville Bobber. If you want a big, Harley feel, the Fat Bob’s for you!  

Pros: Appearance, performance, ride 
Cons: Expensive

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