2014 Fat Bob Review

Bringing the Cool

For 2014 the Fat Bob gets almost no functional improvements or changes. It didn't really need any. This is the bike that beat the very good Thunderbird Storm in our Bang for the Buck test a year and a half ago, on refinement. When it comes to fit and finish, Harley-Davidsons tend to rise to the occasion; where they tend to fall down is with suspension and power. That's mainly because H-D leans toward the style side of the equation with their slammed-to-the-weeds bikes. But since the Fat Bob isn't one of the “lowered” H-Ds, there's no problem. So, as this bike had no real reason to be nit-picked to oblivion, I just went out and enjoyed it.

Adam Campbell

The fat front tire and beefy front end are the heart and soul of this bike, and conspire to make it a very solid, planted performer. When I'm not touring (which I wouldn't be doing on this bike), most of my riding is short commutes and longer day rides. And in city riding and on packed highways, the Fat Bob is an ace. The torquey, responsive Twin Cam 103 combined with light-enough handling and that glued-to-the-ground front end makes for a great in-town mount. The high-profile bubblegum tires seem to absorb a lot of the potholes and pavement irregularities, while stout double-disc front brakes stop the thing in a hurry, with lots of feel and power to spare. Ours had ABS, which only further enhances its stopping power.

Adam Campbell

Confidence on the street carries over to spirited back road runs as well. It feels extremely connected to the ground, with light, neutral handling and stability at higher speeds. That basic solid, planted feeling holds across any type of road and conditions. The one functional change to the motorcycle was the seat. It went from a firm, flattish (but surprisingly supportive) seat, to more of a bucket, sculpted from softer foam. The new perch is comfy in short stretches, but on longer backcountry rides it can lock you into an uncomfortable single spot. Another complaint is that the very spare rear seat is only good for passengers who are very into you, and the bar better be just around the corner from your pad. It uses the same soft foam as the rider's seat, but is very thin. Even my 120 lb daughter could feel the seat pan on this thing, so adult-sized humans need not apply.

Adam Campbell

While the original iteration of the Fat Bob embraced its chunky badassitude in a half-assed sort of way, this one takes it all the way there. The last one we tested (2012) was all but ignored by the world at large; it was called “bland” by one of our testers. This time around, life with 'Bob was different. This year's Bob drew eyes at every light, around every corner, and spurred conversations with more gregarious pedestrians and riders alike. As we've pointed out, it's really not that different, but changes to its overall attitude were palpable.

Adam Campbell

The last version peppered a few black parts about the bike, while this bike is more effectively “murdered-out,” though not so much that contrast is lost. The bright bits of polished and chromed surfaces peek out brightly from the surrounding gloom. Shock covers, triple trees, the air cleaner cover, and a slew of engine bits that were once chromed are now clothed in various textures of black. A tank that previously supported a traditional tank emblem is now home to a painted-on Harley-Davidson moniker. Though the wheels are the same slotted disc design, they're not painted black and are also inscribed with the iconic factory's name. Altogether, it's a very muscle car vibe translated to a two-wheeled conveyance.

Adam Campbell

Though it's the focal point of H-D's updates this time around, I'm not totally sold on the new tail section. It appears a stumpy afterthought from some angles, though the twin rings of LEDs look quite fine all lit up. The pipes now sport a blunt sawed-off shape, changed from the old slash-down design, while the dash has been trimmed for a sleeker look.

Adan Campbell

Unlike dropped-to-the-weeds and skinny, chunky and beefy as a motif and a virtue is a aesthetic I can get behind. This bike is simultaneously a head turner and a road burner. It is the Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac. The original bobbers of the 40s and 50s were performance bikes, stripped off extraneous parts to go fast and have fun. Unlike many bikes that pretend to aspire to that ideal, this one delivers with real style that really works.

Specifications:

BASE PRICE $15,699, as tested $16,099 (paint)

Colors Black, Flat Black/Red, Orange, Sand

Standard warranty 24 months

ENGINE

Type 45-degree v-twin

Displacement, bore x stroke 1690cc, 98.4 mm x 111.1 mm

Valve train OHV pushrod two valves/cylinder

Compression 9.6:1

Fuel system EFI

Transmission 6-speed

Final drive Belt

CHASSIS

Overall length 94.5”

Wheelbase 63.8”

Wet weight 706 lbs

Seat height 27.2”

Rake/trail 29 deg/4.92”

Wheels Slotted aluminum disc

Front tire 130/90-16

Rear tire 180-70-16

Front brake 
 dual four-piston calipers with 300mm floating rotors

Rear brake two-piston caliper w/292mm rotor

Front suspension 49mm fork w/ dual rate springs w/5” travel

Rear suspension Dual preload adjustable coil-overs w/2.3” travel

Fuel capacity 5 gallons

Instruments Fuel Gauge, Speedometer w/digital odometer, dual tripmeters, clock, tachometer, range and gear indicator.

PERFORMANCE

Fuel mileage 36 mpg

Average range 180 miles