Fat Boy has his admirers
This Harley-Davidson is cool to be seen with, writes CRAIG DUFF
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.’’