Harley-Davidson Fat Bob put to the test

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob put to the test
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Harley-Davidson Fat Bob put to the test

The dynamic promise

Harley says the performance of the new Fat Bob would take your breath away. The ingredients for this: many technical changes, less weight and more performance compared to its predecessor. Time for the oxygen tent?

ZAdmittedly: The one with the breathtaking performance is a marketing slogan on the homepage of the American motorcycle manufacturer.

These words shouldn’t be put on the gold scales. Nevertheless, they are a bit understandable, after all, the Milwaukee company has turned the new Fat Bob completely inside out for 2018. How else would the completely new framework concept be called? While the Fat Bob rolled off the production line as a Dyna model until the end, dampened aft with two struts attached directly between the swing arm and frame, it is now entering the world as a Softail variant. Even with the Softail corset, a lot has changed. This frame concept has mimicked a rigid frame since 1984 because the rear dampers cannot be seen. Until now, these were invisible below the engine and transmission. With the latest Softail layout, the two lower struts became just one, which is attached between the upper frame tube and the upper swing arm cable (more on page 30).

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Harley-Davidson Fat Bob put to the test

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob put to the test
The dynamic promise

MOTORCYCLE conclusion

Understatement isn’t the thing of Harley’s strongest 2018 Softail.
The Fat Bob stands out, wants to stand out. She is big, powerful, a pleasantly pulsating thick ship for two-wheeled cowboys. They have to be able to grab hold of it, because wherever the optics win over the technology (ABS, front tires), the Fat Bob needs to be guided with a firm hand.

Harley’s frame gauge

So far, the Dyna and Softail series have stood for two different frame concepts in the Harley-Davidson program – in addition to other variants, for example for the Sportster and Touring models. This is over now, two become one.

Harley-Davidson launched a model with the abbreviation FXD in 1991, the Dyna Glide Sturgis. It was the first time that the “D" in the name of a Harley, with Dyna simply being an abbreviation for “dynamic" stands. All Dyna Harleys available from this point on were considered handy, almost sporty – at least among the models from Milwaukee. Which was also due to the frame. It was reissued, designed using CAD. As with the models before, a spring strut dampens on the left and right at the rear. With this basic layout, the Dyna series remained in the Harley program until 2017. The Softail frame is a bit older. This was first used in 1984 in the FXST Softail. The goal: As a reminiscence of old rigid frames from the 1950s, the Softail frame imitates their look. If you pull the upper frame over the triangular swing arm to the rear axle, the image of a frame without rear suspension emerges from the outside. This is cleverly hidden under the oil tank and behind the engine. Two spring struts loaded in tension took over the damping tasks for the Softail frame. That means: If the swing arm moves upwards, the suspension struts are pulled apart and not pressed together as usual. But that too is history by now. For 2018, Harley has retired both the Dyna and the previous Softail frames. The new Softail chassis replaces both of the aforementioned frames. With him, the shock absorber is on top, supported by the upper cross tube on the frame, which corresponds to the cantilever design. The look of a rigid frame is retained, but now only a shock absorber is used, which is easier to reach and offers more travel to work. And it’s cheaper too.

Fat Bob history

  • 1971:Harley brings the first FX Super Glide onto the market, whose 1207 cm³ V2 heart is good for 58 hp.
  • 1979: There has to be more going, they think at Harley and are expanding the Super Glide series with all sorts of other offshoots, including the first Fat Bob, internally baptized FXEF. It has either the same engine as the Super Glide, but can also be ordered with the 1338 cm³ Shovelhead unit launched in 1978. With 61 hp, that’s three horsepower more.
  • 1984: The end of the first Fat Bob series. Only the Wide Glide as the last FX model (code FXWG) remains in the range until 1986. The following model series under the type code FXR no longer includes a Fat Bob.
  • 2008: As an FXDF, Harley is releasing the Fat Bob.
  • 2017/18: The latest version of the Fat Bob (FXFB / S) with a new Softail frame appears.

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