2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 107 first ride review
Harley-Davidson rolled out a comprehensive model update to the Softails for 2018, adding the Milwaukee 8 and a new frame while merging all the Dynas into one big, happy family. The motorcycle that caught all the eyes was the stunning new Fat Bob. To be perfectly honest, I've never liked the old one. It looked too unwieldy to me. This one, however, looks like something 'The Walking Dead' would be proud to have with a speaking part and its own green room.
What's new: mechanicals
The engine on the Fat Bob is the 8-valve Milwaukee 8 107 - the 114 is also available but it isn't coming to India. The 107 has oil-cooling for the exhaust valves as well as a dual counter-balancer and we know from riding the 2017 Touring models that it sounds great and goes rather well.
The 2018 Harley comes powered by the Milwaukee Eight 107 cubic-inch (1,745cc) V-twin engine that produces 145Nm and sounds out its fury through the 2-1-2 magnesium-finish exhaust
The smoothness of the newly dual counterbalanced engine also allows Harley to mount is as a stressed member of the rigid new frame. Add in the new Showa cartridge suspension front and monoshock rear and you have a very potent package. The new engine brings more torque, the new frame brings a 15kg weight loss as well as more handling capability and the results should be very flattering for the Fat Bob. Note that the Showa fork - a cartridge fork, the only non-SDBV unit in the Softail - in the front is a 43mm unit set to a sporty 28° rake (that's the sportiest in the Softail family) which promises a responsive machine. The rear monoshock is stiffer and the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob also gets remote preload adjuster knob.
The Harley-Davidson Fat Bob runs 16-inch wheels with a 130mm front tyre and a 150mm rear
The fuel tank, don't forget is new and smaller at 13.5 litres and the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob weighs in at 306kg at the kerb. The Harley-Davidson Fat Bob runs 16-inch wheels with a 130mm front tyre and a 150mm rear.
What's new: design
The previous Fat Bob was literally a Street Bob on steroids. It grew its tyres and an extra head light and that's perhaps why I didn't take to it. The new one though, is its own person. The inspiration for Harley, the company says, was and I quote, "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Zombie Apocalypse." I like it. The designers intended for the motorcycle to retain its heft but with a sense of agility as well as the unflappable attitude of the Fat Bob. The styling goes right there in my book and it also happens to be the highest performance Softail for the 2018 model year.
The Harley-Davidson designers intended for the motorcycle to retain its heft but with a sense of agility as well as the unflappable attitude of the Fat Bob
It looks great out in the wild too. The style is chunky and big boned and it looks very much like a massive, hefty, chunky Harley.
How does it feel to ride?
The Fat Bob will surprise you. Some elements like the clutch, for example, are as heavy as you expect from a motorcycle like this. But the Fat Bob is insanely light on its feet for what it looks like. The handling was a huge surprise and the Bob tracks true and confident all the way until the side stand grinds down. And you're going plenty fast by that point. The new wheelbase is a little smaller than before and that plus the 1° sharper rake makes the Bob very sporty if you're in the mood.
The ride of this Harley-Davidson isn't soft or plush but the jump in refinement is obvious and the Fat Bob will feel a lot more supple and controlled in our conditions
I was also surprised by the ride quality of the Fat Bob. It isn't soft or plush but the jump in refinement is obvious and the Bob will feel a lot more supple and controlled in our conditions. The better suspension and the 15kg lighter weight makes the braking better too even though the equipment hasn't changed.
The engine is very smooth thanks to the new dual counterbalancers and the torque is fast and easy. I rode at low speeds in high gear as well as high speeds in high gears and the torque spread is beautiful.
All in all, the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob excites me. I am looking forward to testing this motorcycle in India.
When is it coming to India?
The size of the fat 180/70-16 tyres is well-highlighted by the new bobbed rear featuring a floating splash guard that houses the number plate
We are certain that before the year is out, minor prices rises will accompany the Fat Bob, Fat Boy, Heritage Classic and Street Bob to India. Harley will probably not expand the range further this year for India. All four are CKD models and will be assembled at Harley-Davidson India's Bawal, Haryana facility. The Harley-Davidson Fat Bob, with standard ABS, should go on sale at around Rs 14 lakh ex-showroom.