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Reviewed: Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
Driven December 2012
The name reminds me of someone’s uncle. Or maybe a lady who is supposed to sing. But that aside, the Fat Bob attempts to offer the Fat Boy experience on the Dyna platform – the least money you can imitate Arnie for.
The Twin Cam 96 finds another home in the Fat Bob and this is a motor made purely for shutting everyone up at the bar, not setting lap times. When your mates are bragging about their litre bikes, you’ll have 96 cubic inches – that’s 1583cc or 1.6 litres of chrome and vibes. There’ll be no doubt as to who’s got the biggest package between their legs.
This test bike doesn’t have a pair of Screamin’ Eagle pipes roaring at the world – imagine Pavarotti singing with a mouth stuffed with cotton. Nonetheless, when 1600cc worth of displacement talks, you can’t help but sit up and take notice. All that iron makes 94bhp@3500 rpm and 124Nm@3125rpm – normally, we do not bother with rpm figures but these merit mention, seeing as they’re just above the idling speeds of most other bikes! And that says everything about this bike.
It uses its incredible torque to waft along with authority. Revs just don’t matter here – there’s massive shove in any gear at any speed. If you run out of steam, just snag a higher gear and continue steamrolling the road. In top gear, the Fat Bob feels unstoppable. And the feeling continues when you start braking too.
Dropping anchor on the Fat Bob doesn’t exactly inspire poetry. Instead, it brings out gritted teeth and words we’d never print in a family magazine. Its ABS system seems to be hyperactive, chattering away at the drop of a hat. Well, at least it’s a safe bike to be on – even if you ram it into a wall, the only outcome will be a Fat Bob-shaped hole in the wall, while it continues rolling into the sunset.
Handling is a typically Harley affair. You’re never sure what the front end is thinking, and it takes a while to understand that while it might not be the most talkative one around, it won’t dump you in the middle of a corner either. Ride quality is a curious mix of pampering and jolty. On smooth-to-mildly bumpy roads, it’s fine and you won’t feel a thing. But sharp bumps will have your backside trampolining in the seat. Thank the Hog gods it mimics a sofa.
It’s a Harley, so you’re never quite sure what you’ll get. You still indicate left when you want to honk. Your legs still get well-done in our city traffic. In the parking lot, it’s as heavy as an entire gym. It doesn’t handle particularly well and isn’t something you’d like to ride fast.
But when everything’s right, it is just so right, it’s unbelievable – something you just have to do yourself to understand. But most importantly, when you look this cool, who cares?
2cyl, 1583cc, 94bhp, 124Nm, petrol
Torquey and cool – to sum up the Fat Bob in two words. Harleys are never sensible buying options – that’s never their point. They enrich your life in a manner only Harleys can.