Fat Boy has his ad­mir­ers

This Har­ley-David­son is cool to be seen with, writes CRAIG DUFF

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

IAM IN des­per­ate need of a black leather jacket. Maybe then peo­ple will stop look­ing at me strangely when I’m rid­ing the Fat Boy. Trou­ble is, Har­ley-David­son’s latest ver­sion of its most pop­u­lar bike is a cool cus­tomer to be seen with, even if you are in a jacket that screams Ja­panese sports bike rider.

That’s my prob­lem. I like bikes with crisp han­dling, snappy throt­tle re­sponse and awe­some an­chors. Ja­panese or Euro­pean bikes can out­brake, out-han­dle and out-ac­cel­er­ate the Fat Boy.

But the damn thing is im­pos­si­ble not to ad­mire, on or off it. From the side, the Fat Boy is in­stantly iden­ti­fi­able as a Har­ley, right down to the shot­gun ex­hausts and ‘‘50-cal­i­bre bul­let-sized holes’’ in the solid-al­loy wheels.

It’s sim­ply good to look at, and you’ll have plenty of time to look at it when you’re pol­ish­ing the chrome.

Most of the 1052 peo­ple who bought a Fat Boy last year will opt to keep theirs look­ing clean, if only to en­sure the pre­mium they paid for the USbuilt bike is main­tained at re­sale time. That’s one thing Har­leys do much bet­ter than Ja­panese bikes. I’ll keep that in mind next time I pass one.

But the Fat Boy— Har­leys in gen­eral— aren’t made to be rid­den like other bikes. Once you ac­cept you’ll gouge ruts in the road be­fore you set records and sit back to en­joy the ride, it’s a plush­seated treat.

The fuel-in­jected 1584cc ‘‘Twin Cam 96’’ en­gine still pro­duces enough snap off the lights to dis­pense with the four-wheeled wor­ries.

The Fat Boy’s just tick­ling the start of its midrange in sixth gear at 100km/h, so there’s a tidal surge of torque to carry off over­tak­ing, even with the en­gine haul­ing nearly 500kg on a two-up cruise.

And the 200mm-wide rear rub­ber an­chors you to the road. It isn’t as help­ful in the twisties, but the foot­boards will touch ground be­fore you have too many tyre is­sues. There’s 28 de­grees of left lean an­gle and 30 de­grees right.

Ride it the right way and the Fat Boy can be a friend. You can even push it around a lit­tle. But try to man­han­dle this lump of metal and it’ll bite. And that would be tragic.

As Wayne Juffs-King, of Har­ley Heaven, noted: ‘‘There’s no cool way to fall off a Har­ley.’’

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